Simple Rules To Doing It Yourself

“I really need to see you and get your help.” I hear this often.  Not on a personal level. Which I suspect is a good thing, but on a professional level.

Sometimes, after this conversation, they change their mind in wanting to work with a Financial Planner.


Out of curiosity, I follow up to discover what’s behind the decision.

I do this so I can better gauge their decision making process.

The reasons vary.  Perhaps the sense of urgency dissipates.  Or, they haven’t worked with a Financial Planner before, and so are unsure about how to tell if it’s worth the money.  Maybe the last Financial Planner they worked for didn’t ‘cost’ them any money….but their money was put into A Class shares (hence how the fee was paid).

And, sometimes, it’s ‘I decided to do it myself’.

If that last one is you, here are some high level rules to DIY.

#1 Start by identifying your goals and prioritizing them in order of their importance to you.

#2 Learn about all the different asset classes and respective investment choices available to you by, at a minimum, reading the prospectus for each investment you are considering.

#3 Assess how comfortable you are with volatility (losing money in the short term). Get real honest with yourself  here: How much loss can you stomach, even though you understand it’s likely only a short term loss?

#4 Decide how much you want to pay in expense ratios for each investment.

#5 Identify which investments would best fit your goals.

#6 Diversify among those investment choices by ensuring that you have distributed correctly across the asset classes you want.

#7 Check in with your investments on a frequency you establish upfront. Avoid checking in response to market volatility.

These are not inclusive to what a Financial Planner does (e.g. income tax implications, risk exposure, estate implications, active vs. passive, and many other considerations aren’t factored above).

And lastly, never ever forget this rule: If you read about it (a ‘new’ trend or investment) in the news, you’re too late to it.