But in light of recent volatility on investment markets, you may be thinking, is this the right time to start off?
Taking your first step is often daunting, but the reality is that investment markets have shown consistent growth over many decades.
And what's clear is those investors who stay the course over time, riding through the regular ups and downs of the markets, have a much better chance of achieving investment success than those who try to cherry pick when to buy and sell.
What's more, it's also clear that because the returns from different types of assets always vary from year to year, spreading your money across a broad range of investments will enhance returns and help reduce your overall risk.
The power of compounding returns
Renowned scientist Albert Einstein famously described compound interest as "the eighth wonder of the world".
Which is where starting out early really comes into play. By following a strategy of reinvesting investment distributions such as dividends, and by making additional contributions over a long period of time, the combination of market growth and compounding returns will likely deliver strong results.
In other words, it's about time in the markets rather than timing the markets.
The 2020 Vanguard Index Chart below shows that a $10,000 investment made into Australian shares in 1990 would have achieved an 8.9 per cent total return per annum over 30 years, with the reinvestment of all distributions, and grown to $130,457 by 30 June 2020.
Over the same time frame and using the same strategy, a $10,000 investment into the broad US share market would have delivered a 10.3 per cent per annum return, and now be worth $186,799.
There is no minimum amount that one needs to make as an investment. However, even a low initial balance will grow substantially over time when combined with compounding investment returns.
Make ongoing investments
But imagine how your wealth could grow if you put in even more. An initial contribution combined with a regular investment savings strategy and the reinvestment of distributions will deliver even higher long-term results.
Investing the same amount of money at set intervals over a long period is known as dollar-cost averaging. That means you're averaging out the cost of your investments through incremental investing – regardless of whether market prices are up or down.
The easiest way to illustrate a dollar-cost averaging strategy is to calculate how investment balances can build up over time, using a combination of regular contributions, the reinvestment of distributions and compounding returns.
How extra investments add up over time
Source: Andex Charts Pty Ltd. Data based on annualised returns since 1990.
The chart above is based on actual market returns and follows someone who started out investing on 30 June 1990 and who continued making set monthly contributions over the last 30 years.
If they'd stuck to a strategy of investing $250 a month into Australian shares, irrespective of market movements, they would now have a balance of more than $443,000.
If they'd had the financial capacity and discipline to invest $1,000 a month over the same period of time, their balance would now be more than $1.77 million. That's despite the sharp fall in markets in early 2020.
Of course, a more realistic pattern for most people is to increase their investment contributions over time as they earn higher wages and other expenses fall.
The bottom line
If you're just starting out, or quite early on in your investment journey, these are all factors to consider – even if you're many years away from retiring.
Successful investing revolves around having a well-planned and diversified strategy that's aligned to your specific goals, and the discipline and resolve to stay the course, even during the most volatile investment times.
And, make no mistake, the earlier you start off investing the more money you're likely to have to enjoy the things you want to do when you do eventually stop work.
With many of us living longer, having the ability to live a financially comfortable lifestyle without fear of running out of money is definitely a long-term goal worth pursuing.
Personal Finance Writer
11 August 2020
BEc (Acc), MBA, CPA, FFin
David has been in the Financial Services Industry for nearly 30 years. He was one of the founding Directors of the successful Financial Planning and Stockbroking Practice, Henderson Gregory Forrest, for a decade. Prior to that, he held senior roles in companies such as ING, KPMG Accountants and AMP. David was previously Chairman of OAMPS Superannuation Trustee Board and currently serves as an independent Board Director for several companies.
David’s extensive experience in all forms of superannuation, including Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF), Defined Benefit Funds, retirement funding through Account Based Pensions, stockbroking with a focus on Direct Share Investment, Taxation/Remuneration Planning, Centrelink, Aged Care and business management, equip him to advise expertly on all aspects of Financial Advice.
Those with a particular interest in superannuation/SMSFs, direct share investment, salary packaging or applying for the Centrelink Pension will find his knowledge and ability in formulating and implementing creative, logical and simple wealth creation strategies a valuable asset.
David maintains a strong personalised client service focus, providing tailored solutions for clients.
