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Investing Offshore: What You Need To Know

Americans investing on the JSE have almost doubled their money just since March. Why should South Africans go the opposite direction by investing offshore?

Eamonn Ryan

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In the mid-90s, a lot of money was driven offshore by political fear. That trend accelerated in 2001/2 with the currency’s fall to R13,50/dollar. This offshore money was really a bet on the rand. That phase ended abruptly in 2002 when the currency recovered strongly and global markets crashed. Many investors who went offshore in 2001 have not yet recovered their capital. Even today, enthusiasm for offshore investment tends to mirror rand weakness. The hard facts contradict that view: this year the rand is the world’s second-best performing currency.

Local Beats Offshore Hands Down

Over the past 10 years the JSE’s annualised return of 13,8% has beaten the best performing bourse among developed countries: Canada’s 6,9% (measured in US dollars). The Morgan Stanley World Index, the US and UK exchanges all performed worse.

Logic dictates that the best place to have invested has therefore not been offshore at all. But that’s not the full story: the past decade was preceded by a 20-year period, from 1980 through 1999, where the reverse was true and offshore equities significantly outperformed local equities.

Pieter Koekemoer, head of personal investments at Coronation, says: “Recent local market performance benefited from a reasonably benign backdrop marked by higher than average growth and low and relatively stable inflation. This was underpinned by the supportive effect of policy certainty and political stability.

A further factor that contributed to local outperformance was an attractive initial valuation level at the start of the decade.”Gavin Came, CEO of Sasfin Wealth, says this conflicting picture makes offshore investing a hard sell based purely on performance.

The correct motive for investing offshore therefore has to be diversification. Don’t see offshore investing as a currency-based decision, but rather as an opportunity to access asset classes and markets that are simply not available in the largely resource-weighted JSE.

“No-one knows where markets will go in future, and it is especially difficult to predict currency moves. Not only does a currency fluctuate, but the fluctuations of other currencies magnify those moves,” says Came.

How Much to Invest Offshore

Opinions differ hugely as to how much of your total portfolio should be invested offshore: many say 20% to 35%, others as much as 50%.

Armien Tyer, Sanlam Investment Management (SIM) MD favours offshore investments at the moment. Offshore equities have gained about 20% since March this year compared to the JSE’s 40%.

“South African equities remain fair to cheap, but we tend to prefer offshore equities over onshore at the moment, as they are cheaper,” says Tyer.


Three Ways to Invest Offshore

There are three ways to be invested offshore, says Came. In fact, many people are already invested offshore, often without being aware of it through Pension Funds, Retirement Annuities and Endowments. These, and traditional unit trusts, are often permitted by their rules to hold a certain proportion of their capital in offshore investments – no more than 15% or 20%.

Secondly, there are at least 26 global unit trusts available domestically that South Africans can buy using local currency. These are particularly easy to access, with minimum investments of about R5 000 or R500 a month by debit order.

These minimums are broadly the same as ordinary domestic unit trusts, says Came, although the ongoing fees tend to be higher to compensate for the extra administration by the fund manager. It is far easier to go this route than the third option of taking one’s R2 million foreign allowance offshore. This latter involves getting a tax clearance certificate and foreign exchange clearance from the bank.

But There Are Risks

Came warns of the risks associated with taking R2 million offshore. He advises against leaving the R2 million in a bank account, except to park it temporarily.

“Right now many developed countries with virtually zero interest rates have fairly high costs of maintaining a bank account and there is the currency risk – so you may end up losing money in an apparently safe investment.”

There are said to be more than 35 000 offshore collective investment schemes making selection almost impossible. Many of these have different rules to our funds.

For example, some have a 30-day settlement period compared to the normal one-day in South Africa, while many invest in asset classes such as hedge funds that are not usual here.

Note that if you lose your R2 million capital, you don’t get another allowance. “It’s usual for investors to choose a more conservative portfolio than they might do domestically, with the emphasis on capital preservation,” says Came.

Before becoming a financial writer and freelance journalist in 1997, Eamonn Ryan was a legal adviser, company secretary and alternate director at listed company Cashbuild Limited from 1988 to 1997. Since becoming a financial writer, he has focused on the business and financial sectors, as well as personal finance, writing for Finweek, The Star Business Report, Sunday Times Business Times, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, Entrepreneur, Corporate Research Foundation (which brings out a series of books each year ranking SA’s best employers and best managers), as well as a host of once-off and annual publications such as ‘Enterprising Women’ and ‘Portfolio of Black Business’. He also writes media releases, inhouse magazines and sustainability or annual financial reports for various South African corporates and financial services groups, including the Ernst & Young annual M&A book.

