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How to build income from your investments

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Catalonia, Catalunya, Investment objectives, Spain
This article is published on: 5th October 2022

05.10.22

How do you pay for your Mistress?

An old Chinese proverb advises “Only pay for your mistress from your income, never from your capital” It is not known if it was a wise woman or a wise man who came up with the proverb but it was a person who certainly knew about money.

I admit as a young man, before I heard of the proverb, I got this wrong. I bought a second hand Porsche 911 SC. It was fun, fast and purred fantastically. I had the money to buy the car, especially with the part exchange of my old car.

As a young RAF officer what I did not have was the income to service it. Simple repairs such as when the indicator glass broke stretched my income and I really struggled with the cost of the insurance.

The indicator glass, for example, went in a semi circle around the wing. It cost me £68 for a new glass because of that bend in the glass. I still remember the price some 41 years later as back then £68 was much more significant than it is today.

How do you pay for your Mistress?

For those of us living here in Catalonia our mistress tends to come in the form of, for example,

  • A boat with mooring costs, winter storage etc
  • A car for touring on the continent. Often falls into the category of a big name brand of car or a vintage car with associated costs
  • The temptation to eat and drink out every night, every other other night etc
  • Swimming pool with maintenance
  • A bigger house with associated costs including security systems, insurance, watering of the garden etc

In nearly all cases when you hear couples talking about the purchase, you will hear the question “Can we afford it?”. The thought process to answer that question is do we have enough money in the bank to buy it. If the answer is yes, the item is bought. It is much less usual to hear “can we meet the ongoing costs?”.

Interestingly, even when we have accumulated significant wealth this proverb still stays true. With more capital we buy bigger things; house, super yacht, more expensive cars etc. and end up with bigger expenses.

How to build income from your investments

We need to ensure that we have sufficient net income to meet the running costs of the purchase. If we do we can

  • Enjoy our purchase without worry
  • Not damage our financial position by having to spend capital to pay for running costs
  • Still have capital left for our surviving spouse and/or our family
  • Not suffer from buyer’s regret

How do we get sufficient income to pay for our mistress? We use our existing wealth to build up an income that pays out regularly. Preferably in a tax efficient manner where possible.

Nowadays investing in the latest tech company or perhaps even a crypto currency is deemed to be the way to make money by some people. It may build your capital. However, neither generates much income and in some cases, no income.

If you would like to discuss how to build income from your investments so you can enjoy your purchases without worrying about the ongoing costs please feel welcome to get in touch, in the first instance, by email at barry.davys@spectrum-ifa.com

I cannot guarantee to help you meet all your running costs but as I am passionate about financial planning I anticipate I can improve your situation.

The challenges faced when Downsizing

By David Hattersley - Topics: Investment objectives, Spain, Spanish Succession Tax
This article is published on: 20th September 2022

20.09.22

For many of those that are considering downsizing numerous factors influence this decision. Offspring have grown up and follow their own paths, the need for a family home is surplus to requirements. The death of a partner, or their worsening ill health is also a major factor in making changes. The ageing process makes it harder to “self maintain”, therefore external contractors are required. Recent extreme weather conditions have contributed to additional maintenance requirements around the home. High demand has also reduced the availability of professional contractors and trying to find them can be frustrating and expensive.

Having made the emotional decision , to downsize does it get any easier ? Moving to a smaller property might seem easy, but one has to decide which accumulated treasured possessions and artefacts will be disposed of or left behind.

The next question is where are you going to live? Trying to predict the future is difficult, trusted close friends have died or moved away. Potential reduced mobility, death of a partner,lack of easy access to healthcare and amenities and public transport facilities must be considered .No longer can one live up the side of a mountain, in the country or away from a central urban hub when one will depend on the aforementioned facilities. Very few residential “warden assisted community retirement” homes exist in Spain, unlike the UK.

