I know you’ll all be really relieved to know that I’ve finally rolled over my 401k into my IRA. It’s exciting news and I don’t blame you for being riveted. (Hey, I even went poking around in my archives to see if I’d mentioned this before, and how far back it was. The bad news for you is that I found it, and really, OKAY, you get it, I’ve talked about my long lost 401k before, WHO CARES; but the good news is that that post also contains one of the greatest Monkey quotes EVER, so there’s that.)
The check came and I called Big Financial Institution (henceforth referred to as BFI) to make sure I knew how to send it in. (Me: I have this check to send in. Them: Uh, okay, send it in. Me: Oh. Um. Alright then.) I don’t want to brag or anything, but with the deposit of this check, the value of my IRA increases by a factor of 30. I’m RICH. Or I just averaged a contribution of about a buck a year when it comes to the IRA. Hard to say, really.
Anyway, BFI cares deeply about my retirement. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re more concerned about it than I am. So the earnest young Portfolio Consultant with whom I spoke today wanted to take “just a few minutes” of my time to talk to me about investment strategies. Did I have the time to discuss this with him?
I considered the matter. On the one hand, my current retirement investment strategy goes something like this: Hey, I’m young, and also, LA LA LA LA LA I can’t HEEEEEAR you! On the other hand, by the time this phone call occurred, I had already done a bunch of work AND gone out for groceries. And I’d just sat down with a cup of tea. And a snack. So I had a little time to kill.
The education began.
Me: Sure, let’s talk.
Portfolio Boy: Really? Okay, that’s great. I just need to confirm your name and date of birth so we can get started.
Me: [I confirm]
PB: Alright, thank you, now if I can just verify your account number?
Me: Account number? Oh, yeah, I have that somewhere. Hang on. I just need to find it. I must have a statement here somewhere. I think. Did I mention that it took me 6 years to roll over my 401k?
PB: Um, yes, well, I can just use your social security number if you’d rather.
Me: [I rather]
PB: Thank you, wonderful. Now, I’d like to ask you a few questions about your earnings and how much money you plan to invest each year.
[Ten minutes of intensive questioning follows, with me answering and him trying very hard not to laugh at my answers. Which made no sense to me. What’s funny about “Annual income? I’m supposed to know?”]
PB: And now I’d like you tell me what sort of investor you tend to be. Very cautious, cautious, moderate, aggressive, or very aggressive.
Me: Well, I tend to be very cautious about money in general.
PB: Well we can certainly work up a portfolio strategy that’s more cautious, by all means.
Me: Um. Wait. Isn’t the whole point here that you know more about this than I do?
PB: Wellllll… I’ll make some recommendations based on your style, is all.
Me: But what if my style is totally WRONG? I’m not retiring for thirty years. Aren’t you supposed to tell me to invest more aggressively?
PB: Well, that’s true, you certainly have the time to go a bit higher-risk if you like.
Me: I would like to have money. Do you know how to do that?
I’m sure he was feeling the love. I know I was.
Finally we arrived at some agreement about the level of risk that was appropriate. Then we talked about balancing investments and by the time he got to actual fund recommendations, my eyes rolled back in my head and I started playing Sudoku online while he talked.
And then I realized something.
Me: Hey, how come this portfolio you’re recommending has a dozen different funds in it, but none of them are the funds I’m currently invested in?
PB: Well, uh, we have thousands of funds to choose from, and these just happen to be the ones that came up—
Me: What’s wrong with the ones I already have?
PB: Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with them.
Me: Then why do you want me to move to something else and get rid of them?
PB: Perhaps I could have one of our specialists give you a call to discuss the individual funds in greater detail.
I think I agreed to a second phone call. Because the first one was SO MUCH FUN.
The problem is that I just have a hard time with this sort of thing. I vacillate between treating it like a party game (Oh! This fund has a funny name! Let’s put some money in it!) and becoming immobilized by the fear of doing it wrong. What if I pick a fund that’s ultimately the culprit in my only being able to afford water and generic soup during my golden years?
Portfolio Boy also told me—with earnest sincerity—that I should consider their full management service, where one of their fleet of Pod Portfolio People micromanages my investments for me. Then I don’t have to do anything but lose the statement each quarter when they send it out. This option costs 1% per year, though, so I figure I’m better off doing it myself. Especially since I did such a bang-up job staying on top of my 401k.
Clearly, if the whole writing thing doesn’t pan out, I should become a broker.