I often talk to people about their financial situation, and while I don’t give advice, I talk to people about where I’m investing my money and how I’m doing towards my financial goals. Remember, like many of my peers, I want to retire early, I really want to be done in ten years, aged 50, however realistically, its probably going to be more likely age 55, i.e. 15 more years.
As its stands today, my financial situation is okay. I’m not a millionaire, but we live a comfortable lifestyle. The house has £400,000 of equity, there is just over £500,000 in my savings accounts, and both my company pension and state pension are fully invested.
How Am I Invested?
Since I started investing in 2003, I have had some terrible years, but 2020 has proved to be a good year. After some luck, a few good decisions and a lot of hard work, I ended up with a 24% return for 2020. In all honesty, if you had told me after one of the biggest recessions we have had in my life and the still outstanding Brexit, which is causing numerous problems, I would be up 24%, I’d be thrilled.
Below is a track record of my investment returns since I started. As it stands today, I’m on target for the following;
- Predicted Income from Savings Portfolio (Aged 55) £110,391 Gross Income
- Predicted Company Pension (Aged 60) £24,000 Gross Income
- Predicted State Pensions (Aged 68) £19,084 Gross Income
Where Do I Invest My Money?
I typically invest in two parts, monthly into ETF’s, and through lump-sums, I take positions in companies that I think will grow into the future.
- Monthly Investment – As it stands today, every month, I invest £500 (£100 into each) in the below five ETF’s. These form the basis of my investing portfolio. Effectively I’m using compound interest over twenty years to achieve growth. In the years where I make a loss, I’m simply buying cheaper units for the future.
- Lump-Sum Investment – I use my bonus and any other money I make during the year to invest in single stocks. I have talked about stockmarket platforms and how I invest in the stock market in the past, however, I use an ISA through Hargreaves and Lansdown and a share dealing platform at eToro for those years when I investment more than the £40,000 yearly allowance (£20,000 per person). I also find that eToro offers better access to some of the international markets, and while I will have to pay capital gains tax on the growth, it’s often cheaper and easier this way.
- iShares FTSE 100 – (Fact Sheet Here) – this is a core investment that I’ve had for years. Effectively its FTSE 100 Tracker, although its a little less orientated to heavy industry and a little more focused towards the broader market. From a cost perspective, it’s cheap at only 0.07% per year, and while it lost 12% this year, it’s up over the last five and ten years.
- SPDR FTSE UK All Share – (Fact Sheet Here) – this is another ETF that I’ve been investing in for years. The ETF covers the combined universes of the FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and FTSE Small Cap Index and covers approximately 98% of the market capitalisation of the UK market. While performance this year has not been great, it lost 10%, it averages 7% a year based on the last ten years.
- Vanguard FTSE Develop Europe – (Fact Sheet Here). This is one of my favourite ETF investments as it gives exposure to the developed markets across Europe. The core markets for this fund are France, Switzerland, Holland and Germany, where the fund invests in over 500 companies. Fees are 0.08%, while performance is good at 8% in 2020 and 20% in 2019.
- iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF – (Fact Sheet Here) – this fund provides exposure to large and mid-cap companies in the emerging markets. It’s not a high-risk investment, but its at the top of the risk profile as it has exposure to markets such as Russia, India and China. It’s not the cheapest ETF at 0.70%, but given the performance, 18% in 2020 and 17% in 2019, its worth it for diversification.
- Invesco EQQQ NASDAQ-100 – (Fact Sheet Here) – Technology is a key part of doing business today, but most of it is US-based and traded in US-Dollars. Rather than dealing with currency exchanges, I simply buy this fund each month. The fund offers exposure to fast-growing technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook. This year is up 40.58% year to date.
These are ETF’s that I own, but I don’t invest in every month. As a rule, I tend not to sell an investment as it’s just too difficult to know when to get back in. In my experience, it takes a real change of direction for me to sell an investment, however, I’m happier not to continue investing in it.
- iShares FTSE 250 – (Fact Sheet Here). In short, the fund invests in the FTSE 250, which consists of the mid-cap companies from the UK that are not big enough for the FTSE 100 Index. I stopped investing in this on a monthly basis a few years ago as I wanted to diversify my holdings, however the returns are good. 2020 is was down about 4% and 2019 it was up over 28%.
