There’s a common misconception that investing is for the super wealthy, but really, it’s for everyone. All you need is the right advice and some capital to make the investment, and you’re on your way.
Here are five investments you should consider making in 2017:
Exchange traded funds
This kind of investment, also known as ETFs, is described by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) as “listed investment products that track the performance of a group or ‘basket’ of shares, bonds or commodities”. Former founding CEO of Opulous Management Consulting and current founder of Verify, Sakhile Mabena, says, “Passive funds such as ETFs offer a low cost and diversified investment with no securities tax.” Mabena adds that “only one in five actively managed funds outperform passive funds, like ETFs”. This type of investment is also actively traded on the JSE, so it’s easy to buy or sell.
This form of investing isn’t a new one. Diederik Viljoen, an advisor from one of Johannesburg’s leading investment management companies, maintains, “Government bonds are good to buy right now.” And because of how they’re traded on the JSE, it’s easy to keep track of them. The JSE describes government bonds as being “when government entities issue bonds and list them on the JSE Debt Board to raise funds for large capital projects such as roads, power stations and hospitals. Investors lend money to these entities by buying the bonds they issue and list on the JSE Debt Board. Listing the bond on the JSE Debt Board improves the entities’ ability to raise finance because it allows investors to sell the loan to other investors, should they wish to.”
But if you feel this type of investment isn’t for you, then perhaps the more conservative option – which might also help you ease into investing – would be RSA Retail Savings Bonds. These bonds were launched by the National Treasury more than a decade ago, and many still consider them to be a really safe way to invest. There are no service fees attached to making this investment, and no third party is involved. Investing can be as easy as visiting a branch of the South African Post Office, visiting the Retail Savings Bonds website or calling the National Treasury helpline. They’re even available at Pick n Pay stores countrywide. The RSA Retail Savings Bonds website states: “Retail bonds are the smartest way to save. Your money is invested with the South African government, meaning the capital amount invested is guaranteed. Interest and capital is paid electronically into your bank account, which is a safe way of investing.”
These were initiated in South Africa in 1995 and are just like having a savings account, but with more of an investment-type option. One of the advantages of this type of investment is that it’s done on your behalf through a bank or institution that offers the service. If you already have a portfolio of investments, you might consider including them.
South Africa has been nominated as a top dream destination on various platforms over the last couple of years, and it doesn’t look as though our popularity will be slowing down anytime soon. Investing in something that tourists consume, take part in or purchase might just be the kind of investment opportunity you’re looking for. First National Bank recently reported: “A weaker rand makes for a favourable exchange rate for foreign tourists travelling to South Africa. Locals who would have otherwise travelled abroad will most likely travel within the country, creating a greater income stream for tour operators, transport, hotels, and bed and breakfasts.”
The fourth-largest financial services and mutual fund group in the world, Fidelity Investments, says: “Commodities are raw materials that are either consumed directly, such as food, or used as building blocks to create other products. These materials include energy sources like oil and gas, natural resources like timber and agricultural products, or precious metals like gold and platinum.” Given the level of exposure we have in South Africa to a host of diverse commodities, including them into your investment portfolio could be a good option.
It’s important to understand that making good investments is often about investing in many different markets. This could either be done by having something as simple as a unit trust account – where your bank makes investments in a market on your behalf, depending on the type of return you’re looking for – to your broker facilitating the diversity of your investments portfolio. Mandla Ngubane, an investments expert from Durban, says: “A lot of people are definitely diversifying by creating a basket with a lot of things in it. From stock or shares, bonds and money markets to commodities in a portfolio, you should be looking at each one of them. Invest in that which gives you exposure to everything.”
When it comes to the type of currency you should be buying or trading in when making your investments, the general trend has usually been the US dollar. But, with Donald Trump having been voted in as president, this may see a bit of a decline. Viljoen says: “The pound also used to be a very safe or secure, bet but with Brexit on the horizon, we may see this drop as well, with investors rather unsure of the implications. Africa is going to be the place to be, with cooperation between China and the African continent increasing steadily. Nigeria is looking very favourable.” Ngubane’s view on this is similar, but has a particular sentiment towards using different currencies when investing. “People are now looking to diversify their exposure to currencies. The pound is still considered a stable currency despite Brexit, so a lot of people are investing offshore and opening accounts overseas. They’re investing in pound-bearing interest accounts, which can be quite expensive, but if you take a long-term view on it, it could be worth it,” he emphasises. Ngubane continues: “People are also investing in the dollar and euro, and they’re just diversifying their portfolios and exposure. So, if something happens to the dollar and only 10% of their stock is in dollars, it won’t be too bad.” The impact that fluctuating currencies have on shares performance varies. Viljoen says: “Currency fluctuations directly reflect the international markets’ ‘confidence’ in that country or its currency. Its effects on the shares themselves are not directly linked. For example, the JSE hit historic highs in the last five years, in spite of the fact that the rand has depreciated.”
So, where does mining fit into the scope of things, and exactly how does it affect share prices? Viljoen surmises: “The short answer is Anglo, which is a dollar-based company that effectively controls the entire mining industry here, plays a big role on our exchange. The strengthening of the dollar means that it is cheaper for them to mine here and to buy here, thus they do more business here. More business means more money and that means the companies have more capital and greater growth.” Ngubane also adds that “the price of oil is dollar-dominated so, for example, there’s a direct effect on the price of petrol”.
On whether to invest on your own or through an advisor, Mabena feels: “It’s often better to consult someone. The right advisor can help manage your risk and generate the best possible expected return net of costs, net of taxes and net of your own behaviour. However, you should seek transparent financial advice and asset management. A financial advisor will work on building your right portfolio and monitor it for your required goals.” Investing is more about managing your risk than actually picking stocks or funds. “DIY can be a disadvantage if you are not disciplined and are reactive to short-term market performances. Average investors lose 2.5% each year by buying and selling at the wrong time. However, before you decide to consult someone, consider commissions and fees, as every additional 1% in fees can erode 20% of your investment return over your working life,” he adds.
Investing, when done correctly with the right advice, need not be difficult. Whether you’re doing it yourself, through a bank or an advisor, by making the right decisions you can get good returns, even in a seemingly difficult economic climate.