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.
What should you start investing in?
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.
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.
How can you continue to grow your portfolio?
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.”
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.
How to make money investing
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.
5 Insider Tips Every Trader Needs to Know
Here are five insider tips that every trader needs to know.
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.
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
Most 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.
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.
Time For An Alternative Investment Approach
The age of high-risk, high-reward thinking may be all but done, for now.
For years the investment formula applied by investors has been to craft a diversified portfolio of assets weighted more towards equities. It made sense to build a foundation on safe, low-risk, low-return capital preservation investments and, depending on your age, allocate a relatively larger portion of your investable income into higher risk, higher return equities.
But is this justified in the local context? While global equity markets have enjoyed a decade-long bull run following the 2008-2009 financial crisis, consistently delivering 10% to 15% annual returns, the JSE has been a perennial under-performer over the last four to five years.
Despite this fact, significant investor capital has continued to flow into local equities, either directly into stocks or via unit trusts, ETFs and endowments. And now amid more volatile global economic conditions, where global indexes have come off record highs in early 2018, local equities are still projected to underperform in the medium-term as the market correction that many predicted gathers momentum.
This shift is symptomatic of the volatility that currently characterises global markets as Brexit plays out, trade wars intensify, and widespread socio-political instability creates systemic economic risks. Yet, investors are still being advised to put their money into higher-risk vehicles.
Further compounding the issue is the fact that the country’s exchanges are dominated by a few large entities, which are all negatively impacted by the country’s dire economic situation. This means local investors must also contend with concentrated risk.
Despite these threats, many financial advisors have stuck to the traditional investment playbook by telling clients to “stay calm and remain invested in equities.” But given the prevailing market conditions, investors can realise better returns from investment opportunities that break from this conventional approach.
Returns from various fixed-rate investments, for example, have and continue to outperform equity investments, and do so without the associated risks.
While reducing risk is not necessarily a key concern for naturally risk-included entrepreneurs, when it comes to investing our hard-earned money we have the power to manage that risk. So, forget the old, pervasive attitude of “no risk, no reward.” It’s dated and, quite frankly, unwarranted.
The new reality is that fixed-term, low-risk investments have become among the best-performing asset classes — a fact that is tearing at the foundations of conventional investment advice. Entrenched beliefs must therefore be challenged, especially when investments that offer security can match or outperform high-risk options such as equities.
So, what are our options, given that fixed-rate investment options currently abound? Well, before diving into a vanilla offering from a bank, consider what your capital is secured against.
Banks generate their returns by lending out pooled deposits in the form of loans and credit. Some of this lending is secured, much of it is not. This can introduce risk into your investment, because the ability of debtors to repay debt is often compromised in a struggling economy, and bad debts will impact the returns that a bank can offer depositors.
Forward-looking secured investments, on the other hand, offer a set rate for five years and are secured against a variety of assets, like Fedgroup’s Secured Investment in participation bonds, which removes significant risk from the equation. These types of collective investment schemes are also regulated to protect investors.
While it may not be prudent to completely disinvest from the local stock market, there is a case to be made to be more circumspect with future investments, matured investments, or that portion of your portfolio that is earmarked for reallocation. With this money, an investment that delivers both capital security and a high, fixed rate of return might well prove more attractive than the traditional wisdom of local equities.
The guaranteed, low-risk returns currently offered by fixed-rate investments have transformed these products from fringe options into mainstream investment vehicles that can no longer be ignored. With the chance to outperform the average equity investor, isn’t it time to rethink your conventional investment approach and consider the lucrative and, more importantly in such volatile times, secure opportunities offered by these alternative investment options?
Are You Keeping All Your Eggs In One Basket? Here’s Why You Need To Diversify Your Offshore Investments NOW
Most South Africans have 83% of their wealth concentrated in South Africa. Entrepreneur spoke to three investment experts about offshore investing and how diversifying one’s risk can boost long-term returns.
What should investors be using offshore investments for?
Clinton Sprong: One of the main reasons is for diversification. That means not having all one’s assets in South Africa. Furthermore, there are many global companies that provide access to international themes that are going to reshape the future like robotics, artificial intelligence, driverless cars and so on. One just can’t get access to these companies on the JSE.
Philip Smith: South Africa is a small, open economy that comprises approximately 0,4% of global GDP. By limiting your investments to South Africa your potential capital growth is entirely constrained by the vagaries of the local economy. It also means your investment is not able to benefit from the economic growth in more than 99% of the global economy. Similarly, the total market capitalisation of the JSE (approximately $1,11 trillion as of March 2018) is just over 1% of the total stock market capitalisation of all listed markets worldwide (approximately $100 trillion). So, by limiting your investments to the local market you miss out on the equity market performance of approximately 99% of the world. You are also not able to expose your investments to the truly rapidly growing tech stocks like Apple, Amazon or Samsung, as well as flagship global companies like Honda or Toyota. Of course, investing offshore does have a currency component to it, and by investing in offshore markets you are able to hedge against some of the volatility of the local currency. However, the main rationale for investing offshore should be about diversifying your portfolio rather than the rand alone.
David Nathanson: While all countries are subject to their own specific set of risks, emerging market countries are generally faced with greater political and currency uncertainty than developed countries, and South Africa is no exception. The biggest risk facing South Africa is its debt burden, which has doubled since the last global recession in 2008/09.
