Early retirement could be just round the corner…

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Want to escape the rat race that little bit sooner? Hannah Goldsmith, founder of Goldsmiths Financial Solutions, shares some tips on how you can make that last day at the office come a little quicker IF you’d like your money to work harder, perhaps with a view to retiring sooner, here are five rules you need to follow and they are probably not what you’re thinking:

1: Let the markets do the work
With more than 98 million trades a day, across the global markets, the probability is miniscule that a committee, sitting in a board room and discussing where to invest your money, will spot a favourable discrepancy in a stock price.

It is possible, but it is also highly improbable. Instead of buying retail funds selected by a fund manager, buy a diversified basket of global index tracker funds and let the markets work for you. A wide basket of stocks from around the world linked directly to market returns can reduce the risk of trying to outguess the markets or worse, paying somebody else to outguess the markets.

2: Diversify, diversify, diversify
Investment returns are random; they cannot be predicted with any certainty, so don’t let your financial adviser visit you each year moving and changing your funds to justify their existence and their fees. They are wasting your money. Avoid limiting your investments to a handful of stocks or one stock market. Thisis a concentrated strategy with high risk implications. Instead, buy the global market using a
diversified basket of index tracker funds and leave the speculation to the gamblers.

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3: Take control of your money
Conventional wealth management institutions are in business to maximise shareholder value – not your investment returns. Why would they provide you with an opportunity to move your money to a  competitor at their expense, even if it was in your best financial interest?

It is therefore essential to take back control of your money and ensure that the “hidden” ongoing portfolio costs are kept to the bare minimum. Aim to keep the costs of managing your portfolio at under one per cent. The industry average is in the region of 2.3 per cent, so if you save yourself even one percent a year you will have made a substantial amount of money using compounding interest over the life of your portfolio.

For example; if you invested £100,000 with a traditional financial services company paying a total fee of 2.3 per cent, and you received a seven per cent return on your money for 25 years, you will have a projected future value of £329,332.

As £100,000 was yours to start with you will have made a £229,332 profit. The overall cost to you, to make that profit, will have been £109,912.

If you invested £100,000 in a low fee portfolio, paying a total fee of 1.11 per cent and received a seven per cent return on your money for 25 years you will have a projected future value of £441,601. As £100,000 was yours to start with you will have made a £341,601 profit. The overall cost to you would be £63,718.

This additional £112,269 can be used by you and your family, rather than just giving it away to an industry that feeds the fat cats. Remember it’s your money – don’t give it away.

4: Investments are a long-term strategy
Market timing cannot be predicted. Taking your money out in falling markets means you lose real cash. Most people don’t reinvest until they get their optimism back, which is often too late; by then the stocks have risen, you’ve missed out on the gains, and you still have your losses to make up. Manage your emotions by investing in a risk portfolio that is correlated to your capacity for loss. Not one that is based purely on your search for the highest returns. Remember, investing is for the longer term. History shows that you will be rewarded for your bravery – and your patience.

5: Don’t lose money with the banks
Capital deposited in a bank is being eaten by inflation at 2-3 per cent every year. Over the last 10 years, whilst the stock markets have gone up, the buying power of your bank deposited savings has decreased dramatically and will continue to do so for the immediate future.

My advice is to look at investing, rather than saving with a bank; diversify your portfolio; let the markets work for you; and ensure you keep your management fees to around one per cent. By following these rules you’ll increase your fund faster and the day you can retire (or splash the money on your dream) will arrive much sooner.

This book is a detailed study of the wider issues that drive the performance and fee behaviour in the retail investment market and makes a lot of sense given the changes over the past 10-15 years.

There are some cold hard truths out there that all of us with pension funds and capital to invest need to think about seriously given the way the market now works and how risks present themselves. A well-researched book with some compelling conclusions, well done Hannah.

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