The basics that make investing accessible to us all

For most of us, the successful investor’s image conjures up the image of a wealthy older gentleman with a double-breasted pinstripe suit, à la Mike Douglas in Wall Street (1987).  

Nowadays, the successful investor looks more like the person we see in the mirror. Significant innovations in investment technology have meant that everyday people can now invest in the privacy of our homes with modest capital.  No matter our risk tolerance, there is an investment opportunity for us. So how do we get our money to work for us?

We spoke to Mary and Ken Okoroafor, the UK based husband and wife team behind the personal finance site, The Humble Penny, to get some tips.

The Humble Penny: Mary and Ken Okoroafor

In 2017 Ken and Mary Okoroafor sought to create a platform that made financial independence accessible to all; from there, The Humble Penny was born. Ken Okoroafor is a Chartered Accountant (ACA, ICAEW) as well as an MBA holder from the University of Cambridge while Mary Okoroafor, a multimedia technology designer. Together they create content that helps get individuals and families on their way to financial literacy. The Humble Penny Youtube Channel features more than 124 comprehensive videos that teach followers everything from “How to pay off a mortgage in 7 Years” to “the 12 best side-hustles for making extra money 2020”. 

Why Should We Invest?

Why should we invest? The answer is: because investing helps our money work for us. Time is undoubtedly our most valuable asset; smart investing means that we can watch our wealth grow, and while protecting our time. If having more time to do the things we want to do is not incentive enough, then there is also inflation. Inflation is the reason why your parents paid an average price of £20,268 ($26,120) for a home in 1980, while we now pay £231,215 ($297,970) for ours. While putting our money in a savings account does offer us some interest, it may not be enough. 

According to Rod Rehnborg, an investment fund manager, “ If our savings do not earn the same percentage return as the inflation rate, then we are growing poorer even as we save.”

The Basics of Personal Investing

  1. Determine an Investment Strategy

    A perceived barrier for many looking to enter the investment world is the perception that they have to “risk it all.” We think of investing as a Russian Roulette game where our only options are to “go big or go home”.

 In the case of high-risk investments, this can often be the case. The Humble Penny suggests instead sticking to lower-risk investments that generate passive income. Passive investments include such assets such as rental property; or buying into funds; taking a “buy and hold approach.” This type of investing tends to promote slow and stable growth over time. 

Active investments, such as playing the stock market, requires a hands-on approach, typically by a portfolio manager or other active participants. The Humble Penny recommends investing in Index Funds like Vanguard index ETFs.

 According to Investopedia.com, “ An index fund is a portfolio of stocks or bonds designed to mimic the composition and performance of a financial market index. Index funds have lower expenses and fees than actively managed funds.” They are a way of investing in many successful companies around the world at the same time, and consequently lowering your risk.

  1. Set Clear Goals

How much we want to build through investing, our time horizon and the returns we hope to generate will determine how much and how often we invest. Setting S.M.A.R.T (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound) goals will help us choose an investment with the appropriate return rate and decide the length of our investing term. Ken Okoroafor says, “You need consistency for your wealth to grow, and you need time for compounding interest.”

  1.  Keep a Diversified Portfolio

Once we decide to invest, there are a multitude of assets that are available to us. Assets range from digital assets, business assets, property, stock market, cash and so on. Different assets play different roles in a portfolio. The goal is to have a diversified portfolio, “so when the stock market is down an asset like gold is typically going up in value. This way, we have enough of a buffer, and our income is coming from a diverse group of investments.”

Investing is for Everyone

Mary and Ken Okoroafor have made it their mission to shift the money mindset of families worldwide. “ People like us have either never been taught how to manage their personal finances or they have to relearn it.”

“Most people have the mindset of an employee. The investor thinks of the ROI (return on investment), whereas the employee only thinks about income and expense.”

The Okoroafors see investing as a tool  that can help us create generational wealth within one generation. “We bought our little son a stock in amazon with his birthday money five years ago, that money has returned nine times the multiple. £254 (327 USD)  now is £2286 (2939 USD). ”

Together they have founded The Financial Joy Academy, a personal financial development platform that makes investing accessible. Investing has been democratized, meaning just about everyone who has any discretionary capital can invest in a private company.  What most people don’t know is that you can start investing with as little as 50 £ (64 USD). The Humble Penny recommends setting up automated monthly investments so that we can take a hands-off approach to growing our portfolio.

“If we can live below our means enough such that we create a buffer, we can start investing.”