I began working in the financial services industry when I was 24 years old. A few – um – decades later, I feel I have learned a thing or two. However, like others who have been in a particular career for a length of time (I’m thinking here specifically of anyone who works with computer software, for example) what I know seems commonplace to me and I tend to think that everyone else knows it too.
So, I was somewhat taken aback when I was recently asked, “What is the stock market, anyway?”
We do get a lot of questions about investing. It’s not difficult. However, just like any other skill you need to gain some knowledge and do a bit research to be successful.
Whether you elect to go the do-it-yourself route, or prefer to work with an advisor, there’s never been a better time to be an investor. The large number of investment products available now allows you to choose what’s best for you. Many products didn’t exist for the retail investor even a couple of decades ago.
It can also be a difficult time. All those choices can be stressful. Many people new to investing don’t know where to begin. Financial terms and jargon can be confusing. Complicated doesn’t necessarily mean profitable.
Let’s face it. The days of going off into the retirement sunset with a guaranteed lifetime pension are disappearing fast. We’re basically on our own and we need information.
Do you know:
- How different fees are calculated – MERs, trailing fees, trading fees, front-end loads, deferred sales charges, account fees, discretionary fees, advisor fees – and the effect on your portfolio?
- How returns are calculated and what will be the impact of the new account-performance reports?
- How to create your investing plan?
- What is the TSX, S&P 500 and Dow and what do those numbers mean?
- Do you know what your advisor is talking about when she rambles on about smart beta, top-down investing, low volatility and fundamentals? Do you feel lost or intimidated?
- The difference between index mutual funds and ETFs?
- What are managed funds or active management?
- How to research stocks?
- What are bid and ask prices and should you just take the market price?
- How bond yields are calculated and what is a bond premium or bond discount?
- The best way to manage your RRSPs and TFSAs?
If you want to start do-it-yourself investing and find yourself somewhat overwhelmed about how to begin, or you want to know just what your portfolio manager is doing, this is the place to be.
Since everyone is unique we can’t tell you what to do or what to buy. What we can do is give you the information to help make you a successful investor.
If you have a question about investing, want to know more about different strategies, or need some terms defined in plain language, leave me a detailed comment and the topic may be worked into a future post so you can be on your way to investing like a pro.