Should I invest? This is the question for many in today's still somewhat unstable economic world. Some have been investing for years or have grown up around it. They read, watch and know (or have people who know) when it is a good time to pull out their wallet (so to speak). Still, what about the rest of us? What if a person is now, after years, feeling comfortable enough to invest, but they have never done it before. Where do they begin?
For this answer, I asked Brian Walsh, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Saguenay Strathmore Capital (SSC). SSC is a private global investment management, which focuses on constructing and managing customized hedge fund portfolios and absolute return investment solutions. He has over 30 years of investment banking, international capital markets and investment management experience. In 2002 he co-founded Saguenay Capital to manage bespoke alternative portfolios for a client base of international institutions and family offices. He had a long career at Bankers Trust culminating with his appointment as co-Head of the Global Investment Bank. Prior to that, he served as Chairman of Bankers Trust International where he ran the global derivatives business. So, with all this said, Mr. Walsh knows investing and has the experience to back it up.
Getting stared seems to be the hardest part. In my opinion, it looks seems very overwhelming. Walsh recommends to first work out how much money you are comfortable investing, and how quickly you may need this money for other uses. This helps to determine how liquid the investments must be. There are plenty of on-line resources that can be a great help. Also, determine if a financial planner should be used as you will quickly find that it will help to have someone who understands the markets well and can articulate the risks of certain investments. Seeking out friends or relatives who might be in business for basic advice or have your best interest in mind is also an option.
Once a person is ready to take the plunge and invest, there are a few things Walsh recommends. First, protect your capital, so avoid any fads or hot tips from friends, and instead buy assets you understand. Start simple, and research the types of investments you would be comfortable investing in. Understand your risk tolerance, which usually only happens when you lose money, so start with a small amount of capital. Expect to make mistakes and learn from your mistakes and understand what lead to the mistakes. Know your investment time horizon ( length of time until you need to sell your investment). Also realize the end goal will not be a straight line even if an investment makes money overall it's quite probable there are periods where it will lose money. "This is why it's important to understand what you invest in." explains Walsh.
Still, why should someone invest in the first place? In the up-and-down economic world, I could see why people (including myself) would be hesitant or not invest at all. However, Walsh explains investing is a critical element of savings. "Everyone should be saving to provide for pension/retirement, whether they hire someone to invest or do it themselves." He says. By not investing money, this money is effectively losing real value, with prices of goods and services growing at a faster rate than the interest earned by keeping money in a bank account. "Although all investments require investors to bear risks, there is a spectrum, and lower risk alternatives exist."
Walsh does make a valid point (one of many). Everything in life has some sort of risk. it is important to be smart while making major financial decisions. However a person might lose in the long-run if they do not take the time to explore all their options, which may include investing. While I am not sure what my financial future will hold, I will keep the option of investing open and hopefully dip my foot into the investing waters someday in the near future.