- iShares Core MSCI World – (Fact Sheet Here). This ETF was a core part of my investing strategy up until a few years ago when I increased my risk profile and this fund bore the brunt. The ETF tries to track the performance of an index of developed companies from the core developed markets. Charges are 0.30%, and performance is good. It made 12% in 2020, and 25% in 2019.
- iShares Core S&P 500 UCITS – (Fact Sheet Here). This fund tracks the USA’s biggest 500 companies. The US is a major investment market and its great to have exposure to this market without constantly worrying about currency transactions. The fund costs, 0.10% per year, and returned 15% in 2020, and 28% the year before.
- iShares Global Clean Energy – (Fact Sheet Here) – This ETF invests in the 30 largest global companies involved in the clean energy sector. I don’t actively invest into this sector, but with all the attention being paid to companies like Tesla, it’s got a great future and worth my money. The fund was up 140% in 2020 and 43% in 2019, however its also had some really bad years.
- Wisdomtree Physical Gold – (Fact Sheet Here). I have a friend who says that gold is going to $5,000 in the next twenty years. I’m not so sure on this, and thus while I have a position in this physical gold ETF, its not large and don’t invest into it at this stage. The Widomtree is one of the best Gold ETF’s, its cheap at 0.25%, and has returned 18% in the last year, and over 50% in the last five years.
Lump-Sum Investments into Single Stocks
I generally buy single stocks for growth over the medium term. In my experience, if you buy a single stock and hold it for a day, you have a 90% chance of losing money. If you hold it for 10 years, you have a 90% of making money. Medium-term, for me, is somewhere in the middle.
Generally, I buy companies that I use, or ones that I think have a great story for the future. My credit card it a MasterCard, I have an Apple mobile phone, and I’m writing on a Microsoft computer. I don’t put more than 1% of my total portfolio value into a single stock, in all honesty, often I buy a lot less and add to it over the years.
As an example, I bought about $1,000’s worth of Tesla in 2017, and I have added to it every year since then. In 2020 it started the year at $85 and finished the year at $708, which is a percentage increase of 732%.
- Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) – is one the largest and most profitable companies on the stock market today. It is also one of the most innovative companies today and continually brings out new products. As it stands, short-terms products include an iPhone 12 and a new chip, while long term products include an iCar. I have a position in Apple and am happy to add to as and when the time comes. In terms of financials, Apple has a $2.24 trillion market cap, up from $1.29 trillion on Dec. 31, 2019. While it may seem expensive today, its forward price-to-earnings multiple is around 33, which is well above the five-year average of about 18.2 times, its share price is up 90% this year, and over 500% in the last five years.
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) – is another of my favourite companies for the long-term. As it stands, I’m writing on a Microsoft computer, while using Microsoft Word to write this blog post. As it stands, Microsoft has a market cap of $1.68 Trillion, up from $1.20 Trillion at the beginning of the year. Much like Apple above, it’s expensive from a Forward PE perspective, but with its phenomenal job of transitioning itself into a dominating cloud player and a list of products that are continually being updated, its future is promising.
- Visa & Mastercard (NASDAQ: V / MA) – Both are fantastic companies and operate in the world’s payment networks. Currently, Visa is the largest, while Mastercard is second operating across 150 currencies and 210 countries. Both companies have similar business models in the global electronic payment-processing arena and help consumers, merchants, financial institutions, and government entities move money safely and efficiently. If you’re anything like me, you probably buy the vast majority of your goods online using your credit card. With the increase in online shopping, I think this is a good stock for the future.
- Moneysupermarket.com (LSE: MONY) – It’s currently down just over 20% this year, and while this is one of the few stocks in my portfolio that is down this year, I feel it has a great future over the long-term. If you’re anything like me, before you buy anything online, you head over to a comparison review site to check out what other people think. Moneysupermarket.com performs this task for financial products in the UK. Market Cap is around $1.428B with a PE ratio of 16.76.
- RightMove.com (LSE: RMV) – is the dominant leader in online property sales in the UK today. If you’re looking for a new home, for most people in the UK, your first point of call is RigghtMove.com. Current Market Cap is £ 3.7 Billion, while PE Ratio is high at 43, but with the number of property transactions increasing each, this will remain a cash-generating machine.
