Stock Market 101: Investment Advice for Beginners

For most that do not invest in stocks, the idea of the stock market seems very risky and scary. For them, the risk appears to outweigh any potential upside. However, this is not the case!

Investment in stocks can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. This investment advice will help you start improving your investing skills today.

Stock Market 101: Investment Advice for Beginners

You may be wondering if investing is a good idea for you. Of course, it is! Every person needs to invest in order to grow their financial accounts.

Having your money tied up in traditional savings accounts alone will not do it. Not only will it provide it a low rate of return, but it probably will not even keep up with inflation.

Investment Platforms

Before we talk about the stock market in more detail, let’s talk about how you can purchase them. There are three main outlets in managing stock investments- online brokers, investment advisors, and robo-advisors.

While they are all different, one will be perfect for your personal situation and needs.

Online Brokers 

It is no surprise that many people turn to online brokers when looking to invest in the stock market. The most significant upside to online brokers is that you can handle everything entirely online. Also, you can invest in a wide variety of items.

However, online brokers are not always beginner-friendly. While they offer some investment advice, most online brokers are geared towards those with more experience and comfortable in managing their own investment portfolios.

Investment Advisors

Investment advisors are dedicated professionals that can give you personalized investment advice. These advisors work with people one-on-one and can give you direct investment advice based on your goals, timeline, and how much risk you want to take.

After discussing this with a potential investor, the investment advisor will create a diverse portfolio that is appropriate for their needs and wants. The portfolio is filled with a wide range of products.

For most beginners, it can be challenging to find an investment advisor to work with. Many advisors only work with those with an extensive portfolio or significant amount of money (starting around $250,000) available to invest.

Robo-Advisors

Robo-advisors are recent additions to the scene but have quickly become a popular way to invest in the stock market. Offering similar services as investment advisors, they do not require a high investment, making them within reach for all investors.

Just like traditional investment advisors, robo-advisors will evaluate your goals, needs, and tolerance to risk. They will create a personalized portfolio that will be filled with lower-cost products. This helps you save money as the fees will not be as high as other avenues.

Robo-advisors are available to investors, both new and established. No matter your income available for investing, a robo-advisor can create a portfolio for you!

Stocks

Stocks are a popular product to use when investing in the stock market. Usually, stocks highly outperform other investments and outpace inflation.

Many investors make stocks the primary investment in their portfolio. While they tend to diversify for lower risk tolerance, investors keep coming back to stocks for their high return.

So, how much of your portfolio should be stocks? For a conservative portfolio, a common rule is that the percentage of a portfolio that should be stocks is 120 minus your age. For example, if you are 40, 80% of your portfolio should be stocks. Then, when you turn 50, that number lowers to 70%.

Stocks to Invest In 

So what stocks should you invest in? As a new investor, you should focus on categories, not individual stocks. We will go over some of the standard and best stock categories to invest in as a beginning investor.

Value Stocks 

Value stocks trade at lower prices. These are usually companies that are recovering from some difficulty or had faced some legal issues. Because of this, their prices are lower than other stocks.

However, the benefit can be yours once the company recovers. Your investment in value stocks will likely outperform the stock market in general over the long term.

High Dividend Stocks 

High dividend stocks are just what their name suggests, a stock that pays out a higher dividend than the average. Since around half of the return on stocks comes from dividends, it just makes sense to invest in high dividend stocks.

These are also a great way to give a bit of protection to your portfolio. Having high dividend stocks can provide some level of protection during a downturn in the stock market.

Growth Stocks

Growth stocks are from those businesses that are growing faster than their competitors and other companies that are listed on the general stock market. Even though they traditionally do not pay dividends, the return comes from the rising stock price when help on to long-term.

Just a piece of investment advice on growth stocks: these are considered high risk. While the potential is strong for growth, they may also take significant hits when there is a downturn in the market. Just remember that these are a long-term return stock, and you should be OK.

Start Investing in Stocks 

Now that you know a little more about stocks and investing, you may wonder if you should get started. There are some steps you should take beforehand to ensure that you are ready!

First, you need to get a solid financial base. Some basics to follow includes having sufficient and stable income, an emergency fund that covers three to six months of expenses, and a track record of saving. This will help set you up for a solid beginning to your investment portfolio.

