Can you afford to be your own financial advisor?

How many hours a day do you devote to your financial health? If you?re like most people whose lives are filled with the demands of a job, a home and a family, the answer is probably not enough. That doesn?t mean you?re ignoring the importance of earning, saving and investing. It just means you don?t have enough free time to ?spend? on making money. The plain fact of the matter is that most of us will take more time to research the best vacation destination or a new car purchase than on making an informed investment decision.

And even when you find the time to take a closer look at your financial life, the view can be very intimidating. In the past decade, the number of investment options has exploded. Take mutual funds, for example ? over that time, your choices have risen from 200 to over 2,000. And the complexity of your other investment options has grown apace.

Sure, the Internet has made it easier to invest, especially in mutual funds and equities. But with time at a premium and with so much to know about so many investment possibilities, making informed and timely decisions can be extremely difficult ? and potentially very costly. A look back at your investment track record may confirm that if you?ve been racking up capital losses over the past few years, with little or no capital gains to offset them, maybe it?s time to re-think your investment strategy. And if you don?t feel you know enough about investing to begin with, it?s definitely time for a change.

One simple investment decision that has worked well for many thousands of Canadians who lack the knowledge or time to manage their own financial life is to seek the help of a financial professional who does have the knowledge, training and investing experience to create, implement and monitor a comprehensive financial plan that works for you.

A financial professional will help you identify and align your financial goals with your life goals. Your advisor will work with you to develop an asset allocation plan that fits your risk/reward profile, enables you to achieve your long-range financial goals, and is tax-efficient. Most importantly, your advisor can provide you with encyclopedic, current knowledge about the investment options available to you, help you make the most informed decisions, oversee your portfolio, provide periodic reviews, and revise your plan as necessary to match prevailing market or economic conditions ? always with the view to achieving your goals for the future, as they are today and as they will be tomorrow.

Selecting a financial advisor

You?ll want a ?full service? financial planner who can assess every aspect of your financial life ? including saving, insurance, investments, taxes, retirement, and estate planning ? and help you develop a detailed strategy for meeting all your financial goals. A good way to start your selection process is to ask a friend or relative, or perhaps one of the other professionals in your life — your accountant or lawyer, for instance ? for a recommendation.

When you meet with your financial planning candidate, you?ll want:

· To know all about his or her experience, qualifications and professional credentials.

·References from existing clients.

·To clearly understand how your advisor-candidate will work with you to define your financial needs, keep you informed of progress, and with what frequency. Achieving financial independence starts with recognizing your own limitations. If you?re not a contractor, you wouldn?t try building your own house ? you?d work with a professional. The same holds true for building a strong and sustaining financial plan that is a perfect fit for your life. It pays to work with a professional.

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc., is presented as a general source of information only and is not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell investments, nor is it intended to provide professional advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax advice. For more information on this topic or on any other investment or financial matters, please contact your Investors Group Consultant.