For those of us in and around Washington, D.C., Washingtonian magazine is a bit of a fixture, having been in circulation since 1965.
The November edition contains an entire section devoted to financial planning, including advice, tax and estate planning, and a wide and varied list of 220 “experts” who can assist investors in making choices.
Narrowing down the piece into investable bites is difficult. However, in the first-things-first category, deciding what an investment professional’s job is in regard to your needs is paramount. The situation is perhaps best expressed by the author, Kerry Hannon:
“One of the biggest changes in the post-Lehman world is how people view investing. They aren’t handing over their savings and saying ‘I want to make money.’ They’re saying ‘I need to figure out if I’m ever going to retire.'”
Figuring out the retirement part is, to quote Billy Hoyle in White Men Can’t Jump, “hard damn work.” According to Hannon, a study of the 401(k) returns of more than 425,000 people from 2006 through 2010 found that the median annual portfolio return, including fees, of those who got professional help was 3% higher than the return for those who invested on their own.
With those words hopefully ringing in your ears, here are some do’s and don’ts culled from the article, where they’re called “Words of Wisdom” and “Pricey Mistakes.”
Financial professionals were asked the best advice they’ve ever been given:
- “Set your lifestyle at 30 and maintain it, even if you become wealthier.”
- “Don’t enter retirement with a mortgage.”
- “Money isn’t good or bad itself. It just gives you more choices. You still have to make good choices.”
- “The rate of savings is more important than the rate of return.”
- “Investment success comes from the amount of time invested, not the timing of the investments.”
Financial advisers were asked to tell the dumbest or craziest thing a client ever did (or wanted to do) with his or her money:
- “Buy a beach house for a dog.”
- “Buy antique Chinese cars.”
- “Purchase $760,000 in silver all at once. It’s now valued at $300,000.”
- “Leverage their home and pension plan to start a distillery.”
- “Invest in a gold mine in Africa based on an e-mail solicitation.”
Words and deeds to live and invest by, for certain. It’s always your choice whether to seek professional help, and if you live in the Washington area, the article is a great place to start. If you don’t, it’s still a great source of advice.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he is a client of three professionals in the aforementioned article.