Second, you should further educate yourself about the different types of investments and products available in the stock market. Just remember to never invest in something you don’t understand. When purchasing a stock, you are actually investing in a specific business.

When investing in a business, you should educate yourself on that business and its industry as must as you possibly can.

Investment Advice

While all of this may seem overwhelming, there are many advisors and sites ready to help you with any investment advice that you need. Don’t let the fear of the stock market stop you from realizing your financial goals.

Check out our blog for more information on how to guide your investment and enhance your ROI.

Combating Insurance Fraud With Machine Learning

By Georgios Kapetanvasileiou, Analytical Consultant at SAS

Most insurance companies depend on human expertise and business rules-based software to protect themselves from fraud. However, people move on. And the drive for digital transformation and process automation means data and scenarios change faster than you can update the rules.

Machine learning has the potential to allow insurers to move from the current state of “detect and react” to “predict and prevent.” It excels at automating the process of taking large volumes of data, analysing multiple fraud indicators in parallel – which taken individually may often be quite normal – and finding potential fraud. Generally, there are two ways to teach or train a machine learning algorithm, which depend on the available data: supervised and unsupervised learning.

Predictive modelling

In predictive modelling or supervised learning, algorithms make predictions based on a set of examples from historical data. You can present an algorithm with historical claims information and associated outcomes often called labelled data. It will attempt to identify the underlying patterns in fraudulent cases. Once the algorithm has been trained on past examples, you can use it to infer the probability of a new claim being fraudulent. AKSigorta Insurance is using advanced predictive modelling as part of its investigation process. The company has managed to increase its fraud detection rate by 66% and prevent fraud in real time.

There is a wide variety of predictive modelling algorithms to choose from, so users should take into account issues such as accuracy, interpretability, training time and ease of use. There is no single approach that works universally. Even experienced data scientists have to try different methods to find the right algorithm for a specific problem. It is, therefore, best to start simple and explore more advanced machine learning methodologies later. Decision trees, for example, are an excellent way to start exploring complex relationships within data. They are relatively easy to implement and fast to train on large volumes of data. More importantly, they are very easy to understand or interpret, and can be a good starting point for new business rules.

Other options for more accuracy

Decision trees can, however, become unstable over time. When accuracy becomes a priority, practitioners should look at other options. Support vector machines (SVMs) and neural networks are capable of learning complex class boundaries and generalise well to unseen cases. They have been extensively used for fraud detection. Tree-based algorithms, such as gradient boosting and random forests, have also become more popular in recent years. Ideally, analysts should try multiple approaches in parallel before deciding what works best.

Supervised learning is effective in identifying familiar cases of fraudulent activity but cannot uncover new patterns. Another challenge is the limited numbers of fraud examples with which to train the algorithm. Fraud is a relatively rare event, after all. The ratio between fraud and nonfraud cases can sometimes be as much as 1 to 10,000. This means that predictive algorithms tend to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of nonfraud cases, and may miss the fraudulent ones. Labelling new data for training a model can also be time consuming and expensive.

Unsupervised learning

Unsupervised learning algorithms are trained against data with no historical labels. In other words, the algorithm is not given the answer or outcome beforehand. It is merely asked to explore the data and uncover any “interesting” structures within them. For example, given certain behavioural information, unsupervised learning algorithms can identify groups (or clusters) of customer transactions that appear similar. Anything that appears different or rare could be flagged as an anomaly (or an outlier) for further investigation.

Unsupervised learning methods can, therefore, identify both existing and new types of fraud. They are not restricted to predefined labels, so can quickly adapt to new and emerging patterns of dishonest behaviour. For example, a New Zealand health insurer used unsupervised learning methods to identify cases where practitioners were deliberately overcharging patients for a particular procedure or providing unnecessary treatment for certain diagnoses.

Unsupervised anomaly detection methods include univariate outlier analysis or clustering-based methods such as k-means. However, the recent move towards digitalisation means more data, at higher volumes, from a wider range of data sources. New algorithms, such as Support Vector Data Description, Isolation Forest or Autoencoders, have been introduced to address this. These may be a more efficient way of detecting anomalies and allow for faster reaction to new fraud.