- Auto Trader (LSE: AUTO) – is the UK’s best-known magazine publisher and online marketplace for used cars. In the UK, if you’re trying to sell or buy a car, it’s the place to go. In investing terms, it IPO’ed three years ago and has returned over 60% since. Whilst the growth is not going to huge, the valuation is fair, and the potential share price increase, realistic.
- Compass Group (LSE: CPG) is one of the major foodservice operators running canteens and restaurants in company offices, hospitals, schools, sporting venues, and even in off-shore oil production locations. The Group has been in operation for more than 75 years and currently operates in more than 50 countries, serving 50,000 clients.
- JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM) is one of the top five banks globally and considered a “Bulge Bracket” provider of various investment banking and financial services products. As it stands today, JP Morgan has a Market Cap is $380 Billion, while the PE ratio is currently 16.30, which is average compared to its history.
- Tesla – (NYSE: TSLA) is one of my favourite companies of 2020 given it’s up over 700% year to date. From a valuation perspective, it’s crazy. Market cap it about $600 Billion, while earnings per share are around $0.50, which give it’s a PE ratio of over 1,200. That said, you’re not buying Tesla at today’s valuation, you’re buying Tesla because you believe in Electric vehicles including cars, 4×4’s and even trucks.
- Appian (NASDAQ: APPN) – is a “low-code” software-development platform that helps customers to build business process management (BPM) applications. This is a key area for development in the digital transformation arena that we’re now in. While Appian is not profitable today, its revenue rose 17% year over year, fuelled by a 40% surge in its cloud subscription. Much like other technology early growth companies, I bought Appian, not from a valuation perspective, but because if it obtained just a 5% share of this growing industry, it would allow shares to multiple by 10.
- Fiverr (NYSE: FVRR) is a major part of the new gig economy. The business connects buyers and sellers of digital services for as little as five dollars. While the stock is up nearly 600% over the last 18 months, the userbase is still growing each quarter substantially. With the increased userbase comes an ever-increasing revenue stream by offering new services and products. Defiantly one for the future.
- Lemonade (NYSE: LMND) only recently IPO’ed. It’s part of the new breed of technology companies combining artificial intelligence and other technologies to make a business process simpler and more profitable. In this case, Lemonade focuses on the insurance market. More specifically, renters insurance, home insurance and Pet Insurance, however, there is plenty of room for growth into an ever-expanding insurance market. As it stands, its very a volatile stock, but with great potential over the long term.
- Pinterest [NYSE: PINS] is a new breed of social media platforms where you can get ideas to plan your next trip, review products, or find the latest news. Personally, I don’t use it, but over 400 Million people use it each month driving revenue up to around $2 Billion each year.
- Shopify (NYSE SHOP) – online shops are all the rage these days, and it’s not your major businesses, it now small companies that are moving online. Shopify provides a platform to get you up and running for a simple monthly fee. In 2015, revenue was just $200 Million, however over the last five years, it’s grown substantially to the point where it was $767.4 million last quarter. The future is also very positive. While Shopify makes money offering a monthly subscription service for its core online shop, it also makes money by offering shipping, payment processing, and business loan services. While the share price is up over 200% this year, it’s barely scratch the service for potential.
- Fevertree Drinks (LSE: FEVR) was founded in 2004 because the CEO could not find a good mixer for his gin and tonic. Since this time, the company has gone from zero revenue to the current 260 Million per quarter. Its share has also risen considerably from 134p at its IPO, to a peak of 4,000p in 2018. However, it’s currently trading at half this; what I like about the business is that it’s 50% UK and 50% international. I’m sure there is room to grow internationally, even if growth in the UK is stagnated.
What I do with my money generates a return that I’m happy with. Most importantly, if I lose my money through a silly investment, it’s my fault. I tend not to use financial advisors, and therefore, there is no one to blame but me.
A few years ago, I met with and discussed investment ideas with a Financial Advisor and a Stock-Broker. They both came up with a selection of ideas, and I’m sure great ideas, but I didn’t go with them because of the responsibility of dealing with my money. A broker gets paid whether than investment goes up or down, however if it goes down, I’m left with that bad feeling of being ripped off. If I make my own decisions and it goes wrong, at the very least, it’s my fault.