Co-Founder Of Sharesies Brooke Roberts On How To Grow Your Wealth

One of the DIY investment platform's great minds tells us how investing small amounts can net big returns

Brooke Roberts co-founded Sharesies with six others. Photo / Supplied

What’s the benefit to using a platform such as Sharesies?
There’s no reason someone wanting to invest $5 can’t do the same as someone with $5m. People can get access to investment opportunities, build their confidence in investing over time and build an investment portfolio. We wanted to introduce people to investing however much they want, by taking away pricing barriers, demystifying the jargon and developing a platform that’s inclusive of more people than traditionally the wealthy few. You learn as you go.

You can build your portfolio based on your risk appetite, whether it’s balanced or conservative or aggressive. If you can invest what you can afford, you’ll build it over time. If you have time on your side, this has been proven to be a good strategy.

Traditionally, how would someone buy shares in a company, for instance?
You would’ve had to have access to brokers. Some banks would provide access but there have been high price barriers. Most transactions are made via a broker. We’ve made it really simple. You put in however much you want to invest, whether it’s in a New Zealand, Australian or US-listed company or fund. You really have control at your fingertips.

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How do you choose what to invest in?
It really depends on how much you choose to invest and how... ultimately if haven’t done it before, you’ll learn by going through the process. One thing we often talk about is diversification. You can spread your risk and invest in a few things or in a fund or invest in a range of companies rather than just one. It comes down to the analogy ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket'.

Then there’s dollar-cost averaging, which is not about the timing of the market, it’s timing in the market, one payday at a time, so you don’t have to track when the market is high or low. It’s also about investing based on your own beliefs, goals and behaviours, learning about companies, researching what they care about to see if it aligns with what you do. That can help you feel more confident, and it’s a great excuse to learn.

Should you invest locally or are you better off going international?
It comes back to that diversification point. There might be companies you know and love in New Zealand — or overseas. It all depends on how you want to invest. When you have investment in different countries, you’re not just considering your investments’ impact on the New Zealand economy. We provide access to stock exchanges so you can invest in companies or funds.

If you’re buying shares in Australia or the US, there is a foreign exchange cost associated with that but we also have an Australian or US wallet within Sharesies. Our pricing is percentage-based rather than flat fees.

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How soon can you reap the rewards from your shares?
It depends on the type of strategy and what you want. If you’re investing to reach a goal, you can get the money to get a house deposit. There’s no formula. There are a lot of examples out there of people who’ve invested in Sharesies and made first withdrawals to purchase a house, which is so cool when people achieve something they want to do. Some people use the rewards to keep on building a portfolio or they start on their next goal.

Any advice for first-time Sharesies customers?
Invest amounts you can afford and build that understanding over time. Also, speak to friends and whanau about investing and removing those taboos around money. It’s always good to hear from others who can share their stories and insights. We have a great community online, and a Sharesies club on Facebook that lets you pick up on what others are doing and thinking about. Another good way to learn is to listen to podcasts with interviews with CEOs from listed companies.

These are leaders in business and economics who demystify the process and help us learn more, not just about investing in those companies but how it’s impacting the economy. Ultimately though it’s just about giving it a go.

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