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Copilot: Great Vantage Point

February 1, 2014
Copilot: Great Vantage Point

Even independent investors sometimes need someone in the seat next to them. Don’t see yourself using an advisor but sometimes question DIY investing? Objective guidance may be just what you need.

There's a big step between roll-up-your-sleeves investing and relegating portfolio statements to coffee-ringed coasters. The good news is, there’s middle ground. Finding it can help you successfully blend professional investing resources with your own intellectual curiosity and, let’s face it, intimate knowledge of your changing money needs. The level of involvement will vary among individuals, but at the core, we’re simply talking about being a good portfolio copilot. Sometimes you’ve got two hands on the yoke. Sometimes you need to slide over. And much like the way a cockpit works, it’s about marrying the best of technology with a human element. Easily accessible tools and resources can help you stay engaged with your investments and seek out the guidance you need, when you need it.

But Is It For Me?

Savvy, experienced DIY investors may scoff. After all, the rise of self-directed investing is meant to empower a smart-and-getting-smarter field of stock watchers who are increasingly tapping democratized markets. Of course, one big reason that investors slap on a “trader” hat and make their own moves is because DIY can lower some of the fees and costs associated with money management and financial advisory services.

But, again, does it have to be all or nothing? In some cases, questions or concerns you may have don’t rise to the level that a big-picture advisor can answer easily and quickly. After all, should your trading questions and your tax-planning questions really be directed to the same person? Or perhaps you want advice, but don’t feel you have a large enough account to get much attention? No portfolio should be more or less important than another. Maybe you’re committed to self-directed investing (and pretty good at it), but still need a bit of help on occasion. For instance, do you have several accounts that you find difficult to keep track of? Do you separate your “play” money (where you take a few more chances) and your “serious” money (stashed away in a hands-off fund)? At the end of the day, many traders and investors have the same goals: comfort and security. That’s right, traders retire too, and a short-term market horizon should never limit long-term planning.

For market dabblers and committed traders, in today’s 24-hour world of a half-dozen investment channels and millions of Tweets enlightening decision-making, firm goals can help calm itchy fingers. Too often we forget that the primary source of investing success comes from having a solid plan yet being willing to revise that plan—although not just every time the wind changes. It starts rather simply.

A Four-Step Approach


Sketch out your personal situation and the key milestones that can potentially impact your investments.


Find the risk level you’re comfortable with and lay the groundwork for an investment plan that is suitable for you.


Figure out how to put your plan into action in a way that best suits your investing strategy and moves you closer to your goal.


Keep track of your investments and stay up to date on the market so you can see the impact on your portfolio and make adjustments as needed.

Human Contact (Remember That?)

  • PORTFOLIO CHECK-UP. Too risky? Too conservative? Ask your TD Ameritrade Investment Consultant for an in-depth review of your portfolio. From there, discuss solutions that are designed to better align your investments with your goals.

  • PROFESSIONALLY MANAGED PORTFOLIOS. Put your investments in expert hands with Amerivest Portfolios, designed to keep your future financial plans on track.

  • COMPREHENSIVE FINANCIAL SERVICES. Speak with your TD Ameritrade Investment Consultant for more information about AdvisorDirect®, which can connect you with one or more independent Registered Investment Advisors who can help you craft a plan designed to meet your financial goals.

  • EXPERIENCE-LEVELED TRADING PLATFORMS. Lean on support staff available across all platform levels, including mobile trading, to help you access resources so you can analyze your portfolio and strengthen your strategy.

Handy Tools

  • MORNINGSTAR INSTANT X-RAY®. See what’s driving your portfolio’s performance with a detailed look at your stock and mutual fund holdings using Morningstar data and analysis.
  • RETIREMENT PLANNER. How much do you need to save to reach your retirement savings goal? Find out with this retirement planning tool.


The best news is that you can decide the level of guidance and support that you may need: do it for me; help me do it; or I can do it myself, thank you very much. But a willingness to seek out guidance is important to investing discipline no matter how often you engage with the markets. That goes for you too, solo fliers: saving on fees and shutting out help means little if you’re a self-directed investor who unnecessarily self-destructs.

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