Social network analysis

These methods are useful for identifying opportunistic fraud. However, many fraudsters today operate as part of professional, organised rings. Activity may include staged motor accidents to collect on premiums, ghost brokering, or collusion between patients and health practitioners to inflate claim amounts. These career fraudsters can repeatedly disguise their identities and evolve their way of operating over time.

Social network analysis is a tool for analysing and visually representing relationships between known entities. Examples of shared entities could be different applicants using the same telephone number or IP address, or a motor accident involving multiple people. Social network methods can automate the process of drawing connections from disparate data sources and visually representing them as a network. This significantly reduces the investigation time – in one case, from 10 days to just two hours. In the UK, a large P&C insurer made £7 million savings per annum by uncovering groups of collaborating fraudsters using network analytics.

A hybrid approach

No single technique, however, is capable of systematically identifying all complex fraud schemes. Instead, insurers need to combine sophisticated business rules and advanced machine learning approaches. This will allow them to cast the net wide, but improve accuracy and reduce false positives, making fraud detection more efficient.

Reed Smith appoints former Deutsche Bank Managing Director in London

LONDON, 7 January UK – Reed Smith today announced that Joe Kohler has joined the firm’s Financial Industry Group, marking another significant addition to its banking advisory and derivatives practice.  Kohler joins Reed Smith from Deutsche Bank, where he served as Managing Director, Legal, Corporate & Investment Banking.  In that role, he co-led the bank’s sales and trading legal function globally, with deep transactional experience across the entirety of the fixed income, currencies and commodities businesses.

Reed Smith appoints former Deutsche Bank Managing Director in London

Over the course of his 18-year career at Deutsche Bank, Kohler led the legal work on many of the largest and most important transactions the bank conducted. He managed Deutsche Bank’s legal department’s response to counterparty defaults, downgrades and worked on enforcement and asset recovery efforts during the credit crisis of 2008. He also worked on the building of the first OTC derivative clearing offerings, on the development of the related market infrastructure and contributed to trade association efforts to standardise the related documents. He then helped shape the bank’s response to new regulatory developments such as EMIR, MiFID II, the collateralisation of uncleared derivatives, Brexit and IBOR reform.  Furthermore, he also has extensive experience of merger and acquisition activity in the financial sector, having led on the acquisition and disposal of many businesses and portfolios.

Kohler has led large teams on strategically critical projects within Deutsche Bank and brings to Reed Smith a deep understanding of the inner workings of the legal department within a global investment bank.  Given his sophisticated knowledge of structured finance and products, expertise across industry asset classes, and litigation and regulatory enforcement experience, and in-house familiarity, Kohler is well placed to add to Reed Smith’s bench strength providing strategic advice to banking clients on these transactions.

“Joe’s arrival adds to the bench strength of the firm’s highly regarded banking advisory and derivatives practice,” said Ed Estrada, global chair of Reed Smith’s Financial Industry Group.  “Joe is immensely respected and regarded within Deutsche Bank and throughout the investment bank community, and his reputation for providing steady and sound leadership on complex transaction and litigation matters as in-house counsel is an invaluable asset that our clients will certainly benefit from.  We are excited to have him join our team.” 

Kohler said, “As an in-house counsel, I wanted the law firms my team instructed to add something to secure a better solution than we could deliver on our own – perhaps insight, experience or capability. I was always reassured when we selected Reed Smith, because they always delivered what we had been looking for, and did so efficiently and with a profound understanding of the commercial context.  I am really excited to be joining Reed Smith’s highly impressive team.”

About Reed Smith

Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. Our belief is that by delivering smarter and more creative legal services, we will not only enrich our clients’ experiences with us, but also support them in achieving their business goals.

Our long-standing relationships, international outlook, and collaborative structure make us the go-to partner for the speedy resolution of complex disputes, transactions, and regulatory matters.

For further information, please visit reedsmith.com.

More Than One Basket. Why Every Person Needs Multiple Bank Accounts

Despite growing mistrust in the banking industry since the 2008 financial crash, we remain steadfastly loyal to our personal banks. So loyal that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that, in 2016, only 3% of UK residents switched banks. While that doesn’t reveal how many people have multiple bank accounts, it may well suggest that we’re not looking at our banking activities strategically. Having a single bank account makes things simple on the face of it. But is it sensible?