The challenges faced when Downsizing

The next consideration once the property is sold, is what to do with the capital. Does it make economic sense to buy yet another albeit smaller property, or rent ? With the average life expectancy being in the mid 80’s, for those in their late 60’s does it make sense to buy ? With the cost of purchase estimated at between 13% -14% *, and subsequent disposal costs of 7% due to a future change of circumstances does it make sense to “waste” this residual capital when it could be invested to provide an income ? Bear in mind many smaller properties here still require maintenance. If it is a proprty that has a communal pool and gardens, there are annual maintenance fees and in the summer when hordes of holiday makers “invade” what was peaceful and tranquil for 10 months of the year can suddenly become stressful. Having experienced both owning and renting I understand the upside and downside of both scenarios.

Finally the last and most important element is the investment of the capital. There are a viable sensible solutions instead of Spanish banks. With rising inflation sensible capital growth and income are vital as is the relative ease that after the death of a partner the investment can be passed to the survivor without unnecessary complications. The same can be applied to leaving this to one’s heirs. It is both tax efficient and compliant and is accepted by the Spanish regulators. Finally should one eventually move back to the UK, it can be taken with you. It is essential the that your investment has been set up correctly as it is currently not treated as a capital asset when calculating the costs of living in a care home. This means that it stays intact to pass onto one’s nominated heirs. My own experience with my in-laws proved this was the case.

So if you have any concerns, doubts or interest please contact me to arrange a no-obligation initial meeting over a cup of coffee.

August update for expats in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Investment objectives, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 17th August 2022

17.08.22

I hope you are well and managing to keep cool, stay safe and ‘push back’ a little if possible. This month we cover the following topics (if there is anything you would like to understand more or would wish to see covered in these Newsletters don’t hesitate to ask):

  • Covid Update (the last one ?)
  • Golden Visa Changes in Europe
  • An Update on having a UK bank/investment/building society account

Covid Update
A quick Covid update to start things off – The Catalan health department have announced that people who have Covid-19 symptoms will be able to request an automatic 5-day sick leave. This announcement was made as a response to the seventh wave of Covid here in Catalonia, which has seen an increase in visits to primary care centres. The measures allow residents of Catalonia to fill out a form on the website of the Catalan health department, ‘La Meva Salut’, explaining why they feel ill.

The measures will not require a Covid test to be taken, and will be automatically lifted on the fifth day. This could prove particularly beneficial for those who are sick and cannot work remotely. The idea behind the new measure is to simplify the process and reduce in-person paperwork for someone who may not be able to attend a health centre.

Golden Visa Changes
The European Parliament is considering implementing changes to the ‘golden visa’ scheme, which is prevalent in many EU countries, including Spain. The scheme allows families who invest over €500,000 into residential property or qualifying investment schemes to receive citizenship and/or residency in the respective country.

Some MEPs have demanded a ban on ‘golden passports’ and specific rules for ‘golden visas’ to fight money laundering and corruption. MEPs have become concerned that EU membership is for sale and have pledged to regulate this area throughout Europe. This includes stringent background checks, reporting obligations for member states and requirements surrounding minimum physical presence in the country for applicants.

Golden Visa Spain

Banks Accounts, Savings and Investments accounts in the UK
There have been reports of UK Financial Institutions requesting Non-Resident UK clients to close their bank, savings and investment accounts in the UK.

National Savings & Investments, home of the NS&I accounts and Premium Bonds which is government backed, is reminding clients that they need a UK bank account to retain their accounts. That would be fine in itself as many people who have lived in the UK still have one of these, however, there have also been reports of Barclays asking clients with EU residential addresses to close their accounts. Therefore, this is having a knock-on effect – for example, to have an account with NS&I you need a UK bank or building society account in your name. If this account is closed (imagine if you had an account with Barclays) then you cannot have an NS&I account also.

This may be a little unsettling if you are living here in Spain and have bank, savings or investment accounts in the UK, but do not worry. If you are affected or concerned by this then feel free to get in contact with me. There are good alternatives to Savings & investment accounts that are Spanish compliant, meaning your money is likely to be more tax efficient and remains with UK based institutions.

If you would like any more information regarding any of the above, or to talk through your situation initially and receive expert, factual based advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can book an initial consultation via my calendar link below or email/send me a message.

Are you paying too much on your investments?

By Jeremy Ferguson - Topics: Investment objectives, Investment portfolios, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 19th July 2022

19.07.22

Paying too much for something is never a good idea!

