Investments are the best way to grow your money. Every consumer understands that it’s far better to place your money in some kind of account in a bank. There just aren’t many people stashing cash in their mattresses anymore.

Unfortunately, too many people take options that aren’t necessarily much better than their great-grandfather’s choice. Simple passbook savings accounts or interest-bearing checking accounts don’t even keep pace with inflation, making your money worth less when you withdraw it than it was worth when you deposited it.

If you’ve come to this realization, you’re probably ready to start placing your money in some better options that will help you build your future. It’s a good decision, one that will benefit you in your later years and help you make the most of your hard work today.

Before you get started, you need to get the lay of the land. The people, companies, and products involved in your future should be checked carefully, and most important of all, your plan should feel right for you.

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Know The Analysts

The first thing you’ll need to do is get in contact with people who can help you. The analysts who track market upgrades and other trends have as much variety as the people who invest with them. Understanding their priorities, their biases, and their philosophies are important as you decide who you want making recommendations about your money.

Bear in mind that this isn’t about quality so much as about their investment style. Really bad analysts don’t last; in fact, unqualified people rarely get into the business to begin with. It is just a matter of finding someone who views the market in a way that makes sense to you.

Know The Options

After you’ve got advisors, you need to think about what role you want to play in your investment decisions. A good broker will steer you toward sound investments, but they don’t have to be traditional. Talk with your team about how you can maintain an acceptable level of risk but still shake things up in terms of the composition of your investments.

Diversification is good when it comes to investments, after all. Even if you own lots of different mutual funds or individual stocks, you are still in just one stock market. You can hedge with valuables like gold or real estate, treasury bonds, and so forth in order to spread risk. This is especially important as you approach retirement.

Know Yourself

Brokers and other advisors will steer you toward good ideas, but they work mostly from the management side. They know debt to asset ratios, profit margins, and other important stock facts–the things that go most directly to stock price.

But you’re a consumer, and you are the reason behind those statistics. Millions of people using a company’s goods or services is¬†ultimately what drives their bottom line, and if you like what you see, chances are that others like it too. You should communicate with your broker about that and see what he or she thinks.

Whatever path you take, it should be up to you. Ultimately it’s your money and your future, so you have the right to expect your advisors to work with your ideas. One size most certainly does not fit all in investments, so tell your team about your broad idea of how you want your portfolio to work, then tell them to work out the details. In that way, you’ll get the best of both worlds: An investment plan that looks like you and still works for you.