It’s easier to find the best home for your savings and investments with a plan. With a plan you know how much to save, and can keep track of progress.
Step 1 – Complete a money fact find
The three steps to successful investing:
1. Fact find.
2. Make your plan.
3. Take action.
Before you can make a plan, you need to take stock – identify your needs and goals and work out how much you can save.
If you don’t have this information already, we can help you do a ‘quick check’ or a more detailed money fact find.
Step 2 – Make your investment plan
Avoid unsolicited investment offers.
Before investing check the FCA register and warning list.
If you’re considering an investment offer, seek independent financial advice.
Drawing on the information from your money fact find, your investment plan should set out:
- your investment goals and what types of savings and investments might be suitable for achieving them, taking into account your time-frames, financial situation, tax position, risk appetite (what level of risk you are prepared to take with your money) and your propensity for loss (how much of your original capital are you prepared to lose to achieve a higher return on your investment)
- what kind of returns you need and can reasonably expect (if you’re new to investing talking to a qualified financial advisor may be especially helpful)
- how much you want to manage your plan yourself and any adviser fees you’re willing to pay
- how often you want to check how your investments are doing and under what circumstances you’ll make changes
- the main product charges you must pay.
If you’re investing in funds there are two main types of charges, one-off and ongoing fees. There will be several other costs to consider although, you will need to clarify these with individual fund providers. This should however, give you an idea of what to expect.
Alternatively, you can use the Ongoing Charges Figure (OCF) which is made up of the annual management charge (AMC) and a variety of other operating costs. However, these won’t include all charges that cover the cost of running the fund but will provide you with a starting point to compare charges between funds.
Here’s an example of what the first steps in making an investment plan might look like.
It shows the key elements you would want to get into your plan.
Jane is 35 with a three-year-old son.
Lump sum available to invest: £20,000
Monthly amount available to invest: £500
Wants to build up an emergency fund of 3 months essential outgoings
Timeframe (access my money): less than 5 years (short term)
Features I’m looking for: easy access; no risk to capital
Risk appetite: low in this instance but will depend on the investor
Products products to consider: instant access accounts
Start saving for retirement
Timeframe (access my money): > 10 years (long term)
Features I’m looking for: long term growth; tax efficiency, so consider tax treatment of different products
Risk appetite: high in this instance but dependent on the investor
Products to consider: pensions (check my employer pension scheme first); Stocks and shares ISA
Have enough to fund higher education
Timeframe (access my money): > 10 years (long term)
Features I’m looking for: long term growth; available on specific date
Risk appetite: medium in this instance but dependent on the investor
Products to consider: stocks and shares or cash ISA; fixed term deposits; mixed asset or managed funds; fund gilts
Save £15,000 for a deposit to buy a flat
Timeframe (access my money): 5-10 years (med term)
Features I’m looking for: high interest; tax efficient; locked away
Risk appetite: low in this instance but dependent on the investor
Products to consider: Savings Bonds; Cash ISA
Jane still needs to make decisions about how much she is going to save towards each goal, and this will influence her choice of saving and investment products.
She wants to keep costs down but is going to consider getting some independent financial advice about the best way to save a fund to help her son through university or an apprenticeship when he is older.
Armed with information like Jane you can start looking for suitable products.
To help with making choices read our guides below:
- Cash savings at a glance
* Popular investments at a glance
Getting financial advice
There are lots of investments to choose from. You might find it helpful to get independent financial advice before you buy.
Step 3 – Action
Once you’ve compared what’s available it’s time to act on your plan.
Having a well-diversified financial portfolio can help mitigate your level of risk.For more information on diversification and its potential benefits read our guide on Diversifying – the smart way to save and invest.
How to buy cash savings products
Comparison websites are a good starting point for anyone trying to find a savings account tailored to their needs.
We recommend the following websites for comparing savings accounts:
- Comparison websites won’t all give you the same results, so make sure you use more than one site before making a decision.
- It is also important to do some research into the type of product and features you need before making a purchase or changing supplier.
- Find out more in our guide to comparison sites.
How to buy investments
The online world means it’s much easier than it used to be to buy, sell, and manage investments yourself if you want to.
But, if you’re unsure about doing it yourself, it’s best to get help from a financial adviser.
To find out more about your different options for implementing your investment plan, follow the link below.Everything you need to know on How to buy investments
Sticking with your investments may not always be right so it’s important to review your financial decisions regularly
All investments carry some risks and you should be aware that it is natural that the value of your investments are likely to move up as well as down over time.
This is why it’s a good idea to review things at least once a year – either by yourself or with help from your financial adviser.Read our guide on Reviewing your savings and investments
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.