Podcast: How to correct an investing mistake

In Latest, The Fat Wallet by Kristia van Heerden

Often the fear of making a mistake keeps us from starting our investment journey. It feels like everything is on the line when we make our first investment, but missteps can be corrected fairly easily. Even the mistake of waiting too long and starting too late can be corrected. This week we think through some of the mistakes new investors fear most and how they can be corrected. Hopefully this episode will give you the courage you need to take the plunge.


The bleeped show is below:


Win of the week: Rory

I started learning about the investing world about two months ago and stumbled upon your website within the first week. 

Most of the things you discussed in your podcast just flew over my head, but it did direct me to the things I had to go read up about. Two months later I realized I am able to follow your podcasts without any problems. I want to thank you both for that. If I didn’t stumble upon your website it would have taken me much longer to actually understand the investing world.

I have a friend, he is 25 and about to get married. His plan is to move to New Zealand in the next ten years. I told him he should look at starting to put money away in his TFSA, then the question came up about what happens to that money when he emigrates?

I see EasyEquities opened a properties platform, where you can buy shares in buildings and earn your share of the rent. What are your opinions on this? Do you think it would be a good idea to invest some money there and what would the tax implications be?


Travis

I recently made my first attempt to begin investing using my TFSA. I have been listening to the Fat Wallet show whenever I can. 

I decided to invest in the Satrix NASDAQ 100 and the Satrix S&P 500 hoping to acquire some international exposure. I did not realise the NASDAQ has some S&P 500 companies. Now I am wondering whether I have begun on the wrong note, making a mistake and overinvesting or spreading myself too thin in some of these companies in the indices.

Is there any way that way that I can correct this “imbalance” in my TFSA or should I even bother? Have I made a blunder in choosing both the NASDAQ and S&P 500? 

Ash

Like many of my colleagues, I was hopeless with my finances for most of my working life. I had 2 RAs with my insurance broker that were fee- and penalty-laced products that underperformed my cash savings account. Four years ago, I started a tax-free and a discretionary investment with my bank which were both heavy on fees (2-3%) and did not perform as expected (annualized return of <2%).

A year later, I took a two-year private scholarship, which meant leaving my government job after 10 years and my pension fund (GEPF) paying out. The scholarship only paid about 60% of my usual salary & I would have had a hard time keeping up with my bond repayments, instead of moving the pension payout into a preservation fund or my RA, I used it to settle most of my bond and reduce my monthly payments. Needless to say, this 2 year gap left a big dent in my finances overall as I had no other source of income & relied heavily on my savings.

Earlier this year, when I was looking at investment options for my toddler’s education, I started reading up on personal finance & investing, discovered your blog and podcast, and realized all my missteps along the way.

This set off a series of changes in rapid succession:

I switched banks to a bank with a single, lower fee, and better cash investment options. This meant closing my access bond. With my biggest debts paid off, I cut down aggressively on unnecessary expenses, brought my expense:income ratio to about 40% and focused on saving and investing the balance. I started 2 new money market accounts with the new bank – 1 immediate access for my emergency fund (now have 3x monthly expenses covered), and a 90-day notice account with a higher interest rate (between 6.5-7%).

I transferred both my insurance-based RAs (despite the protests and threats of penalties from my broker) to a low-fee new generation RA (10X) and started a new one with Sygnia (Skeleton Balanced 70). I increased my contributions from 5% to 10% of my income, and plan to increase further to 15%.

I repurchased the poorly performing discretionary investment with my bank and reinvested this in an Allan Gray unit trust (High Equity Fund) – lower fees but still in the range of 1.6%. This was just at the start of the current crash so it has nosedived, but I am planning to hold rather than sell low.

I began investing in a range of ETFs in quick succession: 

a) Satrix (50%): initially Top 40 (12.5%) and MSCI World (12.5%) – later added Emerging Markets (6.25%), NASDAQ 100 (6.25%) and most recently, the new SA Bond ETF (12.5%).

b) Sygnia (25%): 4th Global IR ETF (12.5%) and S&P500 (12.5%) (initially also had MSCI USA but stopped the recurring contributions when I realized the huge overlap with the S&P)

c) CoreShares (25%): S&P Global Property (12.5%) & SA Property Income (12.5%).

I switched my tax-free investment from the ‘multi-managed growth fund of funds’ with my bank to the NewFunds MAPPS Growth ETF (using the same platform), and split my maximum contribution between this ETF (50%) & the Sygnia Skeleton International Equity FoFs (50%) (*factsheets attached).

I would like to know your take on my financial moves and if there was anything I could have done better?

