Remember your reasons for investing in the first place

Stock markets can be unpredictable. They move frequently – and sometimes sharply – in both directions. It is important to take a long-term view (typically ten years or more) and remember your reasons for investing in the first place.

One of the most important investment decisions you ever make

How you choose to allocate your wealth between different asset classes will be one of the most important investment decisions you ever make. Asset allocation can account for the majority of your portfolio returns over the long term, so it’s essential that you achieve the right balance of cash, fixed income, equities and property in your portfolio.

Protecting your money from adverse market conditions

Today’s markets are as uncertain as ever. But there is one certainty – the future is coming. It may no longer be enough to simply preserve what you have today; you also have to build what you will need for tomorrow. When deciding whether to invest, it is important that any investment vehicle matches your feelings and preferences in relation to investment risk and return.

Generalisation groupings should be viewed with caution

Investors like to sort things into neat categories; it helps make sense of a highly complex world. Categories like ‘Emerging Markets’, ‘BRICs’ – Brazil, Russia, India, China – and the ‘Fragile Five’ have all been invented as easy-to-understand groupings of supposedly similar countries. Yet we have to be careful of such generalisations, because the more research you do, the more you realise that there are often more differences than similarities between these groupings.

Understanding asset classes

Cash

This involves putting your money into a savings account, with a bank, building society or credit union. Your money may not hold its spending power if inflation is higher than the interest rate. Cash is the most basic of all investment forms. Saving money into a deposit account with a bank, building society or credit union is considered cash saving. Cash can be used to save for immediate needs or as a parking place in-between investing in other assets.

Allow your lifestyle to dictate your investment approach

To make the most of your investment opportunities, allow your lifestyle and not stock market fluctuations to dictate your investment approach. Your goals are what count, so keep them firmly in mind when you make financial decisions.

New survey reveals how some approaching retirement wished they had made different choices

Not saving enough for retirement is the biggest financial regret among those aged 55 or over (today’s baby boomers), according to the findings of an annual online survey from Standard Life by YouGov Plc. Nearly one in five (18%) baby boomers said they wish they’d started saving for their retirement when they were younger.

A tax-efficient investment offering capital gains tax deferral

Enterprise Investment Schemes (EISs) are tax-efficient vehicles set up to encourage investment into small, unquoted trading companies. The EIS is the only tax-efficient investment offering a capital gains tax (CGT) deferral. CGT on the disposal of other assets can be deferred by reinvesting the proceeds in EIS shares.

Wealthier investors taking a long-term view

A Venture Capital Trust (VCT) is a company whose shares trade on the London stock market. A VCT aims to make money by investing in other companies. These are typically very small companies which are looking for further investment to help develop their business.

Not sacrificing your life principles in exchange for chasing the best financial returns

For investors concerned about global warming and other environmental issues, there are a plethora of ethical investments that cover a multitude of different strategies. The terms ‘ethical investment’ and ‘socially responsible investment’ (SRI) are often used interchangeably to mean an approach to selecting investments whereby the usual investment criteria are overlaid with an additional set of ethical or socially responsible criteria.

Safeguarding your money at a time of low interest rates

How do you generate a reliable income when interest rates are stuck at all-time lows and the Bank of England’s quantitative easing policy of ‘printing’ money is squeezing yields on government bonds (gilts) and other investments? Investors today can still rely on a well-balanced portfolio to meet their needs for income. However, they must be open-minded about the sources of that income and recognise that low-risk income generation is a thing of the past.

Utilising tax deferral benefits to minimise tax liabilities

Finding the right offshore investments can be a key factor in making the most of your wealth, and it’s not only for the wealthiest of investors. With a few well-advised decisions, you could broaden your investment portfolio.

Providing you with increased simplicity and greater flexibility

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) have been around since 1999, providing a tax-efficient wrapper for savings and investments. However, in the recent Budget, the Chancellor, George Osborne, promised to increase the simplicity and flexibility of ISAs. As of 1 July 2014, there is now a single ISA which has been named the new ISA, or ‘NISA’, which provides a bigger tax break than ever before and more flexibility about how it can be used.

A range of funds for the medium- to long-term

Investment bonds are designed to produce medium- to long-term capital growth, but can also be used to give you an income. They also include some life cover. There are other types of investment that have ‘bond’ in their name (such as guaranteed bonds, offshore bonds and corporate bonds) but these are very different. With an investment bond, you pay a lump sum to a life assurance company and this is invested for you until you cash it in or die.

Reflecting popularity in the market

An investment trust is a company with a set number of shares. Unlike an open-ended investment fund, an investment trust is closed ended. This means there are a set number of shares available, which will remain the same no matter how many investors there are. This can have an impact on the price of the shares and the level of risk of the investment trust. Open-ended investment funds create and cancel units depending on the number of investors.