With the financial crash, which included the failure of Northern Rock, and the increase in cybercrime, we know that putting all our eggs in one basket is a bad idea. But there are a variety of reasons why it’s sensible to have multiple bank accounts. 

In the UK and across Europe, many bank accounts are free, making opening a new one easy. No matter where you’re located though, having over one bank account could have huge benefits for your finances. 

Want to know why? Keep reading and we’ll break it down. 

Protect Your Money

Spreading the risk is one of the most sensible things you can do with investing and the same goes for storing your hard-earned money. If you have just one bank account, you leave yourself open to serious problems. 

If your financial institution fails, you may lose access to the money you’ve stored with them. While it seems unlikely, the banking industry is changing at a rapid rate and instability can happen, even as stricter regulations are in the works. 

Bank Failure

In the UK, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects your money if a British bank fails. However, they will only protect your finances up to £85,000 in each financial institution. 

A financial institution is an entire corporation rather than individual banks. For example, if you have £100,000 in Natwest and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fails, you’ll only be protected for £85,000 as Natwest is owned by RBS. 

If you have split your £100,000 between two accounts, one with Natwest and one with RBS, you will still only get protection on £85,000. This is one reason you do not only need more than one bank account, but you should spread accounts across different parent financial institutions. 

Cybercrime

Cybercrime is becoming more prevalent around the world, putting banks and your money at risk. In 2017, a major cyber-attack caused havoc with multiple banking systems across the UK. There’s a continued risk of this happening again which means you’re at risk of not being able to access your money when you need it. 

If a cyber-attack affects the operating of your bank, when you have a second account with a separate bank, you’ll still have access to some of your money. 

Going Abroad

Have you ever had your card blocked by your bank when you’re away? Fraud teams prefer to be safe than sorry and you may well find yourself without access to your account at some point. 

By having more than one bank account, you can use your second account if your first is blocked by a fraud team. 

Manage a Budget

The average household debt in the UK is over £15,000 and the figures are worse in the US, where the average individual’s debt is $38,000 (£29,000). One thing is clear, we need to be budgeting more effectively. 

With one bank account, all of your income and outgoings are lumped in together. This makes it difficult to manage money for different outgoings and to save proactively. 

When you have multiple bank accounts, you can use one for day-to-day spending and others for separate purposes. This includes savings, mortgage or rent payments, self-employed tax, and whichever purposes suit your life. 

It’s easy to move money from one bank to another, allowing you to move money into savings the moment you get paid. 

Savings Accounts and ISAs

Savings accounts and ISAs often have far better interest rates than current accounts, allowing you to make money and benefit from tax-free interest. It’s wise to have designated savings accounts that you move money into and don’t use as day-to-day spending money. 

Even saving small amounts has a compound effect as you’ll earn interest on the full balance, including previous interest payments. Keeping this savings money separate from your usual current accounts stops you from seeing it easily and being tempted to spend it. 

Multiple Currencies

It’s increasingly easier to open bank accounts in other currencies. Having a Euro bank account, for instance, means you avoid foreign transaction fees and variable exchange rates. 

It also means you can withdraw money easily in Euro countries from ATMs without facing charges. 

Separating Personal and Business Accounts

If you run a business, even as a sole proprietor, keeping your personal and business finances separate will make your life easier. You’ll get a better picture of how well your business is doing and can keep track of payments and outgoings more easily. 

Some business accounts also come with added benefits such as free business advice or discounted business products. 

Joint Accounts

If you share outgoings with a partner, having a joint account can help you manage your shared responsibilities. If you jointly pay a mortgage or rent, utilities, and subscriptions, you can store this money each month in your joint account and create direct debits to pay out. 

This is a useful way of separating joint expenditure from your personal finances. This can also offer a small amount of financial protection in the event of the death of an unmarried partner. On the death of one joint account holder, the account will automatically belong to the surviving account holder regardless of marital status. 

Stay Safe with Multiple Bank Accounts

There are many benefits of having multiple bank accounts and having only one puts your money at risk. Having more than one account helps protect your money from bank instability and cyber attacks, enabling you to access part of your wealth. 

