How I am investing my pension - experts reveal their own portfolios

Three experts spell out exactly where they have invested their pension. In the new world of flexible pensions - where savers have free choice over whether they withdraw their cash or leave it invested - there is more than ever a need for ideas and information about how to invest and what to invest in.
By · 4 Mar 2015
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4 Mar 2015
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In the new world of flexible pensions - where savers have free choice over whether they withdraw their cash or leave it invested - there is more than ever a need for ideas and information about how to invest and what to invest in.

Here we ask three professional investors - whose jobs for many years have involved overseeing other people's investments - how and what they do with their own, personal pension money.

An investment strategy will often be determined by the saver's age. The general rule is that those who are now in their twenties and thirties should have more exposure to riskier assets such as shares.

When time is on your side

These younger savers, the maxim goes, have plenty of time in their favour to ride the ups and downs of the stock market in search of long-term superior returns.

In contrast, those who are closer to retirement are often advised to be more conservative, looking to buy safer investments such as bond funds, which protect against sudden stock market slides.

In selecting our professional investors, we chose three of different ages - and with different attitudes towards risk.

The financial adviser with a cautious approach

Patrick Connolly, 45, a financial adviser at Chase de Vere, started contributing regularly to a pension in his early twenties. Mr Connolly estimates he has another 20 years of saving to go before he considers retiring. He says his pension had been 100pc invested in funds that buy shares, right up until last year.

For the most part, Mr Connolly's money is split between funds that buy UK stock market-listed shares and those investing in global emerging markets. The latter funds invest in countries such as China and India, which Mr Connolly admits is a "riskier option" but he was happy to take an aggressive approach because in his twenties and thirties he had time to make up any losses.

Mr Connolly says he has now reduced risk and put half of his pension savings into "multiasset" and "absolute return" funds, designed to offer more conservative returns in exchange for a smoother investment ride. As their name suggests, multi-asset funds hold shares, bonds, and sometimes property, with the mix calculated to reduce risk. Absolute return funds use a range of strategies, including "hedges", to guard against falls in markets — or even to capture profit from such falls.

"As my pension assets have grown, and especially in light of strong performance, I have reduced risks," Mr Connolly says.

"My largest overall holding is the Newton Real Return fund, which has an excellent record of protecting investors' capital. If markets continue to rise from here I will still benefit, and if they fall I will probably move more money back into the funds I like which buy shares."

In the next decade Mr Connolly expects to take more risk off the table to protect his retirement pot. To achieve this Mr Connolly will again cut his allocation to funds buying equities. "I will take less risk in the future but that has more to do with protecting investments that have built up rather than moving into retirement," Mr Connolly says.

Largest fund holdings

1. Newton Real Return

2. Aberdeen Multi Asset

3. Standard Life Multi Asset (20-60pc shares)

4. Schroder Global Emerging Markets

5. Schroder Income

6. Investec UK Special Situations

7. JPM Europe Dynamic

8. AXA Framlington American Growth

9. Miton UK Smaller Companies

10. Somerset Global Emerging Markets

The investment analyst who is backing 25 funds

Gary Potter, 53, is one of Britain's biggest fund buyers and runs several portfolios of funds for F&C, the asset management firm.

Mr Potter invests his pension savings in one of the funds he runs: the F&C Multi Manager Boutiques fund, the majority of which is held in funds which buy shares. Mr Potter said this is where he thinks he will make the most money to grow his retirement pot over the next decade before he edges towards retirement. Only then will safer investments be considered.

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