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June 30, 2022

DIY Investing vs Financial Advisors: When, Why, How?

In recent years there has been an explosion in DIY investing, supported by the birth of user-friendly, low-cost, investment platforms. With this increase in DIY investing, there has also been an increase of free educational resources including sites like Money Hub and information offered by the platforms themselves to help new investors make informed investment choices. Some people might be happy to manage their own investments, but others might wonder when to look at getting financial advice.

The short answer is that there is no right or wrong time to speak to an adviser and it’s more a personal decision as to whether they would add value to your specific situation. Below we delve into five things to consider when thinking about engaging with an adviser.

You don’t NEED to hire a financial adviser

The first point to mention is that if you like managing your own investments, and you feel comfortable doing so, you don’t need to get advice just because you have a certain amount of money. There are many investment platforms that provide the infrastructure needed to invest, as well as educational resources. These platforms include the likes of Kernel, Sharesies, and InvestNow, all of which give you the ability to invest in an easy and automated manner.

It's important that you have some level of knowledge about how investing and financial markets work or it can have serious consequences for your future, i.e. diversify, don’t panic when markets fall etc. Even if you are looking to hire a financial adviser it’s good to educate yourself so that you better understand their recommendations and why the market goes up and down. This will not only give you more confidence in your strategy, but also help you to worry less when your investment inevitably drops in value. As a starting point, I love Mary Holm’s book “Rich Enough?”.

Triggers to hire a financial adviser

For some people seeking a financial adviser is triggered by an event, for others it might be more gradual realisation that they might want help.

  • To start off, here are some potential life events where a financial adviser might add value:

  • You receive an inheritance

  • You’re going through a divorce

  • You have a significant salary or job change (for example going from a full timesalary to freelancing)

  • The sale of a property

  • A term deposit matures

  • You welcome a new child to your family

There isn’t always a big event though, and it might be more of a gradual decision to seek hiring a financial adviser. Perhaps you just want to make sure your money is working as hard as it can for you and your family. Or your funds have reached a certain size and you’re questioning if it’s time to get professional advice given the amount of money involved.

If you’re wondering how much money you need to work with an adviser this can vary widely between advice firms and the services you need, such as investment portfolio advice or a general financial plan. Generally, the minimum funds to invest is about $50,000 although this figure might depend on on a number of other factors. Some advisers offer one-off advice which wouldn’t have any minimum.

Benefits of working with an adviser

The first consideration to make is whether a financial adviser would be of value to you, because you don’t need to engage an adviser. To help with this consideration, here’s a rough idea of what advisers do and why they might benefit you.

A key distinction to make it that some advisers will purely look after your investment portfolio (buy, sell and manage your investments) while others offer a broader service called financial planning which includes reviewing and providing advice on your whole financial situation.

Advisers who offer financial planning services:

  • Discuss your circumstances to create a financial plan that helps you achieve your goals and make smart decisions with your money.

  • Model your future portfolio balance to show you the implications of different decisions. e.g. if you want to buy a holiday home then they’ll advise that you may need to work for another ten years to be able to do so. Or if you would like to retire early they'll advise you might need to invest more aggressively.

Investment Management:

  • Decide what level of risk is appropriate to take in your portfolio and select optimal investments.

  • Continuously monitor your portfolio and recommend changes to your strategy as appropriate.

Advisers who act as a financial partner or provide financial coaching:

  • Ensure your investments continue to match your changing lifestyle or goals by meeting with you regularly to review your investments.

  • Help you stay disciplined when it comes to spending, saving, and investing.

  • Be your person to come to for any financial questions.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other

It’s important to note that even if you do want to hire a financial adviser, it doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon DIY investing. If you like managing your own investments, you could consider having an adviser manage a portion of your funds and complement this with a DIY portfolio. 

Your adviser could give you some tips and help you decide on the appropriate amount for each bucket so you can achieve your financial goals. It’s good to have a strategy to make sure you aren’t doubling up or getting too concentrated in any one area. 

Additionally, some advisers (like Evergreen Advice) offer DIY investment plans where they review your current assets and give you a suggested investment strategy which you can implement and manage yourself. These plans might include recommendations on which platform to use, an asset allocation and a list of preferred investments. 

Before contacting a financial adviser

Not all investment advisers are the same so it’s important to think about what you are looking for at the start of your search. This will save you time in the long run as you will be able to easily identify if a prospective adviser matches what you want rather than realising part way through the advice process that they aren’t what you were looking for. You can ask about your “must-haves” in the initial discussion to screen out advisers that might not be right for you.

Some things to consider:

  • Would you prefer an adviser near where you live or are you happy to have some (or even all) meetings virtually?

  • Do you want an adviser that offers ethical investment options?

  • Do you want a fee-only adviser or a commission-based adviser?

  • What is their minimum investment amount?

  • Will they provide advise just on a portfolio managed by them, or also a DIY investment portfolio?

Mary Holms also provides some tips on choosing an adviser, or you can check out our blog that outlines the 101 of finding a financial adviser.

Advisers can add value, but you don’t NEED one

While you don’t need to hire an adviser, if you think you may benefit from their services it may be worth reaching out to get a better understanding of what they do. Many advisers offer a free initial consultation to help you decide if they are the right fit. Just because you start down the process of hiring a financial adviser doesn’t mean you ultimately need to invest with them. It is best for you and your adviser that you truly value their service. Ask questions, be curious, and make sure you understand what you will be investing in.

If you ultimately decide to manage your investments yourself that’s perfectly fine and you shouldn’t feel pressured to get an adviser just because you’ve reached a certain asset value or age. An adviser can make a tremendous difference in a person’s life however YOU are the best person to decide if they will add value to your finances.

Chelsea Traver

Founder & Investment Adviser | Evergreen advice

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