The six life stages of investing
Your investment needs are likely to change radically throughout the course of your life. Here, we identify the key life events that may trigger a change in your strategy and explain why regular reviews can help you to plan ahead.
Major events such as getting married or becoming a parent don’t just define the course of our lives on a personal level. They also have profound effects on our financial goals and on our ability – or desire – to take risks in pursuit of those goals.
For example, a young, single person might be in a position to consider a high-risk investment in the hope of achieving high potential returns. On the other hand, a parent saving to meet their child’s education costs will usually want to follow a more conservative strategy to reduce the likelihood of losses, or returns falling short of their requirements.
Because your financial needs change as your life goes through these different stages, determining the right investment strategy for you should be an ongoing process rather than a one-off event. It’s important that you regularly review your existing investments to see if they’re still appropriate and make any necessary adjustments to fit any new circumstances.
At every stage of investment management, it’s important to appreciate that all investments can fall in value and you may get back less than you invested.
Please note that we also cannot offer investment advice to you in the UK.
Understanding your financial needs
A regular review of your finances can play an important role in keeping your financial planning on track. If you have a Relationship Manager* with Barclays International Banking then they will aim to carry out a formal review of your needs, goals and circumstances on an annual basis. When necessary, they can also put you in touch with one of our Investment Advisers, who can analyse your current savings and investments and help you to structure them appropriately.
In particular, we can help you plan for six major life stages:
- Starting your career and/or starting your own business
- Marriage and establishing a family home
- Your children’s education, from early years to university
- Receiving an inheritance and/or windfall
- Estate and succession planning
Each of these life stages brings different priorities – such as the pursuit of long-term growth, receiving a steady income or preserving capital – and requires a different approach, says Dominic Brockes, Vice President of Wealth and Investment Management at Barclays. “It’s essential that your investment strategy takes into account your attitudes and reactions to risk along the way,” he says.
As part of their review process, an Investment Adviser will ask you to:
- Draw up a priority-list of goals that you want to achieve in the short term (under 5 years), medium term (between 5 and 10 years) and long term (over 10 years), and according to your particular life stage
- Ensure all your existing assets and debt are incorporated into your review
- Discuss your own attitudes to risk, currency needs and preferences for asset types
- Consider a strategy for investment management that spreads across different terms in line with your preferences
- Timetable regular reviews to check your targets are achievable and on course
- Revise your investment strategy every time your life stage changes
For more about what to expect when you speak to one of our Investment Advisers, please see our article entitled “A Profitable Partnership”
Managing your risks
Equipped with this information, the Investment Adviser can help you to see whether your current investments are likely to put you in a position to meet your financial objectives. They will pay special attention to any areas that could cause financial stress and help you to make adjustments accordingly.
For example, if there is a pressing need for you to make additional payments into an education fee plan, they might advise you to temporarily reduce the total going into your retirement fund in order to ensure that you are able to make the payments without trouble.
They can also help you to understand and manage any risks to which you may be exposed. For example, one particularly common mistake that investors make when deciding their investment strategy without professional advice is not diversifying enough. Diversification means holding a range of complementary assets that are suited to your current life stage and investment goals. There are a number of ways to achieve diversification, including taking account of the kinds of investment you choose, the number of individual asset classes, their geographical spread and the investment approach of the fund managers involved.
Prudent diversification plays a key role in ensuring that you don’t take on unnecessary investment risk, says Brockes. “If you are invested in only one asset class, all your wealth goals will be unrealistically reliant upon it delivering a consistently strong performance.” By diversifying across asset classes, you can greatly improve your chances of a successful outcome. Our article entitled “Diversification: Why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket”, explains more about why diversification is such an important investing concept.
Avoid acting in haste
A regular review can help you to put both life events and financial events in context and make measured investment decisions rather than acting in haste.
Barclays’ research shows that, historically, investing for more than five years has tended to generate greater returns than cash left in a savings account over the same period.
However, such performance cannot be guaranteed; there have been some five-year periods over the past century when the average investor in a diverse portfolio of shares would have made a loss, but there have been almost no 10 year periods for which this is the case. And when prices are volatile – that is, when they rise and fall sharply and/or frequently – investors can find it difficult to stay the course.
This said past performance of investments is not a reliable indicator of their future performance.
Many investors, for example, feel the urge to do something when prices begin to fall and their investments seem to be underperforming. However, if their portfolio is reasonably well-structured to begin with then simply doing nothing will often be a much better option. The more you trade, the higher your costs, and the higher the chance of buying or selling at a time that means you make a loss on a particular investment, rather than a gain.
You can read more about the most common investment mistakes in our article entitled “Six bad habits of the average investor – and how to overcome them”.
A review with an Investment Adviser will ensure you understand what to expect from the different types of investments you hold. In turn, this will help you to prepare for possible adverse events in the markets and stick to your planned strategy during periods of uncertainty.
What to do next and how Barclays can help
You can talk to our team about our range of investment options by calling +44 (0)20 7574 3212*. Alternatively, if you have a Relationship Manager**, they can put you in touch with one of our Investment Advisers, who can help you build and refine an investment strategy that takes into account your goals and current life stage. Please note that if you are in the United Kingdom we cannot advise you on investments. To arrange to speak to your Relationship Manager, please call us on +44 (0)20 7574 3212*.
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