The Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick recently wrote about how unhappy many boomers are today about their lacklustre portfolios, just at a time when they are seriously considering retiring or have already made that decision. A recent comment on our Facebook page reflects this concern as well.

For years, myself included, we counted on our financial advisors to provide advice and decisions about our investments and the results were pretty good. However, those days are long gone.  The markets are volatile; the products are complex; and the returns much lower.

So here’s the challenge. Most of us don’t have any investor training or education in our backgrounds.  So we are all trying to figure what to do improve our circumstances to prepare for retirement.

One of the first things many of my friends did after 2008 was to move their accounts to new advisors.  The act of doing it was the first sign that they were recognizing the need to take more responsibility for managing their money.

We have a Guide to Investing, which gives lots of advice on how to go through that process, questions to ask, research to do. (Chapter Two)

We also give you the basic questions to ask your advisor when you are seeking investment advice:

  • Is it suitable for me?
  • Where are the risks?
  • How does this investment make money?
  • Does this investment come with a guarantee?
  • How much will it cost me?
  • Are there better alternatives?
  • What research can I do to verify what the advisor is telling me?

By starting with these basic questions, your advisor will begin to see that you are not a passive client, but one who is paying attention.  The result should be that your advisor becomes even more diligent because he or she knows that you will demand credible answers to your questions.

The investor in the Globe column says, “People aren’t pushy enough asking questions.” And Carrick concludes with this: “Get ready, investment industry.  Exam time is coming as baby boomers retire and start to look at what decades of saving and investing got them.”

I hope that it is a wakeup call for all retail investors to pay more attention and be more diligent in overseeing their investments in order improve their financial future.

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