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5 Insider Tips Every Trader Needs to Know

Here are five insider tips that every trader needs to know.

Ethan Featherly

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Like in every profession, there are a lot of figures circulating regarding how many forex traders actually make money, and how many traders lose more money than they earn. We are not going to launch into speculations that we can’t prove with accurate statistics. However, there is one thing we can say without citing any official sources: there are more people losing money than those earning.

Why? The answer can be found in the annals of human psychology. Some go into forex expecting to get rich overnight, while others do not (understandably) have the time to dedicate themselves fully to this activity. So what can you do, concretely, to join the group of people earning money? Here are five insider tips that every trader needs to know.

1. Choose a Methodology and Stick With It

Even before executing your first trade, you need to have a rough idea on what you will base your decisions on. In this sense, you must know what intel you will need to make the appropriate decision, like when to enter and exit a trade, which timeframes are the best (more on that later) and so on and so forth.

Some people are partial toward fundamental factors (foreign investments, inflation, unemployment rates, and other economic indicators), coupled with a chart, for executing a trade. Others prefer the raw numbers and stats of technical analysis.

But, whichever methodology you choose, make sure to be consistent and that it is adaptive, as there is no objective way to tell if one is truly better than the other. The most important thing to consider is whether or not your methodology and the strategies built around it are adaptive enough to keep up with the changing dynamics of the forex market.

Related: How Founder Of 27four Investment Managers Drove Transformation In The Industry

2. Always Calculate Your Expectancy

Expectancy is a formula that traders use to determine how reliable their trading system is. It involves going back in time to your previous trades (a journal will come in handy here), measuring how many traders were winners versus losers, and then finding out how profitable your winning trades were as opposed to how much money was lost after bad trades. The formula is as follows:

E=[1+(W/L) x P – 1, wherein W is the average winning trade, L represents Average Losing Trade, while P is Percentage Win Ratio.

3. Define Your Trading Goals and Build a Strategy Fitting of Your Personality

forex-tradingMost forex beginners come into the market thinking that they know everything that one could possibly know, without any sort of long term plan or concrete goals. This is the one mistake that eventually leads most traders to quit forex, because the reality of the market – and the trade itself – will hit them straight on sooner rather than later.

Therefore, the first thing you need to do is set a couple of goals. Start small and realistic at first – do not set yourself for winning a ridiculous amount of money in the first months because you will be sorely disappointed.

After setting the goals, you can start looking at various trading strategies and see which ones will help you achieve these goals and, most importantly, whether or not they are a good fit for your personality.

Some helpful questions to ask in this case are in the lines of ‘’Do I feel comfortable holding positions overnight?’’ or ‘’How much risk am I willing to assume for a given trade?’’, ‘’Am I more comfortable following a trend or betting against it?’’, ‘’Will I trade to gain some additional income, or full time?’’. Another equally viable method which will help you asses your strengths and weaknesses is doing a personal SWOT analysis.

4. Make use of Multi Time Frame Analysis

Regardless of whether you are a swing, day or long term position trader, it is highly recommended you always approach trading in a top-down fashion. This technique involves starting with a higher time frame chart and gradually zooming down to your current trading time frame chart. By doing this, you can get a ‘’big picture’’ view of the price action.

This tip is important because many traders commit the grave error of building their trading decisions around the time frame in which they are currently trading. For instance, when a trader sees a hammer candlestick pattern on a five-hour chart, they push forward with the trade without considering what might happen in the following time frame. What you are doing here is similar to a game of chess – you have to think a few steps ahead and choose your forex trading products and tools wisely in order to land a successful trade.

5. Do Not Use More Indicators Than Necessary

Indicators are simply visual representations of market realities that show things such as price movements, patterns and the like. As useful as they are, after trading for a while, you will soon realise that at some point they become quite counterproductive.

Many traders will tell you that the only indicator that you need is price, and everything else is there just to make one understand how the market got to that point. And since succeeding in the forex market is mostly about getting in on a trend before anyone else spots it, you can probably guess why over-crowding your monitor with indicators is not such a good idea.

