I was recently watching some reruns of the classic comedy series Only Fools and Horses, and it got me to thinking just how much has changed over the past 30 years. Of course the fashions and the cars looked dated, and London in general seemed far more grubby than it does in this era of urban regeneration and the Shoreditch Effect, but there was more to it than that.
The late 80s were characterised by aspiration, and a greed is good ethos. Upward mobility was the phrase of the day, and while Del Boy and Rodney were, of course, exaggerated caricatures, they nevertheless captured the essence of what everyone was thinking.
Since then we have lived through the dot com boom, the dot com bust, the days of easy credit and the ensuing credit crunch that culminated in the 2008 global crash. Now, in 2018, the easy availability of information about anything and everything online means we are far better informed and pragmatic when it comes to money.
Money management in 2018
In Del Boy’s day, money management meant either taking the safe approach of putting your hard earned money into a savings account or pension plan, or the high risk, high gain approach of investing. That implied dipping a toe into the murky water of stockbrokers and traders.
This is an area that has seen as much change as those once dismal streets of north east London that are now full of pop up shops and vegan cafes. Providers like Wealthify have brought the world of investment to the masses and in a way that is user friendly and simple. Suddenly, deciding whether to invest some money in a tax free ISA or an ethical investment plan is something we can evaluate from a smartphone app without even having to leave our homes.
Protecting your money in turbulent times
The experiences of the past 20 years have made us far more risk-conscious than past generations. We’ve seen interest rates at an all time low, mis-sold pensions and the pound disappear through the floor in the wake of the Brexit vote. With more turbulent times ahead, it prompts the question of what investments are safe – or at least less risky – when the economy is resting on a knife edge.
Of course, if there was a simple one word answer to that, it really would be a case that, in the words of Del Boy, this time next year, we’ll be millionaires. Unfortunately, nobody has a crystal ball, but the basic principle to keep in mind is that for every loser there is a winner, so the most important strategy in investment is to spread the risk with a balanced portfolio that does not overly rely on any one product or investment.
The other important tip is not to confuse short term turbulence with long term gains. In an interview with Forbes, financial adviser Stacy Francis said the most important advice she can offer is to “Stay focused on the long run and try not to let the short-term noise distract you.”
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