Are You Capable of Managing Your Own Retirement?

manage your retirement account

When can I honestly claim to be a professional?

This was one of the questions asked on stage during a conference I attended over the weekend.

The Tribe Conference is a gathering of writers, entrepreneurs and leaders in Nashville. Our purpose in getting together was to hone our craft and become better at communicating with and influencing the people around us.

For me, the event was humbling and also inspiring. It was a gift to be able to network with leaders who are making a huge difference in other people’s lives.

But the question above haunted me as I flew home Sunday night.

It reminded me of a question I’ve heard dozens of times from your fellow readers who are trying to prepare for retirement. Many are already experiencing retirement and still asking the same question…

Am I Really Capable of Managing My Own Retirement Fund?

The Wall Street establishment would have you believe that you need to have a “professional” manage your retirement fund. How else would they generate their fees if you weren’t counting on these professionals to invest your savings?

I’ve had dozens of people ask me if it really is possible for them to manage their own retirement fund.

You may be wondering this yourself!

Without an education in finance, a special diploma hanging on your wall, or years spent toiling for a Wall Street investment firm; can you really expect to do a good job managing your own retirement?

My hunch…

No, my firm belief is that you can take the reins of your own retirement. And you can do a damn good job of it too!

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You see, I’ve spent years accumulating the degrees and financial designations to get Wall Street to take me seriously. And I’ve spent years working alongside some of the sharpest professional investors out there. I’ve seen what it takes to manage the retirement funds of some of the most affluent retirees.

And you know what?

This job can be done by anyone.

Anyone, that is, who is willing to study, learn, and be disciplined with the decisions they make.

The Difference Between “Dabbling” and “Discipline”

You’ve probably heard that most “professional” investors don’t even beet the market averages over the long term. Can you really expect to do better?

Here’s why I think you can…

There are two primary reasons most investment advisors, mutual fund managers, and other professional investors don’t even do better than the average.

First, these managers charge fees. Those fees are charged to investors in good years and in bad years. Fees erode away returns like the Colorado River erodes the Grand Canyon. Maybe you can’t see it happening on a day-to-day basis. But over time, the effect is tremendous.

Second, investment managers have human tendencies just like everyone else. Worse, they have to deal with the human tendencies of their clients. These clients have a habit of panicking at the very worst times (selling stocks at their lowest points), and getting optimistic when stocks are trading at their highest.

It’s easy to see how to avoid the first pitfall. Just manage your own retirement fund and stop paying your advisor those fees that erode your returns.

The second problem may seem a bit harder. But it’s definitely surmountable.

Instead of making decisions based on emotion and what “feels” right, you should invest with discipline. This is how the very best investors consistently grow their capital and carefully manage their risk.

When I use the word “discipline,” I’m talking about researching a strategy that you know will work over time. And then sticking with that strategy consistently.

Dabblers are the investors who chase after hot stocks. And they panic when those stocks face challenges.

Disciplined investors on the other hand, have a plan for how to enter, exit, and manage their individual positions and their entire portfolios.

No One Cares As Much About Your Retirement as You

One thing to keep in mind is that no one cares about your retirement more than you.

Not your relatives, not your financial advisor, not even me!

Don’t get me wrong… I do care.

But I don’t get to take that cruise that you’ve been saving up for. I don’t get to see the light in your grandkids eyes when you show up for Christmas. And I don’t get to volunteer the quality time that you’ve planned to spend on the cause that is important to you.

Why bring this up?

Because no one is more motivated to take good care of your investments than you are. And that’s one of the reasons I believe you have what it takes to manage your own retirement account.

I love my family and it is my job to take care of them.

Despite what you may think (with the hedge fund background and all), we’ve been through some challenging times. That’s true both on a financial level, and its true of some of the relationships in our family. (Anyone who has been part of a family for a long time will probably tell you the same.)

But because I cared and I was motivated, I figured out a way to do whatever it took to provide for my family.

You can use that same care and motivation to learn to make wise investments and steadily grow your own retirement fund.

Ask For Help, But Accept Responsibility

Is there a place for professional investors? Certainly.

And can you take advice from people who want to help you with your retirement? Of course!

But all too often, investors who are planning for retirement — or already IN retirement — trust someone else to make all of the decisions. Instead of being involved in planning their own retirement, these investors hand the reins over to someone who they hope will take good care of them.

Don’t be like that!

Take control of your retirement. Decide to learn how investors can generate income for retirement. And start practicing these strategies until you can do them yourself. Remember, no one cares as much about your retirement as you. Certainly not your financial advisor.

My hope is that I can be a trustworthy guide as you learn to manage your own investments. I love to share successful income strategies with you, and to point out new opportunities that I see.

I know there has been some radio silence over the last few weeks. Part of the reason for this is that I’ve been working on some exciting new projects that I hope to be able to share with you very soon. The goal with these projects is to be able to bring you a more comprehensive suite of materials that will walk you through setting up and managing your own retirement account.

So please stay tuned for more information on that very soon.

Oh, Just One More Thing…

One of the best ways to learn a skill like investing, is to follow the masters who have already proven their expertise.

You can learn about many of the most legendary investors, simply by reading about their strategies and their experience in markets.

There are a handful of investment books that were instrumental in my own investment journey. In fact, i don’t believe I would have enjoyed half of the success I’ve experienced without the wisdom gleaned from studying a few key investment books.

If you’re serious about taking control of your own retirement… or if you’re just curious about whether you have what it takes… the best suggestion I could give you would be to read voraciously. The more you glean from others experience, the better your probability of success.

A few months ago, I put together a list of my all-time favorite investment books. These are the books that I think will help you most as you take ownership and responsibility for your own retirement.

The list of books is my free gift to you when you subscribe to my newsletter.

(And no, I don’t mind if you subscribe, get the list and then immediately cancel. Although I do think you’ll be missing out on some great investment information.)

All you have to do is sign up here and I’ll immediately send you my top 10 list of investment books. You can start with one or two that sound interesting to you, and continue from there.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think about the list, about managing your own retirement fund, or about anything else that’s on your mind! Email me at Zach@ZachScheidt.com or just reply to this post.

Here’s to growing your income!

2 Comments

  • jathan says:

    Great post Zach. You got that post out quickly! I love the way that you contextualized the question at the conference to personal investment.

    I’m sure your newsletter will be helpful to me as I’m one of those people that feels as if I couldn’t manage my own retirement. Thanks for the enlightenment.

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