The most important decision you have to make is whether you want to select your own investments or whether you trust someone else to do it for you. All investment platforms will perform the basic functions:
- Show you the value of your investments today and in the past
- Let you buy and sell shares, bonds and investment funds
- Hold your investments for you
In addition some platforms will provide the following:
- Research on stocks and funds written by their analysts
- Recommended lists of the “best” stocks and funds
- Stock and bond prices and company information
It is very expensive to hire stock and fund analysts so platforms that offer research will be more expensive than those who don’t. The next level of increasing help (and higher fees!) beyond providing research is to manage your investments for you.
- Wealth managers can build your portfolio for you
- They have to ensure the investments they buy are suitable by asking you detailed questions about your circumstances
- This is sometimes called discretionary wealth management because the company buys investments at their discretion not yours
Once again hiring financial experts to select investments is very expensive and you will have to pay for this added level of service. Also there is no guarantee that the wealth manager will select good investments. However there is a guarantee that you will pay a fee for their services whether they choose good or bad investments.