With an offering of over 100 funds, choosing which funds to invest in with InvestNow can be a daunting task – especially because InvestNow is aimed at self-directed investors and does not offer investment advice to prospective investors.
Sharesies has fewer funds to choose from (approximately 30), but that’s still a lot of choice. Sharesies also offers the ability to invest in individual companies, but that’s a topic for another article.
So here’s a beginner’s guide to choosing which fund to invest in on these platforms with three simple steps:
- Determine your investment objectives and timeframe
- Determine your asset allocation
- Choose your fund(s)
Update (5 August 2019) – Updated the article to include information on Sharesies
1. Determine your investment objectives and timeframe
Think about why you want to invest, and more importantly, how long you are willing to invest for. Use the below table as a guide to determine whether you’re a short, medium, or long term investor:
|Investment timeframe||Years to invest|
- A short-term investor could be someone saving for a house that they expect to buy in a couple years time
- A medium-term investor could be someone who’s a few years away from retirement
- A long-term investors could be a younger person saving for retirement, or someone wanting to grow their wealth over the long-term
2. Determine your asset allocation
Your investment timeframe from above will be used to inform your asset allocation – whether you should be putting your money in cash, bonds or shares. The table below provides a suggested asset allocation for each timeframe:
|Investment timeframe||Suggested asset allocation|
|Short-term||Invest mostly in cash|
|Medium-term||A mix of bonds and shares|
|Long-term||Invest mostly in shares|
Why the above asset allocations?
Short-term – You’ll get relatively low returns with cash, but its’ value tends to be very stable. Therefore there’s a low risk you’ll lose money in the short-term
Medium-term – You can expect bonds to make more money than cash over the medium-term, while being more stable than shares
Long-term – Shares tend to go up and down like a roller-coaster, but over the long-term have the potential to grow much more than cash and bonds
These are guidelines rather than rules
The above are not set rules, but are guidelines only. For example, there’s nothing stopping you from investing in shares if you’re a short-term investor. You’d just be exposing yourself to more risk – there’s not much worse than seeing a big chunk of your house deposit wiped out with a share market crash, just as you’re about to buy a house 🙁
Conversely, there’s nothing stopping you from investing more in cash or bonds if you’re a long-term investor, especially if you’re risk adverse and don’t want to see your investment value fluctuate too much. You’d just miss out on potentially higher investment returns when you go for a safer asset allocation.
Also remember you can invest in more than one fund in InvestNow and Sharesies. You could allocate some money to cash for short-term investing (e.g. for a house deposit), and some to shares for long-term investment (e.g. for retirement).
Lastly, everyone’s situation is unique, so you may want to consult with a professional financial adviser to help determine the most suitable asset allocation for you.
3. Choose your fund(s)
Now you can choose which fund(s) to invest in based on your desired asset allocation. I’ve suggested some of the best funds on InvestNow and Sharesies for each asset class (cash, bonds and shares) below.
First, a brief note on actively managed vs passively managed funds. Actively managed funds have a fund manager who decides what the fund should invest in. Passively managed funds simply invest in a market index (e.g. top 50 NZ shares, or top 500 US shares). I’m recommending passively managed funds in this article because I think they’re more suitable for beginners. Firstly, the fund management fees for passively managed funds are lower because there is no fund manager actively involved in deciding what the fund should invest in. Secondly, most actively managed funds tend to perform worse than passively managed funds over the long-term.
A. Cash funds
There is not much choice here on InvestNow. Only actively managed cash funds are available. The fund management fees are in brackets.
- AMP Capital NZ Cash Fund (0.27%)
- Nikko AM NZ Cash Fund (0.35%)
On Sharesies, there’s only one to choose from:
- NZ Cash Fund (0.33%)
These funds invest primarily in bank deposits. I think a better alternative is to just deposit money with your bank directly (in term deposits or notice savers) instead of investing in these funds – you’ll save on fees that way. Check out my guide to bank savings products here.
B. Bond funds
There are a couple of passively managed bond funds available, the cheapest one being:
- Smartshares Global Aggregate Bond ETF (0.30%) – invests in almost 4,000 bond issues from around the world
Sharesies also offers a relatively cheap New Zealand specific bond fund:
- NZ Bond Fund (0.33%) – Invests in New Zealand government and corporate bonds
C. Share funds
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to passively managed share funds. I have split them into four categories:
Invests in shares from a very wide range of countries. They are the best funds to start your portfolio with, and for most people all you need to invest in, as they provide a huge amount of diversification.
- AMP Capital All Country Global Shares Index Fund (0.38%) – Invests in over 2,800 of the world’s largest companies in both developed countries and emerging markets (China, India, Brazil etc.)
- Smartshares Global Equities ESG (0.54%) – Invests in over 1,500 of the largest companies in developed countries, excluding those involved in thermal coal, controversial weapons, tobacco, and other controversial industries.
Country/Region specific funds
Invests in shares from a specific country or region(s). They aren’t essential in your portfolio if you’re buying global funds, but you can use them to get extra exposure to a particular region.
- Smartshares NZ Top 50 ETF (0.50%) – Invests in the 50 largest companies in the NZ market
- Smartshares US 500 ETF (0.34%) – Invests in the 500 largest companies in the US market
- Smartshares Emerging Markets Equities ESG (0.59%) – Invests in the largest companies in emerging markets (e.g. China, South Korea, India, Brazil), excluding companies involved in contentious activities like tobacco, nuclear power, weapons.
Characteristic specific funds
Only invests in companies with certain characteristics e.g. based on company size or high dividend yield. Again, they aren’t essential in your portfolio, but you can use them if you want to achieve a very specific investment objective such as obtaining dividend income.
- Smartshares NZ Dividend ETF (0.54%) – Invests in the 25 highest dividend yielding companies from the Top 50 NZ Fund
- Smartshares US Large Growth ETF (0.51%) – Invests in large US companies that are expected to grow faster than average, but typically pay small dividends
Sector specific funds
Invests in shares from a specific industry. They offer low diversification, so use these funds to complement your portfolio, rather than make up a core part of it.
- AMP Capital Australasian Property Index Fund (0.42%) (InvestNow only) – Invests in property funds listed in the NZ and Aussie markets. An alternative fund available on Sharesies is the NZ Property Fund (0.54%).
- Smartshares Healthcare Innovation ETF (0.75%) – Invests in companies innovating in medical treatment and technology.
- Smartshares Automation and Robotics ETF (0.75%) – Invests in companies associated with the development of automatic and robotic technology.
Note the above isn’t a complete list of all passively managed funds available on InvestNow and Sharesies. For example, InvestNow also offers the popular Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index Funds (0.20%-0.26%), but you should be aware of the tax implications of these funds as they are “Australian Unit Trusts”. You can see a complete list of funds offered by InvestNow here.
If you’re keen to start building your investment portfolio with Sharesies, you can sign up with this link, and I’ll get $5 in my own Sharesies account. A great way to show your support for this site!
Once you’ve selected your fund(s), it’s time to get investing. If you’re not sure how much money you need to start investing, check out my post here.
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The content of this article is based on my personal opinion and should not be considered financial advice. The information should never be used without first assessing your own personal and financial situation, and conducting your own research. You may wish to consult with a qualified financial advisor before making any investment decisions.