Launching a financial future
Share these fundamental concepts with young emerging investors.
We celebrate our lives in milestones. Ages and stages. Once we hit that thrilling number 18 signifying that we’re officially adults, the amount of freedom we feel becomes commensurate with the responsibilities that our lives begin to take on – with financial literacy underlying many of those obligations.
Navigating the world of investing can feel daunting, but understanding key concepts and learning from essential lessons can guide the journey. Whether you have a family member turning 18, or someone in your life looking to build wealth from the bottom up, this primer provides a solid overview of the basic types of securities, investing strategies, and valuable lessons to help pave the path toward financial confidence.
Understanding your options
Before launching into the world of investments, emerging investors need to know and understand what tools are at their disposal. Securities are essentially tradable assets that hold monetary value. Each type serves a distinct purpose and carries risks and rewards.
- Stocks: Representing ownership in a company, stocks grant investors voting rights and potential dividends (a share of the company's profits). These can be volatile, offering high returns but also carrying the risk of capital loss.
- Bonds: Essentially loans made to companies or governments, bonds offer a fixed interest rate over a set period. While generally less volatile than stocks, they offer lower potential returns and are susceptible to interest rate fluctuations.
- Mutual Funds: These pool investors' money to purchase a diversified portfolio of assets (stocks, bonds, etc.). They offer lower risk and greater liquidity but come with management fees.
- Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): Similar to mutual funds, ETFs passively track a market index or sector, offering instant diversification and lower fees. They trade like stocks throughout the day, providing greater flexibility.
Finding your investment strategy
Once new investors understand the tools, it's time to provide clarity on how different investment strategies align with varying risk tolerances and goals. A vital point to make: your investment strategy can change as your needs and goals change.
Some investors focus on value investing, which seeks undervalued stocks with strong fundamentals (core elements of the company itself that make the stock attractive). To succeed with this strategy, it’s important to be patient and interested in researching companies to find those hidden gems with potential for growth.
Another strategy focused on company fundamentals is growth investing. Instead of considering what the company looks like today, this style is mostly concerned with high growth potential. By prioritizing future earnings over current profitability, it carries higher risk but offers the chance for significant returns.
For those investors looking for less growth potential, but a steadier income and capital appreciation over time, dividend investing is a strategy to gravitate toward. It can provide regular income through investing in stocks that pay consistent dividends. It is important to note that dividends are not guaranteed and must be authorized by the company’s board of directors.
Looking at the bigger picture, asset allocation zooms out beyond stocks and invites investors to diversify across different asset classes (think stocks, bonds, etc.). This approach helps mitigate risk and balances volatility while on the road to long-term growth.
Embracing tried-and-true lessons
Investing for beginners can feel daunting, but helping to understand key concepts like risk and return, diversification, and the power of time can set investors on the right path.
You’ve heard these sayings, and now it’s time to pass them on. Stress the importance of not putting all their eggs in one basket – it helps to spread investments across different assets and sectors to manage risk. The earlier aspiring investors start and the longer they invest, the more their money grows thanks to compound interest. It’s also prudent to help them become mindful of fees, do their research, and seek professional guidance when needed.
Remind them that investing is a marathon, not a sprint. Once they embark on their investing journey, they should strive to stay informed and adapt their approach as they work to build a secure financial future.
By sharing the learnings of experienced investors, you can help new investors avoid common pitfalls and succeed in building wealth from the bottom up. Here are some key lessons to impart:
- The power of compounding: When you start early, your money grows over time. Even small contributions invested consistently can snowball into significant sums thanks to compound interest. (A great example of this is a 401(k) retirement plan offered by employers where small amounts are allocated from your pay until you can increase your investment.)
- Risk and reward are inseparable: Higher potential returns come with higher risk. Understand your risk tolerance and invest accordingly.
- Discipline over emotions: Fear and greed are market enemies. Stick to your investment strategy and avoid impulsive decisions based on market fluctuations.
- Do your research: Know what you're investing in. Research companies, understand their financials, and critically evaluate investment advice.
- Embrace diversification: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your investments across different asset classes and sectors to help mitigate risk.
- Time is on your side: The market has historically trended up over the long term. Invest consistently and stay patient for your wealth to grow.
Becoming a lifelong learner benefits us in many aspects of our lives – and the financial realm is no different. The learning curve can feel more approachable when new investors have someone they trust to give them a head start. With dedication and perseverance, emerging investors can navigate the market with confidence and strive to build a secure and prosperous future.
- Ask questions to help emerging investors uncover the best place for them to start with their investing journey.
- Consider including your adult-aged children in a call or meeting with your financial advisor.
- Remind early and often that investing is a journey and that our goals and needs change over time.
Sources: https://smartasset.com/investing/types-of-investment, https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/investing.asp, https://www.finra.org/investors/investing/investing-basics
Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including diversification and asset allocation.
This article is educational in nature and every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.