For some reason, it has always been easier to lose money than it is to make it and keep it.
Managing your own investments can be done successfully, but it is not easy. First, it requires a time commitment to research and track your investments. Second, it requires discipline to stick with your strategy through challenging times. Third, and most difficult, it requires you to remove emotion from your investment process.
Studies have shown that most investors would be better off with the help of a financial adviser. Unfortunately, finding the “right” adviser is difficult. Most investors hire someone they “trust”. However, “trust” is very intangible and difficult to quantify. Also, the size of the firm or familiarity of the brand name does not indicate the quality of the advice provided.
To make sure you don’t get stuck with a salesperson when you are really looking for an adviser, make sure you ask these four questions:
- Fiduciary? Fiduciary advisers have a legal obligation to put your interests ahead of their own. A minority of all financial advisers actually meet the fiduciary requirement.
- Experience? How many years have they been managing money? Ideally, your adviser has experience investing in both good markets and bad markets. In the final analysis, you are paying an adviser for their experience.
- Track record? Legitimate advisers will be able to show you a clear report of what they’ve done for their clients over the years. Any adviser who refuses to show you their past performance should be crossed off your list.
- Conflict of interest? By working only with advisers who are paid through management fees and not commissions you can make sure their interests are aligned with yours. You should never own a product with a surrender charge.