Many investors these days have become disenchanted with their investment advisors who don’t keep in contact, sell a pre-determined model of products, and give abysmal service, not to mention their poor returns.  They are deciding they can do a better job themselves.  But how do you know you have the right skills to manage your own money?

Related: Why I Became A DIY Investor

A “Couch Potato” strategy is a non-complicated plan appropriate for many investors, especially those just starting out.  Do you have the discipline to stay the course over a long term?

To build a portfolio of individual stocks you need to take the time to do your research.  There is also the risk of lack of diversification and buying “hot” investment products or the latest fad.  It’s hard to find the right mix and overeager investors may take on too much risk in their search for yields.

Of course, managing your money isn’t just about building an investment portfolio.  You need to take some time to identify specific goals you want to attain – paying your mortgage quickly, saving for a large purchase, staying home to raise your children, having X amount of income to enjoy in retirement, and so on.  Then comes the plan for reaching these goals.

Some people can develop a financial plan on their own, especially if their goals are simple.  There are many good books and other resources dedicated to this subject.  But what if you can’t relate the ideas to your specific situation?  What if you don’t know how to begin?  Do you have the discipline to follow it through?

Related: 5 Challenges DIY Investors Face

For complicated situations and more financial expertise, working with a financial advisor can help you take this first important step.

A Fee-Only Financial Planner or Money Coach

Making financial decisions, especially with your own money, is a very emotional process.  It can be comforting to work with someone who is able to see the big picture, point you in the right direction, and clarify how to proceed.  Their objective, unbiased advice helps develop a workable budget, reduce taxes, and give financial strategies that you may not have thought of, to better reach your goals.

These types of advisors charge you a flat-fee, either by the hour or by project.  They offer support to help you implement various action steps and track your progress, reassessing as required.  Usually, they are not licensed to sell investments, or make specific recommendations for different products.  Their services involve offering advice, planning and coaching.

Related: A New Fee-Only Financial Planning Service

This service is appropriate for people who will purchase and manage their own portfolio.

Portfolio (Wealth) Managers and Investment Advisers

Investment advisors are paid primarily by an agreed upon fixed percentage of the assets they manage.  They can also include various planning services, if desired.  They are paid directly by you rather than receiving commissions from the products they sell or other transactions.

This service can be costly, and often requires a stated minimum investment portfolio, but it could be just the ticket for those who want good results without being directly involved in the trading and management of their investments.

Related: When To Fire Your Investment Manager

Make sure you’re not paying for services you don’t need, or are not actually receiving.

Bottom line: Should You Pay For Advice?

If I want to develop my basement, I could buy a manual to find out how to do the electrical work myself.  Or, I could hire an electrician to do the work for me.  For a higher initial cost, I could avoid potential future problems that might be disastrous.

Canadian investors hate to pay fees.  It’s easy to reduce fund costs and trading fees, but all fees are not equal.  Those occupied with only reducing fees often make other costly mistakes.  They don’t manage their income effectively, are not diversified, and are tax inefficient.  They procrastinate and try to time the market and let their emotions dictate their behavior.  Then they wonder why they are not as financially successful as they would like to be.

It could be worth your while to pay someone a one-time fee for planning advice.

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