Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Investment Accounts

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By Melissa Ohler - April 5, 2019

Staying on top of your accounts can seem overwhelming. But whether you manage your money on your own or work with an advisor, it's important to keep your account information updated.

Checklist: The Mechanics of Maintenance

We've pulled together some simple steps to help you keep an eye on your money and make better, more informed decisions about your accounts.

1. Update Your Contact Information

Log in to check your email address, mailing address and phone numbers, or contact your investment company to see what's on file. If your cell phone has become your primary number, it may be time to remove your old landline from your account profiles.

2. Check Your Beneficiaries

Births, marriages, divorces and retirement are all potential triggers for account updates. Take the time to ensure your beneficiary and transfer on death designations—for all your accounts—reflect your current wishes and situation. And even if your beneficiaries have not changed recently, log in to confirm their contact information.

3. Log In Quarterly; Review Your Statements

It'll keep your username and password top of mind, plus you'll get in the habit of checking in periodically to see how your investments are doing. Bookmark your investment company login page on your phone, tablet or computer and make a habit of logging in at least quarterly to check your statements.

Your investment company may also send you statement reminders and other account notifications via email, which is another reason to ensure your contact information is current.

4. Align Your Communication Preferences

How do you receive financial information? Do you have paper statements for some accounts and electronic statements for others?

Keeping track of statements and transaction confirmations may be easier if they're all delivered the same way. Decide whether you want to store your statements (as well as tax forms and other pertinent investment documents) electronically or in a secure or locked filing cabinet. Log in to update your preferred delivery method.

Additionally, if you're not receiving statements, follow up. Missing paper statements could be a sign of identity theft. Learn more about how American Century Investments® protects clients' accounts, as well as how to protect yourself on- and offline.

5. Read Emailed Updates and Insights

Emails from your investment company provide an easy way to see how market events may affect your investments. News outlets can provide general economic and market information, but company-specific communications will show you how your own investment manager is positioning assets.

6. Reevaluate Automatic Investments

If you've received a raise or expanded the scope of your investment goals, you may want to consider adding or increasing automatic investments. In fact, some retirement plans offer automatic increases (1% more each year, for example) to make it easier for investors grow their retirement plan contributions along with their salaries.

7. Call Before Major Account Transactions

Potential tax implications, upcoming fund distributions, and current economic and market events could have an outsized effect on large purchases and redemptions. Make it a point to call your advisor or a financial consultant each time you make major transactions to address factors that could affect your bottom line.

Other Transaction Considerations

If you're nearing age 70½, it's time to start planning required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement accounts. You should also review your cost basis method before making a redemption. Talk to your tax advisor and investment consultant to select the best RMD and cost basis options based on your personal situation.

8. Check Account Fees

Account fees and service fees may change periodically. Watch for notifications and take note of any changes on your statements. If you're looking for additional options, call your advisor or investment manager to discuss.

9. Consider Financial Aggregation Tools

Maintaining your accounts may be easier if you can see everything in one consolidated view. Online financial aggregation tools like My Financial Insight can get you started by showing all your financial information side-by-side. Add bank accounts, investments, 401(k)s and more for a convenient snapshot of all your finances, not just from a single company.

After seeing all your accounts, you may with to consider streamlining your investment holdings to a more manageable list. After all, you want your account balances—not your paperwork—to grow over time.

10. Make Regular Contact with Your Investment Company

In addition to the other tips for managing your account, consider setting up regular account reviews. Schedule a time to call a financial consultant for an annual or semiannual review, or whenever life events change your financial situation.

At American Century Investments, we can help you evaluate your goals, retirement budget and overall plans for your financial future.

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    The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.

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