[not] Personal Finance Advice (from an Irresponsible Millennial)

While going through the process of closing Capp.io, I’ve been reflecting on consumer investing and future of banking. Through the 14 months I focused on the product full time, there was a lot of research into the fintech landscape that I figured might be useful to open source. To be clear, none of my notes are actually advice, I’ve just rehashed bits and pieces I’ve picked up along the way from people much more informed than me.

Revisiting the Vision

We originally built Cappio to simplify investing for the everyday investor. But after talking to hundreds of seasoned investors and reading classic investing books like The Intelligent Investor and A Random Walk down Wall Street, it’s obvious that there aren’t any shortcuts. You can use tools that save you time but learning to become a successful investor is a journey of self-discovery and discipline.

Not nearly as many people should be an investor. Pick your battles. There will always be a changing landscape of financial products vying for your attention. You have to love the grind of vetting investment ideas, just like successful artists, salespeople and developers love their craft. There are definitely ways you can be successful as a hobbyist of investing but that doesn’t change the length of your journey. Find when you are in your element.

Still, none of us can escape managing the money in our lives. Even if you’re not in your element picking stocks, there are a lot of decisions with your money. The first step is always knowing yourself. Yes that’s a deep question but like everything, understanding your goals and your risk profile will help you make a decision you can deal with. As passe as it is to reference reddit, a great place to start for personal finance is /r/personalfinance’s FAQ. This is a handy diagram made by the community:

The Modern Investor's Toolkit

The world of finance is chalk full of sharks out there preying on the uninformed. However, after close inspection, I found that even in the sea of horrible financial products are certainly hidden gems. In the end, it’s all about finding the right tools for you. Just like artists have different tastes and coders argue about vim vs emacs, there always be personal preferences.

Low Risk: Index Funds and ETFs

Luckily there are lots of well documented strategies, the most time-tested being index funds, a portfolio of funds to track market indexes. Boring, sure but reliable and consistent. Warren Buffett is on track to win a $1M dollar bet with just one Vanguard index fund against a hand selected portfolio of hedge funds. You’ll never outperform the market but you’ll never underperform either.

ETFs are Exchange-Traded Funds, essentially different baskets of assets, commonly stocks. More adventurous investors can also now create customized ETFs with tools like Motif Investing.

Low Maintenance: Robo-Advisors

There are also modern robo-advisors that use more risk-tailored strategies. These are similar to targeted retirement funds with a pretty face. Wealthfront and Betterment are the two biggest players and definitely worth checking out.

Self Directed

Now, entering the realm of users of Cappio, those who want to be more hands on with their investments. Doing research yourself can be a mixed bag when it comes to yield. For those of you who have this higher risk appetite, there are a variety of great tools similar to Cappio, Simply Wall St and Stockflare being really similar leaders. Social trading is growing as well, with communities like Closing Bell, TradingView and Estimize become go-to places for public recommendation data.

In the end, in investing it’s impossible to predict with certainty. That’s essentially why there is potential to make money, because you are holding risk. Even the most stable assets can have the rug ripped from under them. Recent, ‘ultra-stable’ Puerto Rico bonds that thousands of professional investors sunk money in, crashed when the government stated they couldn’t pay them back. That’s the name of the game — and why so many love it.

Was hoping to get into the unbundling of banking but seems to make the most sense to break that out into a separate post. If this was helpful to ya, drop me a note in the comment section or on twitter

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