Rowan Financial LLC
Dave Rowan, MBA, CFP® is the founder of Rowan Financial, LLC. His mission is to enable his clients to achieve a future that is even brighter than their past and present.
Dave primarily attracts clients who are contemplating or experiencing a career transition. This includes moving from one employer to another while remaining in the same field, pursuing an entirely new profession, starting up a small business or embarking upon an encore career. Dave provides his clients with the short-term guidance necessary to successfully navigate these often stressful transitions with more confidence and financial security than they had ever imagined was possible.
Dave transforms the lives of professionals and entrepreneurs across the country with his expertise through his free online newsletter and blog. Each issue contains high value content that enables readers to make the most of their career transitions, not only from a professional development standpoint, but also in terms of their financial and personal goals.
Dave is a Certified Financial Planner® and is also a member of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®). His background also includes a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Penn State and an MBA from Lehigh University.
Dave is a sought after expert in the financial news media. He has been featured in various online publications including US News & World Report, NASDAQ.com, The LA Times, Yahoo! Finance, Investopedia, and The Christian Science Monitor.
Dave grew up in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and has lived in the area for most of his life. He currently resides in Bethlehem with his wife Stacy and their two daughters. He loves walking and hiking in nature, football, lacrosse, yoga, reading, writing, shopping at local farmers’ markets, eating healthy food, an occasional battle on Clash of Clans, and bringing positive energy to his work and his relationships with family and friends.
BS, Chemical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University
MBA, Management of Technology, Lehigh University
Dave Rowan | Rowan Financial
Everyone's new to investing in stocks at some point - good for you to ask this very basic but important question right up front!
The short answer is, yes you can. However, there is also the question of should you buy stocks in individual companies, which I'll cover later.
In terms of buying a stock yourself, the easiest way to do so is to open up a brokerage account with a discount provider such as Charles Schwab or Scottrade. Once your account is open and funded, you can login and buy and sell shares of stocks as often as you'd like. Most discount brokerage providers charge about $8 or $9 per trade.
Make sure you look up the correct stock symbol and do your trading during the hours when the market is open rather than after hours when bid/ask spreads tend to widen and you could end up paying a premium for shares. For thinly traded shares (small companies that average few shares traded per day), consider putting a Limit Order in place to make sure you don't pay a premium. Here's a link that talks about what Limit Orders are:
However, rather than buying stocks in individual companies, you may want to consider investing in low cost ETF's (Exchange Traded Funds) that track major market indices such as the S&P 500. By buying shares in the ETF, you are effectively buying stock in dozens, if not hundreds of different companies and spreading out your risk rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket.
I personally no longer buy shares of individual stock for this very reason and recommend the same to all of my clients. If for some reason you still feel the need to buy stocks in individual companies, consider limiting this to no more than 5-10% of your total portfolio.
Good luck with getting started!
With Kind Regards,
Glad you are asking this question. Minimizing commissions and fees can have a HUGE impact over the course of your entire investing career. Here are 3 ways:
- Invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) rather than Mutual Funds. The expense ratios are almost always lower for an ETF versus a comparable mutual fund. It is now very easy to build a low cost, well diversified portfolio using ETFs with an expense ratio of 0.25% or less per year.
- Avoid products with front-end loads, back-end loads, or 12b-1 fees. These are typically found within Mutual Funds, but not ETF's. Read the fund's prospectus to know whether these fees are associated with any product you are investing in.
- Seek out ETF's with no trading fees. Many asset custodians charge between $7.95-$9.95 per trade, however, a growing number of fund families are waiving trading fees on their ETF's. As an example, Charles Schwab offers a full range of ETF's that have no trading fees.
- If you do decide to invest in a fund with a trading fee, try to invest over $1,000 per fund. To keep the math simple, let's say you are investing in a fund that charges $10 per trade. If you invest $1,000 in that fund, you will pay 1% ($10 out of the $1,000) for your initial investment and another 1% when you sell the fund for a total of 2%. However, if you are only investing $100 in the fund, you're paying the equivalent of 10% for the initial investment ($10 out of the $100) and another 10% when you sell for a total of 20%. You'll need to earn an awful lot of return to overcome those trading costs!
- If you decide to work with a financial advisor to help you with your investments, look for one who charges 1% or less of Assets Under Management for their services.
Thanks for the great question and good luck keeping those fees to a minimum so you can keep more of your money growing in your accounts on your behalf!
With Kind Regards,
Wow, this answer is obviously geared to steering you toward keeping your money in the employee retirement plan, which typically is not your best option. Here are some things to consider:
- The "you bought low, why would you want to buy high," argument has no merit. Let's say you have $100 in your account currently and you move that money to equivalent funds in your own IRA. Let's also assume that funds within your employee retirement plan and any new funds you buy track the performance of the market. In each case, if the market goes up 10%, you now have $110 in your account and if the market declines by 10%, you'd have $90. It makes no difference whether the money is in your employer plan or your own IRA.
- You will not lose any gains you have accumulated in your plan. Let's again say you started this year with $100 in your account. It has now gone up 5.1%, which makes your current balance $105.10. When you transfer it, you do not lose your gain for the year - the whole $105.10 will transfer to your new IRA.
- Moving the money to your own IRA gives you the opportunity to invest in a wider variety of funds, often at a much lower cost than employee retirement plans. Fees are often high in employer sponsored plans. And while a small difference in fees might not seem like a big deal, it can result in many thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs that leave less money behind in your account to provide for your retirement. Check out the link that follows for an article I wrote that illustrates the impact of these fee differences.
- You can work with a financial advisor to help you invest in a well-diversified portfolio of Exchange Traded Funds with an average expense ratio of 0.25% or less, which is almost invariably lower than what you're being charged within your employer plan.
I hope you found this answer helpful and I wish you the best of luck with this important investment decision!
With Kind Regards,
There are several different ways to interpret your question. If you are looking to buy stocks of individual companies, I'd limit this to no more than 5% or 10% of your total investable assets. I personally do not buy individual stocks given that I view stock-picking as a full time job and one that only a very small number of investment advisors are successful at doing over a long-term period of time.
If you do still feel the need to do this, consider making sure that all of your other major saving and planning goals are covered first. These include, among other things, a full funded Emergency Fund, saving for your retirement, and a college savings account if you have children.
If you're like me and want to buy stocks by investing in a market index, then consider opening a brokerage account and purchasing low cost ETF's. Look for expense ratios of 0.25% or less because unnecessary high fees can really hamper your returns over the long run.
For a perspective on how fees can impact your returns over time, check out:
The article discusses high fees in 401(k) plans, but really applies to any type of investment account.
Whatever you decide, good luck getting started!
With Kind Regards,
Yes, many advisors will offer a valuable "second opinion" as you've described it above. I personally call this Financial Advocate services and charge on an hourly basis.
Financial planners vary widely in terms of their rates. Most fall within $150-$300 per hour.
Just as an aside, you may want to consider shopping around for a new advisor while you're on this mission. Insurance companies are notorious for the number and volume of fees they pass along to their clients. Hopefully, your advisor doesn't fall into this camp, but doesn't hurt to ask how much they charged you in fees, commissions, and front or back end loads.
You are making a wise choice to seek out a second opinion on your finances. Good luck working through the process!
With Kind Regards,