You Don’t Have to Know Everything (Or Anything, Really)!

by Jane Martin

After 20 years in the investment world, one thing is clear to me – I don’t know anything about investing. I don’t know what the market is going to do. I don’t know what stocks to buy. I don’t know whether the market is correcting or going into a free fall. Furthermore, no one else does either. If they did, they would be relaxing on their yacht on the Mediterranean instead of talking to you.

What I do know is that you can’t leave your money under the mattress. It makes sense to invest. I’m a naturally optimistic person and I believe that in the long term the stock and bond markets will prove a good investment for me.

I use a professional to manage my account. Not that these people are any smarter than I am or that they know what the market is going to do. But they DO watch the market all day every day. That’s their business, and in that regard, they have more specific knowledge about various investments than I do.

I make only one investment decision. Once a year I meet with my money manager and decide what percentages to invest in stocks and bonds. That’s the only decision I make. He makes all the rest. After being in the futures markets for so many years, I am very risk tolerant. I have, however, as I age, put less and less in stocks and more in bonds. This makes sense to me because if the stock market takes a precipitous dip, I have fewer years to make back the loss.

Other than that decision, I ride it out. Rightly or wrongly, I am a “buy and hold” investor. This suits my personality. There are too many factors to consider and it would drive me crazy to try to figure out what to buy or when to sell. And it might interfere with my sleep!

The best way to choose a financial advisor is through a personal recommendation. I was fired by my previous manager who raised his minimum account balance to $5 million. He recommended another manager. I interviewed him and was satisfied with his expertise and personality. I had to get used to the fact that he was the age of my youngest son – but that’s happened at the doctor’s and lawyer’s offices as well. I wouldn’t rely too much on resumés. Did youever see a bad one? Of course not. They just keep reworking it until it looks good.

My arrangement works for me and, if you want to relax about your financial decisions and sleep well, I highly recommend it to you, too.

Jane Martin worked for E.F. Hutton for ten years, leaving as Assistant Vice President. While there, she specialized in marketing professionally managed futures accounts. She left EFH to start her own marketing firm, Jane Martin Associates, in the managed futures field. She became the Executive Director of the Managed Futures Association, a trade organization that grew to a large international organization with branches in Sidney, Singapore, Paris and London. She left the MFA to start Shooting Star Pictures, a music video firm specializing in rap. She retired in 2002.

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