Investing doesn't necessarily mean putting your money into stocks and bonds. Buying a home, getting an education, starting a business, or supporting your children in their education or careers, can all be considered investments
Personal Investment Goals
On the simplest level, the question of why people invest is easy to answer: We want to put our capital to work so that it can generate a better return than just sitting idle.
Should you invest your savings? In the current climate of low interest rates on savings and money market accounts compared to inflation, we believe it makes sense to do so.
Investing doesn’t necessarily mean putting your money into stocks and bonds. Buying a home, getting an education, starting a business, or supporting your children in their education or careers, can all be considered investments. All investments come with a certain level of risk: Will your home or rental property increase in value to keep up with inflation and to provide enough security for retirement? Advanced education or starting a business can be expensive – will it pay for itself? Will your children use that education for which you are now paying?
There may be reasons why you should not put your money into portfolio investments. Perhaps your debt service level is higher than the return you could expect to make investing your money – in which case you should pay down your debts first. Or perhaps there may be psychological reasons – maybe you simply feel more comfortable owning a home or other property rather than owning stocks and bonds.
In our first meeting with clients, these are the types of things we discuss to determine which investments are most suitable for you based on your life goals, risk tolerance, and personal preferences. In this manner we can decide whether our services are suitable for you. If it turns out that you would be more comfortable or derive greater benefit or satisfaction from investing elsewhere then we will suggest alternatives and refer you to trusted advisors when we can.
The Case for Portfolio Investment:
- Retirement security
Many of us feel we cannot depend on pension plans to support us during retirement. Demographics are such that over the next generation more people will be drawing from government pension plans than will be contributing to them. In addition, a substantial number of corporate plans are under-funded, which may lead to the curtailment of promised future benefits.
We are unsure whether our salaries will generate enough in savings over our working years to last through what we hope may be 30 or more years of leisure time later on in life.
Furthermore, the current climate of low interest rates means that money in savings accounts does not generate a good rate of return – in fact, after inflation and taxes, we may well be losing money by leaving it in a savings account. For these reasons many of us feel that investing our savings is a necessity.
- Realizing financial goals
Retirement is not the only financial goal that faces us. Large cash outlays for the purchase of homes and funding of education, future medical expenses, financial support for children or aging parents; these are all issues with which we may have to contend. Not all cash outlays are foreseeable, nevertheless that should not stop us from planning for those we can foresee and having an emergency fund for the unexpected.
IAM’s approach is to combine financial planning and portfolio management. The financial planning aspect prepares our clients to meet their future financial goals, and the portfolio management aspect helps them get there easier and faster than through savings alone.
Most portfolio investments can be bought or sold relatively quickly. This liquidity makes such investments much more flexible than less liquid investments such as real estate or collectibles. Although total risk is a function of many investment characteristics, generally speaking, more liquidity is associated with less risk.
The ability to invest via the global markets in many types of companies in a variety of industries and different parts of the world brings virtually unlimited opportunity for the informed investor. Add to that the range of investment vehicles, from basic stocks and bonds, to preferred shares, convertible bonds, options and futures, as well as currencies and structured products; and there is no question as to the flexibility of portfolio investments.
- Good track record
Historically the stock and bond markets of the world have more than kept up with inflation over the long term and have outperformed bank savings rates as well as many real estate markets. Even a blind investment in a S&P 500 index fund would have yielded an average compound return well in excess of inflation over most long-term investment periods and profitable years would have outweighed unprofitable years by a ratio of approximately two to one.
It is true that there have been lean years in the world equity markets and that returns have at times been more volatile than for other types of investments, and that, in any case, historical returns will not necessarily reflect the future; nonetheless, if history is to be considered, then portfolio investments do have a good track record.
- Availability of professional guidance
In the 1990′s anybody who could sell a mutual fund could pretend to be a financial advisor. During this decade, when many US and international stock markets outperformed, all a salesperson had to do was put a client’s money into an equity mutual fund to get good returns and keep the client happy. Many of these sales people and their clients found out during the first three years of the new millennium, and again in 2008-2009, that there is a difference between professional portfolio management and simply selling investment products.
There is an abundance of talent in the investment community prepared to serve selective clients. It is important that investors do their research and examine a prospective financial advisor’s level of knowledge, professional credentials, experience, track record, and investment philosophy before trusting their guidance.
A number of organizations exist to ensure standards of professionalism and knowledge amongst financial advisors, some links to useful websites where an investor can learn more about financial credentials are listed below.