The savings habit starts with the piggy bank, where we can watch our money add up, and soon moves on to the real bank, where we hope to watch it grow even faster because it can earn interest.
But since the economic crisis back in 2008, Bank of England Base Rate has been low and the return on cash in a savings account has been small. It is smaller still since the rate was cut again in March to stimulate an economy damaged by Covid.
Low interest rates means the interest cash on deposit earns is eaten up by inflation, which steadily reduces its buying power. The consumer prices index more than doubled to 0.5% in September.
When returns on savings struggle to keep pace with inflation saving means watching the value of your cash steadily decline.
Can investing beat saving?
If your financial planning includes income from your savings or if you simply want the potential for your money to grow, it could be time to start looking at investing.
It is important to understand the difference.
When you put cash into a savings account, it stays as cash. You are lending it to the bank or building society, who will lend it out to borrowers.
They will charge the borrowers for the loan and pass a proportion of the interest back to you, as a reward for lending the money. With low rates charged to borrowers, the returns you enjoy are smaller still
With investment, your money does not stay as cash, and instead it is usually invested to buy shares within an investment portfolio as a pooled investment. This is known as equity investing. Hopefully you may be able to enjoy the return on your investment when it is sold, ideally for more than you paid for it, and in some cases, such as bonds, or equities that pay a dividend, you can enjoy an income as well.
Returns are not limited by interest rates – which means that your money could start generating the return you need again.
Of course, there is a downside. Savings are safe – the interest you will earn is known in advance, and the capital you invest is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. This will protect the first £85,000 you hold with any one bank or building society if it goes bust.
Investment means some risk. The value of investments is not guaranteed, they can fall as well as rise, and if a business fails, you could lose your capital. Investors can lose money – but in return for the risk, they could make more than savings will offer, However the Financial Services Compensation Scheme can cover most investment schemes up to £85,000,you should always check whether an investment offers this protection before considering any form of investment.
So how do you start as an investor?
There are many different ways to invest. You don’t have to be an investment expert. There are many funds which allow your investments to be managed for you. They can be as easy to use as a savings account, and even let you invest a small regular monthly sum.
There are also many different Investment objectives. You can decide the level of risk you feel comfortable with – high risk investments mean increased potential for growth as well as the increased possibility of loss, while low risk investments mean the potential for slower, but steady returns, but no returns are guaranteed.
Determining the best way for you to start investing can depend on a number of factors, but a very important factor can be your age.
Why your age matters
Your age is important for two reasons. Firstly, the younger you are, the more time your investment has to potentially grow.
Secondly, your objective will change as you journey through life. When you start out, you may want to build up capital to buy your first home. As you approach retirement, using the money you have built up to provide a steady income maybe more important.
Successful investment is never just a matter of looking for a bargain when you find you have some spare cash. It always requires careful planning. That planning needs to depend on your circumstances and your age – because as the years go by our priorities and financial goals change dramatically.
We have prepared an infographic on the different ages of investment here.
As you’ll see, the way you might want to invest in your twenties is very different from the approach that is right for you in your fifties and sixties and beyond. Getting the type of investment that is right for your life stage, and getting it with the right provider is vital if investment is going to work for you.
We will be looking at each stage in more detail in a series of articles to come, but if you have any questions, or feel that you want to get started on your investment journey right away, please contact us now.
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable investment strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.
Request a callback
Our services at Continuum are delivered by some of the most qualified advisers in the UK, to create the ultimate client experience.