Excessive debt is the main culprit in any household, company or country that finds itself in financial trouble. In 2008/09, when the last global recession struck, South Africa was in a fairly strong financial position and managed to weather the storm. There was volatility, but no permanent destruction of wealth. Countries like Iceland and Greece were less fortunate: Their domestic stock exchanges have lost 70% and 80% respectively in USD over the last decade. More recently, Turkey and Brazil — countries in a similar position to South Africa — have found themselves in difficulty. Their domestic stock markets have lost 30% and 40% respectively in USD over the last decade. Over the same time period, the MSCI World Index has doubled in USD — global diversification would have served investors in these countries very well.
The point of these decade-long examples is to demonstrate the difference between temporary volatility and long-term wealth destruction. It is the latter that investors should be most concerned about, and this is the risk faced by anyone overexposed to one country, particularly an emerging market country with a heavy debt burden, capital controls and significant political risks.
From an investor perspective, the major risk is actually overexposure to South Africa, and the solution is to invest globally. According to the latest AfrAsia report, wealthy South Africans have 83% of their wealth concentrated in South Africa. Ask yourself, as a global investor, how much of your capital would you risk in any one country, specifically an emerging market that represents less than 1% of the world? No amount of optimism can justify 83%, or even half for that matter.
Fortunately, the case for global investment doesn’t hinge solely on an optimism or pessimism towards South Africa. The upside is that there is a whole world of opportunity out there that South Africans should be taking advantage of. We believe that a portfolio of our 30 best investment ideas chosen from 7 000 stocks globally is likely to be vastly superior in terms of quality, price and diversification when compared to a portfolio chosen from 100 stocks locally.
If the investor never plans to leave South Africa, or start a business overseas, is it advisable that they invest offshore? Why?
Clinton: Yes. Having most of one’s life savings and investments (house, car, pension fund, business etc) in South Africa means that investing offshore allows one to diversify risk and get exposure to world-class companies that are able to expand aggressively given their size, brands and distribution.
Does investing offshore give you a better return than investing locally?
Philip: Not necessarily. For example, if you are invested only in developed markets like the US or Europe then you are likely to get lower returns — at least in percentage terms — due to the fact that economic growth and inflation rates in these mature markets are much lower than their developing counterparts. Where you benefit by investing in developed economies is that you are exposed to hard currency returns and are also able to access truly blue chip, global stocks. However, if you invest in an emerging market fund, you could potentially get higher returns than those available in South Africa as many developing nation economies, particularly those in Asia, are growing at a much faster pace than South Africa, which is currently experiencing very slow economic growth.
Clinton: All markets move in cycles. Global equity markets have certainly provided superior returns over the past three to four years. Global economies have been growing at between 3% and 4% per annum versus a 0,5% and 1% growth in the South African economy, which lends itself to better returns from international companies.
David: A wider opportunity set can be a massive advantage if it is used correctly. This depends on whether or not you have a strong investment process, and on how you apply it. If you apply indiscriminate diversification, you shouldn’t expect superior returns, though you would reduce country-specific risks. If, instead, you apply a great investment process to choose your best ideas from a wider global opportunity set, you should expect these investments to do better than your best ideas chosen from the narrow local market. This can be done without sacrificing the benefits of global diversification.
For those investing offshore, what would be the benefits and risks of investing in emerging markets versus developed markets?
Philip: The advantage of investing in an emerging market fund is that you are able to gain exposure to high growth economies with significant scale like South Korea, India, China, Indonesia, Thailand and so on. These markets tend to have much faster rates of economic growth than developed markets and also tend to have fairly favourable long-term demographic underpinnings (i.e. a young population of aspirant consumers who are likely to help drive economic growth well into the future). However, the advantage that many developed markets have is that they still contain the bulk of the truly blue-chip global stocks and also offer arguably more stable, predictable currencies. Emerging markets tend to be highly reliant on exports to developed nations and anything that imperils that ability to export can immediately impact their currencies. In a global geopolitical environment where there is an increasing risk of trade wars, one only needs to look at recent developments with the Turkish lira, to see that emerging market currencies can be very vulnerable to external shocks, which can negatively impact your returns.
Clinton: Emerging markets have historically been attractive investment destinations as their economies have often grown in excess of developed markets. China for example has been growing in the high single digits for a decade. However, the risk of a South African investor investing in an emerging market is that it reduces the benefits of diversification, as in most cases if there is a crisis in one emerging market, all emerging markets, including South Africa are affected.
There are professionals advising people to invest in a global account when saving for their annual international vacation. Is this good advice? Is offshore investing for short, medium or long-term investing?
Clinton: An individual’s investment horizon is dependent on their needs, goals, and risk appetite. Depending on this there would not be a problem dividing one’s investment goals into short-, medium- and long-term ‘buckets’. One may find however that the short-term bucket has less exposure to growth assets like equities, while the long-term investments have a much higher weighting to equities to cater for better long-term growth prospects.
Philip: It’s advisable to save in the currency that you intend spending. So, if you’re planning on taking a holiday in Europe and are able to save monthly in euros then you can insure yourself against the risk of a sudden negative move in the rand rendering your holiday unaffordable. However, saving in foreign currency is not entirely fool-proof, as history has shown that the rand can experience both aggressive negative falls and dramatic pull backs. It is entirely possible that you could spend six months to a year saving in dollars or euros only to end up seeing the rand experience a bout of prolonged strengthening when you’re getting ready to take your overseas holiday. However, the safer of the two options is probably to save in the currency in which you intend spending the money, as it gives you an element of certainty that a sudden currency swing won’t leave you with less money than you anticipated.
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