Conclusion

Whatever some might tell you, forex is not a walk in the park. Like everything in life, it takes hard work and dedication to reach the point where you can state without doubt that you have achieved excellence. However, even the most dedicated and hard-working traders need a push in the right direction in the form of some lesser known insider tips that only traders will know. Hopefully, the tips in this article will provide you with the insight necessary to take your trading efforts to the next level.

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The Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide To Investing (And Growing Your Personal Wealth)

Are you a first time investor? You may want to get some guidance before you know your way around the investment world. We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn more about the best types of investment options, strategies to grow wealth and the dangers and pitfalls to avoid in investing.

Diana Albertyn

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Why should I invest?

Keeping your life savings in your back pocket or under a mattress isn’t going to bring you the wealth you desire. “There are only two ways to make money in our modern world: By working, for yourself or someone else, and/or by having your assets work for you,” says trader, advisor, and author Alan Farley.

Investing means your money is working for you and gives you the opportunity to grow what you save or receive through inheritance. As an investor, you’ll generate money through interest on what you set aside or by purchasing assets that compound in value.

When is the best time to invest?

Start today. When it comes to investing, the magic of compounding is best achieved when you realise that time is of the essence. “Compounding makes your money work for you by earning returns today on the returns you earned yesterday,” explains Thandi Ngwane, Head of Strategic Markets at Allan Gray.

“If you start early and save consistently over long periods, less of your total amount saved will be from your contributions and more from growth.”

The earlier you begin contributing to your wealth, the more significant these deposits will be later, as your money has much longer to grow. You’ll also be able to contribute less as retirement age approaches.

But what happens if you didn’t save and invest right from when you received your first salary in your teens or twenties?

What can I do if I am only starting to invest in my 30s?

More than half of us only start saving at age 28, instead of when we start working, according to Discovery Invest. And many more adults only consider investing in their 30s, with a large number starting only when they hit 40.

Catching up on the compounded returns you could’ve accrued over the last five, 10 or 15 years becomes much more difficult with the added expenses of a typical 30-something-year-old. Major life events such as buying a home, getting married, having children and starting to save for their education can be expensive when you’re also investing in your future.

So, how do you overcome these major life events while still investing for the future? According America’s Millennial Money Expert, Robert Farrington: “The goal is financial balance. You can do both – save for the present and save for the future. But it requires a little more thought and effort.”

  • Determine your investment choices based on your personal goals and risk tolerance
  • The best way to build wealth in your thirties is still through saving, so select a portfolio allocation that matches your risk appetite
  • Maintain a diversified portfolio of low cost ETFs.

What can I do if I am only starting to invest in my 40s?

If you’re 40 and over, your main financial focus should getting out of any debt you may still have. “Becoming debt-free and then you should focus on taking your savings to the next level,” says Schalk Louw, portfolio manager at PSG Wealth.

He advises you put any additional income – salary increases and bonuses – towards higher pension fund contributions, savings or paying off your debt. “While my preference for long-term savings will always be a share portfolio, those who find its risks too high, can always consider a savings account,” says Louw.

Related: How To Make Money Investing, According To Ashton Kutcher

What should you start investing in?

business-investment

So, now that you’ve established that you’re ready to invest, you should be considering your options. First, let’s look at the basic investments to start with:

1. Investment accounts

If you’re looking to save towards long-term financial goals, this is the type of account you should consider opening.

This investment can be used, for example, to supplement your pension or other income upon retirement, an investment account is an ideal way to maintain a good standard of living. An investment account is designed to set aside assets like stocks and bonds as income during retirement, to save money for your child’s education, or to put down a deposit for your first home.

2. Equities

Buying shares or equities gives you ownership of a certain percentage of a company. As a shareholder, you’re paid dividends – a portion of the companies’ profits. Shares are a risky, but beneficial form of investment. On the one hand, a decline in share price reduces the value of your investment, while the benefit of dividends is that they attract less tax compared to the other sources of investment returns.

Shares may take a significant amount of time before yielding dividends, but for long-term success, when your dividends pay out, they can be used either as income or as a reinvestment into your share portfolio.

“The combination of dividends and the growth in capital market value of your shares over time is the total return for your investment,” according to Discovery Invest. “It therefore gives you the best chance of beating inflation.”

Some of the pitfalls of equity investment, says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa, include:

  • Share prices for a company can fall dramatically
  • If the company goes broke, you are the last in line to be paid, so you may not get your money back
  • The value of your shares will go up and down from month-to-month and the dividend may vary.