Unless you have been spending all your time either on the beach or playing golf, it would be almost impossible not to have seen what´s been happening in the financial world at the moment.

Stock markets have had their worst start to a year in 50 years. Almost every day all you see and hear is doom and gloom about rising inflation, rising food prices, rising fuel prices, rising interest rates, supply chain issues, falling consumer confidence. And on and on it goes.

As usual with such issues, it can affect retirees who live here the most, as their Pensions and Investments are normally exposed to the stock markets and various other investment instruments, pretty much all of which are falling at the moment. How much worse can it get? Who knows.. When will it recover? Who Knows.. How long will it take to make up for all of my losses this year? Who knows…!

Nobody does, and looking at history can give a good indication as to the likely answers, but as I keep saying, this could well be history in the making, as opposed to history repeating itself.

Looking at history can help calm the nerves and add perspective. Over the last 150 years there have been 13 major stock market crashes. In 1877 markets fell by 33%, in 1970 they fell by 25% and again in 1974 by 39%. The latest memorable events were the financial crisis of 2008 which resulted in losses of 49% and the Covid lockdown period, which again resulted in heavy losses.

Taking the median of all of these 15 events, an average fall of 33% has taken on average of around 2 years to recover. So, although I have said this may well be history in the making, what we can all be sure of is that things will eventually get better. It’s just a question of how quickly, and that again is an unknown. The speed of recoveries is always quite impressive. Many people miss the fact that if you lose 50% on something, that something has to double in value to return to where you were.

Paying too much for something is never a good idea!

One thing I do know though, is that if you have Pensions and Investments which are expensive, trying to reduce the costs incurred is one thing that will have an immediate positive effect on your returns, and can have an incredibly positive effect on the long-term returns.

Something else that is also relevant to costs, is the type of investments retirees are in. One of the first things to assess when I meet a client is what risk they are prepared to take with their investments. Typically, (as most are retired), I think being driven by caution (or fear) rather than greed is paramount, meaning a client should typically be very concerned about protecting their capital, and therefore their investments should be at the lower end of the risk scale.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense if you are looking to achieve a certain annual return that reducing the annual costs as best you can will mean you can take less risk to achieve your objectives, and therefore see better capital protection.

Many people are coming to me asking if we can take a look at their existing arrangements, and very often we are able to offer a solution to reduce the costs and achieve a more suitable strategy in view of where we find ourselves.

In these times of rising costs, every penny helps, and very often just talking through situations like this and having someone to listen to your worries can be a great help, so if you would like a quick chat in confidence about your financial situation, please get in touch.

Falling investment markets

By Mark Quinn - Topics: Investment objectives, Investment portfolios, Investment Risk, investments in Portugal, Portugal
This article is published on: 9th June 2022

09.06.22

Markets have fallen recently with concerns over rising inflation and interest rates and the war in Ukraine. In this uncertain environment, clients are asking me: “should I sell?”, and those with cash to invest are uncertain if now is the right time to commit to investing.

Why do falling investment markets cause concern?
Rather than seeing movements in markets as being completely normal and part of the regular cycle in markets, I believe the media instills fear among investors. I follow the financial news every day and read headlines dominated by talk of slumps, crashes, stagnations, recessions etc. but rarely see positive news stories about investments and markets such as how many global stock markets reached all-time highs in 2021.

This is getting worse with internet-based news as “click bait” headlines are used to prompt us to click through to read these apparently disturbing events.

Humans are bad investors
Our brains are not designed to make sound investment decisions as we are subject to biases and cognitive distortions and our emotions, rather than fact and logic, overly influence our decisions. One of our biggest weaknesses is our loss aversion which can lead to not taking advantage of investing at low prices during market falls.

Professionals versus amateurs
We often see professional investors reacting in an opposite manner to the general public/retail investors. Many retail investors will sell and are fearful when markets fall but professionals will be taking advantage of lower prices and be purchasing investments.

falling investment markets

Context for investing
It is important to reassess exactly why you should invest. Most people do so to protect their lifestyle as they want to ensure their investment and pensions maintain their real value after inflation over time – this isn’t possible in cash.

