When you control your money, it can go a long way to helping you control your future.

And for women, this message is especially relevant.

Being in charge of your money can bring self-empowerment, security and independence, according to Christine Zalzal, senior vice-president at Aviso Wealth – Qtrade Investor & VirtualWealth, who oversees Aviso Wealth’s online brokerage and robo-advice businesses.

“It helps them gain confidence that it’s not a mystery,” Zalzal says. “Women statistically live longer than men, so it’s important for women to have a voice in their own financial future, understand it and not be afraid.”

And this is something that increasing numbers of women are doing. “In our statistics, 40 per cent of our account holders are women, which is higher than 20 years ago when online brokerages came onto the scene.”

Do-it-yourself investing is suitable for people who are willing to educate themselves to take control of some or all of their investments, Zalzal says. The pros of do-it-yourself investing include lower fees and wider investment choice, while the cons include the time involved in doing your own research and monitoring your investments.

“If you’re investing for yourself, you need to take some time to learn about investing in the types of investments you want to make and how to make them, and how to construct a portfolio that takes into consideration your risk tolerance and investment time horizon. You’ll also need a good understanding of the potential risks and rewards.”

In the past year, the online brokerage industry has seen record volumes in demand in Canada, Zalzal notes. “Typically, when there is market volatility, that presents opportunity, and a lot of people want to seize those opportunities.” If do-it-yourself investing intrigues you, Zalzal suggests starting small. “There is a wealth of information about investing, financial markets and online trading available on the internet. Dive in and get started.”

Patti Dolan, a portfolio manager with Calgary-based Mission Wealth Advisors – Raymond James, specializes in responsible investing with more than three decades of experience. “If you are confident in your abilities, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try,” she says.

However, the unintended consequences of investing on your own, if you don’t know what you’re doing, “can be pretty substantial,” she notes. Dolan thinks it’s very important to feel comfortable about what you are doing – and each person’s comfort level is different. “Constructing a proper portfolio is an art. There are lots of nuances to consider, and if an individual has the time and desire to do this, then great, but it can be very time consuming.

“You do give up the one-on-one advice of an advisor when you opt to do it yourself,” she adds. “The value of having a long-term relationship with an advisor, I think, is very important.” A financial advisor who has known you for many years will be able to help you adjust your portfolio as your risk tolerance changes. And with a sizable amount of money, you may want to consider hiring a professional to assist you, she says