Before investing, it is a must to ensure that you have a broker that you can trust, with a platform that you can use. If either are below a standard that you can effectively make use of, you run the risk that you won’t make the best trades for you. Given that you stand to lose money, or lose out on money growth, if trades are not made properly, it pays to do your research to make sure you have the best broking solution and software for you.
2. Risk Profile
Along with the right broker, making your own personal risk profile is essential before starting to invest. Doing so will protect you from making any totally inappropriate trades or investments for you. A risk profile details your own individual attitude towards risk as well as your ability to tolerate risk. It, in short, boils down to how much you have to lose and how much you are willing to risk losing too.
Before embarking on any investment strategy, it is good to do so with a real target in mind. Ask yourself, why are you investing and at what point do you want your returns to be made? For a lot of people this will be saving and investing enough to use in retirement - for others it may be investing on behalf of a child to pay for their university education. Having an amount you are targeting and a timeline, will also help inform what investments are suitable for you and what are not worth your while entertaining.
Consider what currencies you can invest in and knowing what currencies you have available to you to invest with can make big differences to your investment choices. Forex can be a profitable investment strategy - but it can also lose a person a lot of money too. However, having to exchange a currency so that particular investments are an option depending on where they are domiciled or what market they are sold on, can materially diminish your returns if the exchange costs are high. Exchanging currencies are another fee, in short, that you must consider before calculating any return.
Thinking about your income should be an important consideration when starting out in the investment world. What income you have coming in will materially affect what your risk profile is and how much you can stand to lose. Additionally, you also need to think about what type of income you want in the future - and how you want that income to materialise. For example, if you want to invest so you produce a regular monthly income - you need to invest in the relevant income producing asset classes (like bonds or dividend paying shares).
Look at what savings you have already, and where they are already saved. Using some savings to put into potential investments must be a better alternative to just keeping your savings where they are. Some savings accounts will earn a lot of interest which is almost guaranteed. Secondly you may be penalised if you take money out of certain savings products. As a result, ensure that you are using your savings in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Knowing what your monthly and annual outgoings are should be one of your biggest considerations before making any investment. Tying up your cash elsewhere leaves you without that cash to meet your financial obligations. In short, you need to question if you can afford to make an investment at any point in time, or do you need to wait a little longer to save enough as a safety net should your investments go awry.
8. Investment Types
Think about what types of investments meet your needs the most - and try to understand them as fully as possible. Asset classes can vary so much that investing in one asset class is a totally different ball game to another. While diversification of a portfolio is often recommended - ensure you comprehend each class you do pour money into.
Consider some of the strategies that will help you meet your targets. Some may be more aggressive than others. Additionally, there are some strategies that require less attention from investors. For example, passive investing by buying into funds can be a way of investing in markets without having to monitor the market continually. However, it means you cannot control the weightings of your portfolio as you would do through active investments. Additionally, strategies can take into account whether you want to seek return through income providing investments or through growth of the value of investments.
Finally, ensure that you are fully abreast of the tax implications that investing has on your income as well as the amount of return you receive. Tax rules are sadly subject to constant change, but knowing what your current tax rate and tax bracket is essential. Additionally, knowing what tax will be owed on all your investments and how is vital. Different investments will be subject to different tax laws. For example, any gains on stocks and shares ISAs are currently not required to pay tax. However, paying into a pension is tax efficient too as money is paid into your pension pot before income tax.
Investing For The First Time
Investing can be extremely profitable - but it can also be a quick way to lose a lot of money very quickly. Arming yourself with the best tools available and understanding the investment world as thoroughly as you can is one of the best ways you can protect yourself against loss and materially limit your downside.