Whether you’ve just started saving or already own a sizeable nest egg, investing your money can generate huge rewards. What’s more, with inflation hovering around 2.7% and most saving accounts offering a meagre interest rate of 1-2%, there’s never been a better reason to seek higher returns. But where should you invest your hard-earned cash? And is playing the stock market a wise choice or a risky bet?
The case for investing
Inflation. It’s a word we often associate with slightly dull Bank of England announcements, but it’s also one of the biggest reasons to save. As inflation rises, the cost of goods and services go up, and our purchasing power diminishes. The knock-on effect is that the £1,000 sitting in your bank account today won’t buy you nearly as much in one, two or three years’ time. So, one way to beat the weakening power of our savings is to look for returns that outstrip inflation. And that’s where investments come in.
Before we explore the best places to invest your money, it’s also worth recapping on what Einstein called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ – compound interest. Put simply, this is the handy way investment returns usually generate future gains. Start investing now and the compound interest you earn over the next 20 years could exceed the extra contributions you make in later years. Once you understand the benefits of investing your money instead of keeping it in cash, the case for developing an investment strategy becomes even stronger.
Where should I invest?
Investments is a broad term that covers a dizzying array of different assets and investment vehicles. Today people invest in everything from commodities and bonds, to art, vintage cars and even fine wines. But by far one of the best investments to make, according to experts, is in stocks and shares. Investing in individual shares and funds through the stock exchange has typically generated annual returns of at least 7%1 over the past three decades.
If you’re feeling nervous about Investing in the stock market for the first time, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that only 26% of people hold savings in a stocks and shares ISA. What’s more, as Dr Kristina Vasileva comments, “Very few people want to enter the stock market even though this has typically been the biggest source of returns. Instead they will stick with bank account savings even though the rates have been far below inflation for a long time.” So, if you’re thinking of investing in stocks and shares, the benefits are clear. Although, of course, any type of investing involves an element of risk, and past performance doesn’t guarantee future returns.
What’s more, if you invest in a stocks and shares ISA, you don’t have to pay any tax on your returns or dividends. You also don’t need to declare any of the income you earn from your investments on your tax return at the end of the financial year. The annual ISA allowance for 2018/2019 is £20,0002, which means the average person can invest a healthy chunk of their annual savings, tax-free.
Which stocks and shares should I invest in?
There are many different routes you can go down when investing in companies, funds and bonds. But, first it’s worth considering your risk appetite. Investing in a bundle of different companies,
through a fund or index tracker, avoids any major shocks to your investment pot if an individual company goes bust. However, if you’re young, single and with few financial dependants, the potential returns of investing in individual shares could outweigh the risks.
Another common approach for minimising risk is investing in funds with a mixture of different asset types. By spreading your money across shares, bonds and real estate, for example, these funds help reduce your exposure to significant shocks across different markets.
When investing in funds, it’s also worth deciding how much you want to rely on experts to steer your investment decisions. This typically boils down to a choice between active and passive funds. An active fund is one which is actively overseen by a team of managers who rely on research and forecasts to inform their portfolio. But, having a manager take the reins also comes with a higher cost. Passive funds are generally cheaper as they aren’t managed by an expert fund manager but mirror market-wide indexes or portfolios instead.
Which platform do I use to invest?
With so many different financial and investment platforms out there, it can be difficult to know which to use and where to invest. As with anything, it’s best to go with a provider than offers maximum transparency and investment options. Legal & General, for example, lets you compare and pick your own ISA funds, giving you greater control over how you build up your nest egg for the future.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual experts and may not be representative of Legal & General. Legal & General are committed to bringing you a wide range of views on the best ways to save and spend your money: https://blog.legalandgeneral.com/saving-and-spending/.
What should I invest and How do I invest
By Imogen Clarke
With all the uncertainty that has arisen from 2020, with lockdown threatening businesses and the warning of a second wave, the topic of investments has taken on new meaning. Nowadays, more people are concerned with what makes for a good investment, or, if you’re a novice, how to best invest.
For instance, you might be unsure about the reliability of the company you’re looking to invest in, as well as the long-term prospects of your investment.
If you are unsure of your investments, then it is best to seek advice from financial experts like The Fry Group, who deal with tax, wealth and estate planning. They will see that you have a strong financial plan in place to help meet your objectives. They will develop a strategy that is built around your needs and asses any risks that could hinder your plans.
There are some things you’ll need to consider for your strategy; for instance, are you looking to make investments that are more of a risk and will take longer to come to fruition? Or, alternatively, are you wanting a faster approach that will result in a steady income? Whether or not you decide to play it safe all depends on your current financial situation and whether you have the means to take more of a risk. Do you have any other debts that take precedence over your future plans? Is your investment strategy realistic?
With the aid of a specialist – or investment manager – you can design an investment concept that works for you and your goals, and start to build a regular income from your investments. There are four main areas when it comes to assets (groups of investments) that you can consider:
Your investment manager will test the risks associated with your investment, and if it proves to be a positive investment choice, then you will be able to invest more over time.
So, how do you decide where to invest?
According to The Fry Group, ESG investing (Environmental, Social and Governance) is a good option for investors looking to support businesses that meet their similar ethics.
