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Plan Your Prosperity: The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need, Starting Now--Whether You're 22, 52 or 82 by Lara Hoffmans, Ken Fisher Brown

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Why Is This So Hard?

Why do some investors find simply stating their goals so difficult? My guess is, in part, the financial services industry itself hasn’t always been exactly helpful.

The industry is often much maligned. I have my own gripes with it, but for all its faults (every industry has them), it does provide a vital service. Done right, investment professionals help investors increase the odds they reach their long-term goals.

There is, however, a dizzying array of financial products—for every need, real or imagined. And more every year! Financial innovation is a non-stop process. And overall, a good one. Over time, it has provided wider access to global capital markets, increased liquidity, more transparency, better price discovery, speedy online trading, cheaper transactions, etc.—which, overall, benefit more and more people. Good things! But with so many more products coming to market and with so many people selling those products, it’s no wonder folks often see themselves as having hugely multifaceted and sometimes conflicting goals.

Not everyone needs a professional. Maybe some investors have smaller pools of money right now, making professional help less cost efficient. And many investors have the knowledge, experience and fortitude to do it on their own. They know what’s appropriate for them, do research, go online, buy some decent securities and don’t jigger much unless jiggering seems appropriate. They have ice water in their veins and don’t get swayed by the ...

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