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Regarding this question: "Are Investment companies safe for investing a large sum of money?"

There could possibly be some specific question this person is asking about, but I think there are a lot of questions that we get that should be closed duplicate of a canonical "Am I investing correctly?" Do we already have one of those types of questions?

At least then I could say

"Use this formula based on your age for allocating among bonds/stocks/reits. Invest in index funds. Vanguard has the lowest fees. Don't buy mutual funds or individual stocks unless you enjoy the risk and the fees."

And people could vote me up or down, and I could compete with the guy telling me this advice is hogwash and that people should be trading their own stocks because they can beat the market if they do research... and this could happen in one centralized place instead of happening over and over again on many different questions.

I found the following questions which could have been resolved duplicate if there was a canonical question.

  • Wasn't there a question about how to get started in investing? It got some canonical answers, although it may have been too targeted to be the question. – justkt Jan 5 '11 at 14:48
  • I don't think how to invest 100K lump sum is the same question as how to get started investing as a young person. – Alex B Jan 8 '11 at 17:13
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I'm strongly against the notion that there's a canonical answer to this kind of question.

The answer to "Am I investing correctly?" is as individual as the person asking the question. A lot of these questions appear the same because (a) the people asking the questions don't provide enough background data to get good specific answers from others and (b) the people answering the questions don't regularly test their assumptions about the person asking the question by asking for clarification.

Providing a generic answer to something like "What should I invest in if I'm going to retire in 40 years?" like "Buy and hold Vanguard index funds because of low fees, lots of time horizon, blah blah blah" is easy, but it's also dangerous (isn't that what everyone says to do anyway?) and a bit lazy (i.e. it's the kind of sanctioned, sterilized, vetted investment advice that will make it less likely that a CFP will be sued).

We should be able to do better than pointing people to an Investment FAQ.

A good start for what people should provide if what they want is a good answer to "Am I investing correctly?" is

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Net worth (not including house)
  • Current asset allocation
  • Location (country, possibly state)
  • Annual income
  • Occupation
  • #1 goal

If asking for this is too intrusive, or if we don't want the potential liability of providing unlicensed financial advice, then we should just make these kinds of questions off-topic. Or, make the canonical answer this:

"These kinds of specific questions should be addressed by one or more competent financial advisors who are able to consider your financial picture, in detail, as a whole."

But, again, I don't feel it's right to point people to generic investment advice, because we don't need to be yet another echo chamber for the status quo.

  • +1 Some good points here. – Chris W. Rea Jan 6 '11 at 19:00
  • I think that is a great list and definitely on-topic. – Alex B Jan 8 '11 at 17:04
  • "Am I investing correctly" is a personal question, but I would probably close that as too localized. If everyone deserves a specific answer, it isn't suited to StackExchange. My canonical question though wouldn't be for "Am I investing correctly?". It would be for "How do I get started with investing?" – Michael Pryor Feb 1 '11 at 19:48
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Sounds like good strategy, let's make it so!

It starts by creating a really, really good "canonical" answer somewhere, so if we don't have that and you are willing to give it a shot -- go for it! Check the "community wiki" checkbox as well so others can edit it more easily.

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