If you are investing for the long term, then you increase your chances of generating longer term growth and we know that, even though markets may go lower in the short term, over the longer term you are “stacking the odds” in your favour.

Time is on your side with investing
Data shows that the risk of stock market investment reduces with the time you spend in the market as you have the ability to weather the short term ‘blips’ in market. For this reason there is a popular stock market adage that time in the market is more important than timing the market.

Holding through downturn
The benefits of holding though short-term falls in the market were highlighted to me recently by Terry Smith, manager of the Fundsmith fund. He gave an example of a share he purchased at the end of 2007 for $7.07 and by 26th February 2008 it had lost almost 40% of its value at $4.28 – this promoted a lot of investor anger at his decision. However, this short term blip is dwarfed by the enormous increase the share price subsequently enjoyed, increasing in value to $172.39 by 4th February 2022. The company was Apple, until just last week the most valuable company in the world.

Tips for investors in this climate

  • Invest as early as possible and remain invested – act against ‘herd’ instinct
  • Remove the psychology from investment – draw up an investment plan and stick with it
  • Minimise tax – one of the biggest eroders of investment returns
  • Minimize fees on your investments and pensions – another big eroder of returns
  • Asset allocation – predicting which parts of the market will weather the storm better is difficult, so ensure you have a correctly constructed portfolio which is widely diversified and importantly, has corelation benefits

Investment management styles

By Mark Quinn - Topics: investment diversification, Investment objectives, Investment portfolios, Investment Risk, investments in Portugal, Portugal, wealth management
This article is published on: 27th May 2022

27.05.22

There are several different investment management styles to consider and each will have benefits and drawbacks. The key difference are between a managed/active/discretionary route, and a passive/tracker approach, and this can be a divisive area within the investment industry.

In order to put into context the differences between these styles and which approach may be right for you, let’s first look at what a stock market index is.

An index simply measures the performance of a group/basket of shares. For example, the S&P 500 index tracks the performance of the shares in the largest 500 companies in America. As the US market is the largest stock market in the world, and the US is the world’s largest economy, it is often seen as a barometer for the health of global markets in general. The equivalent index in the UK is the FTSE 100 index.

investment styles

Managed/active management/discretionary
Historically, most private investors would invest through a fund manager. In this way, you would pay an annual percentage fee to an investment institution to actively manage your investment i.e. make the buying and selling decision on your behalf.

The aim of investing in managed investments is to generate better investment returns than the stock market index as a whole, or another appropriate benchmark.

Discretionary investment is a specialist branch of managed investment whereby the manager has a greater range of investment powers and freedoms to make buying and selling decisions without your consent (although always within with the remit and investment powers that you grant at outset).

Over recent years there have been numerous studies to suggest that many fund managers do not achieve their aims of beating their respective benchmarks, and it has led some investors to favour a “passive” investment approach.

Passive or index trackers

Passive investment does not employ a fund manger to make decisions, and instead of trying to outperform the market, you simply ‘buy’ the market as a whole. For example by investing in an S&P 500 tracker, you would effectively be purchasing the top 500 shares in the US stock market.

The key difference between the managed style is cost i.e. whereas a manager may charge between 1-2% per annum to manage your fund, you can access a tracker fund from as little as 0.1% which can make a huge difference to your fund value cumulatively.

Proponents of this approach accept they will only even achieve the return of the market as a whole (with no outperformance) but because you are spending far less in fees, believe they will do better over the longer term.

Proponents of active management on the other hand highlight the drawbacks of the passive approach viz. in a falling market, you will only ever track a falling market, tracker funds “blindly” sell what may otherwise be high quality investments at inopportune times, and that tracker investments can still be complex to understand, such as the difference between ‘synthetic’ versus ‘physical’ tracking methods.

Summary – balance pays
As my previous two articles have demonstrated, tax and investment planning generally involves shades of grey, rather than black and white solutions and in practice we do not believe either approach is the ‘holy grail’.

Rather each management style can offer benefits within a balanced portfolio. Holding passives can reduce the overall cost of your portfolio (thus increasing your net return) and using managed funds can complement by avoiding “blind” automatic sales and potential downside mitigation.

Whichever route you choose, minimising fund fees is crucial as it is the biggest eroder of returns over time.

