Investing: Tips and Tricks for Going It Alone

February 22, 2016
PMD Staff

For most, the best strategy for investing is to use the counsel of a trusted financial advisor. But if you consider yourself a solo artist when it comes to investing, there are a few things you can do to get and stay on track.

We have written often on the benefits and drawbacks of working with an advisor. But just because you’re a physician and most likely a higher earner (comparatively speaking) doesn’t mean you have to or necessarily want to work with a broker, analyst, or advisor. If you consider yourself a solo artist when it comes to investing, there are a few things you can do to get and stay on track.

Simplify What You Can

There are undoubtedly physicians who love to get into the nitty gritty of certain stocks and bonds, investment vehicles and strategies, growth funds and options, even hedge funds and corporate bonds. And that’s perfectly fine. For most, though, your busy career, family obligations, and pursuing other interests may mean less time to focus on the specific investment strategies that might benefit your portfolio the most.

The deeper you dive into the details of your investments, the more tinkering you may do, and you may ultimately find complexity creeping into your portfolio. If this is the case, think about simplifying. Three quick and easy ways to do this:

· Look into investment vehicles that are themselves somewhat diversified, such as index funds or lifecycle funds.

· Diversify yourself. I know it sounds odd to decrease complexity by diversifying, but by owning a variety of asset classes, you remove the need to constantly tinker with your investment mix.

· Use the tools at your disposal to monitor your portfolio. Today’s retirement providers have management tools that are easy to use and understand. And there are software programs, such as FutureAdvisor and many others, that help you make sure your current investment portfolio avoids duplication, is tax efficient, and is in line with your investment objectives.

Read, and Then Read Some More

Having a basic understanding of different investment vehicles is a crucial part of establishing and pursuing your financial goals. I covered some great places to start here. Those resources are timeless, but you’ll want to supplement that reading with more up-to-date information about what is going on in the world of finance, including The Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, The Economist (which has a strong focus on international news), Barron’s, and the resource I recommend most highly: Financial Times.

Oh, and keep reading Physician’s Money Digest!

Not everything you read will be of immediate use in managing your portfolio, but the better you understand the economic climate around you, the better positioned you’ll be to make adjustments as needed.

Pay Close Attention to Fees, and Don’t Forget to Rebalance

Working without an advisor will save you some money for sure, but look closely at the transaction fees and any other fees charged by the brokerage service you select. And remember that few investments are truly “set and forget.” At least annually, you will want to look under the hood, see how your investments are performing, and make any needed adjustments to make sure your portfolio is aligned with your investment goals.