Most investment professionals don't beat their benchmarks. Why would you pay premium fees for substandard results? Because you think investing is complicated? It's not. It's a learned process, just like any other. Are you willing to invest a little time and effort to learn one of the most important things you'll ever learn? Good! I thought so.
One of the reasons you pay taxes is for your public library. It's a great resource on this topic.
Don't look for a book on “how to be a day trader” or “how to pick the next big stock.” Leave those to people who don't know any better.
For a good do-it-yourself primer, pick a proven guide on index investing like Earn More (Sleep Better): The Index Fund Solution -- A Step-By-Step Investor's Guide by Richard E. Evans or What Wall Street Doesn't Want You to Know - How You Can Build Real Wealth Investing in Index Funds by Larry E. Swedroe.
Either of these books will give you all the tools you need to successfully manage your own investments.
If you enjoy reading and want some additional resources, I highly recommend A Short History of Financial Euphoria by John Kenneth Galbraith. It's a short read, and it will give you a great background on what makes the investment markets tick.
Read A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton G. Malkiel.
Read The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism: How the financial system undermined social ideals, damaged trust in the markets, robbed investors of trillions -- and what to do about it by John C. Bogle. The founder of Vanguard Funds, Bogle is the inventor of the original index fund. In his eighties, he's still decrying the hijacking of individual investors' portfolios by a greedy industry.
The Other Problem with Experts
If I haven't yet convinced you that you can do this on your own, there's another serious problem with experts. Most investment advisors who work with individuals are known as “fee-based” advisors, which means they earn commissions by selling you products. These may include mutual funds, life insurance, annuities, and other financial products. This arrangement creates an incentive to push you to invest in options that are likely inferior. After all, the investment manager has to earn sufficient fees to pay commissions to your advisor.
In addition to the “hidden fees” of commissions, many advisors will also charge an account “wrap” fee – often 1-2% of the total of your invested assets.
The only saving grace of an investment advisor is that he or she is a fiduciary to you. A fiduciary owes you the highest legal standard of care. He or she must always act in your interests, a standard that admittedly is subject to interpretation. A broker, on the other hand, is not a fiduciary to you. A broker doesn't owe you anything more than reasonable care, a much fuzzier standard.
Brokers earn their commissions by having you buy and sell securities. You pay a commission on each trade; therefore, it is in your broker's interest to always be bringing you a new “tip” that will have you selling one position and buying another. In its most blatant form, this practice is called “churning.” It generates commissions for the broker but doesn't add value to the client.
If you, ultimately, convince yourself that you don't want to be responsible for your own investing (in my mind, akin to not wanting to maintain your lawn), you should seek out a “fee-only” investment advisor. This type of advisor does not accept fees from any source other than you. You will pay a fee for the advice you receive, either in the form of an hourly rate, a flat fee, a wrap fee, or some combination of these.
Hiring someone to manage your investments or mow your lawn is just fine. Neither is free, and you need to understand the true costs.