Personal Finance Interview with Roger Wohlner on Navigating the World of Investing

Navigating the waters of financial stability, consistency and the world of investment is a task we needn't do on our own. After all, every ship has a crew. It's good to make use of a financial advisor as a result. But navigating the Internet looking for sound financial advice can also be tricky.

Don't worry, we're here to help. Today we speak to Roger Wohlner, CFP, creator of The Chicago Financial Planner blog, where he writes about issues concerning financial planning, investments, and retirement plans. He is also a frequent contributor to US News. He is highly qualified and we thought a couple of questions would be fruitful.

Tell us a bit about who you are, your site, and why you do what you do.

I am a fee-only financial advisor who accepts no fees or commissions from any provider of financial products or services. I became a financial advisor to follow my passion for financial planning and investing and more importantly to provide my clients with the type of unbiased financial advice that is often lacking in the marketplace. My success is measured in terms of the success my clients experience. In addition to working with individual clients, I also provide investment consulting services to retirement plan sponsors, endowments and foundations.

When someone visits The Chicago Financial Planner, I hope they will learn about financial planning and investing. My writing focuses on what I do as a professional financial adviser like financial planning, investments and retirement plans. I try to share my insights and opinions in these areas as well as my thoughts on how investors should go about choosing a financial advisor. I try to help readers look beyond the hype that they see in the media and from financial services firms and focus on what is important in financial planning and investing.

How you encourage people to not feel overwhelmed about investing?

The financial services industry tries awfully hard to make investing seem like something that is beyond the intellectual capacity of most people. While I certainly believe in the value of the professional, I attempt to explain investing and financial planning topics in a fashion that is easy for non-financially oriented readers to easily understand. I feel that it is important for investors to understand where there money is invested whether they do it themselves or via an investment adviser.

Can anyone invest?

Absolutely anyone can invest. However, before investing it is a good idea to arm yourself with some degree of knowledge about investing and to formulate an investment strategy.

When do you advise we start investing?

I suggest that folks start investing as soon as they can. Goals such as retirement require saving some large amounts of money and so the sooner you start the better shot you have at success. A good practice is to participate in your company's 401(k) if they offer one and then add other investments as your income and budget permit.

How do you think tools like Mint help us to work with our money and put money towards investing?

Mint and similar money management tools allow investors to see their entire financial picture, helping them to control their budget and spending which often allows them to free up funds for investing.

How would you sum up your investment philosophy?

My investment philosophy starts with a financial plan. Once an investor has a financial plan in place, this then logically leads to an investment allocation that is in line with the investor's goals, their time frame for those goals, and their tolerance for risk. I believe in using asset allocation and rebalancing to that allocation once or twice per year. I focus in using mutual funds and ETFs, and a large portion of those investment vehicles tend to be index funds.

Can you recommend some great, easy-to-read books on investing?

Most of what I read on investing tends to be articles and other materials on the web.

Is it ever too late to start saving for retirement?

Today is the best day to start saving for retirement. The second best day is tomorrow and so on. It's never too late to get started.

What do you say to a young person who thinks he should only worry about planning financially "one day, when he is established"?

If they keep waiting for "one day" they will never reach that "one day." There will always be an excuse not to start.

Roger is a fee-only financial adviser at Asset Strategy Consultants based in Arlington Heights, IL, where he provides financial planning and investment advice to individual clients, 401(k) plan sponsors and participants, foundations, and endowments. In addition to checking out The Chicago Financial Planner blog, you can follow Roger on Twitter and connect with Roger on LinkedIn.