9 golden rules for solicitors looking to invest in 2021

No matter what stage you're at in your career, where you place your savings will have a big impact on your future wealth. Our strategic partner Barclays have set out their top nine golden rules for investing this year.

Man and child looking out over the mountains

Like many industries, the pandemic and recurring lockdowns have presented significant challenges for solicitors.

However, those lucky enough to maintain their income during 2020 might have managed to build up significant cash reserves.

Figures from the Bank of England show that UK households put aside a record £153 billion in 2020.

This amount was saved in bank and building society cash accounts in a year when spending was restricted by the ‘stay at home’ rule, amid the closure of:

  • offices
  • shops
  • restaurants
  • pubs

Not to mention that £153 billion is a huge rise from the £55 billion saved in 2019.

How to spend it

No matter what stage you're at in your career, where you place your savings will have a big impact on your future wealth.

It’s crucial to make sure your money is working hard for you, which means considering the world of investments – as long as you are confident you have a decent cash buffer to pay unexpected bills should work dry up for any reason.

This amount will depend on you and your circumstances. For some, having three months’ salary will be enough, but others may be more comfortable with a year’s salary.

With this in mind, our strategic partner Barclays have set out their top nine golden rules for investing this year.

1. Set yourself goals

Knowing what your financial goals are, and what sort of timeframe you are investing over will help you stick to your strategy.

For example, if you have long-term goals, such as saving for retirement which may be several decades away, you may be less tempted to dip into your investments before you stop work.

2. The bigger the potential returns, the higher the level of risk

The prospect of higher returns may be appealing, but there’s usually a greater risk of losing your money.

Think carefully about your approach to risk. You may be more comfortable opting for less risky investments, even if returns are likely to be lower.

Remember though, that no investment comes without risk, and there is always the chance you could get back less than you put in.

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

We all know the saying ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’, but it’s particularly important to apply this rule when investing.

Spreading your money across a range of different types of assets and geographical areas means you won’t be depending too heavily on one kind of investment or region.

That means if one of them performs badly, hopefully some of your other investments might make up for these losses, although there are no guarantees.

4. Invest for the long-term

Investing should never be considered a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.

You need to remain invested for at least five years, but preferably much longer to give your investments the best chance of providing the returns you’re hoping for.

Even then you must be comfortable accepting the risk that you could get less than you put in.

If your investment goals are short-term, for example, two or three years away, investing won’t be right for you. This is because you’ll need to keep your money readily accessible, usually in a savings account.

5. Never invest in anything you don’t understand

Before you put your money into any investment, take time to research it thoroughly, so you understand exactly what’s involved and what the risks are.

Funds, for example, issue a key investor information document (KIID), or key information document (KID), which explains the fund's key features and charges. You must read this before you invest.

If you’re investing in individual businesses, make sure you know what the company does and how it plans to make money in the future.

6. Factor in charges

Charges will have an impact on your overall returns, so it’s important to take these into consideration when choosing your investments.

For example, if buying funds, the ongoing charges figure (OCF) is set out on the KIID/KID and provides the clearest picture of your actual costs.

This figure includes the fund’s annual management charge, and also the other main ongoing costs that were deducted from the fund the previous year.

When you place a purchase instruction we will also present to you other costs of the fund which the manager does not include in the OCF.

You should consider these costs carefully – for example, if a fund returns 4% and the OCF and other charges have previously come to 2%, your profit would have reduced to 2%.

7. Reinvesting income can help boost overall returns

If you don’t need an income from your investments, you may want to consider reinvesting it to buy more of your investment, which will potentially grow in value and boost your overall returns.

In simple terms, your returns also earn returns, which is known as compounding.

Bear in mind, however, that reinvesting income rather than taking it as cash means you could lose it or see its value fall.

If any income you receive is reinvested automatically – for example, if you invest in shares directly and have signed up for automatic dividend reinvestment (ADR) – you also won’t be able to choose the price at which you’ll be buying any additional shares, so it could be low or high.

8. Don’t try to time the market

In an ideal world, you’d be able to buy investments just before they increase in value and sell before they fall.

However, no one knows which way stock markets will move next, so trying to predict market ups and downs could mean that you end up buying or selling at just the wrong time.

Buying and holding investments can help you remain committed to your investments for the long term, avoiding panic decisions when markets are volatile.

9. Review your portfolio

Although too much tinkering with your investments isn’t usually a good idea, that doesn’t mean you should just forget about them.

Your investments will change in value over time which may mean your asset allocation – how you choose to split your money between different assets, such as shares, bonds, cash and property – moves out of line with your investment objectives.

That means you may need to rebalance your portfolio from time to time to make sure you’re still on track to meet your goals.

Why you should invest

Investing could offer the chance of better returns than a current account if:

  • you’re planning your finances
  • you do not think you’ll need access to your money for at least five years 

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

Explore how to ‘put your money to work’ with Barclays

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