May 19, 2010

Do I Really Need A Stockbroker Or Financial Planner?

I am frequently asked the question, do I need a stockbroker, financial advisor or financial planner?

You'd be surprised at the 'training' stockbrokers are given before they start to handle your money, its really shockingly little.  Most of the 'training' is on the job which is not ok with my money, maybe you are ok with that.  Your decision of course.

Given the wealth of resources available online and the fact that even the discounters such as Fidelity, Schwab, TD Ameritrade and Scottrade have advisors that you can lean on for advice for free, it really doesn't make sense to pay anyone for something you can do for yourself.  You pump your own gas right?  You buy your own groceries!

People will say that it takes too much time which is simply not true.  I think some people just don't want to make decisions for themselves and want to have someone to blame if things go wrong.  That's fine as long as you don't mind paying 5-10 times for the same exact service and that you go into the relationship knowing what you are paying for.  If you feel thats a value for you great then go ahead.

Make no mistake, the broker-client relationship is like other relationships, in that its hard to breakup which might make you stay after you realize there is little value which ends up costing you more and more.

Also, fees are the most important factor in investment success, not which investments you pick (something the investerati would have you believe they can do and you can't) and not timing (which some people believe they can do but have never proven it).

And stockbrokers and financial planners will be the first to tell you that they are not tax or legal experts and that you will need consult those experts as well as them so given that, what exactly does your financial guy do for you anyway?

So the answer to the question is that it depends on you but my opinion is that you do not need the advice of a stockbroker or financial planner.  You can acheive the same or better results by yourself.

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