The internet is allowing information to be spread at unheard of rates and this has helped the retail investor gain vast amounts of knowledge.
Could the internet eventually replace our reliance on investment bankers and representatives? With so many websites out there to learn from, anyone who care about saving money can educate themselves enough to not require a reliance on investment professionals if they so choose.
And these savings can add up big. With a typical advisory fee of just 1%, you are basically paying $2,500 each year if you have $250,000 invested. Add in any fees they may have for meetings, advice, etc. and the numbers add up quick. We’ll go through the three websites out there and expand on what information they deliver and what can be utilized in replacing your financial advisor.
Investopedia.com is a fantastic resource to use for definitions you may fully understand in the financial world. This website does a fantastic job of explaining, as well as giving examples so people can understand the basics. At one time, you would call up your advisor and ask him or her what this meant or maybe you even purchased a book. Now, you can quickly reference it on Investopedia and have it clearly explained. They also offer a demo investment account you can practice investing strategies before actually implementing them. As always, there are some things that may require a professional, but this tool is a great step that may eliminate the need for a financial advisor.
The next resource that is widely available and popular is YouTube.com. There is a huge amount of knowledge about investing, trading, and finance. One word of caution. Be sure to do research before taking information from any one YouTube channel. A channel that can help grow knowledge in investing is Tastytrade. The channel focuses on options but offers great advice on long term investing. YouTube is also a place where a person can learn strategies as well as review trading platforms. Learning how to use a platform will eliminate calling a broker to process your trades.
Lastly, a resource that is a little more in depth and has detailed information is Finviz.com. Now, a financial advisor should know most of this information and know how to interpret the statistics, but if you’re able to learn a few of the important ratios, you can have confidence in investing money. Finviz offers P/E ratios, dividends, as well as charts that show trend lines, support, and resistance levels. The other user friendly aspect is that everything can be filtered. It can be filtered by fundamentals as well as technically.
In order to begin investing on your own, it should be a point to learn at least the basics of evaluating stocks. Even if your preference isn’t to invest in individual companies, it can give you the ability to evaluate mutual funds and their components. If you find that the highest weighted stock doesn’t fit the criteria of your choosing, you can switch to a different mutual fund. Having the ability to fully understand what is best for you is key.
It’s difficult to make the argument that financial advisors are going to be obsolete but there is a strong case to be made that advisors won’t be needed as frequently now. As people currently in their twenties learn more about finances and utilize apps such as Acorns and Robinhood, the need for brokers and advisors will decline. At the very least, you can choose a mutual fund and have the confidence about knowing what the fund is built with. There will always be people that rely upon the advice of a professional and rightly so, but with a little education and time spent learning, you can invest effectively and still feel confident about your growth. As always, it is important to weigh the risks and properly research anything before making any investment decisions. But doing so without paying an advisor could save you big if it’s done right.
Editor's Note: I've begun tracking my assets through Personal Capital. I'm only using the free service so far and I no longer have to log into all the different accounts just to pull the numbers. And with a single screen showing all my assets, it's much easier to figure out when I need to rebalance or where I stand on the path to financial independence.
They developed this pretty nifty 401K Fee Analyzer that will show you whether you are paying too much in fees, as well as an Investment Checkup tool to help determine whether your asset allocation fits your risk profile. The platform literally takes a few minutes to sign up and it's free to use by following this link here. For those trying to build wealth, Personal Capital is worth a look.