Reduce your risk by investing in various sectors and shares.

3. Unit trusts

If you’re seeking an investment that provides you with easy and affordable access to financial markets, unit trusts are an option. Not only is this a smart way to save, while beating inflation, but a unit trust offers you exposure to a range of assets, explains Hutchison.

“Your money is combined with the money of other investors who have similar investment goals,” explains Ngwane. “Our investment managers use the pool of money to buy underlying investments to build a portfolio that is then split into equal portions called ‘units’. Units are allocated to you according to the amount of money you invest and the price of the units on the day you buy them.”

Hutchison notes the following disadvantages you should be aware of before investing in unit trusts:

  • There are costs over and above those you’d pay if you were investing directly
  • Unit trusts may not be as liquid as some other investments
  • Reliance on managers to select the best appropriate funds.

Related: Now Almost Anyone Can Invest In A Hedge Fund

How can you continue to grow your portfolio?

portfolio-growth

More complicated investment options

Investing in the JSE

When buying shares, there are three crucial considerations to be made: Which company’s shares  to buy, the number of shares you want and how much you’re willing to pay for them.

The next step is an online, in-person, or telephonic discussion with your broker who’ll then forward your request to the JSE. Thereafter, your bid joins other requests to buy or sell shares on a central order book.

Finally, should the price you’re offering match with a seller at the same price, the JSE will ensure the transaction takes place, making you the new owner of the shares you requested.

Be aware of the risks

You could lose everything if you invest in one share and that company goes bankrupt. “You can diversify by buying into many different shares. An easy way to do this is to invest in something like an exchange-traded fund (ETF),” suggest experts from the JSE. “An ETF is essentially a basket of shares. You buy the basket and get anywhere from 10 to 600 different shares in that basket, reducing the amount you would lose if one company were to go bankrupt.”

Online share trading

As a potential first-time online investor, you may begin your journey by surfing a number of online share trading websites either those offered by all the major banks, or other providers.

“The biggest investment you make at this stage is in time,” says Brett Duncan, head of Standard Bank Online Share Trading. “You need to spend at least seven hours a week educating yourself – either studying newspapers or financial magazines, or tracking your portfolio.”

Be aware of the risks

According to PSG Online, no one should trade shares unless they have instituted risk control measures such as putting ‘stop loss’ controls in place. Share trading requires a high appetite for risk, time to watch the markets and an expert knowledge of the markets and trading process.

Darren Cohen, head of marketing at PSG Wealth, explains: “Making an informed financial decision is key to mitigating risk where one has considered the options that would best suit their personal needs. It‘s for this reason that client education is imperative to PSG Online’s mission of creating wealth for our clients.”

Offshore investing

This type of investment affords you two options, says Maarten Ackerman, chief economist and advisory partner at Citadel: You can either take money out of the country by converting it into hard currency and investing it overseas, or you can choose a rand-denominated investment via a South African unit trust.

Should you select the second option, your money is consigned in a rand-denominated asset-swap fund, and the unit trust uses that money to invest offshore. When the money is eventually repatriated, it will be paid out in rands.

“Politically risk-averse investors will prefer to make use of direct offshore investing, as with this option the investor never has to repatriate or convert their investment back to rands,” says Magnus de Wet, director of Vista Wealth Management. “With a weakening rand, direct offshore investing would be the preferred investment approach.”

Be aware of the risks

Investing in any type of commodity involves potential loss. Two of the measures you can take to reduce risk are:

  • Investing in low risk commodities, for example, a fixed deposit with an offshore bank
  • Diversifying your offshore investment portfolio adequately to balance out high risk offshore investments with more conservative, secure investments?

As a newbie to investing you be risk averse, so high-performance offshore investments, although brimming with the promise of very high returns, are not recommended until you know your way around turnovers and returns.

Related: Becoming A Self-Made Millionaire: 5 Things To Do To Become Wealthy

How to make money investing

business-investment-cash

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need (a lot of) money to make money. Wealth isn’t a prerequisite for investing. You can take advantage of investing over time, if you start sooner rather than later. While this means you’ll have to wait a little longer before quitting your job in favour of early retirement and living off your dividends, the long-term rewards are lucrative.

