If you’re in the fortunate position of having a large amount of cash in the bank, you might be considering using some specialist advice such as a financial adviser. There are certainly advantages to this move — not least of which is the fact that financial advisers can provide a full overview of what the market can offer and take much of the stress out of investing.
However, lots of people choose to go down the self-management path rather than hire a financial professional — and for equally valid reasons. Sometimes it can be prohibitively expensive to hire someone, while others enjoy the thrill and satisfaction of a self-managed portfolio.
Here are four key steps everyone should follow if they want to go about achieving financial autonomy by managing their own investments:
Do your research
This first tip can’t be stressed enough. Doing your research and finding investment information is an integral part of managing your money! If you don’t, the best case scenario is that the value of investment will take a temporary knock — and the worst case scenario is that your money will be wiped out due to an avoidable error that a financial adviser would have spotted. Everything from reinvestment time frames to compound interest and from fraud prevention to percentage calculation-formulas will need to be learned if you’re self-managing — so it’s time to get studious!
Remember the role of inflation
Many people who choose to manage their own savings either start out or ultimately end up opting for cash savings, or simply leaving it in the bank. There’s an appeal to this strategy, especially if you’re a risk averse person who might feel stressed out at the thought of your savings getting wiped out. However, financial advisors usually would not recommend doing this, and that’s because it can actually cause your savings to go down in value.
Say you leave $100,000 in a bank account for a year, and it earns 1% interest. Technically, you’ll have $101,000 at the end of the year; but if inflation has risen in the meantime, it’s entirely possible that that $101,000 can now only buy you what used to be $98,000 worth of goods and services! As a result, a growth strategy which offers some defense against inflation is wise. There are some relatively low risk products out there which offer enough growth to counter inflation, and the Internet can help you to find out which providers offer these.
Set your goals
Financial advisers provide many services, but one of the most important strategic ones is goal setting. Making financial decisions which don’t fit your goals is, of course, not wise, but the problem that many people face is that they don’t know what their goals are to begin with. Say you’re thinking about purchasing a home in the future: saving your cash in a volatile fund which might need years to recover from any market gaps is a bad move because it may not rise in value again by the time you need a lump sum for a down payment. If you’re self-managing your savings, you’ll need to do this goal setting on your own. Speaking to your partner, family members or other loved ones is a good starting point, while thinking about your employment prospects and plans is also essential.
Keep your eyes peeled
It’s a sad reality that fraud is everywhere in the financial markets. Whether you have a financial advisor on side or not, you’ll never be able to defend yourself entirely against the risks of fraud. However, financial advisors have years of experience, and they can often spot a scam a mile away. As an autonomous investor, you’ll need to do your due diligence yourself.
Before going ahead with an investment, you should always learn as much information as you possibly can about it. Running it through the search functions on websites such as those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Commodity Futures and Trading Commission, is a good way to see whether or not it’s been blacklisted by other providers, while if a promised rate of return seems too good to be true then it probably is!
Self-managing your money might seem like a scary thing to do, as removing the protective layer of a financial advisor means you’re instantly more vulnerable. However, it’s certainly possible to get the benefits of saved fees by managing your savings yourself: all it takes is a bit of research, a strong dose of goal setting, and an awareness of the risk of fraud.
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