As part of my quest to improve my financial health, I want to understand a little more about investing. But the truth is, I don’t want to understand too much more about investing.
When I chose my racehorse all those years ago, even though its colour played a major and unscientific factor, I was smart enough to also use any easily available data to narrow down the selection. I knew how to read the race program, so that I could see how well it had recently performed and what its handicap was to be; I asked my knowledgeable older brother if it would run better on firm or heavy-going ground; I’d heard of the jockey, or perhaps the trainer. If I’d had such a thing as an iphone then, I might even have Googled it. But I wouldn’t have analyzed the odds, or made detailed comparisons with other runners. In any case, there was only half-an-hour before the next race! I just wanted to have a small sense of “knowing”, which would allow me a tinge of smugness if I doubled my money (because after all, it wasn’t just chance!), but wouldn’t dash my confidence if I lost it.
The stake is a little higher now, but I find that I still have neither time nor, if I am honest, the inclination to learn too much. I want to be able to take some of the credit if it works, but I still don’t want to become an expert.
In fact, I have a confession to make. Ever since childhood, I’ve believed that the police are always right, the justice system works, teachers are smart, doctors know what’s wrong with their patients, and politicians have the country’s best interests at heart. Yes, my transition into adulthood has been something of a rude awakening! But still, when I take advice from experts, I generally believe them; it’s a form of laziness mixed with a kind of blind faith, and mitigated only by the fact that I do try to do a certain amount of research before I choose the expert. After that, I’m pretty much in his or her hands until I’m convicted for a crime I didn’t commit, the treatment makes me feel worse, or my child doesn’t know his times table.
So when I concluded last week that a number of brokerage names kept coming back to haunt me, I didn’t particularly want to equip myself to make detailed comparisons of them. They are all reputable names, I can easily find people who swear by each one (and, no doubt, people who swear at each one) and I’m sure that the differences between them are not so large that in the long run it will have any huge significance for my small sum of money.
What I really wanted was a short-cut way to understand which service might be best for me. And the way to get that, it seemed to me, was to find an unbiased, trusted advisor.
Which brings me to explain that this whole blog started as the result of a conversation with a long-standing friend. He runs an online company which specializes in helping small investors decide where to put their money by using a process driven entirely by a software program. Our conversation hinged on my point that even his relatively simple website was daunting to a financial ignoramus of my exceptional calibre. It was after that conversation that I decided to wise up a bit.
Well, now I’m feeling a little bit wiser, at least. So I went back to my friend last week and asked him what I should do next. And now that I’m ready to invest, his company has finally become interesting to me because I know and trust him, and therefore might do to you because I know and trust him on your behalf, and of course, any mention of it will serve as the second time I’ve plugged something, but at least you know that I know that you know. Can’t say fairer than that.
And he did give me good advice and with his help and a fresh glance at his suddenly much-less-daunting (well, mildly less daunting) website, I went through the whole process of selecting an online broker, determining my risk profile and choosing an investment plan for my $5k.
Unfortunately, or possibly fortunately for you, I have been reliably informed that no one likes to read a blog that goes on for more than a few hundred words. So in the best of literary traditions, I only have one thing more to say for now:
To Be Continued.
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