The main areas of ESG investing include:
- Environmental challenges (climate change, pollution, etc)
- Social issues (human rights, labour standards, child labour, etc)
- Governance considerations relating to company management
According to The Fry Group, “Many investors choose to consider ESG investing in order to ensure any investment decisions reflect personal beliefs and values. As a result, they choose to support companies who are making informed, responsible decisions which take into account their wider societal and global impact. In this way investors can achieve peace of mind that their investments are creating a positive effect.”
ESG investing is also more relevant now than ever, as more businesses are looking to present themselves as an environmentally conscious corporation that recognises the values of their consumers.
As The Fry Group puts it, “In the past, ESG investing has been seen as a niche investment approach, for a relatively small number of people with specific requirements. This has changed significantly in recent years, with a growing awareness of environmental issues such as climate change and an increasing understanding of social issues and human rights. As a result, many people are increasingly interested in reflecting their opinions and lifestyle choices through the way they invest.”
So, if you want your investments to pave the way for your personal values and reflect your own morals, then this is the route to go down. But how does it all work?
There are four areas of ESG investing:
- Responsible ownership and engagement: when companies are encouraged to make necessary improvements.
- Avoidance or negative screening: whereby businesses are ‘graded’ based on how ethical their business practices are and are avoided altogether if their methods are not approved.
- Positive screening strategies:when companies meet the ESG goals and are approved for investments.
- Impact investment strategies: the purpose of this is to use investment capital for positive social results such as renewable energy.
You will need to take into account your own personal objectives as well as the objectives that meet the ESG investment criteria. And, in terms of financial performance, ESG investing can be hugely beneficial. Those who opt for ESG investing perform a more in-depth analysis into long-term and future trends that affect industries, meaning that they are better prepared for changes in consumer values when they arise. And, with all the unpredictability that this year has offered us so far, isn’t it better to do the research and have all angles covered?
Investment Roundtable: Live with Jim Bianco
With Q4’s macro picture still looking grim amid the return of exponential coronavirus waves in Europe and the U.S. and Europe, we speak with veteran macroanalysis strategist Jim Bianco, CMT for a data-driven deep-dive into the global economy and financial markets on Sept. 7th at 12pm EDT.
- Learn from Jim’s unique combination of quantitative and qualitative analytics which provide an objective view on Rates, Currencies and Commodities to make smart investment decisions
- Identify important intermarket relationships he is watching with respect to Global Equities
- Roadmap a global outlook for 2021 in view of socio-political backdrop giving viewers key takeaways and intermarket perspectives on global investing.
Jim’s robust technical analysis includes a broad look at trends and themes in the markets, market internals, positioning such as the Commitment of Traders (COT), sentiment, and fund flows. Don’t miss out on this exclusive session from one of the investment world’s most insightful thought leaders.
Equity markets react to a rise in Covid-19 cases, uncertain Brexit talks and the upcoming US election
By Rupert Thompson, Chief Investment Officer at Kingswood
Equity markets had another choppy week, falling for most of it before recovering some of their losses on Friday and posting further gains this morning.
At their low point last week, global equities were down some 7% from their high in early September. US equities were down close to 10%, hurt by the large weighting to the tech giants which at least initially led the market decline.
The market correction is nothing out of the ordinary with 5-10% declines surprisingly common. Indeed, a set-back was arguably overdue given the size and speed of the market rebound from the low in March. As to the cause for the latest weakness, it is all too obvious – namely the second wave of infections being seen across the UK and much of Europe and the local lockdowns being imposed as a result.
These will inevitably take their toll on the economic recovery which was always set to slow significantly following an initial strong bounce. Indeed, business confidence fell back in September both here and in Europe with the declines led by the consumer-facing service sector. A further drop looks inevitable in October – fuelled no doubt in the UK by the prospect that the latest restrictions could be in place for as long as six months.
The job support package announced by Rishi Sunak did little to boost confidence. Its aim is to limit the surge in unemployment triggered by the end of the furlough scheme in October. However, the scheme is much less generous than the one it replaces as the government doesn’t want to continue subsidising jobs which are no longer viable longer term. A rise in the unemployment rate to 8% or so later this year still looks quite likely.
Aside from Covid, for the UK at least, there is of course another major source of uncertainty – namely Brexit. Another round of trade talks start this week and we are rapidly reaching crunch time with a deal needing to be largely finalised by the end of October.
Whether we end up with one or not is still far from clear. That said, the prospects for a deal maybe look rather better than they did a couple of weeks ago when the Government was busy tearing up parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. With significant Covid restrictions quite probably still in place in the new year and the Government already under attack for incompetence, it may not wish to take the flack for inflicting yet more chaos onto the economy.
Markets remain unimpressed. UK equities underperformed their global counterparts by a further 2.7% last week, bringing the cumulative underperformance to an impressive 24% so far this year. The UK weighting in the global equity index has now shrunk to all of 4.0%.
It is not only the UK which faces a few weeks of uncertainty. The US elections are on 3 November. We also have the first of three Presidential debates this Tuesday. Joe Biden’s lead looks far from unassailable, a close result could be contentious and control of Congress is also up for grabs.
All said and done, equity markets look set for a choppy few weeks. Further out, however, we remain more positive – not least because the focus should hopefully switch from the roll-out of new lockdowns to the roll-out of a vaccine.
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