With the rise of discount brokerages and the availability of free information and education materials on investing (like this site), it has never been easier to management your own investments.
Once you open an account with one of the large, established discount brokerages, you'll have the ability to buy and sell all of the major asset classes including stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Some sites even support currency trading and options/derivative trading.
But how do you decide if self investing is right for you? Here is a little quiz. If you can say "yes' to each of these questions, then self investing is right for you.
1. Are you willing to spend significant time in learning about investing strategies and the assets described on this site (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc)? There is a reason that many people hire professionals to support their investing. If you are not willing to put in the time, then you might want to consider some help.
2. Would the risk and uncertainty associated with investing cause you stress and sleepless nights? If you are doing your own investing, you are going to be in situations where your portfolio experiences significant losses (think of the crashes in 2001 and 2008). If you had panicked at that time and sold your positions you would have missed out on some of the strong bull markets that immediately followed the crashes. If you don't have the stomach for normal market volatility, consider getting some support.
3. Do you have the time to make adjustments to your portfolio in response to market conditions? While much of your planning and execution can be done on your time, there will be instances where you'll need to respond to changes in the market/environment. For people with very busy schedules, self-investing may not be feasible.
4. Are your investment goals and asset portfolio relatively standard? For those with typical asset portfolios and investment goals there are plenty of resources to support your investing activities. For those of you with unusual portfolios (trusts, unusual asset classes) or with unusual investment goals (early retirement, supporting extended family), a professional can help.