After a decade of low interest rates, many savers have been looking beyond their bank accounts to make their money go a little further.
Investing requires more of a hands-on approach than saving. You'll need to put more research into your investment choices, as well as frequently reviewing your progress and adjusting your strategy.
It also comes with risk, and you'll need to define how much risk you can stomach, while also taking precautions to minimise its impact.
Whether you're a seasoned investor or just starting out, careful planning is essential.
Set your goals
The first thing to be clear about when investing is why you're doing it, as successful investment strategies usually have a specific, achievable goal.
For example, you may be aiming to pay off your mortgage, cover your child's school fees, or save enough to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.
Whatever your priorities are, having a clear goal in mind will help you form a plan and measure its progress. This also makes it easier to evaluate the level of risk you can manage.
Assess your attitude to risk
Investing is always fraught with risk. There's no guarantee the value of your investments will grow, and in the worst-case scenario, you could lose them altogether.
As greater returns usually come with a higher level of risk, you'll need to weigh up your priorities and figure out how much risk you're willing to take.
For instance, could you stomach rapidly rising and falling investments or would this be a source of too much stress?
Perhaps more importantly, it's also about assessing your capacity for risk, or the level of risk you can take on without it affecting your quality of life.
To figure this out, give some thought to your financial circumstances more generally. If you have any outstanding debts, it's usually better to clear those before making any investments.
On the other hand, if you've got enough savings to play with, you should be able to absorb the potential impact of losses or low returns.
Your goal-setting will also help identify your capacity for risk, as you'll need to consider how soon you want to achieve your desired return on your investments.
Stick to low-risk investments if you're saving for the short term. If you're saving for the long term, you'll have more time to ride out any short-term fluctuations which could give you licence to take more risk.
Create a strategy
Once you have a good idea of your investment goals, your timeframe for reaching them and your attitude to risk, you can start to refine your strategy.
Type of investment
From property and cars to artwork and collectables, you can invest in almost anything.
There are also several ways to invest, with some of the most common types including shares, funds or bonds.
Lump sum or regular investments?
Consider whether you'd prefer to invest a lump sum payment or spread regular investments over time.
Lump sum investing could provide quick results or losses, while making regular payments allows for more flexibility to tailor your investments.
Diversification, or spreading your investments across different types of asset classes, reduces the level of risk you're taking by minimising your chances of making a large loss.
Stocks and shares ISAs
Stocks and shares ISAs allow you to invest up to £20,000 a year free of tax. This could take the form of various types of investments, including shares, funds and bonds.
This could mean a significant tax saving, especially if you're investing in large amounts, so it can be efficient to use up your allowance each year if your circumstances allow.
Contact us for advice on investing.