Want to begin investing but don't know where to start? How do you determine your investor profile? What do you do with fluctuating investments? Many of us want to see our money grow, but need a refresher on the investing basics. Winston Sih, digital journalist, speaks with Angela Iermieri, financial planner at Desjardins Group, about everything someone new to the world of personal finance needs to know about investing.

Winston Sih: Hi everyone and thanks for joining us for another FinTalk by Desjardins Group - I'm Winston Sih, a digital and broadcast journalist, and I'm joined once again by Angela Iermieri, financial planner at Desjardins Group, to discuss investing: what to do in terms of investing during market fluctuation and changing financial circumstances. But also, how to get started for those who are interested and want to get into the markets. Angela, good to see you again!

Angela Iermieri: Thanks Winston, I'm excited to chat.

Well, many are familiar with investing terms. Terms like stocks, bonds, markets, financial assets to name a few, but many aren't totally clear on what they mean and how to set it all up.

Exactly and most of the time, the questions are: where should I start, and how do I know what a good investment is? And those are all normal questions. So, let's say, you're new to the investing world and you have money you're willing to invest for a certain period, because we know investment is a long-term avenue, so you're not going in it for a quick short gain. You want it on a long-term return, so you need to have your investments for at least 3-5 years to give yourself some time to know how your investments are doing.

Second of all, you want to know, do you want to do this on your own, online investing, or do you want to deal with an advisor or financial planner that could help you out? So, you know what kind of financial products you want to invest in - do you want to go stock directly, like tech companies, or do you want to use exchange rated funds or a portfolio that already has a predetermined mix of assets in it? Knowing the base is what's going to help you build your confidence in investing.

So really, knowing your base but also the commitment - how much time to expect your money to be invested somewhere. So, there's a little bit of homework the investor needs to do before diving in and once they've done their homework, there's a little bit - key things an investor should consider in terms of their profile.

Exactly. You've got to know who you are as an investor. So let's say you're in your mid 20's and you're just starting out, you may not have a large sum to invest or you may not want to take on too much risk, but you should determine what your investor profile is. You got to know yourself better and what your expectations are. You start by asking, what are your objectives, what are you saving for, a new car purchase? A down payment on a home? Or are you already planning for retirement? And then you'll know how much time you can have that money invested.

And also how you feel about your investment fluctuating - that will give you an idea on how much risk tolerance you have and determine which types of investments you want to make your portfolio and what you feel good with. Also, for some investors it could be for example responsible investing, which is very important for some people, which is investing in companies and funds that tend to generate measurable positive social or environmental impacts so that could be also part of your choices.

Absolutely. I think that risk profile is really important - knowing what path you can go in because investing is such a broad term and there are many great tools online that help you, but I think at the end of the day, talking to a great financial planner is important - someone like you, Angela. For those of us that have some money invested, and I want to speak to myself a little bit because it has been a stressful past few months, an emotional roller coaster of sorts. It's hard to see so much fluctuation in the markets and how it can affect our personal finances. What tips do you have for investors in terms of how to manage your reaction?

Well, one main piece of advice and I think it's easier said than done, is to not get emotional. You need to focus on your investment strategy if you have one, and in fact, if you do have some liquidity, some money you want to invest, even in times where it may seem a little more turbulent and you're wondering if it's a good time to invest, well remember if you're doing it for the long run, there's no need for you to worry.

So what's important to consider is, as I said - manage your emotions. Don't let the views of the current situation get to you. Stay invested, don't touch your money, invest regularly as much as you can. Maybe review your portfolio, or if you're not comfortable with your choices or if you're not comfortable investing on your own, if you started on your own maybe you want to go talk to a advisor or financial planner for some help, some guidance, and if you want to rebalance and better diversify your portfolio so you feel more at ease with the investments that you have.

I think a lot of investors can take this opportunity, you know these times, to knee-jerk and not be as informed as they should be when it comes to their financial portfolio. And I like the way that you put it - it's a great chance to rebalance and reassess, but also not overreact and I think that's really important because it can be very easy to do that. Angela, on that note, thanks so much for joining me!

Thanks for having me.

For more on this subject, you can read:

Investing on a small budget

It's a common misconception that you need a lot of money to invest. The real trick is knowing your goal so you can choose where to invest your money.

Tips for dealing with stock market fluctuations

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