With the rise of the internet has come many online brokerage accounts that making buying stocks and other investments a snap. You can literally sign up for an account in less than an hour and be purchasing stocks the next. Although it is easy to buy stocks in this way it doesn't mean it is a good idea unless you have fully researched a company or watched the stock trends. You must be knowledgeable in what you are purchasing and for most this is not the case and is why it is a better idea to go with a personal investment service.
Before you do sign up with a particular investment firm you have to determine if it is what you want and how it can help you reach your retirement goals. Once you have your goals in mind then you can have a better understanding of the type of service you need. Knowing which investment serve to go with can be difficult at first and does require its own fair share of research but you can start with asking family and friends who they invest with and the type of returns they have seen. While past results are not a guarantee of future returns, having a strong track record is about as close as you can get to determine a good investment firm.
Another reason it is critical to go with an investment service is because it is essential to have a diversified portfolio and with so many different vehicles such as stocks, money markets, bonds, foreign currency, mutual funds and many more it can be hard to research them all. With a personal investing firm they will no more about each to be able to advise you and invest your money properly for a well balanced portfolio.
Remember that investing is a full time job on its own and I you want to grow your money for the long term you will have to research everything in great detail that you plan to invest in. The only way around this is to outsource it by setting up and investment account and allowing a personal investment firm to manage your account.