First, let me be clear – I am not a stockbroker, I am not licensed to provide advice on specific shares. So, I cannot and will not advise the purchase of one share over another. What I can do is provide you with some generic information.
All proper investing will invest in shares. Today I am simply discussing investing directly into shares (i.e. you hold a piece of paper – that shows you have shares in XYZ company). The other way to invest in shares is via an investment fund.
ADVANTAGES OF SHARES
You can be specific about what you invest in. There are no ongoing charges for your shares if you hold them unless you do so via a trading platform which typically has monthly fees and specific minimums. You do your research, buy the shares, sell them when you want. Some provide a dividend (which is a taxable income and out of profits), some do not.
DISADVANTAGES OF SHARES
Your money does not go very far. Today at the end of June 2020. The share price of Morrisons is £1.90, Sainsbury’s £2.09 and Tesco £2.29 to name three well known companies in the supermarket world. So you have £10,000 to invest, excluding any stockbroker charges (which there will be – for each trade (a purchase or sale of a particular share) you want to create your portfolio which you call Supermarket Sweepstake. I will not go into how or why you select shares, there are many people offering “tips” for free or at a price for rationale and research, but let me say that after 3 decades I can assure you that over the remainder of your life neither I nor anyone else will be able to successfully predict the who and what, but will also fail to consistently, repeatedly outperform the market through their research, genius and luck. Not a soul.
Anyway, back to my daft Supermarket Sweepstake, you think Sainsbury’s will outperform (over what period and why??) the other two but are not so convinced that you put all your £10,000 in just Sainsbury’s so you buy £4,000 worth of shares in Sainsbury’s and £3,000 in each of the others. This results in the following portfolio (roughly).
1913 shares in Sainsbury’s
1310 shares in Tesco
1578 shares in Morrison’s
The above could be achieved with three trades or could be more than that if shares were bought gradually across a day or any other period. Every trade has a cost (and a tax).
I HOLD LOTS OF SHARES, SO I MUST BE RICH…
You hold “a lot” of shares, but you only hold them in three companies and in my rather daft example you hold them all in the food retail sector. This is an example of extreme concentration risk – just 3 actual companies, all doing the same thing, in the same sector, in the same country. If for any reason supermarkets cannot operate as normal, you will likely see a reduction in their value – or of course other competitors make their trading life rather harder.
Income from the dividends is taxed. If you sell the shares the gains are taxed (though the gain may be within your capital gains tax allowance).
WHY A FUND?
A fund, particularly a fund made up of the entire index, will hold all the shares in the index. If that is regional or specific (i.e. FTSE 100) then it will hold some of all those companies. A global index will hold the lot (pretty much). In the case of the FTSE 100, that is 100 companies, as for a global index – well thousands of companies.
The downside of a fund is that someone is managing it, ensuring that it sticks to its mandate. The cost of management can vary enormously, part of an adviser’s job is to select funds that are suitable for you and cost is an element of the criteria used. For example a good fund we use costs about 0.22% of £10,000 that’s £22 for the year most funds however charge much more and some charge a bit less. As the size of the fund grows the investment costs are more – because they are a percentage.
That said, a comparable stockbroker service is also managing the portfolio, they many be remunerated on trades (an incentive to constantly change stuff) or performance [or both!] – in which case they may be rewarded for high returns from highly concentrated holdings, but not penalised for low or negative ones… which leads to the inevitable conclusion by the nice gent in the suit to take quite a punt with your hard earned loot, no reason not to is there old chap?
The main purpose of the fund is that is provides diversification – holding hundreds or thousands of companies as shares. Some will also hold other types of assets too, depending on what the fund is attempting to achieve.
Both the funds or directly held shares are subject to taxes – on gains and on income. A sensible thing to do would be to put these into an ISA – which is really nothing more than a wrapper that makes the contents tax free.
These days most stockbrokers will need a minimum of £250,000 to build a diversified portfolio of shares, but even then, it is likely that they will use funds. That is because it is hard to get the benefits of diversification without a reasonably large amount of money.
Diversification is really shorthand for “spreading risk” – adhering to the adage – “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”. This helps dramatically reduce the likelihood of total loss. Holding shares in just three companies that all went out of business would be a total loss, the chance of every company going out of business across global stock markets – well that’s the apocalypse and you will not be worrying about your portfolio.
I am not against you having a small amount of money to play with, an amount that you can afford to see disappear. You can sign up for any trading platform you like, do your research. My only tip is to stick to the industry or sector you know about (your own). Muck around to your hearts content, but do not show me your numbers or genius, it will fade. Everything reverts to mean (average).
I have never watched Supermarket Sweep but I did find this rather old clip from the US show. To my strange mind it is full of metaphors about investing and the mania some display about markets. At the end of this, you need to satisfy your own goals, not those of your peers, friends, markets, media or anyone else, its your life, it needs to be your plan.
You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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