Since 2011 Aptus has been on a journey with hundreds of clients who’ve taken on the challenge of self-managing their investments. I remember when my initial clients did their first backdoor Roth conversion; made that first trade in a brokerage account, maybe with just a couple thousand dollars; and chose the investment allocation in their retirement plan. The investments were the last piece of the planning puzzle, the moment of execution. And my clients did it themselves, sometimes while I watched and cheered on a videoconference.
The technical aspects of placing the trades were not the hard part. It’s easy to buy and sell funds online. The emotional hurdles were harder to overcome. It can be intimidating to take on the responsibility of executing financial transactions. For some of my early-career clients, though, the hurdles were not too daunting because the numbers were relatively small. These were, after all, the first thousands of what was ultimately going to become millions.
Over time, those little accounts grew rapidly as the clients dutifully and automatically deposited their money each month. It became second nature. So routine. So simple. So easy.
In those years when the market was just recovering from the great recession, many investors had an itchy trigger finger and we’re continually looking for signs they should sell. The news on the economy just never seemed to be “good.” There was always a story of the next financial crisis that was going to be an aftershock of the big one. There was seemingly never a good time to buy; it never felt safe.
My clients weren’t immune to that anxiety. When my clients read something online or just feared they were missing something, they might call. I would put the day-to-day investment news in the context of their long-term strategy and encourage them to stick to the plan. They never buckled and always kept their money invested. Time and routine gave them increasing self-assurance. The nervous calls stopped, while more productive planning conversations continued.
Investing is ultimately the easy part. Most of my conversations with clients are on more complex planning topics, such as student loans, home mortgages, college savings, new jobs/pay, new budgets, new marriages, etc. When I think about my clients’ futures, I realize that the gift they gave themselves to DIY from the beginning, as scary as it may have seemed, was the gift of a lifetime of DIY freedom. They have the confidence that only comes with hands-on control and experience.
Our clients know the investment industry is changing, with people realizing that tens of thousands of dollars in fees are flowing out of their pockets into their advisors’ pockets. The tide is turning, and we’re getting more calls than ever from people wanting to break up with their advisor, DIY their investments and work with us on detailed financial planning. We love to support their transition, liberation and empowerment. We can talk them through the nuts-and-bolts of moving accounts, unwinding bad insurance policies and culling overly complicated, advisor-constructed investment portfolios. Most importantly, we can jump start their financial education so they’re ready to self-manage what is, or will become, millions of dollars.
Our clients recognize that there’s never been a better time to be a DIY investor. They inspire their friends and colleagues to take the leap of faith. They pass along articles and share websites. They tell their family to be on guard for what advisors are selling. They realize that even as busy as they are, they can’t afford to completely outsource their investments. They do it themselves and they know you can too.