**Editors note: Today’s guest post comes from Dan Kent, a writer and co-founder of Stocktrades.ca. A DIY investor for 7 years now, Dan has a combination of dividend, growth and real estate investments in his portfolio and is looking to continually grow his net worth. You can follow him on Twitter at @Stocktrades_CA
To most in the past and unfortunately a lot of people today, making your own investment decisions is often considered some sort of mystical art better left with your financial adviser. There is a couple of reasons for this. First off, online brokers really didn’t exist. You only had a couple options unless you were extremely wealthy. You could leave your hard earned money with your adviser or your local bank and let them determine it’s fate, or you could place a phone trade with a live broker. Secondly, the absurd amount of online knowledge we have today on the internet about investing simply didn’t exist. You couldn’t just Google a company’s financial numbers, or find numerous financial authorities opinions on stocks you should be looking at.
It’s time to shake this stigma
The amount of information available is endless which has made DIY investing easier than it has ever been. You can now take all the benefits the internet offers today when it comes to online investing and reduces the amount of fees you pay compared to using a traditional adviser.
Everyone is becoming more internet and computer savvy in general. Computers, the internet and social media are becoming a staple of human life. In 2015, it’s estimated that almost half the worlds population was using the internet.
Once confusing phrases and terms are now easily discovered and interpreted with a simple Google search. Don’t know what a mutual fund is? Simply head over to Google and find out within minutes. The ability to execute searches and find information this quickly is making people much more knowledgeable when it comes to stocks and finance in general. Documents like balance sheets, quarterly reports and other essential documents for analyzing the value of a stock along with the how-to tutorials on doing so can be found almost instantly.
The rise of online brokers
Prior to the surge of the online stock trading community, people were often forced to rely on third-party advisers or their banks to put their hard earned money to use. This just isn’t the case anymore. Not only do online brokers now provide some of the cheapest commissions we have ever seen, they also offer free investing courses and seminars often without even having an account. You can check out one of the leading online brokers available today in this Questrade review and see for yourself their many advantages.
The ability to instantly place buy and sell orders has changed the landscape of the investing world. So much so that brokers often actually charge an absurd fee, sometimes as high as $45 dollars for trades placed over the phone. Brick and mortar banks are struggling, yet adapting as much as they can to keep up with low commission costs offered by discount brokers. But as of right now, you won’t find cheaper commissions with brokers like Questrade and Interactive Brokers.
Technology has made investing easier
Wall Street still exists, and probably always will. But for most of us nowadays we don’t even have to get out of our beds to monitor and tweak our investments. Most, if not all brokers now offer mobile platforms, and banks are quickly following. You can buy, sell, and monitor your investments right from your smartphone.
Stock screeners and discount broker investing platforms have advanced to the point where they make the investing process painless and quick. Websites like the Globe and Mail and Yahoo finance offer free investing opinions and advice from their experts.
Summing it all up
Many people today are getting involved with their investments. It’s becoming an easier process that doesn’t require advanced technology or excess amounts of wealth anymore. That being said, investing isn’t easy. The biggest mistake I see new investors make today is putting the cart before the horse. Regardless of how easy the process has become, if you lack the knowledge about investing, you will inevitably fail. But putting in the necessary hard work can save you money and allow you complete flexibility of your investing portfolio.