There are a lot of options available to invest in stocks. All offering different features.
However, before investing your money you have to have some knowledge about how the stock market works and its jargon.
Otherwise, you will be spending your time searching for everything on Google or making mistakes. And when money is involved I think you would probably prefer not making any.
Alternatives for investing in stocks
There are two broad categories: investing by yourself or with a professional.
- Discount brokerage:
With this kind of account, you can buy or sell stocks by yourself in exchange for a small trading fee.
The commission being small the providers of discount brokerage account expect you to make a lot of transactions (day trading) in order to make money.
- An investment dealer (Broker) :
When dealing with an investment dealer you have to inform yourself if he is a full-service investment dealer or a restricted one.
If he is a full-service investment dealer other than buying and selling stocks he can also give you advice and provide you with reports and analysis.
On the other hand, if he is a restricted investment dealer he can only buy and sell stocks for you.
- Portfolio manager:
This is the full package. The portfolio manager chooses the stocks for you, holds them if they are worth keeping, and sell them when they become no good. So you have to really trust them because they have somehow full control.
I say sort of because before you even start doing business with a portfolio manager, you are going to establish an investment policy.
Essentially, the investment policy will tell the portfolio manager what you expect from him in terms of return, how much risk you want to take, the constraints he will have to respect, and more.
Which one to choose?
Here are 2 criteria you can rely on to make your decision:
It is important to have a good understanding of the risk-return tradeoff of all the asset classes, how they are analyzed, read, and understand financial reports, etc.
If you absolutely have no knowledge whatsoever you should go for a portfolio manager.
If you have a good degree of knowledge you might go for an investment dealer or a portfolio manager.
Buying individual shares should not be taken lightly, if you do not have a lot of time available you should probably go for an investment dealer or a portfolio manager.
If you decide to go for a professional your standards related to return should be of normal or standard return.
You can’t expect them to tell you step by step how to make money. The title of “Professional that tells you how to make money” does not exist.
Their role should be to advise and manage crises. With their superior knowledge, they can easily spot whether, for example, what you want to buy is SURE to be a bad bet.
Finally, whatever way to decide to buy shares, you can be assured you can buy them through your TFSA or your individual RRSP. You can even buy them through a non-registered savings account.