Investment Services

investment-planning-dublin

Firstly, it should be stated that any investment planning should only be done as part of a full, holistic Financial Plan. There is no point in looking at all the various elements of successful investing unless your more immediate day to day needs are being met.

The philosophy we employ, with regards to Investment Planning, centres on the (often contradictory) issues of:

  • Investment Goals
  • Risk/Reward Attitude

Without these issues at front and centre for any plan, it just becomes an exercise in product analysis, and this always leads to confusion and potential conflict of interest- as the likes of allocation rates, annual management fees and commission payments become the focus of the decision, rather than what’s truly best for the client.

A true Investment Planning exercise should instead be about Portfolio Generation and Management. This involves looking at ‘asset classes’ rather than investment products as a source for potential growth and getting that mix right, dependent on the primary issues mentioned above.

Investment Goals

Why would you invest?

It’s a relatively straightforward question, but the answer provided by clients tends to be muddled and unsure. We hear ‘for growth’, ‘to make retirement more comfortable’ and of course the classic line, ‘to make me rich!’.

All of these answers, while emotionally valid, have no basis in a genuine decision making process and as such must be replaced with straightforward, unambiguous language. Investment Planning Clients must be able to answer the following:

  • How much money do I want to have?
  • When do I want to have it?

These two questions provide the foundation for all subsequent discussions and decisions.

Of course they are themselves far more in-depth than would first appear. You cannot simply ask someone how much money they want and expect an answer immediately. Instead it is necessary to determine why you need the money. Is it for retirement; is it for children’s education, the down-payment on a home, or even for a holiday? Once we know why, we can then work on reasonable expectations. For example, if I retire on a salary of €50,000 per annum, is it unreasonable to expect a pension of €200,000 per annum? In general, we use clients current income as the basis for future expectations, appreciating that income can fluctuate hugely over an individual’s lifetime.

As such, most people experience 2 phases with regards their wealth.

  • Accumulation
  • Consumption

Investment planning is not simply about accumulating of course, but also for managing your wealth during the consumption phase.

The following graph represents an individual’s relationship to their assets/wealth over time

investment-graph

It is important to recognise that while the Retirement axis is entirely interchangeable with any of the other goals mentioned above, and the lines may be steeper or more gradual on either side, the general model always applies to goal-based investing.

Using extremely powerful analytical software, we are able to use a client’s goals to determine exactly how much would be needed by a certain date, and the level of commitment required to get them there. This then leads to the second primary issue.

Risk/Reward Attitudes

If a client is looking to accumulate €100,000 in ten years but can only put aside €5000 per annum, it is immediately obvious that there are only 3 options available to them

  • Reduce the target
  • Increase the investment amounts
  • Look for growth in the fund that will get the goal with the investment available

Mostly, the Target is determined from a number of factors discussed previously and may not be up for debate, while the contributions are always dictated by circumstance.

This means that in many cases the only available option is to seek growth. Ultimately this is what investing is all about.

The reality of course is that there is no such thing (despite advertisements to the contrary) of high growth with low risk. It does not exist and anyone professing otherwise is lying or ignorant.

If you are looking for high growth, you must be willing to accept high risk.

Unfortunately many clients are not aware of their attitudes to risk. Some have experience of sitting with an ‘advisor’ and being asked to rate themselves out of 10, or some other brief unrealistic measure. This is no way to properly measure willingness toward risk.

We provide clients with a comprehensive psychometric questionnaire that has no obvious link to risk, but in fact has been constructed to do just that. Once we have this questionnaire answered we can truly determine a client’s comfort with risk & reward.

Putting It All Together

Once we have the clients goals and we know their attitude to risk, the real advice kicks in.

Using our Portfolio Generation Tools, we create a suitable investment strategy, incorporating the above elements. An example portfolio will look something like this:

investment-pie

This broad mixture of asset classes allows us to make investment recommendations from within the scope of this portfolio only, ensuring that only suitable investments are made.

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