It’s also helpful for travelling abroad and saving for your future. You can take advantage of better interest rates, separate savings from everyday spending, and see business finances clearly. 

To learn more about the global financial world and keep on top of news, check out our Editor’s Picks

UnionBank’s ‘Tech Up, Pilipinas’ drive resonates at Singapore Fintech Festival

Only Phl banking exhibitor since 2018 draws VIPs

Visitors are drawn to the two-story UnionBank booth that highlighted revolutionary and socially relevant digital innovations.
Visitors are drawn to the two-story UnionBank booth that highlighted revolutionary and socially relevant digital innovations.

Still the lone Philippine banking institution participating at the annual Singapore Fintech Festival (SFF) held at the Singapore Expo last week, Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) again established a powerful presence on the world stage worthy of the visit of well-known dignitaries, the prime minister of Singapore included.   

Replicating its success on its global debut at the SFF last year, UnionBank – thrice honored by Asiamoney as the Philippines’ Best Digital Bank since 2017 – bannered its suite of emerging technologies, along with those of its fintech and thrift subsidiaries UBX and CitySavings, consistent with its relentless drive to extend more affordable and accessible financial services to all Filipinos here and abroad.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong chats with UnionBank chairman Justo Ortiz as he made a stop at the UnionBank exhibition – the first booth he visited at the SFF. With them are UnionBank president and CEO Edwin Bautista, UBX president and CEO John Januszczak, Platform Development head Ramon Duarte, Human Resource head Michelle Rubio, Transaction Banking head John Cary Ong and Fintech Business Group head Arvie de Vera.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong chats with UnionBank chairman Justo Ortiz as he made a stop at the UnionBank exhibition – the first booth he visited at the SFF. With them are UnionBank president and CEO Edwin Bautista, UBX president and CEO John Januszczak, Platform Development head Ramon Duarte, Human Resource head Michelle Rubio, Transaction Banking head John Cary Ong and Fintech Business Group head Arvie de Vera.

No less than the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, together with Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon, graced the booth frequented by curious visitors intently asking about the bank’s cutting-edge digital products and platforms and how it benefits the common man. UnionBank has partnerships with OCBC Bank Singapore to pioneer remittance services from the city-state to the Philippines through blockchain-based platforms, and with the MAS for its SME marketplace Business Sans Borders (BSB) that is seen to empower local SMEs to explore and expand internationally.

UnionBank president and CEO Edwin Bautista and chairman Justo Ortiz explained how, through the bank’s comprehensive strategy called “Tech Up, Pilipinas,” it is utilizing technology to promote financial inclusion for sustainable prosperity, particularly of the unbanked and the underserved, who compose around half of the Philippines’ 108 million population. Financial inclusion is a vital component for the realization of the Philippines’ vision to become a G20 country by 2050.

Other dignitaries who visited the UnionBank booth were Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph Del Mar Yap and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Govenor Benjamin Diokno, who looked visibly proud of the Filipino ingenuity as he was toured inside the booth by Bautista. The central bank chief thanked UnionBank for raising the Philippine flag at what is dubbed as the biggest fintech summit gathering global innovation and business leaders. Bautista, in turn, said UnionBank’s remarkable showing at the SFF is a testament to its commitment to remain agile and a frontrunner in this digital revolution.

Prepare Them For The Future: 5 Unique Ways To Teach Kids About Money

Did you know that 62% of parents give their kids an allowance? 

But it’s not enough to just hand your kids money. You need to teach them the value of a dollar and how to spend it. 

Teaching kids about money doesn’t have to be hard. Money is one of the greatest stressors for adults. But if you can teach your kids early how to budget, you can save them a lot of heartache later on. 

This article will give you 5 ways to teach your kids about money. 

1. Match Allowance to Chores

Don’t start giving your children money until they’re old enough to do chores.

If you give your child an allowance when they’re very young for doing nothing, they’ll question why they have to work for their money later on. 

When your child is old enough to do housework, be sure to match the money you give to the work they do. 

For instance, offer a certain amount for each chose. Vacuuming could be one dollar, washing the dishes could be two dollars. 

It’s important to break down the value of each piece of work they do. This will teach them how labor gets exchanged for money. 

Make a chore chart so they know what they’re in charge of each day. Set a “payday” on Fridays so they have money to spend over the weekend. 

