DIY or Hire a Pro

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
– Paul “Red” Adair (an American oil well firefighter)

Written by Steve Nyvik, BBA, MBA, CIM, CFP, R.F.P.
Financial Planner and Portfolio Manager, Lycos Asset Management Inc.


Do It Yourself (“DIY”) Investing – that’s investing without the services of a financial adviser – is not for everyone. Some people who have an interest in investing may find it appealing to take destiny into their own hands, not to mention saving on the costs of professional financial advice.

Without adequate investing education, skill, and experience, the danger is that a DIY investor could:

  • choose poor investments that simply don’t perform well,
  • expose their life savings to an inordinately high level of risk,
  • make emotional or irrational investing mistakes.

These mistakes not only can result in poor performance where you might not be able to achieve your financial goals, but could result in devastating losses of a significant amount of your life savings.
Investing is not about entertainment, it is about getting you financially independent by the time you no longer can manage to work. You should seek to increase those odds of becoming financially independent and consider whether a professional financial advisor will more likely get you there.

A professional financial advisor, of course, doesn’t work for free. The payback comes through:

  • higher returns and/or lower risk by selecting the right asset mix, selecting good investments, sheltering income from taxation, controlling risk, and setting aside funds for anticipated needs (so you are not forced to have to sell investments when they are down). An experienced investment professional may also help you avoid making costly emotional or irrational investment decisions.
  • eliminating, reducing, and deferring income taxes so you’ll have more money growing faster to meet your goals;
  • protecting your family against devastating financial losses – like the death, disability or illness of the family breadwinner, property loss, theft or damage, and liability claims. Without such protection, your lifetime of savings could get wiped out; and
  • putting in place your estate plan so your estate is protected and will be distributed according to your wishes.  This not only gives you peace of mind, but hopefully will ensure your life savings is there to take care of your loved ones throughout their lifetime.

Hiring a professional financial advisor doesn’t mean you have no involvement – it is your life savings, not theirs. I prefer clients that like to understand their investments, who ask questions, and who appreciate that we are in effect statisticians that employ investment strategies that we believe are likely to deliver good risk-adjusted returns.

I believe that an educated client can be a more stable client that doesn’t panic in the tough times when the market declines. Rather such a client sees it as opportunity for buying stocks on the cheap that will lead to higher returns. An educated client tends to make more rational investment decisions and less likely to make emotional ones.

If you are intent on being a DIY investor, I urge you to take the Canadian Securities Course and those courses leading to the Certified Financial Planner where you’ll learn about income taxes, retirement plans, investments and asset allocation, retirement planning, family security (risks to you and the family associated with death, disability, critical illness, sickness, and liability), estate planning, and cash and debt management.

If you don’t have the time or interest to become a DIY investor, then you need to take time to identify the right professional financial advisor.  Here’s an article to help you do this:

Steve Nyvik

Steve Nyvik, BBA, MBA, CIM, CFP, R.F.P. WHAT I DO: Steve builds, from blue-chip dividend paying stocks and bonds, a tax efficient 'pension' designed to meet your needs through time without taking unnecessary risk. Financial planning advice and service are included to make sure that if ‘life happens to you’, your goals aren’t derailed in the process. Phone: (604) 288-2083 (extension 2) Toll Free: 1 (855) 855-9267 (extension 2) Email: