Investment Help

If you are seeking investment help, look at the video here on my services. If you are seeking a different approach to managing your assets, you have landed at the right spot. I am a fee-only advisor registered in the State of Maryland, charge less than half the going rate for investment management, and seek to teach individuals how to manage their own assets using low-cost indexed exchange traded funds. Please call or email me if interested in further details. My website is at If you are new to investing, take a look at the "DIY Investor Newbie" posts here by typing "newbie" in the search box above to the left. These take you through the basics of what you need to know in getting started on doing your own investing.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Robo Advisor or Full Service Advisor?

Put your info online and, for a reasonable fee, a robo advisor (see picture) will come back with a recommended asset allocation and specific funds to invest in.  Also, you'll typically get a lot of personalized reporting on your investments letting you know how much you should be saving, where you can expect to be several years from now, etc.

What's not to like?

Well, a lot, if you listen to full service advisors.  They argue that investments need to be part of the whole financial picture.  And they are more than glad to explain how the whole financial picture can be complicated.  You need advice on when to take Social Security, how to choose a 529 plan, whether to do a Roth, estate planning questions, etc. I nvestments need to fit into this bigger picture and that makes the 1 - 2% fee they charge reasonable for managing your investments, they say.

Actually, there is a third way:  forget the full service advisor and forget the robo advisor and learn how to do the whole thing yourself.  This, in fact, is doable for most people by reading a relevant book, three of which are constantly touted here:

Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam,

Your Money Ratios by Charles Farrell,

The Smartest Money Book You'll Ever Read by Dan Solin.

Each of these books is easy to read - two weekends at the most - and you'll come away a lot smarter after reading them.  In fact, you'll come away knowing exactly how to invest after reading them. Furthermore, you'll know how to decide how much insurance you need, what you should seek in the way of estate planning, and even how big a mortgage you can reasonably carry.  Every family should have someone who knows and understands the information in these books.

As a motivation, you should know that understanding the information in these books will save you a huge chunk of your nest egg over your lifetime.

But it isn't just about do-it-yourself investing.  Most important of all, you'll come away with an understanding of when you need an advisor.  It may be in your 50s when you really want to hone in on whether you are saving enough to get your  nest egg where it should be by the time you reach your retirement date.  It may be that you want a formal outside opinion on your investments or even a formal analysis of the best time to take Social Security.  It may be that you have stock options you need to exercise in a tax-efficient way.

The bottom line is that there are times you need to pay up for advisory services and there are times when it isn't necessary, and knowing the difference can affect your pocket book greatly.  Again, the readings will help.  At the very least, they will help you understand what questions to ask and enable you to participate meaningfully in the advisor conversation - a conversation that some find intimidating.

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