Steven Rattner: Esquire: 11 Financial Tips From Steven Rattner

July 18th, 2013

Published in August 2013 issue

Do I need a financial advisor?

Financial advisors are generally brokers — they get paid commissions based on whatever investment activity you generate. The more you buy or sell stocks or other investments, the more the financial advisor usually makes. It may not be in your interest to be buying and selling as often as it’s in his or her interest. So it’s not a perfect situation. The regulatory oversight has improved over the years, but still the people at the bottom of the financial totem pole often end up with financial advisors who are also, frankly, near the bottom of the totem pole. If you can find somebody you have confidence in, who comes well recommended and appears to be qualified, then sure. But if not, you’re better off on your own than with somebody who either is incompetent or isn’t taking your interests to heart.

Should I be doing my own taxes?

If you can, then yes. Many people can use the short form, and there’s TurboTax and other ways to do them. There’s no reason not to do your own taxes if they’re simple enough. My kids do theirs. But you reach a point, as I did, where — even though I like to think of myself as a financially literate person — when you sit down and try to do them, you realize there are accountants for a reason. It’s often a function of how complicated your situation is.

Do regular people really invest in gold?

My first rule of investing is not to invest in things I don’t understand. And I don’t understand gold.

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