There’s a popular English proverb saying: “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.” In another word, if you concentrate on saving small amounts of money, you’ll soon amass a large amount.


When it comes to investing for retirement, this can’t be truer. We never learn to plan our retirement in school and it is hardly anybody’s dream to build a retirement portfolio. The truth is, most of us wake up one day and say, “Gosh, I need to do something for my retirement.”

Make sensible investment decisions becomes harder and harder in today’s age, the financial predators no longer need to hide things from you, they just overwhelm you with facts, so you don’t know what is important and what is not. – Ivan Guan

Naturally, very few of us are prepared for investment nor to have the luxury to start our retirement fund with a big bang. To make it worse, the modern world poses challenges to all of us and makes the traditional way of savings hardly work.

  • The interest rate is too low to generate any meaning return to combat inflation
  • Too many investment options and too much information for us to get started
  • Our financial system is so complex and fragile and we can’t see through the potential risks.

So if you want to be successful investing in the modern worlds, there are 3 things you must do.

#1 Do your own research

Whether you decide to build your own investment portfolio or hire a financial adviser or fund manager, you always have to do your own personal research, but in different ways.

If you invest on your own

Believe it or not, I can assure you it will be a hard work.  It is not only about understanding the stock markets, learn the back story of the business, reading a vast array of financial statements, it is about sinking yourself into the financial markets and ride through the up and downs.

In the modern investment world, you can no longer just buy and hold some stocks and hope for the best, but to develop your own systematic way of investing.

For good and bad, information is readily available in the internet today.  To study any financial jargon is just a click away. Some financial institutions have even compiled the list for you. Check out this IG glossary trading terms.

If you want to engage professional help

Having a financial adviser or fund manager by your side will make your life a lot easier, but that does not mean you can just sit down and relax.

You can delegate your authority about money, but you cannot delegate responsibility of your money.

The knowledge and experiences of financial professionals can save you tons of hours of hard work, all you have to do is to ask the right questions and leverage on them.

#2 Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

This may sound too obvious but most people got it wrong.

We all know the world of investment is unpredictable. No one can be absolutely certain if an investment is going to grow from strength-to-strength or it will crash and burn, so it’s a simple idea to protect your wealth by not putting all your money into one single investment.

The problem is that most people’s diversification is “naive diversification”, they believe more investments makes a portfolio diverse. This may work 50 years ago but not in today’s world where information travels at lightning speed and the whole world moves in tandem.

The trick is to create an investment portfolio not based on expected returns but based on different level of risks. If your investments can spread or compensate the risks of each other, you are able to have a sustainable portfolio for a long run.

What’s more, if you follow this practice, you can even afford to be a little more aggressive with a couple of your investment decisions for greater rewards.

#3 Select the right investment platform

Personal investing has become a lot more commonplace and mainstream, thanks to impressive technological advancements.

These days, a retail investor has most of the financial tools which only the financial institution used to have 20 years ago, and more

  • Real-time financial data
  • Cheap transaction costs
  • Automated trading software
  • Mobile apps
  • Robo-advisers
  • Investment communities

So be sure to look around and find the best platforms to meet your trading needs.

What you need to beware is that watching the various markets can become extremely addictive and could lead you to rash, short-term behaviour if you are not careful.

That is why I purposely unsubscribe real-time data and financial news feed to keep myself with a clear mind.

Above all, investing in the modern world has become increasingly complex, but the good news is retail investors like us have the level ground as the institutional investors.

Investing has never been easier in the modern world and if you want to make your cash go further, you’ve just got to start your research now.

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

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