This traditional work schedule will get them used to waiting for their money and spending it wisely. If they don’t do their chores, don’t cave and give them the allowance anyway. This isn’t how money works in the real world and you’ll be sending them the wrong message about hard work. 

2. Make Them Pitch In

There is no way your seven-year-old can pay for every toy they want.

But this doesn’t mean they can’t pitch in a portion. When your child asks for a major game or toy, always make them pay for a small portion.

Even if it only takes them saving their allowance for two weeks, this simple act will make them value the toy more.

if you constantly give your child toys without them having to do any work, they won’t appreciate them. The toys will become something they’re entitled to rather than something they had to work for. 

3. Talk About What You’re Buying

Your kids are always listening to you. 

They hear you talk to your spouse about big purchases coming up. Next time you buy something large, include your child in the conversation.

Explain to them how long it took you to save up for that item. This way, when a brand new minican arrives in your garage, your child doesn’t think it got there by magic. They will start to understand that all those days you go off to work, you were earning the minivan. 

Talk about how long it will take to pay off the minivan if you haven’t already. 

When you go to an ATM, tell your child how much money you’re taking out. Don’t make the process of withdrawing money look easy. 

4. Cook More Meals

Eating out every night and buying your child food from the drive-thru sets the wrong precedent.

It teaches your child that food comes easily and that it’s accessible when you want it. Your child will have no framework for how much it really costs to feed themselves.

Instead, focus on cooking the meals you put on the dinner table. 

Take your child to the grocery store with you and get the ingredients to make the food he or she loves to eat a restaurant.

For instance, if her favorite restaurant food is a burger and fries, then go to the store and buy those ingredients. Add up how much each ingredient costs together and compare that number with how much you would have spent at the restaurant. 

You’ll notice that getting food in the grocery store is far less expensive- and your child will too.

Then take the ingredients home and cook together. This will teach your child the importance of working for the food they ear. 

5. Use a Clear Piggy Bank

As an adult, you know what to look for in a bank, but your child doesn’t 

Sure, traditional piggy banks are cute. But they’re also impossible to see in without opening them.

You want your child to store their money in a clear receptacle so that they can see how much is in there. 

This will help them understand the process of earning and saving money. They can visually see how much further they have until their goal. 

A good practice is to teach them to wait until the piggy bank is full before spending the money. Maybe offer them a couple of bonus dollars if they keep the money in the piggy bank long enough. Think of this as teaching them how interest works. 

So Now You Know The Importance of Teaching Kids About Money

Remember, teaching kids about money is crucial to their success later on. 

High school courses don’t often cover important topics like how to spend money, and once your kid is in college it will be too late. 

You want them to be smart about earning money early so they don’t make mistakes later on. 

On the flip side, remember that your child is still a child. Don’t overstress them about money issues that you’re having. It’s important they know how the world works, but they shouldn’t be so worried about finances that they can’t sleep at night. They’ll have the rest of their lives to worry.

Wondering the best adult bank to save your money? Check out our advice here. 

Don’t Gamble With Your Future: Why Everyone Needs a Financial Advisor

50% of Americans don’t have anything saved for their retirement. Another 34% have nothing in their savings account at all. Part of this problem is the inability to understand personal finance and planning. A financial advisor is trained and experienced in the art of how to save and use your money.

Personal financial planners help everyone from recent graduates to those trying to save for their retirement. While they aren’t free, the money they can potentially save you, in the long run, is worth their advice.

Keep reading to learn more about planning your future and why you need a financial advisor.

Ignoring Your Finances Will Not Make Them Better

Besides the obvious fact that ignoring your finances will not make them better, it will also negatively affect your well-being. One study found that how you perceive items like your current financial situation as well as how well you’ve planned for the future, affects your well-being. These perceptions about your financial state impact everything from your job satisfaction to your physical health.

Needless to say, then, if your finances aren’t in order, the idea of going through them is probably scary. And that’s especially true if you know you’re in a lot of debt, but you’re not sure how much (or how to get out of it). 

The solution to that problem is not to ignore the issue but to tackle it before things get even worse. If you don’t know where to start, that’s where a financial advisor comes in.