Remember these crucial pieces of advice before making your investment decisions:

  • Diversify your portfolio, so you never have all of your money invested in one account, venture or business. The best way you can manage risk is by not putting all your eggs in one basket
  • “Be careful who you trust with your money, make sure you invest your money with a reliable and established company with a solid history and reputation, do your research and do not be afraid to ask questions,” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa
  • You can achieve a great deal by simply investing or saving portion of your salary every month
  • Know the difference between investing and saving. “Saving is storing your money, while investing is growing your money,” he says. “One of the significant differences between the wealthy and not-so-wealthy is that wealthy individuals earn interest while everyone else pays interest.”
  • “The way that the prosperous continue to build their wealth isn’t really a secret – they spend less than they earn, save the difference, and let the potential of compound interest make their riches grow,” says Hutchison.

“Financial wellbeing is a long-term commitment, but with the right guidance, discipline and savvy decision-making, you may achieve your goal sooner than you think. It is never too late to start investing in your financial well-being,” he concludes.

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Investing In Wealth-Generating Assets

With returns of between 10% and 16%*, impact investing offers more than just the chance to do good.

Fedgroup

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Through a combination of innovation and technology, investors are finally in a position to own a stake in lucrative farming operations without high cost barriers, while at the same time having a positive impact on the environment.

Global trends, local applicability

There has been a recent trend towards socially conscious investing, known as impact investing, which has gained significant traction in first-world markets. Younger investors in particular want their money to do good in the world, but still expect a good return on their investment.

This trend, combined with the desire of many entrepreneurs to own a viable side-hustle, provided the impetus behind the creation of Impact Farming by Fedgroup.

Impact Farming differs from conventional impact investments in a number of ways. Other impact investment products usually consist of portfolios that offer access to shares in companies that meet certain social and environmental criteria. South Africa’s leading independent financial services provider, Fedgroup, in contrast, believes that investing directly in ventures is a smarter alternative.

Related: Balancing Business And Investment Risks

The perfect side-hustle

bee-farming

That’s because investing in shares and funds can be unnecessarily complex and often diminishes returns through hidden costs. In addition, barriers to entry can be prohibitive. Fedgroup has therefore leveraged the ubiquitous nature of mobile to deliver a fast, lucrative way for investors to directly own assets in high-yield farming ventures. It’s the perfect side-hustle, without the hassle.

Fedgroup’s Impact Farming investment platform offers investors access to a growing network of local crowd-funded farming ventures that generate solid profits to deliver competitive returns. From as little as R300, investors can own assets across three different ventures, blueberry, sustainable honey and urban solar farms.

Investors buy assets at one of Fedgroup’s approved sites, forming a venture network that is managed by farming experts.

Tax benefits and passive incomes

Investors get paid in regular cycles for the yields their assets produce once they are harvested and sold to Fedgroup’s contracted customers. This money can then be enjoyed as passive income or reinvested to benefit from compounded growth. Impact Farming assets also qualify for a tax benefit associated with renewable energy and sustainable farming.

Not only does this model significantly lower the barriers to entry inherent in traditional fund investing, but it also allows socially conscious investors to make a big impact with their money, regardless of the amount invested.

And there’s also less risk compared to various traditional investments thanks to the innovative approach. Extensive due diligence is performed on every product line to ensure its viability before it is brought to market. The company then carefully vets and selects Impact Farming ventures for both the financial impact they have on investor wealth creation, and the positive impact they have on the world.

Related: More Than Sun In Your Eyes: Fedgroup’s Impact Farming Solar Offering

Considering risk

Fedgroup also built market-tested financial models that were deliberately designed to be conservative when forecasting returns. However, as the profits from investor assets are pooled, so too are the yields, which mitigates the risk of individual assets underperforming. And with service level agreements in place with providers, Fedgroup ensures that assets continue to perform in line with projections, unlike the unpredictable nature of company shares.

The assets are also insured, the cost of which is included in the purchase price. Therefore, if an investor’s asset is ever destroyed in a natural disaster, Fedgroup replaces it. This asset class also runs counter to market cycles and therefore offers diversification that is virtually unmatched.

Fedgroup’s Impact Farming platform offers a unique wealth creation tool for a new breed of investor.

* The projected returns of between 10% and 16% per year are the asset owner’s internal rate of return (IRR). This is the rate of return after the initial purchase price has been subtracted, and which also takes into account the time value of money. For instance, a R4 000 beehive is projected to produce a total income in excess of R9 000 over its 10-year term, which represents an average return of 23% per year. If the IRR calculation is applied, it provides the projected IRR of 15% p.a.

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