I recently came across the following article on DallasNews.com that explains how intermediary drain (the loss of assets you may suffer because of the cost of managing the investments) can impact you.

http://www.dallasnews.com/business/columnists/scott-burns/20140607-going-down-the-intermediary-drain.ece

The hard part about trying to figure out if you suffer from this is reading through all the statements. There is so much information that the intermediaries send you its a full time job just trying to figure out all the fees.  

Companies like GuardVest have been created to help investors stay on top of all this and even get alerts when a fee is charged. You make a lot of great points here and fees have never been a bigger issue. Investors need to stay on top of this.

John Bogle the founder of Vanguard actually says that 65% of investors returns will get eaten up by fees over 10 years, Investors finally have the ability to run a fast confidential report that will tell them all their fees, their returns vs much less expensive indexes and their risk.

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