David Forrest is an Authorised Representative of Integrity Financial (SA) Pty Ltd ABN 16 133 921 187 — AFSL No 334846
Business Finance Manager
B Bus (Acc), CPA
Michelle’s career has spanned across the Financial Services, Retirement Living and Aged Care industries working in the private sector, not for profit and more recently with the state government for over 20 years. Her experience extends to many facets of the financial services industry, having worked in superannuation administration, technical support and financial planning practice administration.
Commencing with AMP and subsequently working in commerce and accounting roles with companies such as Brambles, Adelaide Bank Retirement Services, ECH Inc and SA Health and Wellbeing, Michelle returns to financial services after working in practice financial management at Henderson Gregory Forrest. This wide range of experience from senior accounting and management roles has provided Michelle with a strong background in business administration.
With an astute financial acumen and keen interest in business improvement strategies, Michelle ensures the smooth running of the Integrity Financial Advisory practice providing valued management support to our personalised client service focus.
B Com, Dip FP
Darren joins the Integrity team as a strong technical specialist with almost 20 years’ in the Financial Services industry. He has extensive experience advising clients on how to build and protect wealth, prepare for retirement and retire comfortably.
Commencing with advising clients on direct equities for over 10 years at Baker Young, Tolhurst Noall, and ABN AMRO Morgans, his career expanded to providing holistic client advice, having operated his own financial services licence and company. Most recently having worked for a 'Big 4' bank, he has welcomed the more personalised ‘client first’ approach that is evident at Integrity Financial Advisory.
With a deep understanding of investment markets, he is appropriately qualified and authorised to provide direct share advice, as well as superannuation/SMSF advice, encompassing both investments and insurance.
Meticulous in his approach, he aims to deliver quality outcomes for clients by understanding their financial situation and needs before providing advice which is central to our advice process. Darren supports David in tailoring solutions for all client financial advice needs.
Darren Chalk is an Authorised Representative of Integrity Financial (SA) Pty Ltd ABN 16 133 921 187 — AFSL No 334846
Client Service Manager
Natasha commenced working in the financial services industry in June 2008 and is a new addition to the Integrity team. During the past 11 years, she worked closely with advisers providing administration support in a share broking and financial advice business.
Having successfully completed her RG146 accreditation in securities and managed investments and continued her studies to complete her competency in Superannuation, Natasha can ably assist with all aspects of fixed interest, cash management, portfolio administration, direct shares and client advice implementation.
Natasha takes time to ensure she understands our client’s financial goals and needs and believes in creating, preserving and utilising wealth through effective financial management as a key objective in helping clients.
Client Service Manager
Kelly has worked in the Financial Services Industry for over 10 years and has supported David since 2013. Kelly’s primary background is in customer service and administration.
On starting in the industry, Kelly initially focused on direct shares, stockbroking administration and client liaison. Since moving to the Client Service Manager role, Kelly has developed skills encompassing all aspects of financial planning including client advice implementation and term deposit management.
Kelly’s experience in the direct share environment, especially management of estates, provides a key part of the direct equity expertise in Integrity’s Client Service Team.
Returning from Parental Leave following the arrival of her second child, Kelly has developed further honed multi-tasking skills after juggling the demands of a growing family.
Client Service Manager
Jasmine has worked in the financial services industry for over 12 years in all areas of client administration, working with David since 2013.
Jasmine has extensive knowledge and experience in client service including implementation of advice, portfolio reporting, assisting with the establishment of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs), term deposit management and a long history of helping clients with their enquiries.
Jasmine’s attention to detail, yet gentle approach, means she is able to solve the trickiest of questions for our client community.
Jasmine has gained her Certificate III in Financial Services qualification.
Client Service Manager
Merrilyn has worked in the financial services industry for over 11 years in all areas of client administration, and is a new addition to our client services team, returning from Melbourne to join the team in June 2019.
Merrilyn has extensive knowledge and experience in client service including implementation of advice, managed fund administration, assisting with the establishment of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) and process improvement for the previous practices she has worked with. Merrilyn’s experience with direct shares constitutes the other part of our administrative support for direct equity investments.
Merrilyn’s warm and caring nature continues to endear her to our clients and she has already established herself as a valued member of our team.