In part thanks to the fallout from the financial crisis, consumers are starting to cotton on to the fact that there is no “set it and forget it” switch to their investment portfolios.
The majority of investors recently surveyed by Charles Schwab said that even though they may trust their financial advisor, they still check in from time to time to be sure they are working in their best interest.
Of investors who say they are actively engaged in investing, 72% check up on their their investments at least once a month. And of those, half make changes according to their financial and personal life situation.
It’s a positive sign, considering the insidiousness of 401(k) and financial advisory fees.
But we are far from having 100% total engagement, even for investors who have plenty of assets to worry about.
Charles Schwab asked more than 1,000 professionals with at least $250,000 in investible assets whether they take a hands-on approach to investing. The majority (60%) said they are engaged, but another 40% admitted they’re into the hands-off approach.
Why? Only one-third of less-engaged investors said it’s worth their time to be actively involved in their investments, and 20% automatically defer to their financial planner or advisor.
That’s not exactly a recipe for success.
“If you have a professional financial advisor, don’t assume that you should check your investments any less frequently,” says financial planner Dan Caplinger. “Advisors won’t necessarily contact you as often as you’d like, and they may not pay attention to the things that are most important to you. Keeping abreast of your own finances is crucial even if you’ve hired people to help you.”
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying people should learn to day trade on their lunch break (you may cyberstalk Warren Buffet but trust us — you’re no match for the pros). Following the ups and downs of the market on CNBC will get you nowhere either. By the time you’ve heard the news, it’s already too late to act on it, and chances are it will only distract you from your long-term goals.
The simpler your investment style, the less you’ll need to micromanage. The closest you can get these days to a low-maintenance strategy is relying on a low-cost index fund, an investment vehicle that consistently beats out actively managed portfolios.
Following up with your advisor a couple times per year, adjusting your investments as your life situation changes, and educating yourself about the cost of your investments along the way are just three simple ways to ensure your portfolio is working for you and not against you.
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