My concerns are:

  1. Was it a mistake to close my old bank account just to save on fees, since this was my oldest and most diversified line of credit (home loan + first ever credit card)? Will this damage my credit score, especially when I apply for a new home loan?
  2. Am I overexposed to global (especially US) markets in my choice of ETFs & is there too much overlap in the holdings of the global ETFs (MSCI World, S&P500, NASDAQ 100 and the Sygnia International Equity FoFs, not to mention the 30% international equity in my RA’s)?
  3. My discretionary investments currently outweigh my RA contributions by about 40% & both RAs still only represent 10% of my income. I wanted to gain more equity and global exposure than a Reg28 product would allow (and have access to the funds if needed before age 55), but is this short-sighted and should I rather aim to maximize my tax deductions? 
  4. The listed property ETFs are the worst performing products so far & I understand this reflects the poor performance of property markets in general – would reducing my exposure to this sector be wise at this stage since recovery is very likely to be sluggish given the current crisis? 
  5. How do you feel about holding the NewFunds MAPPS Growth ETF in a tax-free investment? This is 70% local equity (SWIX) and also holds a significant proportion in SA bonds or cash (30%). Is this kind of ‘balanced’ ETF not ideal for a tax-free investment (TFI) since we are looking at long-term growth and equity-only would give higher returns? After listening to your podcasts, I understand the Ashburton 1200 to be one of the best choices for a diversified equity-only ETF. I am thinking of transferring my TFI to the ASHGEQ via Easy Equities, however this overlaps quite a bit with the Sygnia Skeleton International Equity FoFs (*fund breakdown attached), including emerging market exposure. Would I be better off consolidating my TFI into one ‘global’ ETF or is there any benefit to splitting between the ASHGEQ and the Sygnia International Equity FoFs (*not sure if this is really a ‘passive’ fund since it seeks to ‘outperform’ the MSCI ACWI)? Should I rather split the TFI between the ASHGEQ and a local equity ETF like the CoreShares Top50 since the SA market is not represented in the ASHGEQ?

How do you and Simon feel about the Ashburton World Government Bond ETF (TER 0.51%), particularly as a part of ‘balanced’ ETF portfolio? I see from their factsheet that their returns have exceeded even the ASHGEQ (>20%), but I understand that this may change with interest rates over time, and may not reflect future performance.

Would the combination below in a TFSA wrapper be the best long-term bet?

  1. Ashburton Global 1200 Equity ETF (1/3)
  2. Ashburton World Government Bond ETF (1/3)
  3. CoreShares S&P SA Top 50 ETF (1/3)
  4. I have been looking at the RAs offered by EtfSA & their Wealth Enhancer RA seems quite attractive – it includes more commodities (gold in particular), local mid-cap and Africa ex-SA exposure than my current RA holdings. The fees though stand at 1%, similar to 10X. What are your thoughts on this RA & would you recommend adding this to diversify my RA portfolio? 

Matt 

With many companies transitioning to remote work and deciding to stay that way, it’s becoming easier to find a location independent job for a foreign company.

If I earn a salary from a foreign company and then decide to do the nomad thing and travel around low cost of living countries for, say, a year but remain a tax resident in SA.

My understanding is the first R1m earned will be tax exempt- is that the cae? Am I missing anything and does this seem like a feasible thing to pull off?


Access the ETF comparison tool Edwin shared here: https://www.etfrc.com/funds/overlap.php


Anne

My employer pays into a Liberty Provident Fund on my behalf. For the first time this month I requested my Provident Fund statement. 

I saw, with disbelief, that Liberty is taking 12% of my contribution each month in fees! Given what I have learned about fees from your website and podcasts I am dumbfounded. 

I queried this with Liberty and they said it’s because their fees are based on 0.02% of ‘payroll’ i.e my salary, rather than my contribution. I checked with our company CFO and she said these fees are in keeping with what is charged by other companies and I can’t go to another provider.   

  • What do other reputable SA companies charge to administer Provident Funds?
  • Why is it so hard (for me, anyway) to find this out?
  • Do you know if my company can compel me to stick with Liberty under SA law? Why can’t I leave the company provident fund to go to another provident fund or RA of my choosing? If not, Liberty can just make up a number (as they seem to have done) and charge me what they like and there is nothing I can do about it except leave my job. 

The Fat Wallet Show with Kristia van HeerdenThe Fat Wallet Show is a no-nonsense personal finance and investment podcast hosted by Kristia van Heerden and Simon Brown. Every week we answer questions by a growing audience of finance enthusiasts. Submit your pressing money and investment questions to ask@justonelap.com.

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