DON’T GO IT ALONE
Janice Blake, 37
Getting together and sharing investment ideas with friends and family are great ways to get support. Janice Blake, a director of a national public health internship program, owes much of her investing success to the network she established nine years ago. The 37-year-old married mother of two already invested on her own, but she wanted to learn more about financial markets. So Blake started The DIVA!Group, an investment club for women.
“I didn’t think sister friends and I knew enough about the stock market and what we’re supposed to be doing with our money as financially savvy Americans,” says Blake, who lives in Brooklyn, New York. “I needed a way to learn more, and I thought I could do it better with support.” Over the last 12 years, investing with the club and on her own, Blake has created an investment portfolio worth roughly $100,000.
Investing with a group lightens the workload and makes researching companies more manageable. “The information is reduced to bite-size pieces,” Blake says. “Learning it by myself might have been overwhelming. Instead of me looking at every stock or company when deciding what stocks to buy, we divide the work. When everyone presents their favorites, I walk away having learned about three companies, instead of taking three months to learn about three companies by myself.”
In addition to joining an investment club, novice investors should seek help from professionals. This is especially true if you don’t know how to begin or what to invest in and you’re planning a long-term investment strategy.
“If you want to buy a single investment that represents a small portion of your portfolio, then a program like ShareBuilder is fine. But if you’re designing a long-range strategy, you need a professional,” says Vicki Brackens, a senior financial planner with Brackens Financial Solutions Network, an office of MetLife in Syracuse, New York.
To seek guidance from an investment adviser or financial planner, contact the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (www.cfp.net) or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (www.napfa.org) for referrals. Before hiring a financial professional, know what services you need, what services the adviser offers, the cost, and how the adviser gets paid. Also make sure that he or she is properly licensed. It’s important to research any financial planner, investment adviser, or broker that you plan to hire. Begin by consulting BrokerCheck (www.sec.gov/answers/crd.htm), a database of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, to see whether or not a broker has been subject to any disciplinary actions or investigations.
Information about individual investment advisers is available through state securities regulators. Information about investment adviser firms can be found through the Security and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure program or through your state’s securities regulator.
“Women must seek out professional advice in addition to forming a group and teaching themselves about investing. That is essential,” Broussard urges.
–To get your feet wet, attend investment workshops and seminars.
–Consider joining or starting an investment club.
— If you don’t understand something, ask.