Tag Archives: Savings

The ultimate savings & investment vehicle!

Today I got a call from a journalist asking a few questions about what a beginner investor should do if they want to start investing…I think that they were looking for “tips and tricks” about which funds or shares to choose…here was my reply.

The first bit of advice I would give them is to consult a Certified Financial Planner®. It will cost them but could well prove to be the best investment they make. At the very least, they need help identifying their savings and investment goals. Are they short, medium or long term? They are “beginner” investors after all.

My 2nd piece of advice is to stay away from insurance companies- don’t ever invest via one of them. They are expensive, inflexible, opaque with respect to fees and returns and there are penalties when you change your premium/mind – and you will need to change your premium because life happens!

Once they know why they are saving/investing then there is no reason that they cant do the rest on their own…and my advice is to use unit trusts.

Why unit trusts? I think that they are the ultimate savings and investment vehicles because they are:

  • Accessible – you can invest from as little as R50 per month (and unlike many of the insurance products with low initial investment amounts, you wont pay 5-15% of premium each time you invest)!
  • Diversified – for R50 you can get exposure to all of the shares on the JSE and for R200 pm you can own the top 2000 shares in the world.
  • Cheap – in most instances there are no upfront admin fees and there are more than a few passive (tracker) funds with annual fees that are as low as 0.2% pa.
  • Flexible – you can stop, restart, increase or decrease the premium without ever incurring penalties!
  • Transparent – you can see the underlying investments and you can see all of the charges
  • Tax efficient – any time a manager buys/sells shares you will not be subject to any capital gains tax. This only comes when you sell one day.
  • Come in a variety of flavours – specialist equity to money market and you can get a tax-free account as well.
  • There is a whole layer of legislative protection – you own units in a trust fund and this is highly regulated!

I was then asked for my 2nd and 3rd choice investments…my answer was “unit trusts and unit trusts”.

Yes, I am a huge fan of unit trusts and will remain so until someone comes up with a better idea.

 

A great way to save?

Heard a radio ad this morning for RSA Retail Bonds…it went something like this…“There’s no fees or commissions therefore it’s a great way to save”. I disagree strongly with this statement – it is not a great way to save.

It is a great way for people to generate income – at 7.25% for 2 years it is still the best rate out there, but as a long term savings product it is pretty poor. Even at 8.25% the 5 year rate is way below what you could reasonably expect from a balanced fund and the All Share index generated about 11.5% pa for the past 5 years.

I have long been a fan of the RSA Retail Bond and still am for people looking for income but as a savings option I think that it is pretty poor – you can do significantly better over the long term – even after fees and commissions – if you are prepared to put up with a bit of volatility risk.

Interest (ing)…

I heard an advert on the radio last night for Nedbank’s new “Park-it Limited Edition Investment account”…seems that if you give them R10000, they will give you up to 6.25%* interest per annum and after the first 14 days you can have access to your funds with 24 hour notice. There are at least 2 problems with this…
  1. “Up to” 6.25% (turns out you need to invest R1million to get this rate – R10000 gets you 5.75% –  the small print says that the rate will be tiered according to the balance.
  2. You cant access the funds for the first 14 days.
Now while this may not be a problem to anyone not needing the funds urgenlty, it is certainly a problem to anyone thinking of using this as an emergency fund. To my mind, there are far better options both for emergency fund money and also for those looking for high interest accounts.
For emergency money you are going to struggle to beat a money market unit trust account – no fees to get in or out, instant access (24 hour notice on most), the best interest rates and most importantly of all, safety! The historic yield on a money market unit trust fund is ±7-7.5% but dont expect this going forward – rates have fallen and it is more likely to be ±6.5% for the next 12 months. (Minimum investment amounts are not as high as the banks would have you believe and there is even a money market unit trust that will take a R1000 debit order.)
There is also Capitec Bank which is offering an incredible 7% on daily savings accounts – this is an awesome rate and an excellent alternate to the unit trust but only for the first R10000 (the rate falls after that)!
Longer term investors looking for high interest rates should consider the RSA Retail Bond – this is a government guaranteed bond with 2, 3 or 5 year options. The 2 year option is currently 8.5% and on all of them you are locked in at that rate for at least 1 year – thereafter, if rates have increased you will be able to increase the rate on your bond for the remaining period as well. If rates fall your rate stays fixed! No fees to get in and interest can be paid monthly!
As a rule, my advice is to stay far away from banks when looking for interest bearing investments – they are there to make as much money from you as they can – there are far better options than the traditional banks!

