One in three Australians move money out of savings
New research by Finder shows close to one-third of Australians have moved a portion of their savings out of their account due to low interest rates. It’s all about making our money work harder – something I’m all in favour of, but it pays to be mindful of the risks.
Having some cash savings always makes sense. It means you have the funds to handle unexpected bills or emergencies without having to resort to debt. However, with interest rates at record lows, it’s a tough grind trying to earn a decent return on money sitting in the bank.
Finder’s survey found plenty of Australians are putting spare cash into the stock market in order to earn a higher return. As a result, the average person now has close to $24,000 invested in shares.
I’m a big fan of shares as a way to grow long term wealth, though a bit of upfront research is essential. The golden rule is that higher returns always come with more risk. And these days, the risks don’t just relate to the market.
Money watchdog ASIC has warned that some promoters and trading platforms are using a variety of techniques to entice people in shares. It says these techniques are not scams as such because they relate to an actual asset, however they are designed to get people to trade more frequently without giving enough thought to the risks involved – and it’s particularly aimed at younger investors.
One technique involves what ASIC calls the ‘gamification’ of trading, with apps that are easy to use and require a minimum number of clicks to buy or sell listed investments. Some are even adding features copied from the gambling industry that are designed to get subscribers addicted to the app. Tactics can include incentives like offering free shares or refer-a-friend benefits and celebrity endorsements.
While ASIC says investors can protect themselves by setting personal limits around how much you want to invest or how often you want to trade, it also helps to invest in line with a plan. Think about how you will grow a diverse portfolio, make a point of researching the shares or exchange traded funds you plan to buy, and be prepared to invest for the long term. Trading frequently may benefit the broking platform you use, but as ASIC points out, research shows that the more you trade, the more likely you are to miss-time the market and lose money.
Paul Clitheroe is Chairman of InvestSMART, Chair of the Ecstra Foundation and chief commentator for Money Magazine.
A note from the InvestSMART team. The topic of low interest rates has been ongoing for some time now. Here's a piece we previously wrote helping people looking into moving from term desposits and into an investment option.