Investing for the first time can be daunting. After all, investments carry a degree of risk that you could lose your money as their value and any income they produce can go down as well as up.
Our step-by-step guide should help you break through the jargon and learn about some of the benefits and risks of investing.
Why should I consider investing?
- Historically, money invested in the stock market over the medium to long term has generated greater returns than cash left in a savings account over the same period but there can be big drops on the way. Past performance also can never tell you what might happen in the future. Over time inflation eats away at savings – as it will at investments if they don't perform well – but if you invest money wisely and with a long-term approach it could deliver potentially greater returns. With savings you'll always get your starting money back but that's not the case with investments as their value and any income they produce can go down as well as up.
- Market movements over the last few years have underlined the case for a long-term approach to investing in the stock markets. The chart below shows that after taking market volatility into account, an investment of £10,000 in the shares that make up the UK equity index FTSE All Share (from 31/12/1984 to 30/6/2010), would have grown to over 11 times its original value. In comparison cash would have increased by just over two-and-a-half times its original value over the same period. Please note though that the graph does not take account of the costs involved in buying and selling the shares. This would reduce the returns available on investment. Remember too that the historic performance of stock markets is not a guide to future returns.
Source: Datastream. All data to 30/6/2010. The information provided is for illustrative purposes only and is not meant to represent the past or future performance of any particular investment or the indices. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Equities (shares) are represented by the FTSE All-Share Index. Stock prices fluctuate with market condition and may result in loss of principal. Bonds are represented by the FTSE Actuaries UK Gilts All Stocks Index. Cash is represented by the UK savings rate measured by deposit account rates compiled from 20 largest building societies and ex-societies £2500 +accounts. All indices are in pound sterling.
- If you're comfortable with the risks involved, investing can give you greater choice over your money and doing so through an ISA is a tax-efficient introduction to the stock market. You can invest up to £11,520 in an Investment ISA in the 2013/2014 tax year. Bear in mind that eligibility for ISA benefits and their value to you depends on your circumstances and the rules around them could change in the future. Annual limits are also subject to review.
- Do you have plans for the future? Then why not try to realise them? Investing on a regular, monthly basis is a great way to help build up a nest egg, whether you're saving for school or university fees, retirement, your dream home or that yacht you've always wanted.
- Be patient, though. It's best to invest over a period of at least five years but even after that time there may still be ups and downs in your investments' performance. Be warned, too, that you could lose money if the stock market performs poorly. Only ever invest money you can afford to lose and always do your own research.
More reasons to invest
- It's easier and more convenient than ever. The world of personal finance has changed dramatically over the past decade and you no longer have to see a bank manager or financial adviser to invest in the stock market. If you're confident about making your own investment decisions the Internet means you can research, buy and manage your investments online at home and at times convenient to you. If you're not confident in your ability to manage your own investments, you should seek independent financial advice.
- It's never too early to start investing and planning ahead for life's major events. Investing a little now, either as a lump sum or on a regular, monthly basis, could increase the likelihood of long-term growth. Investments have historically provided a greater return than savings, although there are no guarantees that this will be the case in the future and there can be losses in the short or long term.
- Interest rates are currently at their lowest for decades so rates on savings accounts are lower now than in previous years. Investing could provide you with greater returns on your capital and extra income from dividends could be used to supplement your savings. However, you could lose money since, unlike savings, the value of investments can fall.
Why invest with Barclays?
- We have the experience and the expertise you need to make your first investment. Barclays has been helping customers invest for over 300 years. We operate in more than 50 countries and help 49 million people worldwide to manage their money.
- We are one of the largest banks in the UK and rated ‘AA-’ by Standard and Poor’s and ‘Aa3’ by Moody’s (1 December 2010).
- We offer a wide range of investment products to suit your experience and investment needs. These are regularly updated to ensure they remain relevant to you and in touch with the markets.
- Our application process is easy to follow and you can apply online or over the phone on 0800 445 443 1
- We aim to be completely open with you from the word go. We have more experience than many other banks in helping people invest their money and want you to make informed decisions.
What's the next step?
Use our guides to find out more on:
How to apply:
- If you know what level of investment risk you're happy to take and are comfortable making your own investment decisions without the help of a financial adviser, view our investment products and read our brochures before applying online from just £3,000.
- If you would like assistance or are an existing Barclays customer and would like to make an application by telephone, please call 0800 445443 1.
- Remember: if you are unsure if an investment is right for you, please seek independent financial advice.
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