When you start investing it can feel very satisfying to see your investments arranged as you like. You have your goals established (e.g. retire aged 68 with a £300,000 pot), a horizon in view – say, 20 years – and a clear, long-term strategy about your attitude to risk and your mix of assets (e.g. stocks-to-bonds ratio).
UK inflation has been rising in 2021. It more than doubled in April to 1.5% as clothing, footwear and energy prices rose. Inflation erodes the “real returns” of investments – e.g. if an equity fund rises 4% in value over a 12-month period but inflation also rises 2%, the “real value” of your returns is 2%. As such, many investors are concerned about what this could mean for their investment strategy. Unfortunately, there is no cast-iron method to predict whether inflation will rise significantly within a given timeframe – or by how much.
Pension rules in the UK are notoriously complex. Not only are there multiple types of pensions to deal with, but drawing from them needs to be planned carefully. For instance, did you know that the State Pension is accessible from your State Pension age – 66 in 2021 – but you can only access your defined contribution pension(s) from age 55 (under the 2015 Pension Freedoms)?
How do you get higher investment returns and grow your wealth? This is usually the motivation behind wanting to become a better investor. Yet people have different understandings about what investing is, and how to do it successfully. Here at WMM, our team in Oxford offers their thoughts on what defines investing – and how to invest effectively.
The UK has committed to a zero-carbon target by 2050, aiming for a 68% reduction by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) in the shorter term. Newly-elected U.S. President Joe Biden has also committed to the same target for the USA. Within the investment world, moreover, large asset management firms are trying to meet growing investor demand for environmentally-friendly funds and investment opportunities. In light of the above, what is the current landscape like for ethical investments in 2021? What kind of prospects lie ahead for those looking to increase the “ESG profile” of their portfolio (environmental, social and governance)?
Stock markets, over time, have historically shown to produce strong investment growth. In the USA, for instance, the S&P 500 index has risen from 264.53 in January 1928 to 3,714.24 in January 2021. Its average annual return, therefore, has been about 8%–11% since inception.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had many consequences. One of them is a spike in public debt as the UK government rolled out costly support measures such as the Job Retention Scheme (i.e. “furlough”), cash grants for struggling businesses and deferred VAT payments. Whilst arguably necessary, these measures have led to record government borrowing which totalled £2.1tn in December 2020, equivalent to 99.5% of the UK’s GDP (gross domestic product).
Cash in the bank feels great – especially after a year like 2020, which has shown the importance of having a strong emergency buffer. However, is your cash really working for you? Inflation (i.e. the “cost of living”) stood at around 0.7% in 2020, yet interest rates on easy-access UK savings accounts are currently barely breaking even with this. Therefore, those with large cash savings are likely missing out higher returns offered elsewhere – and may even lose money in real terms later this year if inflation rises, as it might indeed do. As such, what are some other options?
The UK’s four-year wrangling with the EU for a Brexit “trade deal” has finally ended. At 11pm on the 31st of December 2020, the “transition period” – during which the EU’s rules for trade, travel and business temporarily still applied to the UK – ended. From the 1st of January 2021 the relationship between the UK and EU will be governed primarily by the formal Brexit deal that has been agreed.