Self Directed Investment Platform

Self-directed, self-managed investment portfolio

Since many major Banks now converted to a hybrid model of allowing their clients to manage their own portfolio, the question comes to mind: “how many clients have in the past trusted their pension funds to their banks, and how many got burned by seeing their much-needed portfolios’ value decline rapidly ?”

The older you get the more important it becomes to hang on to these funds which may constitute a major part of your monthly income.

Since the entire business world has gone virtual, or live, or ‘Do It Yourself’, this is a fantastic way to learn something new and at the same time expand one’s horizon (brain power). But moreover, save some money, that otherwise would have been paid in commissions to an Investment/Financial Adviser.

Self-directed or direct brokerage platforms pretty much operate similar for all major Banks. (1) The client has live access to the retirement portfolio and can to trading – buying and selling stocks, bonds (all types of), mutual funds, ETF funds, coupons. (2) The client has access to what’s available on the markets.

There are still commissions: the easiest to trade are stocks (shares) and also the least costly (mostly commission is in the $9.99 range per trade). Other with bonds – these are typically also more complicated financial instruments. My Bank takes $60 per bonds purchased. Therefore advice is: If the bond issue is a good one – depends a lot on the credit rating of the bond issuer and historical interest payments history, and how long to maturity and (calculated) yield – worthwhile to buy not only small amounts (like $5,000) but maybe more, because each trade again charges commission.

Money market funds and Guaranteed Investment Certificates are the safest investments, but have the lowest return. Since my portfolio is a registered RRIF I also look for decent (over 2%) but safe returns. Selling eg. money market units does not carry a commission. Selling anything else, does. My Bank eg. offers commission-free ETFs. [Careful with those.]

Banks typically offer their own list of investments, changing daily. If there is something worthwhile, needs to go after quickly.

But not so quickly to forget the most important task: Check it out how good the issuer of any debt or share is. Can be done by checking out the Credit Rating. Let’s say, I am inside my RRIF portfolio, look at a list of bonds available, but cannot pull up each one’s credit rating. [Check credit ratings online and keep list handy, there are dozens of denominations.]. In my case since I have several computers in my home (Win10 and Apple), open both go thru my portfolio, look for a good bond issue, use the other machine and key in “company XYZ credit rating”. This mostly applies to CORPORATE BONDS. Government and Municipal bonds are usually safer, but pay less interest.

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Investment Advisors

Investment advice, investment advisors – better trust your own judgement. After getting yourself informed, using all pertinent channels of information available free of charge. Don’t blindly trust those who more often than not rely on guesswork and needing to take in a whole slew of data on overall market conditions, domestic as well as international. Definition of investment advisor [ http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/investmentadvisor.asp ].
One good example of investments proposed by banking investment advisors are mutual funds. As known: “mitgefangen, mitgehangen”. How many millions of investors are clumped together in one big investment fund, managed by a few (more or less capable), and when something goes wrong, “all of us hang with it” [ http://www.stock-world.de/index.html ].
Years ago on the advice of my then investment advisor I had also put some of my money into several mutual funds. Result: losses, high capital gains taxes to pay (each and every one of the investors must pitch in) despite the market value dropping. Pursuent to my research of what some funds are invested into I found some obscure off-shore banks, and others none existant. After my decision to rid myself of all mutual funds, my entire retirement portfolio went up again in overall value. Today I trust myself. Despite the fact that I may still loose money, but at least it is lost value based on my own stupidity and not somebody elses.