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A rookie do-it-yourself investor recently asked for some guidance on which bonds to choose for her portfolio.

Then, she asked for ideas on who to turn to for a second opinion on her portfolio. The questions were asked one after the other via the “Ask Rob” link on my e-mail newsletter, Carrick on Money. I’ve seen this a lot over the years – DIY investors with self-doubts.

More and more, second opinions are available to self-directed investors who simply want a consultation and not an ongoing advisory relationship. I wrote about three options for second opinions in 2019, including a $600 consultation offered by Money Coaches Canada. You might also find people willing to provide such a service in a directory of fee-for-service financial planners.

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Avoid investment advisers offering second opinions – they tend to use this type of interaction as a come-on for attracting clients. You’re unlikely to get an objective analysis of your DIY portfolio from someone who makes a living by managing investments for people.

Here’s another thought if you’re investing on your own and feeling lost: Try a balanced exchange-traded fund, also known as an asset allocation ETF. The reader asking about bonds for her portfolio put me in mind of this option.

Balanced ETFs hold various blends of underlying stock and bond funds. Just pick the right mix for your needs – income, growth, balanced or conservative – and you’re done. There is no need to worry about which bonds to hold because a widely diversified bond ETF is part of the mix. Balanced ETFs provide continuous rebalancing so your bond weighting remains just where you want it.

Balanced ETFs are an ideal product for the rookie DIY investor with doubts. You can hold one with complete confidence that you are owning a low-cost, well-built portfolio. If you choose to build a portfolio with stocks or funds you’ve chosen, you can migrate from the balanced ETF with ease.

Second opinions can be worth the money if they help you build a better portfolio. But a balanced ETF might be what you really need.

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