Investing can seem daunting to those not in the know – and sometimes even to those who do know what they’re doing. Images of Wall Street types in sharp suits screaming ‘Buy! Sell!’ and slamming down phones are common in movies, but in the real world things are a little more personal and possibly even more fraught, especially if you’ve never invested before.
Moving your money from the safety of the bank, where it at least stays the same amount even if it doesn’t grow much, can be difficult to do. But as inflation rates continue to rise, the value of your money is decreasing over time.
When considering getting started with investing, Laura Mongan, head of products at Irish Life, says there is no wrong time to invest – but there are things to think about before getting started.
Before getting started, Mongan advises making sure you have some money put aside – and easily accessible – in case of emergencies. "For people starting out, it’s important that you have some ‘rainy day’ savings before you think about investing. You want to make sure you won’t struggle financially if something unexpected happens.
Laura Mongan, head of products at Irish Life: 'Ideally you should have at least three months of income tucked away somewhere you can easily get it before you think about investing.'
"Ideally, you should consider having at least three months of income tucked away somewhere you can easily get it before you think about investing. If you have a lot of debt, it’s important to take care of that first before investing."
The amount that can or should be invested depends on the person and their disposable income, but Mongan dispels the myth that a lot of money is required to get started.
"Lots of people think you need big money to invest and that’s not the case. The ideal amount really is what can you afford once you have your emergency fund and day-to-day expenses sorted. With our Smart Invest digital investment platform, you can start investing from as little as €100 a month."
For those who may be a little older and considering starting to invest now, Mongan says it’s never too late. "It’s just important to be clear on your financial situation, your investment goals and your attitude to risk before you start.
"Your money has more opportunity to grow in value over time. It’s important to stay invested for the long term and not to react to times of market volatility."
Of course, investments can go down as well as up and there are no guarantees when putting your money in any product. Investments in company shares or stock markets can fall or rise in value over time. "Most investment providers will ask you some questions to help you understand the level of risk you are comfortable with before you start. They can then recommend an investment that suits your attitude to risk."
One way to manage risk, Mongan says, is to make sure your investment is spread across a range of assets such as stocks, shares, bonds, and cash. "Essentially it means you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. Many investment providers offer multi-asset funds, which help you to spread your risk. These are the types of funds we offer through Smart Invest."
Another way to manage risk is to invest for the long term. "Your money has more opportunity to grow in value over time. It’s important to stay invested for the long term and not to react to times of market volatility – past performance is not a guide to future performance and as history shows over time markets can recover."
There are, of course, many concerns when picking a product and company to invest with, not least of which is being sure they’re not a scam that will take your money and run. Mongan says it’s important to check that you’re dealing with a registered provider before you start.
A reputable company won’t rush you into making an investment decision. Some scams promise high returns with little risk, often with a short investment deadline. Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
"The Central Bank has a list of registered providers on their website you can check to make sure a provider you’re speaking to is genuine. It’s important to beware of cold calls from companies you’ve never dealt with, especially if they are asking you for any personal or financial information. A reputable company won’t rush you into making an investment decision. Some scams promise high returns with little risk, often with a short investment deadline. Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
Responsible investing means investing more in companies that manage their environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in a better way. This includes things such as reducing carbon footprint and dealing with companies who act in a responsible way for their customers and the environment.
"Through Smart Invest you will take out a Flex Invest plan, which gives you access to one of three funds, all of which are responsibly invested," Mongan says. "Investing your money in a responsible way helps create a more sustainable future for us all, it can create and preserve long-term investment growth."
For those getting started, using a digital platform or investment tool can be an easy way to begin. As Mongan explains, "With our Smart Invest platform we will match you with one plan that suits the level of risk you’re comfortable with and the amount of money you have to invest, from as little as €100. You can then easily track your investment over time and top up or withdraw whenever you like."
The investment plan available through Smart Invest is a life insurance plan called FlexInvest. It’s used to buy units in one of three funds, each with a different level of risk.
Smart Invest is provided jointly by Irish Life Assurance, which provides the FlexInvest product, and Irish Life Financial Services, which provides the advice. The investment plan available through Smart Invest is a life insurance plan called FlexInvest. It’s used to buy units in one of three funds, each with a different level of risk.
FlexInvest is a lump-sum unit-linked life insurance plan. There is a 1.25 per cent annual charge (1.10 per cent standard management fee + 0.15 per cent estimated average variable charge), a 1 per cent Government levy is taken from each payments into the FlexInvest plan, and a 41 per cent exit tax is deducted on any returns. There are no additional set-up or withdrawal charges.
You are eligible for Smart Invest if...
- You are aged 18 to 69
- Living in and a tax resident only in the Republic of Ireland.
You are not eligible for Smart Invest if you are...
- A US citizen
- A politically exposed person (PEP), or a relative or a close associate of a PEP.
Discover more about Irish Life Smart Invest at irishlife.ie/investments/smart-invest/
Warning: If you invest in this product you may lose some or all of the money you invest.
Warning: The value of your investment may go down as well as up.
Warning: These funds may be affected by changes in currency exchange rates.
Irish Life Financial Services is tied to Irish Life Assurance for life and pension business. Irish Life Assurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Irish Life Financial Services Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.