Five ways to be a smart investor

There are certain traits that smart investors often have. We look at five of these and explain how they may help you to achieve investment success.

The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you could get back less than you invest. If you’re not sure about investing, seek independent advice.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why setting goals is important
  • How not making emotional decisions can help give your money the greatest chance to grow
  • Where you can learn more about investing.

Lots of people are put off investing because they think it’s too time-consuming, complicated and risky, or that it should simply be left to the ‘professionals’.

The chances are, however, that even if you’re new to investing, you already have lots of the same characteristics as smart investors, and can use these skills to your advantage.

Below are five traits that every good investor needs. Please note, however, that Barclays Smart Investor does not offer personal investment advice. If you’re not sure about investing, you should seek independent advice. Investments can fall as well as rise and you could get back less than you invest.


You don’t need a lot of existing investment knowledge to be a smart investor, but you should be curious about learning more and want to further yourself.

That means being prepared to do plenty of research before you invest and making sure your personal finances are in good shape. Smart investors don’t only focus on which investments are most suitable for them based on their objectives and approach to risk, but also regularly monitor them to make sure they’re on track.

If you’re not sure how to get started, read our principles of investing, which cover what we consider to be the most important aspects of investing. These include making sure you’re ready to invest, establishing your objectives and reducing unnecessary risk, and staying invested.


Building a diversified portfolio may help even out market ups and downs and help you be prepared for any market volatility.

Spreading your money across a range of different asset types – including cash, fixed-interest investments, shares and property – reduces your overall level of risk as if some of your investments fall in value, hopefully others may rise to help offset any losses.

You can further diversify your portfolio by spreading your investments over several geographical areas, so that if markets are turbulent in one particular region, you may have investments elsewhere that may be outperforming. Funds can help you diversify and spread risk. These are collective investments, where your and other investors’ money is pooled together and spread across a wide range of underlying investments.

Some funds, known as multi-asset funds, invest in a range of asset classes rather than just one, with the fund manager responsible for finding the right balance between different assets.

Find out more about diversifying your investments


Whether your goal is saving for retirement, funding education costs for your children, buying a property, or something completely different, knowing what you’re aiming for and how much you’ll need to get there, can help you stay on track. You’ll need to think carefully about your approach to risk, and whether you’re comfortable accepting higher risks in return for potentially higher rewards. Remember that taking on more risk does not guarantee you better returns, and with all investments there is a chance you could get back less than you put in. If you’re not sure where to invest, seek professional advice.

Depending on your strategy and goals, you will also need to choose between those investments focused on producing an income stream, or those which are aimed at providing you with capital growth.

If you’re looking for a simple solution to building a diversified portfolio, Ready-made Investments are one option to consider. These are essentially funds that invest in a basket of different investments looked after by a professional fund manager. A choice of Ready-made Investments is offered to suit different attitudes to risk. However, while these may be a simple investment option, please bear in mind that this is not a recommendation to select ready-made funds. These are plenty of other options to build a diversified portfolio that may offer greater long-term returns.

Find out more about our Ready-made Investments


It’s important not to look at any one factor in isolation when choosing investments. Always consider the wider picture and find out as much as you can about a company or fund and how it is managed before investing.

Remember too that while it might be tempting to invest in a fund or company that has previously performed well, there are no guarantees that the same company or fund will go on to deliver positive return in years to come. The past performance of investments is not a reliable indicator of future returns. If you’re not sure where to invest, seek professional financial advice.


Investing should never be seen as a route to quick riches. Smart investors are patient, and prepared to leave their money for at least five years, but preferably longer, in the hope that this will give their investments time to recover from any potential downturns. Although it’s natural to want to take your money out if you see your investments fall in value, it’s important to remember that staying invested over the long term gives your money the greatest chance to grow, although there are no guarantees.

Remember that you don’t have to have a big lump sum available to get started. You can add money slowly into investments over time if you want to. The advantage of doing this is not only that you develop a regular investing habit, but also that you buy more shares when prices are low, and fewer when they are higher. This can help smooth out volatility as you are effectively paying the average price over a fixed period.

Find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of making regular investments

You may also be interested in

The value of investments can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invest. Tax rules can change and their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances.

Investment ISA

A simple and tax efficient way to start investing

Boost your savings by investing up to £20,000 in our Investment (Stocks & Shares) ISA per year completely tax-free.

If you've used your ISA allowance this tax year, you can open a regular Investment Account or transfer in another ISA to us.1


Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP)

A tax-efficient way to save for retirement

Our award winning Self-Invested Personal Pension (Best SIPP award 2022 at the Shares Awards) is designed to help you prepare for retirement.

Let us help you build your retirement pot and make your own investment decisions.