The Challenges of Being an Individual Investor in Turbulent Times

The Challenges of Being an Individual Investor in Turbulent Times

Other than the depression generation, I really don’t think there has been a more difficult time for individual investors than right now. In fact, even in my lifetime I’ve seen investing go from a “relatively” safe and predictable venture (good markets in the U.S. will often bring reasonable returns) to a market that can be very unpredictable and unsettling for the average investor. No longer is what markets do in the U.S. a good predictor for what markets will do elsewhere. We are now a nation of investors that must keep our eye on the international scene to truly understand where markets are going. Even with this knowledge, we can be deceived sometimes into thinking we have a handle on things, only to be kicked square in the seat by the unpredictability of it all. Case in point; the recent Euro zone loan to Spain to shore up its teetering economy. If you’ll recall, the market responded very positively to this action the day after, for awhile, and then gradually began to drift south. The Dow ended down by over 140 points that day. You ask, “What’s that all about?” So do I. I might add that the market was up the very next day, according to some reports, because of anticipated stimulus action. Who can figure, right, but this is the environment in which we strive to be successful investors today.

The complexity and mystery that comes to the market with international play is but one variable that faces today’s investor. There are a lot of other variables that didn’t seem to loom nearly so large in times past.

Joe Investor has to be asking himself these days if he is being dealt a straight hand. In other words, is the average investor really playing a game that’s fair for all. Certainly, there have to be some doubts about this. With heavy institutional investing and strong suspicions about those in the know getting first shot at the best investment opportunities, it weakens the stomach to know that some will always have the upper hand when it comes to “getting in first”. These concerns bring down the average investor’s confidence in his ability to play on even playing field. You can’t help but think how much of your gain is being siphoned off, because you came late to the table or didn’t have all the information available to others. For those that purchased Facebook stock, but weren’t the first to “get in”, you had to wonder if what you got with your purchase was the scraps of this sale. The declining price of this stock since it’s rollout should make you question this even more. So, “Use a financial planner”, you say. The chances are your financial planner isn’t close enough to the real action to have any more information than you do.

The whole issue of trust is another variable that looms larger today than it did in the past. It’s hard not to have less confidence in those … Read More

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The Case For the Self-Directed IRA

The Case For the Self-Directed IRA

Emily is a professional woman with an active business and is a very busy person. So busy in fact, she depends on her financial advisor to invest her hard-earned retirement savings with the hopes of compound wealth with safe, secure investments. Emily is lucky. So far, he hasn’t lost a dime through his financial advisors.

However, not everyone is so lucky. On February 21, New Jersey’s Courier Post, published a front page story about a recently-deceased financial planner, who had clients that are now missing money. The amount is currently at $5 million, and growing. Where did the money go? So far, there are about 20 clients involved and that number continues to expand. All of them, like us, could not afford to lose the money.

A pillar of society, this advisor put many of these people in Certificates of Deposit (CD) that were fraudulent. How do I know this? My mother was one of those people. It has now turned into a class action suit and a potential criminal investigation. Certainly, the claimants will not be receiving 100% return on principal. Additionally, it has cost them even more money to retain attorneys.

I tell this story because all of us have the potential for a parent, child, friend, or others we know to fall prey to bad people. This is not to say every financial planner is bad, actually the majority are good.

Would these people involved in the lawsuit have been better off investing their retirement plans themselves?

Though Emily has had success, she is allowing other people to vote on her money. With a self-directed IRA or Individual (k), people have the ability to “drive their own bus” to wealth. Yes, this takes work. Perhaps the perception is that since we as customers are not experts in whatever assets we consider for our retirement plan, we think we need a professional to guide us. In many cases that is true.

But, would we be better off having some accountability and control for investment decisions that are made? What is the worst that could happen? With education and initiative, could we do a better job ourselves? With Entrust as your self-directed IRA administrator, you have the ability to educate yourself on how self-directing works, the different types of assets that are available, and how to do this yourself with your IRA.

Paralysis is not a good thing. Sometimes, we need to be in control. Though my mother is over the age of making contributions in her IRA, she is learning how to control what she has and not allow others to vote on her money. We are now looking at real estate together, me for my IRA, and her for cash flow.

When you have a goal, can create a road map, are open to learning how to take care of yourself, and learn how to know and understand what you are investing in, you have a better chance to grow your wealth. Or, you can let others … Read More

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