The financial advice field is booming. From roboadvisors to banks, brokerages to an independent financial advisor, and financial planners, it seems that everywhere you look there’s someone clamoring to manage your money. Does this mean that everyone needs to hire a professional? Not necessarily.
With a modicum of intelligence, the right amount of time, and some dedicated study, you may be able to do it yourself. No one works for free, after all, and if you hire a financial advisor or choose a roboadvisor, you will pay for that service in one way or another.
- It's an imperative today to make sure your personal finances are in order, from retirement saving to tax planning - but doing it wrong can get you in even bigger trouble.
- Professional financial advisors help alleviate that burden with skilled and knowledgeable advice and practice - but this comes at a fee.
- If you want to do it yourself, you'll save on costs, but you'll also need to read up, stay disciplined, and take it seriously. A low-cost roboadvisor may be your best bet.
Individuals often possess the drive and skillset to plan for themselves when it comes to personal finances. Here's a quick list of five criteria that may mean you'll be OK on your own:
- You enjoy reading and learning about financial topics, including taxes, investing, loans and personal finance. There are scores of books, courses, and resources to educate the consumer about personal finance, investing and planning. If you like this topic and have the time to dig in, you may be well suited to managing your own money. In fact, Investopedia offers many tutorials on a variety of personal finance and financial planning topics. (For more, see: How to Start Investing in Stocks: A Beginner's Guide.)
- You have the time to systematically review your present financial situation and plan for the future. If you are good at tracking your spending, saving and investing, there’s a strong likelihood you may be able to serve as your own financial planner. The first step in wise money management is the successful tracking of your money; the second is saving. And if you're managing your debt well, you're already making wise financial decisions. Finally, if you're able to use financial software, you probably can learn to plan for future goals and retirement. (For more, see: How Much Debt Can You Handle?)
- You are comfortable making financial decisions and confident about planning for retirement. You may not have a lot of money now, but if you have a job and are saving and investing, at some point your wealth will grow into the six figures and maybe even more. If you feel comfortable managing large sums of money, you may not need an advisor — and if the amount grows too big to handle, you can always switch gears and hire someone on a limited or long-term basis. (For more, see: Retirement FAQs.)
- You don’t need financial hand-holding, are comfortable with market volatility, and can handle the ups and downs of the investment markets. When serving as your own financial advisor it's important to be comfortable watching the value of your investment portfolio go down on occasion. If you can stomach market volatility on your own and won’t feel compelled to sell during regular market declines, you may not need an advisor. (For more, see: Understanding Volatility Measurements.)
- You're savvy enough to know that it's important to max out retirement vehicles such as a 401(k) or 403(b) and even fund a Roth IRA if you can. As long as you're on the path to saving and investing, you're maintaining a diversified portfolio, and are confident you can remain invested through market peaks and valleys, you may be OK as your own financial planner. (For more, see: Roth vs. Traditional IRA: Which is Right for You?)
The Bottom Line
Money management and investing isn't rocket science. If you're a disciplined spender, saver, planner, and investor, you may be competent to manage your own finances. By learning personal finance and investing basics and remaining level-headed and consistent in your money activities, you can accumulate wealth without paying for a financial advisor. (For more, see: What Financial Plan Makes Sense For You?)