Money: Don't know where to start when it comes to shares? Here's what you need know - PressFrom - Australia

MoneyDon't know where to start when it comes to shares? Here's what you need know

19:05  25 may  2019
19:05  25 may  2019 Source:

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Don't know where to start when it comes to shares? Here's what you need know© AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy City office-workers pass the Australian Stock Exchange.

When you think of the stock market, do you feel bamboozled by the jargon?

Don't know your bulls from your bears or your dividends from diversification?

Maybe you think a typical investor is a man in a suit — and that's not you.

While most of us have shares through superannuation, fewer Australian women invest directly in shares — just 31 percent — compared to 44 percent of men, according to the ASX 2017 Investor Study.

But it doesn't mean women aren't interested.

"Coming from a non-finance background, the share market seems scary and confusing with their big words," said Dasunika Tennakoon, who is in her late 20s.

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"I work as a nurse and I'm looking to invest a small amount on a monthly basis."

So, she asked the personal finance project to help.

Less than a third of women are confident with shares

Dasunika's not alone.

Less than a third of women say they're confident when investing in shares, compared to half of men, according to fund manager Fidelity International.

"Women are more risk-averse, prefer the perceived safety of cash and feel that the investment industry is tailored towards men," managing director Alva Devoy said.

They also tend to have less money to spare.

"Women earn less and so there is less disposable income to save and invest — compounded by the fact they take time out of work to raise children — so their superannuation is less," Australian Shareholders' Association CEO Judith Fox said.

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"When you have less, there is a fear of losing money. It compels you to be cautious."

Do I need to be rich to invest in shares?

No. You don't have to be Gina Reinhart to invest in shares.

But you do need to have some spare cash.

Some say you should only invest what you can afford to lose.

"It's more about starting off small to become familiar with the process and not putting your money at risk," Ms Fox said.

The bare minimum amount you need to invest in a stock is $500.

That's a rule from the market operator, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), to make sure administration costs are covered when buying and selling shares.

Where do I buy them?

In general, you can't just email a company and ask to buy some shares.

You've got to buy them through a market operator, like the ASX.

Public companies are listed on the exchange and investors can buy and sell shares there.

"People's image in their mind is a whole bunch of guys yelling out orders and a trading floor and chalkies, but that all went away about 20 years ago," said Andrew Campion, head of investment products at the ASX.

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"The actual market is a box the size of your computer up in our data centre."

Do I need a stockbroker?

You can't walk into the ASX and buy a share over the counter.

Instead, you need to use an authorised broker to buy the shares on your behalf.

There are two main types of brokers — full-service brokers, who give you advice about what shares to buy and do the actual buying and selling for you, or online brokers, who give you a more "no-frills" experience.

"Some are a flat fee, $10-$30 mark for a parcel of shares worth $500-$1,000. A full-service broker would be more than that. If it's a big order it might be based on the percentage," Mr Campion said.

"Online brokers are really easy. You have to set up an account with the online broker first, but it's very easy to follow," Ms Fox said.

You usually complete an application form, you will need to provide proof of identification and then once the account is open, you choose how you want to put funds into the account."

How do I choose which shares to buy?

Unfortunately there's some homework to do.

You've got to think about why you're investing, what your goals are and what your appetite for risk is.

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"Smart investment isn't about relying on luck," Deloitte Access Economics associate Jessica Mizrahi said.

"It does require planning, research and understanding your financial goals, your risk tolerance and how potential investments might fit with them."

According to Mr Campion, "some people might just be investing for a few years to save up for a holiday or a car or a deposit on a house".

Others are investing for their retirement.

"If you're a young person already thinking about retirement, you have a very long investment horizon and in effect you can take more risk because it gives you more chance to recover if you have a loss in the market or the shares fall," he said.

Remember the higher the risk, the higher the possible returns — but you can lose everything.

"People's incomes vary as well. If you're a high-income earner you can afford to take a bit more risk, if you're a more modest income you have to be more careful with the risks you take in stock market investing," Mr Campion said.

"Don't take a tip from your mate or the taxi driver," Ms Fox said.

"You research a holiday, buying a new car, so research what you want to buy in shares as well."

She suggests using the research from the broker that you use, but also to read the press, go to the investor section of the company's website and read their annual report.

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"How is the company doing? Is it meeting its strategy, getting a good performance, having good financial returns? You want to look at what you're investing in before you make a decision," she said.

Spread your risk

Another concept to think about when choosing which companies to buy is diversification.

"It's generally good practice not to keep all your eggs in one basket," Ms Mizrahi said.

"Having a range of assets when you invest can help to reduce your risk."

For example, the fortunes of the banks tend to be linked together because they have the same outside influences, like regulation or costs.

So it's best not to invest solely in the banking sector — spread your choices over several sectors, not just several banks in the one industry.

Buying shares in a mix of different industries means that if one is doing well, another is probably not doing as well and this balances things out.

What's all the fuss about dividends?

Dividends are payments the company makes to its shareholders out of the profits it makes.

Not all companies pay dividends and it can change depending on the company's fortunes.

Often retired people invest in shares that regularly pay dividends because they are using that income to live on.

Other people care more about capital growth — they want the share price to grow so that if they sell their shares, they'll make money.

"When you're young dividends might not be so important for you — you might be much more interested in growth," Ms Fox said.

"If you keep reinvesting your dividends you get what's called compound interest and you can start generating wealth over the long term."

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Break down the jargon

If you're confused about certain terms that crop up, there's this handy guide from the ASX:

AGM Annual meeting of shareholders where directors update them on company performance.
Bearish View that prices will fall.
Bear market When prices are falling and further falls are expected.
Bid Price at which someone is prepared to buy shares.
Blue chip Larger companies with a long history of profitability and stability.
Bullish View that prices will rise.
Bull market When prices generally are rising and further rises are expected.
Capital gains tax Tax on the profit from the sale of capital assets such as shares or property.
Compound interest The result of reinvesting the interest on your initial investment, so that interest in the next period is then earned on the principal sum plus all accumulated interest.
Diversification Spreading investments over a variety of investment categories with different performance characteristics, in order to reduce risk.
Dividend Distribution of part of a company's net profit to shareholders. Usually number of cents per share.
ETFs A diversified portfolio of shares, which is an easy way to invest in a lot of companies with one purchase.
EPS Earnings per share. Measures of earnings attributed to each equivalent ordinary share over a 12-month period.
Index A measure of a change in value for a group of assets.
Market capitalisation Total number of shares on issue multiplied by their market price.
Offer Price at which someone is prepared to sell securities.
Yield Return on an investment expressed as a percentage.

TL;DR, here's what you need to know

Keep in mind:

  • The minimum you need to start is $500
  • To actually buy shares, you need to use either an online broking system or a full-service stockbroker
  • Think about your investment goals and appetite for risk
  • Do your homework about the companies you're considering buying
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket — diversify

This article contains general information only. It should not be relied on as finance advice. You should obtain specific, independent professional advice from a registered financial planner in relation to your particular circumstances and issues.

Are you a young woman who needs help to manage your money?

We know you have unique challenges as overall, young women:

  • Earn less than men
  • Have less money in our superannuation
  • Are more likely to have career breaks
  • Have lower levels of financial literacy

It's time to change things. We want to help you to become more confident about money and have the skills and information you need to shore up your financial future.

So let's do it together.

Send in your questions about money using the form below and we'll try to get our journalists to find you an answer.

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Don't know where to start when it comes to shares? Here's what you need know

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