Juggling all the important responsibilities in your life, it’s easy for things to get complicated in a hurry. Even with all the advances in technology that were supposed to make things simpler, some days it seems like there are too many demands on your time. With so many things competing for your attention, you probably welcome any opportunity to simplify things wherever you can. While there are many areas you could choose to work on, one good place to start may be your family’s finances.

Like many people, you may have your money spread out at a number of different financial institutions. Typically, you won’t gain much by spreading your assets this way, and in fact it may be making your life more difficult than it needs to be. To help restore a little order, think about minimizing the number of accounts you have at various institutions.

Consolidating your accounts can provide numerous benefits. For starters, there’s the obvious benefit of only having one account to keep track of. And at the end of the year, filing your 1040 could be a lot easier because you’ll have fewer tax forms to contend with. But these advantages are just the beginning. Consolidating into an asset management account — an option offered by most large financial services firms — gives you access to several features that are convenient and timesaving.

Depending on the institution, account features and fees may vary. But the basic goal of asset management accounts is the same: to help simplify the management of your investments. With the majority of your assets all in one place, it will be much easier for you and your financial consultant to see the big picture of your finances. That view will help considerably as you work to find the most appropriate asset allocation strategy to suit your financial situation.

If you’ve had your assets spread out among several different financial firms, you may be under the impression that this arrangement helps diversify your holdings. Unfortunately, however, it’s not the number of accounts you have that determines your level of diversification. For example, let’s say you hold 1,000 shares of a certain stock, and this represents a large portion of your portfolio. It wouldn’t matter if you held that position at one institution or with 10 different investment firms; it still constitutes the same proportion of your overall investment mix. Consolidating to one account could actually help identify potential challenges or opportunities, and you could quickly see if your investments are well diversified.

By consolidating your assets, you may be worried that you’ll be missing out on the different perspectives and opinions you receive from the multiple firms you currently associate with.

The truth is, however, working with a large financial services firm will still give you access to the opinions and investment advice of a diverse group of its economists and strategists, who work together to decide how to inform and educate clients.

You might also be concerned that consolidating your assets will require you to give up some control over your portfolio. In reality, you can actually decide just how involved you want to be with the decisions made on your account. Working together with your financial advisor, you can choose to participate in the investment decisions, you can delegate that responsibility to the advisor, or you can even explore the options of working with outside money managers.

Given how complicated life has become, it’s never a bad idea to take advantage of opportunities to eliminate unnecessary complications. Consolidating your investments is a great place to start.

Brian Hepp is a financial consultant for A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. He can be reached at (310) 453-0077 or at brian.hepp@agedwards.com.

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