More Money

Tackling your money problems with a financial advisor leads us to the next reason you should consult a financial advisor. That is, a financial adviser might actually be able to put more money in your pocket.

Financial advisors help you accomplish this in three ways:

  • They help you manage your income more effectively. 
  • They help increase your cash flow through tax planning, expenditure monitoring, and careful budgeting.
  • They increase your capital by increasing cash flow for potential investments

Overcoming Personal Biases

The benefit of managing your own money is how much you save. But the main disadvantage of having sole insight into your finances is that you have personal biases that are difficult to overcome.

Your biases impact your decisions, and that includes important financial ones. For example, people who lost money in the tech bubble in 2000 might be reluctant to reinvest in this sector, even if the potential for return is great. A financial planner can help you overcome those personal barriers.

At the same time, a financial advisor can help guide you through difficult financial situations wherein your emotions can get the best of you. If you’ve invested in the stock market, for example, a steep decline in the market may lead you to panic where a financial planner knows when to stay calm. With their experience, you can make logical and reasonable decisions with your money even throughout tough financial times. 

A Trustworthy Relationship

You can – and should – trust your financial advisor. These are professionals who have taken a fiduciary oath. That is, they are legally bound to putting your needs before their own.

Some financial advisors are also C.F.P. board certified. This certification indicates that your financial advisor follows a certain level of competency standards set by the Certified Financial Planner Board.

A Financial Planner Can Help You Achieve Long Term and Short Term Goals

Financial planners do exactly what their name indicates: they help you plan your finances for both the long and short term. If you, like most people, struggle to set, prioritize and reach your financial goals, a financial planner will show you how to reach your long and short term goals.

In the long term, a financial advisor can assist with paying off student loans, maximizing your 401k, or becoming consumer debt-free. In the short term, a financial planner helps with building emergency funds, paying for a wedding, or buying your first property.  

Plus, you’ll learn from your financial advisor and the plan they help you build. When you help create a financial plan, you follow it closely, and you reap the results, you’re perspective on controlling your finances is likely to change.

Professional Advice and Knowledge

Let’s be honest, you might know how to set up your online bank, you might even have tried your hand at playing the stock market, but you’re not an educated, certified, or experienced financial professional. A financial advisor has the credentials to handle all of the nuances of your finances and to find things that you’re likely to overlook.

A financial advisor will take an unbiased and holistic look at your finances and offer advice on where you can improve your savings and cash flow. But they can also help you with more complicated financial items like taxation, estate planning, and how to handle your debt.

Keep in mind, too, those finances are dynamic. They’re impacted by volatile markets and economic cotexts that grow and change. Your financial advisor helps you plan for those transitions and changes – and for the ones in your own life (i.e. retirement, career changes, etc.).

More Advice Than a Financial Advisor

Visiting a financial advisor is a good idea at all stages of life, regardless of your financial situation. Whether you’re ready to start saving for retirement, you’ve just graduated from college, or you’re preparing to buy your first property, a financial advisor can help you achieve those goals. 

While the cost of a financial advisor is a hindrance for some people, a financial advisor can actually help put more money in your pocket. They can show you how to better use your income, ultimately increasing your cash flow and your capital. 

But for even more advice than a financial advisor can give you, check out our financial advice blog. It’s full of all the financial information one could need.

Don’t Wait Until You’re Older. Start Saving For Retirement Now

Saving for retirement is so stressful when you feel like it’s all you can do to make it to the next paycheck. With more than half the American public feeling like they’re behind on their retirement planning, that’s a lot of stressing out! 

In the following article, we’re going to address what you can do to turn the tide. But first, let’s look at the obstacles that are keeping you from it.

Why You’re Not Saving

Saving is easy once you get started doing it. But it can be very difficult taking the first step. This is usually due to us believing certain falsehoods we’re about to get into, but also could be due to some seemingly legitimate reasons.

Not Enough Income

Living paycheck to paycheck is an unfortunate reality for millions of people. If it’s all gone by the time the next check comes around, how could you possibly find enough wiggle room to put back for your retirement?

Failing to Track Your Spending

Some families don’t make enough money. That’s indisputable. But a large number of us also spend more than we intend to by failing to scrutinize the things we’re buying with meaningful detail. 

