Just as doctors may need to remind clients to stop self-diagnosing themselves on WebMd (“no, you do not have alien hand syndrome”) financial professionals may need to help clients sift through the wave of financial information flung at them daily.
For the client who regularly sends emails inquiring about a sector play, or hog bellies, or wants a detailed explanation of the weird financial term he just heard, there’s the U.S. government’s Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) public-facing, easy-reading library of investing and saving material.
Much of the information reinforces what many financial professionals already preach, from the basics of “pay yourself first” to understanding asset allocation.
“A few people may stumble into financial security,” the SEC’s Investor.gov site reads. “But for most people, the only way to attain financial security is to save and invest over a long period of time. You just need to have your money work for you. That’s investing.”
For the rookie, Investor.gov site walks newbies through the basics with its “Roadmap to Saving and Investing” section. That’s stuff like defining goals, building a rainy day fund, and understanding how stock markets work.
And for the more sophisticated investor – or the client who can’t tune out the TV financial talking head – there are deeper chapters into everything from exchange traded funds (ETFs), reverse stock splits, microcap stocks, variable annuities, target date funds, and structured notes with principal protection.
As deep or as shallow as they want to dive, it’s free information with no sales pitch. The feds won’t tell your clients what to buy, but the SEC will walk them through the weeds of saving and investing (and maybe save you a phone call or two). There also are free tools such as a compound interest calculator, a required minimum distribution (RMD) calculator, and other financial planning aids.
In addition to free information for investors, the SEC provides access to a vetted library of offsite information:
- gov’s site on good financial habits.
- The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Stock Market Game to teach children about financial markets.
- An A to Z glossary of financial terms.
- Tools on digging for information about a particular publicly traded company.
- A library of deep-dive reports on topics including crowdfunding, affinity fraud, cybersecurity.
For all the noise coming out of cable TV financial channels, Saturday morning AM radio programs, podcasts, magazines, and online news sites, it can help to show clients to a depository of free information with no sales angle.