Posted by Jill Kerby on June 29 2011 @ 09:00
GET INFORMED AND TAKE ‘OWNERSHIP’ OF YOUR FINANCES
Even a currency and fiscal crisis comes with a silver lining and the one that I’ve noticed is growing is the realization by ordinary people that they have to take personal responsibility and ownership of all the decisions they now make regarding their money.
Last week I wrote about the importance of getting the right financial advice, ideally from well-qualified, fee-based advisors.
This week, at the request of a number of a readers who either missed or misplaced an earlier article about how you can improve your own financial knowledge so that you can get the most out of a session with an independent financial advisor, I will again list the courses, periodicals and books that I use or subscribe to, which have gone some way over the years in making me a better investor and manager of my own money.
As of last week, I have added another one by subscribing - initially at least - on a trial basis.
Called CheckRisk (see check-risk.com) and just launched in Ireland, this UK-based financial newsletter approaches the investment decision-making process from a different perspective: it offers pre-investment risk analysis as a tool to serious investors or analysts to assist them in making informed investment decisions. (Like most of the others below, subscriptions range from €100 - €500 per annum.)
While CheckRisk is suitable for those higher net worth and established private investors who already have some financial savvy, it’s main target are financial advisors who advise people like you, as well as professional fund managers and trustees who are running your pension fund and the investment funds you buy directly from banks and insurance companies.
(You might want to add CheckList to your list of queries when you are seeking the right investment advisor to hire, as in, “How do you establish the risk of the product/fund/asset you are recommending to me?”
Meanwhile, aside from the personal finance pages in The Sunday Times, the Irish Independent, The Financial Times and Toronto Globe & Mail, here is my checklist of favourite, free, on-line personal finance and economic websites and blogs:
1) www.dailyreckoning.co.uk and .com
4) www.bloomberg.com; reuters.com; moneywatch.com
7) www.nca.ie (National Consumer Agency)
8) www.goldcore.com (daily blog)
These are my favourite (mainly Agora Financial) subscription publications/websites:
2) The Economist
3) Agora Financial - Capital & Crisis and Mayer’s Special Situations
4) Stansberry Research - S&A Resource Report and 12% Letter
5) The Fleet Street Letter
Your should also check out www.InvestRcentre.com for investment courses you can take, ranging from the day long basic course to specialist subject ones on ETFs (exchange traded fund) investing. Rory Gillen and his team also hold regular evening seminars around the country.
Learning about how the markets (and money generally) works – and all the capital, taxation, inflation and geo-political risks – will make you a more confident saver or investor and help you avoid the most common pitfalls. They will help you to made informed decisions about the choices you make or that are recommended by an investment advisor.
Some of the most common money pitfalls are:
- Being afraid to say that you don’t understand the financial products and services you are about to buy, whether a credit card, mortgage, education fund or pension.
- Signing a contract before reading it.
- Buying a financial product because it is tipped or is “a sure thing” (like Eircom shares and holiday homes in Bulgaria).
- Putting all your financial eggs in one basket (like bank shares or property or euro).
- That property – bricks and mortar – are superior to any other investment asset.
- Not knowing the difference between a liability and an asset.
- Not writing a Will (this is a pitfall for your heirs).
- Not living within your means and sometimes, below your means.
- Not saving for your retirement from the moment you start working.
- Depending on “the state” for more than it – and your fellow taxpayers – can realistically deliver in a sustainable way.
Finally, my last list includes questions you must ask any regulated financial advisor before you engage them or purchase any product from them:
- What are your qualifications. How many years experience do you have?
- Are you independent or a tied agent?
- How are you paid? By commission or fee?
- What are your fees and how are they calculated?
- How many agencies do you hold from financial product providers?
- What is your investment philosophy? (I prefer the ones who say their first responsibility is not to lose your money.) How do you determine risk?
- What sort of ongoing training and education do you undertake? What sources/periodicals, etc do you regularly consult (see above)?
- Where do you invest your own money/retirement funds?
An informed saver and investor may not end up a great deal richer than a lucky, but ignorant one, but I doubt whether they will ever be poorer.
Just a week after young Rory McIlroy’s superb win at the US Open, it’s worth recalling what every lucky, winning golfer says and apply it to the management of your money: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get”.