What level of oversight should I have on my investments, if they are in a retirement account and/or managed by a professional? - Nerdwallet

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What level of oversight should I have on my investments, if they are in a retirement account and/or managed by a professional?

February 8, 2013

Advisor answers

Alexey Bulankov

Alexey Bulankov

Redwood Shores, CA

The level of oversight should be commensurate with your comfort level. If you feel compelled to check your managed investments more often than monthly or quarterly how comfortable are you with the investment professional to whom you delegated your accounts? That said, whatever frequency you select, it should be consistent. Neglect is not a good investment strategy. Checking your accounts regularly helps keep you focused on the desired long-term outcome, your progress towards it and ...

Jeffrey Stoffer

Jeffrey Stoffer

San Rafael, CA

Whether your investments are in a retirement account or with an investment manager, it is extremely important that you check up on them, both quarterly and annually.

Consistent reviews will help you answer key questions:

What is the value of your investments?

Do the investments still meet your objectives?

Is the fund or manager doing a satisfactory job?

Monitoring the total value of your investments quarterly alerts you to trends. No surprises! If you are caught off guard opening an envelope to discover that your accounts have lost 2...

Bonnie Sewell

Bonnie Sewell

Leesburg, VA

My clients don't need to do the analysis I do, get the education I have, or manage millions but I want them to have a reasonable understanding of what they own and why they own it. We connect it to their goals and that usually assists understanding. Oversight should always be available to you and because there are no stupid questions when it comes to your own money, you should expect that your advisor will take the time necessary to ensure that you have a reasonable understanding of what you own and why you own it.


John Buerger

John Buerger

San Luis Obispo, CA

Let's start with this ... it's your money, not the advisor's. That means ultimately you're on the hook for what happens to it. As such I believe you should have a basic understanding of: (1) how the account is invested (what types of assets), (2) the types of risk to which your money is exposed and (3) the basic investment policy that the manager is following.

You shouldn't watch the balance every day, but you once a year isn't enough either. Depending on your personality, monthly to quarterly checks are appropriate or more often if th...

Guy Baker

Guy Baker

Irvine, CA

I think professional management has limited value in a 401k plan if you are going to use Target Funds or lifestyle funds.

If you are going to try and build a portfolio from the funds available in the 401k, then a professional manager would be a good investment to make sure you have calibrated the right amount of risk for the expected return.

If you have a nonqualified portfolio (money not in your 401k or IRA) and you have hired a money manager, you might be wise to get a second opinion. This is especially true if your portfolio is not k...

Kenneth Baer

Kenneth Baer

Marietta, GA

You should be able to verify your account balances with a third party on a daily basis if that is what you wish. Remember it is your money.

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Gary Alt

Gary Alt

Pleasanton, CA

This is a great question! If your investments are managed by a professional, here are some important steps to ensure you're getting the attention you need:

  • Determine if they are willing to sign a fiduciary pledge on your behalf. This legally requires them to put your interest ahead of their own, especially in the area of compensation. While all financial professionals say they’re helping clients, you have to get the fiduciary pledge in writing if you want peace of mind.
  • Understand their investment strategy. Are t...
  • James Mathis

    James Mathis

    Dallas, TX

    If your investments are managed by a professional, your investment accounts should be held at a 3rd party custodian and you should be able to login online and view your accounts at your discretion.

    You advisor should develop an investment plan for you, he should be able to clearly explain it to you, and he should discuss the strategies he is going to employ to achieve your goals. You should meet periodically(quarterlyor twice a year) with your advisor to discuss how things are going and you should be proactive and let your a...

    Laurie Itkin

    Laurie Itkin

    La Jolla, CA

    I know many people who rarely look at their statements and some of those people are served by investment advisers who don't contact them more than once a year. That is scary. It is your money and you should be up-to-date on how it is working for you. Markets can change quickly and your investments can be impacted. I recommend you check your statements at least once a quarter.

    Even though your money is being managed professionally, you have the opportunity to learn from that professional. Consider education part of you...

    Hilary Hendershott

    Hilary Hendershott

    MBA, CFP®
    San Jose, CA

    Your money should be located at a third party custodian where you have an online portal and access to monthly or quarterly reports. You should have selected your investments personally, or, if working with a professional, you should have agreed to a particular methodology. I have Limited Power of Attorney on all of my clients' accounts, where I am able to invest their money in a portfolio that has been pre-agreed upon as well as do trading to raise funds or buy into more of the investments in the case of a deposit. You should be able ...

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