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Money Talks: Should You Be Investing Your Savings?

Mint Asset Management is shifting the goal posts for investment. Founder Rebecca Thomas tells Viva why

The finance world is changing, and the meaning of investment is expanding beyond profit and return to encompass social good and ethical responsibility. Mint Asset Management is part of that shift, demonstrating what accountable investing can be in everything from their work with the New Zealand Super Fund, to investing the savings of everyday New Zealanders. The company’s savvy, smart and shoe-loving CEO Rebecca Thomas spoke to Viva about the evolving world of asset management, growing the New Zealand economy, and why spending is as important as saving.

Can you tell us a bit about Mint?

Mint are an independent, New Zealand-owned funds management business who are the experts in investment. Think about it like the specialist you are referred to by your GP; we’re a tight team of highly experienced investment managers who don’t just work for Mint but own it. As a result, we’re quite well recognized as a high-quality investment house by people in-the-know.

Why is socially responsible investing important?

I do think that there is a broad understanding that financial returns are only part of the story and the social impact of what’s done is also incredibly important. Mint are SRI (socially responsible investing) investors because we believe companies who pay attention to ES&G (environmental, social and governance) factors do better in the long-term.

It’s also part of this concept of the social license to operate, which is that companies have a range of stakeholders — not just their shareholders — and a duty of care to the community, to their employees and to other parties.

How much money would someone need to invest with Mint?
For our retail investors, we take regular savings from $250 per calendar month, and if you have people putting a lump sum with us, they can put in as little as $5000. Obviously, our large customers invest millions of dollars with us, but all of our investors appreciate the fact that all Mint’s funds have daily liquidity. This means that if your circumstances change you can switch or sell your investment and the proceeds will be in your bank account within three business days.

What do you spend your savings on?

For me now, it’s about holidays and experiences rather than material things. Savings give you options and choices about what you spend your money on — and it’s bloody important to spend it. The real beauty of it is — as we tell our older generation of clients here — that they must spend it and enjoy it. That’s the whole point of having this financial freedom.

Also, and this is simplistic I know, but the whole point about shares is that you are directing money to companies that you want to do well, and that you believe can grow faster than the underlying growth rate to the economy — so you’re trying to make GDP go faster in your country.

That is the difference between productive and non-productive assets; buying a house doesn’t create the same amount of productivity and wealth that investing in shares or bonds does, so all of it is about making the bloody boat go faster and that’s good for New Zealand.

What led you to finance, and to New Zealand from the United Kingdom?

I was working in London as a barrister in 1986 and when the 1987 crash happened many of the firms corporatized and went on a mad dash to hire postgraduate trainees with diverse skillsets like accounting or law. I got headhunted and never looked back. As for New Zealand, my husband got a job here and within a few weeks of moving, I became the chief investment officer of ING.

 

REBECCA’S TOP TIPS FOR INVESTING

  1. Start as early as possible with small amounts. Compounding of returns over time is paramount.
  2. Keep going in good times and bad. This means you will get some exposure at lower valuations.
  3. Diversify. Own different types of investments to spread your options.
  4. Reassess your risk appetite as your circumstances change over time.
  5. Think about risk in terms of how you would feel in a worst-case scenario, if you lost a certain percentage of your savings, to help you set realistic long term goals.
  6. Think about your savings in three buckets. Short term needs, medium and long term. The highest risks you take should be with the long-term money you lock away and don’t think about day to day.
  7. Do not look at or think about your savings day to day or month to month. You don’t look at your house value every day. Financial assets go up and down all the time but it’s the long term that counts.
  8. Get some advice from an independent Authorised Financial Advisor. This is money well spent and will help you set a framework and some goals. They will also do the homework for you on which managers and securities to select.
  9. Be sceptical. If something looks too good to be true it probably is.
  10. Enjoy spending it as you go. You can’t take it with you. Give gifts to family, friends and charity if this is what makes you happy.

Rebecca Thomas is CEO of Mint Asset Management. The above article and opinions are intended to provide information and does not purport to give investment advice.

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