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Tim Coburn

Investing

There is no mystery.

It just takes a bit of working out.

When I Turned 50

My pension didn’t look that bad. But I was shocked how little it would grow if it was left alone.

At the time, technology companies were in the news. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google etc were changing our lives and making headlines with global expansion, sales growth and share price performance.

It made me think about investing my pension in companies leading the world’s digital transformation.

I read lots about investing, I experimented and the interest I earned gradually improved. I decided to only invest in US listed, technology-based companies with great growth potential and I comfortably achieve 30-40% growth per year.

Financial Advisers Are Too Cautious

There are many reasons why they are so cautious. Here are four:

1. They are not investing their own money – they are under pressure to make a profit for their firm by investing yours. 2. They need to sell their own investment products and these are usually managed funds, not shares in individual companies.  3. Their view of what’s possible is too low. Fewer than 5% of fund managers consistently ‘beat the market’ (make more than 10% per year). They don’t believe it’s possible to do much better. 4. Regulatory obligations require them to explain and emphasise the risks. They too, are scared by the advice they give.

Do It Yourself?

If you choose to do it yourself, you need an execution-only, share dealing account that lets you buy and sell shares in individual companies, not just investment funds. There will be a small monthly or quarterly fee, and a transaction fee for each buy or sell trade you make. If you want to invest in US or other international companies, your share dealing account needs to offer that and not restrict you to UK companies only. As it is generally easier to manage your money when it’s all in one place, look for a share dealing account at your own bank, building society or pension company.

Choosing Companies to Invest In

Struck by the growth of big tech companies, I decided to invest in companies leading the world’s digital transformation. There’s plenty of free information on the internet but I wanted something more detailed and rigorous. The Motley Fool offers a range of subscription services that provide detailed analysis and regular investment recommendations. Their ‘buy and hold for the long term’ suits me. 

When you read investment advice it’s pretty important not to follow it blindly. Seek different perspectives from a range of sources. Develop and apply your own judgement. In particular, it helps your nerve to distinguish between the impact of macro-economic factors (global trade relations, inflationary fears, rotational investment trends etc) and company-specific factors, especially the company’s potential for long term growth. 

Understanding is the antidote to fear.

My Current Investments

Today, I invest in 25 to 30 US-listed, technology-led companies. To spread risk, they are in different sectors – healthcare, financial services, microchips, electronic vehicles and online shopping – and in three size categories: ‘Really Big’, ‘Big’ and ‘Small but Growing’. Some are household names, like Apple, Amazon, Google, Etsy and Tesla. Others are less well-known but lead the world in their field, like Enphase (new energy), The Trade Desk (digital advertising) and Crowdstrike (cybersecurity). 

If you choose to invest in companies like these, you will want to know how well they – and you – are doing. There are many live tracking services you can customise and follow on your phone, on the move and at any time of day!

I started in 2013 with a small amount of money and fewer companies. It was experimental and I learned a lot! In those first few years, the interest I earned was around 15-20% per year. I expanded to the 25-30 companies I invest in, today, changing only two or three companies twice a year. Since 2017, the interest I’ve earned has been 35-40% per year.

The companies I invest in are listed below.

COMPANIES I INVEST IN

The ‘Really Big’ are truly massive, well-established global companies, relatively stable but still with great growth potential. The ‘Big’ are also global with great growth opportunities, and may have strong rivals. The ‘Growing’ companies have a unique product that could have global appeal but they are still in their early years and growth can be more volatile.

Financial Freedom

Money isn’t everything. It never will be. A fulfilling life comes from many places and pastimes.

But financial freedom makes good things possible. That’s why it matters. Supporting our families, improving our homes, taking a holiday, giving to causes and yes, buying a new bike! 

Investing may sound complicated and risky, but it’s not a mystery.

It’s easier than I thought it would be.

As it’s hard to find independent advice, I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned.

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