Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fire Your Investment Adviser!

This may be some radical advice, but I truly believe that your investments (retirement fund, child's education fund, new home account) are best left to the person who cares about them the most. That's you! When we let others handle our investments (i.e. Manulife, Sunlife, Investors Group, etc...) we believe that they know better. How could they not, with all their sophisticated certificates and fancy business cards. Well it is statistical fact that investment advisers on average have underperformed the market indices (Malkiel B., 1973). So why do we constantly fork over our hard earned dollars to somebody in a suit who has convinced us that they know better?

One main reason that we continue to seek out investment adviser services is that we are led to believe that we cannot handle the responsibility ourselves. There is a multi-billion dollar industry built on this mentality. The more complicated they make the investment world seem, the more likely it is we will have to seek their services. A great book written by Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad series, entitled Conspiracy of the Rich talks about how we are deliberately led to believe that we cannot handle our own investments so that the banking industry and other financial institutes can continue to reap large profits. For more information check out: conspiracy-of-rich.html.

When you are looking at investment vehicles be sure to ask about the Management Expense Ratio or MER. The MER is a % annual fee of the capital you invest that goes into the investment adviser's pocket. MER's typically range from 0.5% to 2%. Paying this fee does not garuntee positive growth of your investments. In fact, even if the markets take a tumble and your investments take a loss the investment adviser still gets paid. Although 2% may not seem like a lot of money over the long haul it adds up to big bucks and companies that offer portfolio management services know this.

My suggestion is to seek out the lowest MER's or even better learn how to handle your investments yourself. Low MER's can be found in the form of Index Funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETF). For more information on ETF's traded in Canada visit Claymore investments (http://www.claymoreinvestments.ca/) and iShare (http://www.ishares.com/). These types of investments offer some of the lowest MER's. Over the long term low MER's and funds that mirror the market index will outperform 70% of all actively traded funds (Bogle J., 2007).

Even better is to manage your investments yourself. After all nobody cares more than you do. Another plus is that although you may have a couple losses in your investment career you can use those losses to build on your investment knowledge and develop your own investment style. If you pay someone else to do it, they can lose your whole nest egg and what you're left with is an empty pocket and no new investment knowledge to help you get out of the hole. The only thing you may gain from that experience is not to trust investment advisers.

Investing is risky business. As you increase your investment knowledge and gain valuable experience the risk levels will decrease. One key to unlimited wealth and prosperity is literacy and a local library card (free-books-magazines-dvds-and-music-cds.html). There have been a plethora of literature about how to build and keep your wealth. That being said, it's important to focus on the best books, because a lot of rubbish has been published on the subject. I've included a short of good reads I've come across at the end of this article

Knowledge is the new wealth. You can only attain this knowledge through actively managing your own investments, not by paying someone else to do it. Vultures are waiting around every corner to put their hands in your pocket. You can handle your own investments and you can develop your own investment style. Why pay others to gain valuable investment experience and play roulette with your nest egg?

Here is a short clip about ETF's:




Great Personal Finance and Investing Books Worth Reading

Start Small by Fred DeLuca (entrepreneurship)
start-small.html

4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris (entrepreneurship)
4-hour-workweek.html

The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton (personal finance)
best-personal-finance-reads.html

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (personal finance)
rich-dad-poor-dad-whats-asset.html

The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley & Danko (personal finance)
millionaire-next-door.html

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach ((personal finance)
whats-your-latte-factor.html

The Warren Buffett Way by Robert Hagstrom (investing)
invest-like-warren-buffett.html


References

Bogle J.C. 2007. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.

Malkiel B.G. 1973. Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, N.Y.

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