Convincing Yourself You Cannot Afford It

Sometimes you can afford more than you think but you’re so downtrodden from the feeling of not getting ahead that you fail to realize the opportunities. We’re going to say something crazy here, but it’s true. You can always afford to save something.

Spending Therapy

This is one a lot of us have been guilty of. We’re so dejected by the lack of extra money each pay period that we get fed up with never having the chance to enjoy life and end up spending more than we should, thanks to weak sales resistance, a lack of willpower, and a little plastic.

Now you know the behaviors and situations that are causing the drama. It’s time that we looked at some solutions for what to do about it. Follow as many of these as you can, and you’ll have a retirement account before you know it.

1. Design the Lifestyle You Want

Before considering a savings account or any other financial instrument, get your goals in order. Don’t obsess over the harsh reality. Picture where you want to be.

What is a realistic lifestyle you would like to have if you were to ever pay your way out of debt? What does fiscally responsible behavior look like and how does it balance with what you like to buy or do? 

2. Assess Where You Are

Still not quite ready for the retirement account. Instead, it’s time to assess where you are. And we mean where you truly are.

Go over your ongoing expenses with a fine-toothed comb. Account for every dollar you make. Compare the two to see how much discretionary income you have (or how much more you’ll need to earn). 

3. Start Small

The smart saving habits have nothing to do with volume. Few people ever get rich overnight. They do it by incremental savings over time, thanks in part to the concept of compounding interest.

Enjoying any of that, however, requires that you save something, even if it’s just one percent of what you make. Get comfortable saving before upping the ante.

4. Know When to Get More Aggressive

Another important thing to learn when investing money wisely is that there will come a time when you can and should be more aggressive. Many analysts suggest taking the risk on more volatile investments (like emerging markets) when you’re in your 20s, for instance. Then, work in more conservative investments the closer you get to retirement.

That’s ideal. But it may not be for everyone. People who start late and are trying to catch up to their retirement number, namely. 

The point: there’s a time to be aggressive and a time to be conservative in your investment decisions. Learn when those times are for you.

5. Choose the Right Financial Instruments

There are many retirement accounts and investment options to choose from. Employees often have the option of saving pre-tax dollars through a 401k. Self-employed individuals prefer the Roth IRA, which can be withdrawn at retirement tax-free.

You also might consider round-up accounts that go up to the nearest whole dollar and are tied to your debit card transactions. For every purchase you make, whatever change gets you to the next whole dollar goes into an investment portfolio.

6. Target the Amount You Will Need to Retire Comfortably

Use a retirement calculator to gauge how much money you’re going to need for retirement. From there, play with the numbers to see how aggressive you need to be in your savings for where you are at this moment in life.

7. Make More Money

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. The Internet has opened up a plethora of ways we can use our existing talents to make extra money on the side.

If you do start a side gig, however, make sure you hold out 30 percent for tax purposes. That’s considered self-employment money, so you won’t have an employer to pay half of your Social Security and Medicaid costs.

8. Cut Unnecessary Expenses

Are there any entertainment subscriptions you can live without? What about meals and coffees out?

Scrutinizing your spending will highlight opportunities to reduce your output. It won’t solve all your problems, but it will free up some money to go into a retirement account.

9. Capitalize on Your Benefit Offerings

This isn’t for everyone. But if you do work with an employer that offers a 401k with matching, take advantage of it. That’s like getting double for each contribution you make, up to three or five percent anyway.

10. Invest in Life Insurance

We recommend this because a) some life insurance builds cash value that can be withdrawn or borrowed against, and b) it will leave your family with options in the event something happens to you and you haven’t saved any money for retirement or unexpected expenses.

Yes, insurance is an ongoing expense. But it also provides you with enough peace of mind to not be discouraged when your retirement planning falls behind.

11. Enjoy Your Money When You Can

You can’t take it with you, and you’re only young once. Take advantage of a healthy mind and body by finding some room to enjoy your money when you can. Do it without feeling guilty, too.

Saving for Retirement Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore

Saving for retirement can be gratifying when you see those small contributions start to add up. Whatever you do, don’t be discouraged by a lack of progress. Start saving whatever you can now, and you won’t regret it.

Good luck! And if you’d like any help with retirement questions or other financial advice, try our Letters to the Editor feature today.