Are you ready to start investing?
The simple fact is this: you need to invest if you want to achieve financial freedom. The number of people who have made, and kept, their wealth without investing rounds down to 0%. And for the vast majority of us, we will never have the type of paychecks that could deliver financial freedom without investments.
Like it or not, you need to invest. Your future depends on it.
One of the primary ways for an individual to invest is to enter the world of financial instruments, in particular stocks.
Why the Stock Market?
The stock market is simply a collection of companies. They sell ownership “shares”, that entitle the shareholder to a piece of the profits. That piece of profits, now and into the future, has a value. The market price of that value is the share price.
It is important to look at the basics when starting to invest. Wall Street has a bad rap, much of it earned by a few bad apples that spoil the basket. But, irrespective of the story you spout about Wall Street, investing is a necessity for your financial future. And investing in stocks is one of the easiest ways to begin investing.
How to Access the Stock Market?
Before you can invest, you need to know how to get access to those marketplaces.
Traditionally, this was done by your financial advisor. An individual, sometimes representing your best interests, would help you place your hard earned cash into a series of investments.
Today, access to financial markets has never been easier. There are online brokerages, robo-advisors, and financial advisors. Each avenue offers their own advantages and disadvantages.
Online Investment Brokerages
Investing online is an easy way for any DIY-er to get started. These online platforms and apps allow you to buy and sell financial instruments - often for a fee.
The real advantage to these platforms is the ability to invest in whatever you want.
Looking to buy and sell individual stocks? Can’t get enough of the weekly highs and crashes of Tesla? Maybe an online investment brokerage is for you.
Online brokerages allow you to choose your own investing style, and you have complete control over your successes and failures.
The disadvantage is exactly that freedom. Your failures are yours to own.
Robo-advisors also were born from the internet. The ease of accessing investment markets for anyone with an internet connection helped fuel the need for a simple, effective way of investing.
The main benefit of robo-advisors is the low cost access. These providers give you a few choices that suit your risk profile, and increasingly, your social conscience. These choices are designed to hit a specific goal, and really provide an excellent way to get into investing.
The trade-off of course is the loss of options. In a robo-advisors guided portfolio, you can’t pick and choose what stocks you invest in.
Finally, financial advisors are still around. And still valuable, for the right people.
A financial advisor will help you navigate some of the intricacies of investing, including multiple asset classes. The benefits of advice from a good financial advisor, with a fiduciary responsibility, cannot be understated.
But, that advice comes with a price. Financial Advisors are comparatively expensive to the other options.
Of course, with more options to choose from, how do you know you’re making the right choice?
How Should You Start Investing?
Stocks are an easy way to get started with investing. But which route is right for you?
To help you make that decision, ask yourself a few questions:
Have you invested before?
If no, skip right over an online brokerage. Get your feet wet with an advisor, either robo or in-person. Investing isn’t a game of chance. Learn to walk before you try to run.
If you have experience investing, this is an option you might consider.
How much time do you have to devote to investing?
Self-managed investing at an online brokerage requires a lot of financial research to see the best results. And that research takes time. Lots of time. If you like reading earnings reports and company profiles, self-managed investing might be for you. You should also be re-balancing your portfolio at least once a year, and likely once a quarter.
Finding yourself with less time on your hands? Other options might suit you better.
Do you have a complex financial situation?
The more complex your financial situation, the more likely you would benefit from a financial advisor reviewing your accounts. While robo-advisors are often quite good at the majority of financial situations, sometimes you just can’t beat the comfort of a human touch.
Are you just starting out?
Financial Advisors can offer tremendous advice. But, if you’re just starting out (and reading “How to start investing” articles), you probably aren’t in a position to benefit from that advice.
Online Brokerages on the other hand are relatively cheap and easy to access, but provide enough options to easily make mistakes and lose your shirt.
Robo-advisors hit that sweet spot in the middle. Enough choice to make you feel like you are controlling your financial destiny, but enough financial theory to help avoid some easy-to-make mistakes.
The best part is, this is your financial journey. You are in control, and can pick and choose as is right for you. Personally, I enjoy a mix of robo-advisors, with some self-managed investing at an online brokerage for some additional customization.
Keep in mind, your future depends on you taking action. Whichever route you decide, whether it’s an Online Brokerage, a Robo-Advisor, or a Financial Advisor, regularly investing money is essential.
Anyone can achieve financial freedom. You just need the right investments to help you along your journey.