Wendy Myers, Head of Securities at PSG Wealth
It is a well-documented fact that, from a long-term investing perspective, time in the markets and the ability to weather short-term market fluctuations are the corner stones of generating investment returns.
Wealth is also achieved by consistently putting money aside for investing. As the Warren Buffet saying goes, “Don’t save what is left after spending but rather spend what is left after saving.”
First steps to investing in the stock market
For first time investors, the investment journey starts by deciding how much you want to invest on a regular basis. Then choose your investment platform. There are benefits of trading and investing with a registered stockbroker and relying on an expert on guiding the composition of your portfolio, such as a financial adviser. However, there are other non-stock broking platforms that are becoming popular which investors can consider.
The next step is to choose your risk tolerance, your investment time horizon and finally your investments. Time is the key determinant in investing and the achievement of your investment goals. Investors who have a longer time frame ahead of them can typically structure their portfolio slightly more aggressively and take on more risk than those who are in a later stage of their investment journey.
What are the risks?
There are also several risks to consider. Market risk is key, and this obviously represents the daily change in the share prices as a result of macroeconomic factors. For example, the US Federal Reserves’ policy decisions have an impact on global equity prices. Risks like counterparty credit and liquidity risk are removed when you trade through an exchange such as the JSE who acts as the “lender of last resort”.
Individual shares may also encounter head winds from time to time from a sector perspective or a strategy perspective, but exposure can be mitigated by having a well-diversified portfolio.
Finally, there is volatility risk, which is the risk of share prices making large moves up and or down. It is however important to understand that volatility can work for you as an investor. It provides us with the opportunity to invest when stock prices offer good entry points. Provided you’ve done thorough research of course.
Consumers inherently love a good deal, but when it comes to equities, fear takes over when we see quality companies on sale. Ironically at the exact time when one should be greedy. This is why it is so important to understand what your risk tolerance is because ultimately investors must be comfortable with their holdings and the structure of their portfolios. A key part of the investment journey, and probably the best advice I can give, is to have the input of a financial adviser. Best practice is to sit down with your adviser on an annual basis and really look at how your portfolio has performed over the period. Take stock and look at whether your portfolio still meets your risk tolerance, whether your exposures to various asset classes still make sense and whether you need rebalancing. Also, with the input of your financial adviser, consider whether you should take some profit off the table so that you potentially can reinvest in other shares which might offer more value.
Knowledge is key
Ultimately it is your financial freedom you are working towards, and I always urge investors, whether they are just starting out or are seasoned, to empower themselves with knowledge. Shares can be a great addition to your financial toolkit as part of an overall balanced portfolio, but you need to ensure you have the time and the risk appetite to put them to effective use. Therefore, start early, invest on an ongoing basis, and partner with a financial adviser who can provide valuable input and help structure your portfolio with your unique needs and goals in mind.