When to keep ‘unsuitable’ investments

By Mark Quinn - Topics: Investment objectives, Investment portfolios, Investment Risk, investments in Portugal, Portugal
This article is published on: 20th May 2022

20.05.22

A lot of people contact me believing they cannot keep certain investments. As I said in my article last week, it’s all about the subtleties, so let’s look at some examples.

Individual Savings Account
For Non Habitual Residents (NHRs), interest and dividends are tax exempt during the 10-year period but realised gains are taxed at 28%. For non-NHRs, interest, dividends and gains are taxed at 28%.

If your move to Portugal is short-term, or if you are not certain that it will be your long-term home, then there is a case for retaining your ISAs. Although you cannot add to them whilst non-UK resident, you can continue to hold them, and once you return to the UK they resume their tax-efficiency.

A planning point you may wish to consider if you have a stocks and shares ISA is to ‘rebase’ by selling and then immediately repurchasing the same funds within your ISA prior to leaving the UK to ‘wash out’ any taxable gains accrued to the point of your departure. This way, if you did decide to restructure, encash, or withdraw from the ISA as a Portuguese tax resident in the future, there would be litle or no tax to pay in Portugal.

As a general guideline, if you believe your move to Portugal is long-term (as a rule of thumb, 5 years or more) then restructuring and starting an investment vehicle that is suitable for residency in Portugal would make sense for greater tax efficiency, amongst other reasons. If this is the case, planning well in advance is advantageous, as there is no tax on ISA closure for UK residents.

investment decisions

Investment bonds
‘Non-compliant’ bonds are those that are not officially recognised by the Portuguese authorities. Usually all premiums paid into ‘compliant’ bonds are taxed, albeit at a very small amount. This effectively registers their tax favoured status and guarantees the tax breaks, assuming all conditions are met.

There may be a case to retain a non-compliant structure if you do not intend to make withdrawals because there is no tax to pay if nothing is taken out. However, you should still review the plan as there may be lower cost or newer options out there. If you do withdraw funds, we have seen some non-compliant bonds benefit from the same tax treatment as compliant bonds, but there is no guarantee.

Encashment would be a good idea if the policy originates from a blacklisted jurisdiction as tax on gains is punitive at 35%, rather than 28% or less depending on how long the policy is held. Also, if you want to guarantee the tax advantages and policy qualification, you will want to ensure you are holding a Portuguese compliant product. Other points that might affect the decision are how succession laws are affected, policy flexibility, currency and fund choice, and the consumer protection offered.

UK pensions
Pensions are a more complex area of planning and if you get it wrong, it could have consequences for your future lifestyle or ability to support yourself in retirement.

You should always seek personalised qualified advice when addressing your retirement planning, but as some food for thought:

You may wish to retain your UK pension if you have no lifetime allowance issues or do not plan to take withdrawals during your lifetime. Again, you should still review the pension regularly. You might look transfer to an EU based scheme if your total pension benefits are close to, or more than, the UK lifetime allowance (currently £1,073,100), or you are concerned about currency fluctuations and want certainty. You might even withdraw completely if you have NHR, no UK Inheritance Tax or succession planning considerations and want tax-efficiency post-NHR in Portugal.

There are of course many other investments or structures out there such as premium bonds, EIS, VCTs, trusts, QNUPS etc. that may or may not work for you in Portugal and I suggest you discuss your options with a qualified and experienced professional.

Investment portfolios | The Principles of Success

By Mark Quinn - Topics: investment diversification, Investment objectives, Investment portfolios, Investment Risk, Investments, investments in Portugal, Portugal
This article is published on: 18th May 2022

18.05.22

The world of investments can be intimidating, even for the most seasoned investor. Here, we will put aside the jargon and push past the hype of ‘the next big thing’, and instead focus on the key principles that every investor should know when building a portfolio of investments; irrespective of how engaged or involved you wish to be.

Ideally, you should look at your assets as a whole – your pensions, property, savings and investments, rather than at each area or structure in isolation. This way you can apply the principles to your wealth as a whole and be in the best position to potentially meet your financial objectives.

