If You Don’t Want to Manage Your Investments Yourself – Then What?

The reality of money management is most people don’t manage their own money. In fact statistics show that nearly 70% of investors hire a third party money manager. When I first started managing money for a living I thought this was an unusually high number, but after 25 plus years the reality is few will take the time to learn. This series of articles has been on ‘helping yourself build a winning a  strategy’ for managing your money. As I have written on these simple steps, I am reminded of how simple money management can be, but how hard it is to maintain the discipline to keep is simple. Too often investors get focused on doing the right things versus doing things right. And determining what is right is built on the foundation of knowing what you want from your money. This is where I started the process. The financial services industry has done a great job of convincing you how difficult money management is and that you should hire a professional to help you accomplish your goals. In the process of trying to do it ourselves we realize the education component is ongoing and the necessary discipline takes time to learn. This leads us to the conclusion it is easier to hire someone to do it for us under the assumption they have learned and have discipline in their approach to managing money. Therefore we don’t have to be bothered with learning the process. That unfortunately is a false assumption. In order to hire someone to assist in the process of accomplishing your goals you must first know what you want from your money. We can call this financial planning if you like, but the bottom line is you have to decide what you want from your money and what lifestyle you want your money to provide both now and in the future.

I have become convinced that people hire an advisor so they will have someone to blame when things go wrong. While that may be a joke on the surface it is reality in the end. In the process of hiring an advisor you must first educate yourself on what you want and how you want your money managed in order to accomplish your goals. If you fail to do this part you will end up with whatever he or she (the advisor) is selling. All advisors are selling something and it is up to you to figure out what it is. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with them selling something. You need to know what you are buying. This process will allow you to match your goals with the right person or firm to help you accomplish your goals. The key is knowing you, what you want and matching the process (money management) for getting to the goal. This simple process will be one of the key factor is having a successful relationship with an advisor or third party money manager.

Money is one of the three or four most important pursuits in life. It never ceases to amaze me how little time and energy we put into learning how to deal with it. From eliminating debt to investing in stocks, we don’t take the time to deal with the process. Is there any wonder people were sold mortgages that didn’t fit their goals? Is there any wonder why so many people lose money in the stock market? If we would take time to learn simple things we would be so much better off financially than doing things by the seat of our pants. I have four daughters. One is now graduating from college and embarking on her career. She has made it through four years of college with no debt (thanks to her parents and grandparents college fund from birth) and in fact has an extra $50,000 to purchase a home when she decides where she will live and work. Why? Planning and investing with a purpose. She has learned to manage her money based on what she wants. When she was in high school my mission was to teach her how to deal with her college fund. Teaching her how to manage this money based on her goals, not mine. She learned to use instruments that met with her risk tolerance and ultimately her goals, not mine. She learned to buy bonds, CDs, dividend stocks, etc. She is now prepared to meet life and the financial challenges she will face throughout her career. She has learned how to ask the key question – what do I want? What will it take to get it? And is it what I really want to do?

I can’t do justice to the process of building a winning strategy to managing your money, but I can do this – focus on what you want. Start saving towards that goal. Invest in what you understand, even if that is a CD (certificate of deposit). Stay focused and continue to educate yourself. If you chose not to do it yourself educate yourself about what you want and then find someone or a firm that will deliver what you want and not what they think you should have. Monitor their progress relative to what they promise. Review their progress on a quarterly basis. Ask question  and demand reasonable and understandable answers. Establish your stop loss parameters in down markets. Do what you want with your money not what they want. After all IT’s YOUR MONEY – MANAGE IT!

For more information on any of these article simply send me an email to Jim@jimsnotes.com.