Tools & Supplies
what you need to construct an investment plan

To construct an ancient temple, one needed hammers, chisels and cranes.  A lot of workers and/or slaves also came in handy if the temple was meant to be finished within several generations. 

In our real world of investing, we have about a generation to make our wealth.  In order to accomplish this, we need information, patience, discipline & a belief in yourself, in addition to time. Since we address time, patience & discipline elsewhere on this website, this section will address the importance of information and a belief in yourself.


Information

We live in an age of information where the super rich and investment bankers no longer have better access to information that you do.  This used to not be the case, when investment banks, as but one example, would mail out their research reports to top-tier clients before the general investing public got access to its contents (if at all).  In 1990, when I worked for Goldman Sachs, employees had access to all of the company’s investment research that, no doubt, would have given a distinct advantage to the savvy investor.  No longer.

The internet has leveled the playing field with respect to information dissemination and availability.  With the click of a mouse, information now flows instantaneously around the globe.

Sure investment banks are still able to profit from information before the public – I’m referring to high-frequency trading systems.  But what use to be days, even weeks, of time advantage is now nano-seconds.  Short-term traders may still have a leg up on the general investing population but the long term investor is no longer disadvantaged at all.


Belief in yourself

So, how to believe in your investing self, even if you are a novice (which you likely are since you’re reading this).  One word:  information.  Another word:  incentive.  One more word:  easy.  Put the three words together and we begin building something.

I firmly believe that getting a long term investment plan up and running is easy with all of the free information available at your disposal (starting with this website of course!).  And as emphatically stated elsewhere – but I’ll reinforce it here and will continue to do so throughout New Investor Tool Kit – no one is as incentized to get your long term investment plan in place as you should be.  And no one can do it as cost effectively as you can (as a reference, check out Wall St vs. Main St if you haven’t already).

The key is, how to process the correct information so as not to be misled or overloaded? As with many important things in life, you need to investigate your investment goals & assumptions thoroughly before acting.

But the good news is that you are not alone in your journey.  

So, how to separate the ‘informational wheat from the chaff’, so to speak?  Well, there are a myriad of ‘service providers’ out there seeking to sell you something.  I am not trying to be disparaging – far from it – as I am a subscriber to several professional investment newsletters that I highly recommend (see below).  However, the key is that you own the temple and you are responsible for its construction & maintenance.  

If you want to hire a worker to do this for you, that’s fine.  But understand that this worker will charge you for this service AND this worker will never be as incentivized to get it right with your money as you should be.  This is simply stating a fact.  So if you do feel the need to hire some help, please ensure it’s informational-based (e.g., you pay for a monthly investment newsletter) where you will be educating yourself and you will be making the ultimate decisions; not all encompassing service where you outsource your long term investment future to a third-party decision maker.  In my mind it simply isn’t worth the risk.


Bloomberg Businessweek

Some recommendations

So where do I go for my information?  I’ll provide a few recommendations below (note that I do not receive any compensation for listing these service providers here – I simply have found them to provide good value for money, relative to other information providers...and in a lot of cases, the information is free):

  • Morningstar.com: an excellent independent source of information on most publically-traded stocks and funds.  There are also a lot of investment screening capabilities, portfolio analytics and research reports available if you become a premium member.  The current cost of this annual premium membership is $195 so this is probably relevant only for the more active investor.  As I currently have investments across more than one brokerage house, I track my entire portfolio in Morningstar’s portfolio function - a very useful tool indeed.  
  • Bloomberg Businessweekan solid source of business & investment information.
  • Yahoo Finance: there are many informative articles about relevant real life finance here.  All free.
  • The Motley Fool:  there is a lot of useful content produced by the Fool and its readers.  There are subscriptions available (starting from $199 per year) but a lot of content is free.  Check out their CAPS system which is a reader-based ‘voting’ system on a stock’s prospects. 
  • Stansberry & Associates: subscription-based investment service that is one of the largest in the US. Provides a whole range of products from small cap to value to fixed income.  I am a subscriber to several Stansberry products as I find this service excellent for stock ideas.
  • Regularly-scheduled free expertise from the best of the best – I like to check in with some expert opinion about the economy and state of the equity markets.  And it’s free, in the form of monthly and annual letters to shareholders or clients.  In no particular order (how could anyone choose between these two?!) here are my favorite two:
  1. Bill Gross at Pimco – widely considered to be the best bond investors of all time, he brings his expert views on the economy and market outlook on a monthly basis.  
  2. Warren Buffett – no introduction needed for Uncle Warren.  Suffice to say his annual letter to shareholders is a great opportunity to see what he’s thinking…and what he’s investing in.  For those high-energy types, you can even read all of this letters dating back to 1977!

So there you have it – a road map to begin acquiring the necessary information to plan your very own long-term financial success.  Please note that I provide links to other service providers because I believe that information from multiple sources actually improves decision making ability.  However, I also hope that NITK can be a one-stop shop, if you prefer.  It’s only ‘disadvantage’ is that multiple strategies, investment ideas, economic news, etc coming from a plethora of service providers is pre-processed and wheat-from-chaff sorted in my brain…and my brain alone.  You may wisely choose not to depend entirely on my brain. That’s ok!

Still have doubts about your abilities?  Check out myth ‘You can’t do this.


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