RSA Retail Bonds part 2

Following on from the first post on RSA Retail Bonds, I received a reply from the communications manager at National Treasury who referred me to 2 more people and I finally received a 10 page summary on the bonds. The first section is titled “How to invest” and answers the questions we had but is unfortunately not available on the website (yet)!

Turns out though, that if you want to invest via the website you need to “register” and once you have completed the form online, you will be issued with bank account details so that you can make the payment.

clickToInvestWe made the recommendation to them that the document is made available and that the “register” button is changed to “invest” or “invest online”…let’s see if anything changes.

While spending some time on their website it is also interesting to see the age profile of investors in the RSA Retail Bonds…±40% of investors are under 50 and almost 22% are under 40 years old.

While there is nothing wrong with investing into the RSA Retail Bond, it is hardly a suitable investment vehicle for a 25, 30 or even 40 year  year old…but I guess that is one of the dangers of “cutting out the advice chain”

Investors may have got into the product without paying commission but a 25-40 year old investor sitting in the RSA Retail Bond is most probably in an inappropriate product…it is certainly not an emergency fund (you cant access it) and the majority of 25-40 year olds are not looking for income from an investment – it is capital growth that they need and for that, there are far more appropriate investment options (even if there are some fees to be paid to advisors).

A typical “balanced fund” unit trust has given returns of almost 15% per annum for the past 10 years. At that rate the money has doubled in value every 5 years while investors in the RSA Retail Bond will only see their funds doubling every 8 years…I know where I would rather be invested!

Distr20072152S

Lotto – even if you are in you probably wont win!

There is an old song where the lyrics went something like this “the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, but still they come!”newspic49992a8ac0718

At least the odds were better than the chance of you winning the lotto in SA where your odds are one in 13 983 816 (or 0.000000072%)*.

Let’s put this in perspective: if there are 2 draws per week (104 per year) then you would need to play the lotto every draw for 134459 years to have played it ±14 million times and to be reasonably sure that you would win it just once. The slogan used to be “if you’re not in you can’t win” but it if they are honest it should probably be “even if you are in you probably won’t win”!

Now if the average life span is 75 years then the average person will live for 27375 days and then simply put (and not complicating things with actuarial tables) the chance of dying on any given day is 1 in 27375 or 0.000037%. You have a 511 times greater probability of dying on any given day than you do of winning the lotto!

In June 2003 it was reported that 27% of lottery players were unemployed and that 43% of players earned less than R2 000 a month. 2006 research found that 82% of South Africans played the lottery once a week and that 53% of the population did not engage in any other form of gambling. The average player spent R81 per month on the lottery with the lottery accounting for ±26% of total gambling spend in SA. Those who play slots spend R541 per month on average, and slots constitute ±44% of all gambling expenditure in the country.

Research was also conducted into gambling spend by disposable income groups, and this confirmed that all income groups are playing the lottery regularly. 70% of those who are in the lowest income groups (disposable incomes below R1 400 pm) play the lottery regularly.

lotto-2-balls

So if the odds of winning are so ridiculously low why do people still play it? Can you really gamble with your head? The real motivator for playing is that one very, very small chance that you might just win that jackpot which could change your life forever – although this might be in ways you’ve never contemplated. (More than a few lotto winners have died quite soon after winning, either from natural causes or from crime related incidents).

So if the motivation for playing is the ability to change your life once and for all, why not invest that average lotto ticket money? If you took the R81 per month and invested it into a unit trust fund where you got a return of 5% better than inflation then you would end up with ±R1.1 million after just 17 years**. If you were hoping to get there by playing the lotto then by that stage you would have played 1768 times – still far short of the 14million required to ensure a reasonable chance of winning. (If money spent on the slot machines was invested, it would take just seven years to get to the million).

So how about it? Think twice about buying that lotto ticket and rather put the money to work for your future by investing it. This would be a real chance to change your life for good!

That’s all for now.

Gregg

*the new power-ball lotto has odds of 1 in 24 million.

** assuming a real return of 5% & an inflation linked escalation on the contribution.