People who want to learn more about how, when, and where to invest money have a variety of options open to them. One traditional approach is to talk with a personal financial consultant of one variety or another. A second strategy relies on group education, often in the form of classes, to learn more about the financial landscape. Other potential investors may prefer a self-directed approach to learning where to invest money.
The most orthodox approach to learning about different investment options involves consultation with a financial professional. This will frequently be a broker or banker but may also be a financial advisor whose only function is to offer advice. In all cases, it is important to do a bit of background work before relying on the advice of a financial professional when making investment decisions, and a few hours researching several different potential advisors is usually a good idea. Some investors may prefer to work with financial advisors who do not serve as bankers or brokers, as their only incentive is to maximize investment performance for their clients, but bankers and brokers often offer sound advice as well. This type of financial advice is especially useful when investors face complicated, long-term investment problems, such as long-term retirement planning.
A different approach to learning where to invest money focuses on group education. Many universities and colleges offer classes of varying length that are designed to offer advice and education to inexperienced investors. These classes can be especially useful in teaching the basic principles of investment and may be an excellent choice for young people making their first, small investments.
When relying on this sort of advice on where to invest money, it is important to carefully evaluate the qualifications of the group or person offering the classes. Ideally, courses should be offered by people who do not themselves have a clear financial interest in the decisions made by their students. University and college outreach programs, as well as community-education programs are likely the most reliable sources for safe and unbiased advice.
A more daring sort of investor may choose to rely only on his own research ability as he learns where to invest money. The sheer volume of advice on investing that is available on the Internet and through various advice publications can be daunting. The key for investors seeking to educate themselves by using these resources is to maintain a careful and critical eye when evaluating materials.
As a general rule, impartial advice and information is better than advice from sources that will benefit if their advice is followed. Materials that are published under strict state, federal, or corporate guidelines are often more reliable than those that are not subject to these rules. For example, the annual reports produced by most corporations may contain some accounting tricks but are still generally a better source of information than material that is not subject to any oversight. Finally, materials associated with professional institutions, such as universities or international agencies such as the World Bank are usually more trustworthy than those that are not.