Asset allocation is key to investment success
Asset allocation is the percentage of each type of asset class making up your overall investment portfolio. In turn, asset classes are groupings of similar types of investments such as cash, equities, commodities, fixed income, or real estate.

The key principle behind asset allocation is to include asset classes that behave differently from each other in different market conditions to reduce risk and generate potential returns. For example, if equities are falling in value, certain fixed income assets may be rising.

The goal here is not solely to maximise returns but to blend your holdings to meet your goals, whilst taking the least amount of investment risk. The right allocation for you will depend on several factors such as your willingness and ability to accept losses, your investment time frame, and your future needs for capital – unfortunately, there is no one size fits all.

Many studies have shown that asset allocation is the most important driver of portfolio returns, so getting this first step right is critical.

Diversification to reduce risk
Once you have decided on the right asset allocation for you, you must then pick the individual types of holdings or investments within each asset class. Each asset class is broken down into subclasses, for example, fixed income includes holdings such as fixed deposits, gilts and government or corporate bonds.

It is not enough to simply own each type of asset class; you must also diversify within each asset subclass. For example, taking corporate bonds which is a type of fixed income asset class, you can hold them in many different types of companies, industries, currencies, countries, or long or short term.

Rebalancing
As assets perform differently over time, the initial percentage asset allocation will deviate over time. A typical example is the huge increase in the US stock market over the last couple of years which, whilst good for investors’ returns, will have increased the level of share exposure. This increase in the value of equity holdings because of the sustained rise will lead to increased risk across the portfolio as a whole.

This can be solved by regular rebalancing to ‘reset’ the portfolio to your original asset allocation. This involves selling holdings that are overweight and buying ones that are undervalued.

Rebalancing also provides the ideal opportunity to revisit your financial goals and risk tolerance, and to tweak your asset allocation accordingly.

investment portfolio

Long term perspective and discipline
As humans, our emotions can lead to poor decision making when it comes to investing. Decisions that seem logical in daily life can result in poor investment returns, with many retail investors selling through fear at the very point they should be buying at lower prices, and conversely, buying at much higher prices during a gold rush.

It is vital for most investors to keep a disciplined approach as it is easy to get caught up in the daily noise of the markets.

Minimise costs and maximise tax efficiency
Einstein described compounding as the 8th wonder of the world and the effect of compounding applies to fees. A charge that might seem small at the beginning can turn into a significant cost over time and research has shown that lower-cost funds tend to outperform in the longer term.

As a simple example, assume a €100 investment and no growth. After 10 years, an annual charge of 2% will result in €82, a 0.2% charge would result in €98.

Focus on minimising fund, structure and adviser fees. In the world of investing, more expensive does not necessarily mean better.

Tax is an often-overlooked cost, which if minimised can lead to the same positive compounding effects over time. This is done by ensuring that your investment portfolio is structured correctly for your resident status, and it might be different planning for normal residents, Non-Habitual Residents, or depending on if your move to Europe is for the rest of your life or if you intend to return to your home country in the future.

Withdrawal strategies
If you are taking income from your investments, you should consider the way in which you do this and the order. Not only will this affect the type of investments you hold within your portfolio, but it could also affect how you hold your portfolio and provide tax planning opportunities or pitfalls.

Focus on total return
With interest rates at historically low levels, it is difficult to rely solely on income returns in this investment environment. The total return is a truer picture of performance and takes into account the capital appreciation as well as the income received.

Be boring!
To quote Warrant Buffet, one of the world’s most successful investors: “Lethargy, bordering on sloth should remain the cornerstone of an investment style”.

Do not try to chase returns or the trends in investments – stick to tried and tested assets. At Spectrum, we only use investments that have worked over the long term, are easy to understand, daily tradable and transparent.

Real Estate vs. Diversified Portfolio

By Jozef Spiteri - Topics: Diversified Portfolio, investment diversification, Investment objectives, Malta
This article is published on: 26th April 2022

26.04.22

Owning property is important to many people and is probably one of the first goals of young adults once they enter the working world. People in their twenties and thirties usually make their first real estate purchase for residential reasons, sometimes renting a room out to generate some extra income. When people enter their mid to late forties, especially in Malta, they tend to start considering purchasing more property, this time as rental investments. This is what I will be looking at more closely in this article.

