You should already have an idea of your investment objectives, risk appetite and investment horizon. If these terms sound unfamiliar to you, refresh your memory here: http://thenewsavvy.com/invest/markets/know-market-investing/

But where are you going to invest? What are the financial instruments available? What types of assets are best? What can you afford? To make the optimal investments in line with your investment objectives, you will need to understand the characteristics and shortcomings of the asset by class, we call these asset classes.

Understanding Asset Classes

An asset class refers to a group of investment options that exhibit similar characteristics; return, risk, time horizon.

Asset classes are the building blocks of a good investment strategy. Your first step is to look at the asset class you wish to invest in, then you look at the investment options under the asset class chosen. Choosing the right one depends on your needs and preferences. Broadly speaking, there are five asset classes –

Cash
  • Good if you wish to preserve principle (i.e. not risk losing the entire sum) or you want to get your money back quickly
  • Downside: no protection from inflation, returns over a long period are lower than other asset classes
  • Examples: physical currencies (buying and selling a foreign currency when rates are favourable) or storing your money in a savings account with low interest rates.
Fixed Income

 

  • Commonly known as Bonds
  • Good for steady growth of principle and returns over a longer period tend to be higher than cash asset class
  • Downside: issuers of the bond may not pay back as committed. If an investor opts for bonds with lower credit risk, he/she will have to settle for lower returns.
Equity
  • Essentially investing in company shares
  • Good for liquidity (listed companies are readily traded on stock exchanges) and has potential to beat inflation
  • Downside: Greater investment expertise needed than for managing cash or bonds. Equity prices are prone to fluctuations, leading to losses if the investor is forced to sell at the wrong time. Moreover, slumps in equity market could go on for extended periods.
Real Estate
  • Good for investors looking to invest in physical assets. Also has the potential to generate high returns over longer periods.
  • Downside: expertise is required to value the property. The large amount of investment required limits how much investors can buy and their portfolio diversification.
Others
  • Commodities/ Gold/ Collectibles (such as fine art, wine or antiques)
  • Hold and sell when the market value appreciates beyond your cost price, then you will make a real gain on this investment.

Now you know about the asset classes, you can allocate your money respectively to suit your investment objectives. However, no single asset class is likely to meet your financial goals and risk-return preferences; a combination of these – typically in a financial instrument known as Mutual Fund – can cover your needs and expectations.

Mutual Funds

A mutual fund is an investment vehicle that pools money from investors who share a similar investment objective and invests the money in equity, bonds, cash and cash equivalents, or other securities.

Mutual funds offer many benefits to help you meet your investment objectives.

 

Common concernsBenefits of Mutual Funds
I want to make an investment but am too busy with work or lack expertise to manage themProfessional management

  • Mutual funds offer investors access to full time, professional money managers who have the expertise, experience and resources to actively buy, sell and monitor investments.
I cannot afford the minimum initial investment requirements to purchase company stocks and bonds directly.Affordability

  • Initial investments in most funds are reasonable for the average investor
  • The requirements for additional investments are lower than initial investment requirements
Country X is fast-growing; Industry Y is doing so well; Company Z is launching a new product that I am certain will do well.

However, I only have a fixed sum of money to invest in. Which should I choose?

Diversification

  • An investment in a mutual fund generally includes a number of different securities. For example, diversified stock fund portfolios usually hold an array of stocks representing different companies, different industries and perhaps even different nations.
  • Diversification can also help reduce the financial risk inherent in investing. If one investment decreases in value, another investment in the portfolio may increase.
 I am willing to accept higher risks to earn more, preferably without increasing my initial investment
However, it must be really troublesome to exit and make new investments.
Flexibility

  • Many mutual funds are part of a “family of funds” and you can exchange your shares (usually with a minimal administrative fee) from one fund to another in the same family when your investment objectives or risk-return preferences change.
Short on cash to meet the more immediate financial goals, what should I do?Liquidity

  • This means it is easy to withdraw some or all of the money you have invested. With proper written notice you can usually get the money you have requested within 7 business days.
  • Of course, the value of the shares you redeem may be more or less than your original cost.

 

There are many types of mutual funds with differing objectives to meet investor’s needs. In general there are four basic types: equity funds, fixed income funds, balanced funds and money market funds.

Mutual Fund Types

  • Equity funds invest in common stocks of public companies, generally with capital appreciation as an objective.
  • Fixed Income funds invest in corporate, government and municipal bonds, generally with current income as an objective.
  • Balanced funds invest in a combination of equity and fixed income assets including stocks, bonds and money market instruments, generally with current income and capital appreciation as an objective.
  • Money Market funds invest in certificates of deposit, commercial paper and other highly liquid securities, generally with preservation of principal, liquidity and current income as an objective.

 

Read more about Mutual Funds here: Introduction to Mutual Funds

“An investor who has all the answers doesn’t even understand all the questions” – Sir John Templeton

If you think you are ready to invest, speak to your financial adviser today!

 

 The New Savvy Franklin Templeton
This article is for information only and does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation and was prepared without regard to the specific objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person who may receive it. Any research and analysis contained in this article has been procured by Franklin Templeton Investments for its own purposes and may be acted upon in that connection and, as such, is provided to you incidentally. The underlying assumptions and these views are subject to change.  Franklin Templeton Investments accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or indirect consequential loss arising from the use of any information, opinion or estimate herein.  The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount that you invested. Investors may wish to seek advice from a financial adviser before making a commitment to invest.  In the event an investor chooses not to seek advice from a financial adviser, he/she should consider whether the investment is suitable for him/her.
Copyright© 2016 Franklin Templeton Investments. All rights reserved.
Issued by Templeton Asset Management Ltd. Registration No. (UEN) 199205211E

 

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