Investing can be a great way to grow your money, yet the fear of not being educated enough about the stock market and losing money tends to scare off a lot of people. But best-selling life-management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch says you don’t need to be an expert.
“Sometimes your instincts are really good and you know where a great product is or you know where a great service is,” she said. “You should look into it and not shake your head and say, ‘I’m not an expert; I can’t invest in the markets.’ You can.”
Welch points to the fact that there are a number of tools available today to help even the most novice investor. “It takes a special young person to say, ‘I’m gonna save; I’m gonna figure out what investing even means.’ And then they don’t realize that there actually are tools available to them that are economically feasible,” said Welch earlier this month on CNBC’s Power Lunch. “You can have these tools that are online or whatever, and you can figure out a way to save and have a financial plan for yourself.“
The following strategies and tools are a few of the ways beginner investors can get in the game.
Hire a traditional advisor. Welch suggests hiring a money manager. “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.” But if you go this route, be careful of the hidden fees. You shouldn’t have to weed through fine print to find out how much you are paying for financial advice. American investors are paying as much as 3.5% each year in advisory and fund fees. And while the difference between a 1% annual fee and a 3% annual fee may seem trivial, it can amount to more than $400,000 over the course of a lifetime.
Use a robo-advisor. Robo-advisors – online, automated services that deliver information and some advice – are now mainstream. But they are not for everyone. Working with a robo-advisor provides a low-cost solution to investors who are just getting started. Lower costs mean more money to invest. The fees from robos can be less than human advisors, although this difference can be less than you think. In addition, robo-advisors can’t take your long-term lifestyle goals into account, and a successful investment strategy always aligns with those goals.
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Turn to an app. Investment apps such as Robinhood, Fundrise, Acorns and others waive fees entirely, or nearly so. To find the one best suited for you, determine how deeply you want to invest. Are you willing to research the stocks you buy and trade, or would you rather rely on a preselected portfolio? Do you plan on investing regularly, or is this just an experiment?Carefully read the terms and features of each app before committing to it, and don’t be afraid to cash out and try a different one if you don’t feel your needs are being met.
Invest in a target-date fund. Target-date funds are mutual funds that hold a mix of stocks, bonds and other investments. As their name suggests, target-date funds are designed to be long-term investments for a certain future target retirement date. Some people love these set-it-and-forget-it funds, as they simplify investing with a hands-off, unemotional approach to allocation. But there’s a lack of customization and an overwhelming number of fund options. Before investing in one, do some research on the investment company, expense ratios and how the target-date fund is rebalanced throughout the years.
Regardless of whether you are new to the market or not, Welch suggests never investing without bouncing the idea off a friend: “Never invest alone. Don’t ever just impulse invest. Just run the idea by somebody,” she said.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.