When it comes to investing, which is better? Doing it yourself or using a financial advisor?

It is a great question, and one that often stirs a passionate response from advocates on both sides of the discussion. I am actually not an advocate of either approach. Rather, I am advocate of individuals getting a handle on their money. I have seen people do that brilliantly either on their own or by working with an advisor.

Do it Yourself: Some DIY’ers follow a very simple plan using mutual funds, stocks or exchange traded funds and are successful on their own. They are willing to invest the time and energy it takes to follow their portfolio, in exchange for lower fees. Others get dismal results going solo because they don’t follow some basic lessons in areas like asset allocation, diversification and tax planning. Without a doubt, these people could benefit from the insight and experience of a good advisor.

Financial advice: Other people get great results with an advisor who helps them get clear on their goals, create a plan to deliver on those goals, and ensure that they stick to that plan over time. They also experience the peace of mind of working with an expert. And then there are people who have financial advisors but don’t get the value for the money they’re paying, either because the advisor isn’t up to snuff, or because they aren’t actually taking the advice they’ve been given. People in this category often think that simply having an advisor = good advice. But it isn’t enough. You actually need to cultivate a solid relationship with a good advisor, and then follow up and take the actions that they prescribe.

Whether you do it yourself or work with an advisor is a personal choice. The point is to get a handle on your money, because that is what is going to make the biggest difference in your quality of life over time.

For further insight on how to determine if yours is a “good” advisor for you, check out this blog post headlined “Take the quiz: Assess your financial advisor”. The article has some suggestions on attributes you could score your advisor on, and is a good starting point for a conversation on how to make your relationship even better.