In the past, the main aim of people entering the latter end of their working lives was to accumulate as much property as possible to be able to live comfortably off the rental income generated. That doesn’t sound like the worst idea in the world, especially if you have the means for it. The more property one has, the more income is coming in and the risk of being caught out with periods of no rental income decreases. A question no one seems to ask though is, “What return am I really making?”

real estate in Malta

This is a question I have been asked quite a few times, and I will make use of a numerical example. Imagine someone has €1,000,000 laying around to invest in property. This could potentially be enough to purchase 4 apartments valued at €250,000. Assuming this investor has these apartments rented out all year round on a long-let basis earning him €1,000 per month each (€4,000 total), the annual return made would be 4.8%. This is assuming there are no months where an apartment is vacant and not taking into consideration maintenance costs and taxation; which means the net return can be substantially lower.

Is there an alternative though? One solution to the real estate approach is building up a portfolio invested in a diversified selection of assets. Such portfolios include property too, but they also allow exposure to many other asset classes which will help increase returns. The advantages of such an approach do not stop at the increased returns. Clients will not have to deal with the headache of maintaining their investment as they will have investment managers doing that for them. Another plus is that investment portfolios are more liquid than real estate and investors can take money when needed, leaving the rest of their funds in the portfolio to continue growing for them.

If you are interested in having a discussion and need some guidance on what your next steps should be, feel free to reach out to us. All our first consultations carry no charge and there is no obligation to proceed further.

Measuring investment performance

By Mark Quinn - Topics: investment diversification, Investment objectives, Investment Risk, investments in Portugal, Portugal
This article is published on: 11th April 2022

11.04.22

There are several different ways of measuring your investment performance, and I will run through some simple tips to allow you to dig deeper into your portfolio.

Firstly, do not forget to factor in fees such as adviser and management fees and structure costs when looking at returns. I have seen the cost of some investments run as high as 4% p.a. through hidden commissions and explicit charges. These have been disguised by strong market performance over recent years, but are likely to be exposed if we experience leaner years in markets in the future.

Simple benchmarking
A simple and quick method of comparison is looking at interest rates on cash accounts. If your investment returns are generating the same returns as cash on deposit, why are you taking the market risk?

Similarly, take into account inflation. If you generate a 3% return and inflation is 2%, your net return is just 1%; is this what you thought you were achieving?

Lastly, look at what similar passive investments have done. These types of funds simply track a stock market index and are inexpensive. If you are paying a fund manager to outperform and add value by trying to achieve higher returns, have they done this?

Measuring investment performance

More in-depth methods

Market indices
A market index tracks the performance of a group of shares or other investments e.g. the S&P 500 index which tracks the performance of the largest 500 shares in America. They can be a useful barometer for the ‘health’ of an investment market as a whole but it is important to use them appropriately.

For example, you cannot meaningfully compare the performance of the S&P 500 index (100% shares) with a portfolio that consists only 40% of shares. Similarly if you are comparing a euro denominated portfolio with the US market which is denominated in dollars, then again this is not necessarily an appropriate comparison.

The downsides of using indices as a comparison are therefore addressed by the use of:

Peer group
A peer group allows you to compare investments that are similar in nature e.g. a specific class of investments or geographical region, and because you are comparing “like for like” it can be a more meaningful comparison tool.

Morningstar.com is a particularly useful tool in this respect and can guide investors with regard to an appropriate benchmark and peer group.

Quartile rankings
These are used to compare returns of investments in the same category over a period of time. Investments in the top 25% are assigned quartile rank 1, the next 25% quartile 2 etc.

They can be useful in tracking consistency – what is important is not the quartile ranking in any one period, but they allow you to track trends over multiple periods and time frames.

There is no one way, or right way, to compare performance and you will likely need to combine several measures to get a more accurate reflection of performance. Even more importantly, this should be done regularly to ensure you are doing all you can to achieve your financial goals. Finally, you should take into account the risk you are taking to achieve a set level of return, and this will be the focus of a future article.

If you would like to discuss your performance or how best to build your own portfolio of investments, please get in touch.