Updated: May 13, 2021
What do the experts say about why you need to set financial goals, have a strategy in place and how to get these started. Set out below are the key takeaways and notes from our session with Jessica Cutrera, Co-founder of The Capital Company and Jasmine Jalif, Wealth Manager at St James’s Place.
Can you share 1 key money habit you do regularly?
Pay yourself first! When you receive your income, put a portion aside (before you spend it) to pay for your future self first.
Start doing something – it doesn’t have to be perfect. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Why is it important to have clearly defined financial goals and a strategy in place?
Having goals in life is critical to achieve what you want: across the short, medium and long term. Start by understanding where you are today and what you can afford to allocate to each goal. Nowadays, there is more volatility, ambiguity and complexity than ever and a strategy will allow you to cut through all of the noise so that you can achieve your goals and give you confidence so that when you read the news or somebody gives you a piece of information that could potentially influence your investor decision, you know how to handle it. In other words, whether there is, or is not, a recession on the horizon does not affect your strategy.
Important to remember that goals do not need to be set in stone and can be flexible to allow for when life happens. Set a regular cadence to review and check in to see if your goals are still relevant. For example, the goals you set in your 20’s/30’s usually change dramatically
What should we be considering when thinking through our short term goals?
Firstly, ensure you have your emergency funds saved up ( the amount varies yet typically around 3-6 months of your daily living expenses kept in cash in the bank for a rainy day).
Start investing early! - The earlier you start the easier it is to achieve your goals. Compound interest stems from reinvesting dividends, for example: if you make 10% 0n $1,000, $1,100 is reinvested and 10% on that the following year would make you $1,210 but you would need to make 21% during the first year to get the same result so compound interest is incredibly powerful. This is critical to having a successful investing experience.
Identifying what’s important to you in the short term (such as costs you will need to cover over the next 2-3 years) then consider the saving habits you need to help you achieve those goals.
Note: Cash has become more and more problematic, whilst saving accumulating cash should not be undervalued (such as for your emergency funds), the environment has changed – interest rates have dropped and you cannot make a return that beats inflation anymore by keeping money in the bank. This presents a different situation to 20 years ago, whereby keeping money in the bank actually puts you on the backfoot as you cannot beat inflation. This means you need to be invested to have any chance of beating inflation.
Tip: Set a calendar invite reminder to help you ensure you are reviewing your goals and dedicating time to your finances regularly.
When it comes to our medium to longer term goals, these can feel quite daunting so how do we start to break this down?
Goals: The most important consideration when mapping medium/longer term goals is how they align with your personal life and to make them tangible. It is easier to commit to your goals when you can see them and they are realistic.
Values: Questions to think about - What does financial freedom mean for you? What are the values you have and how do they align to your life goals? Once you identify your values, they can help the money decisions feel easier and more intentional. This creates purpose and meaning for your goals, and allows you to stay committed to your plan.
Time in the market, not timing the market: invest for the long term as this is much better than trying to time the market.
Rebalancing: No one size fits all. Most investors will benefit from doing a review at least once a year and when you have a major life change. Check in on your goals and if they are still relevant. Chasing the latest trends does not guarantee a good outcome. For example, if you have a diversified portfolio of ETFs, this requires less review. If you choose to buy single stocks, this requires more oversight and attention. Align these decisions to your level of time commitment.
Tip: Your strategy and goals are unique to you - once you have these solidified, ignore the noise and focus on the long term goal! Have a level mindset and be unemotional.
Why is it important to choose a suitable asset allocation for yourself? And what are the benefits of diversification of your investment?
From a high level, assets can generally be broken down into the following asset classes:
Cash – this is your emergency funds.
Bonds – this is where you are lending to a company and you will receive interest payments as income.
Equities – this means you have ownership in a company, therefore you share in the profits and losses of that company.
Alternative investments - such as property, art, jewellry, antiques, wine etc.
As assets each have different behaviours and are suitable at different times in the market, having a diversified approach will drive long term performance and manage the volatility you see in your portfolio. Important to get the mix right that aligns with your goals, personal risk tolerance and time frame.
Watch out for our next event on 24 March 2021 that will go deeper into this topic!!!
What questions should we ask ourselves or what issues should we consider if Hong Kong is not our long term home?
Remember to make the most of a tax-efficient environment – the savings you make can help set you up for your future.
Be aware of, and seek advice on, the tax considerations for when you decide to head back to your home country and take your investments with you. Are the platforms you are investing with flexible? Can you continue to access your investments abroad?
Think about your base currency (e.g. if you want to buy a place in Sydney in future, consider your exposure to AUD as part of your portfolio). If you don’t know where you’re going next, make sure you’re using a flexible investment tool (e.g. avoid lock-in terms).
Your MPF can be incorporated into your long-term strategy and you can choose how it is invested for you now. Can you use this as a deposit for a property or roll it into your investment portfolio when you leave?
What are some of the risks we need to consider as part of our investment strategy?
Liquidity concerns – for example: property is not liquid as depends on being able to find a buyer willing to pay the value you want vs more liquid assets, such as stocks which are sold daily.
Concentration risk – the old saying of don’t have all your eggs in one basket, diversification of assets spreads the risk.
Volatility – how much volatility in the market can you tolerate without making emotional decisions that negatively impact your portfolio and crystallizing losses. Be honest with yourself.
Typically, investors have a bad experience when they are not prepared for when the market is volatile, or it does not perform the way you had hoped. For example, equity investors should assume and can expect there will be a downturn every few years. Before all of that, it starts with planning and determining what’s important to you. What are your values, what are you wanting to achieve, what’s your risk appetite and your tolerance to volatility.
What are they key aspects someone should think about if considering monitoring their investment themselves vs professional manager vs robo advisor?
Self managed: Understand if you want to do this yourself. Do you have the time or interest to do it? You are in control and you can monitor and track this yourself. See resources below for further tips on how to get started.
Robo advisor: cheap, uses algorithms to build your portfolio, someone else can manage the investments for you. Although, there may be a lack of personal interface and someone to go to if you have questions.
Professional manager: make sure you are getting value for what you are paying for. Do you understand exactly what fees you are paying and why, are these transparent? An advisor is personal and can consider your specific circumstances and discuss your plans with you.
Please see below some resources mentioned during the session and shared by our speakers:
- Why didn’t they teach me that in School? by Cary Siegel.
- Millionaire Teacher and Millionaire Expat, both by Andrew Hallam.
For who: Great for those just starting on their journey!
- All About Asset Allocation by Richard Ferri.
For who: Recommended for more advanced investors.
- The Personal Finance QuickStart Guide by Morgen Rochard.
For who: Generally good for investors of all levels.