Getting started as an investor can be a challenge. It is an odd thing, because while many people people fell completely overwhelmed at first, many of those same people also tend to believe that they can do it on their own.
For most things in life, we are programmed to believe that we need someone to help “show us the ropes” and give us some advice to get started. You wouldn’t want to teach yourself how to play golf, or learn a music instrument… so why would you want to teach yourself how to invest?
Perhaps the biggest reason is the vast amount of information that is readily available to us. The irony is that the huge amount of free information make up the best tools investors have at their disposal, but it is also the primary reason we are fooled into believing we can learn everything we need to know on our own.
We tend to think that it is easier than it really is. Most people have at least one friend who “hit it rich” in the market. Everyone has a story to tell, and as you can expect, they are typically going to tell you about more of their successes than their failures. Sure, your buddy may have scored big with an investment in Apple (AAPL)… but he didn’t tell you about the money he lost betting on JC Penney’s (JCP) turnaround program.
Most people start invest simply by opening an online account somewhere and start buying some stocks. After all, investing is easy! Buy low and sell high… how hard is that?
It usually doesn’t take long before people realize that making money in the market is not so easy. They are doing all their homework and staying on top of their investments, but they just can’t seem to make those huge gains that they dreamed about.
At this point, they start to realize that perhaps they need a little help. There are many ways to get that help.
The easiest way is to start looking at mutual funds. Professionals manage mutual funds, so you get your money in the hands of people that have experience and know what they are doing. This is a good way to go, because even though you are not managing the stocks in the fund, you are responsible for picking the fund you invest in. This allows an investor to keep the feeling of control, but keeps them from having to make the tough day-to-day decisions.
You can also turn to an investment advisor for some assistance. There are a lot of advisors out there. Contact a local financial advisor and go in for a consultation, lots of advisors will give you a free consultation. Use this meeting to get an idea of what an advisor can do to help you accomplish your goals. Chances are you will realize that there are a lot of things you could be doing that you weren't even aware of.
Of course, getting professional advice is not free. You are going to wind up paying management fees. But. if you get a good advisor, the additional returns will more than offset the fee, and there is no way to put a price on the piece of mind you will get.
There is nothing wrong with needing a little help… all successful investors at one time or another got a helping hand from someone. So, if your investments are not growing as fast as you would like, seek out some help… it may be the best investing decision you ever make.
Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va. His articles typically cover big-picture events and forecasting what impact they will have on the stock market. In addition to writing for Fresh Brewed Media, Michael also wrote for AOL's BloggingStocks for three years, focusing most of his attention on the energy and technology sectors.