This column is my personal journey through the world of investment. It is not financial advice and should not be treated as such. It will not tip shares. I’ll leave that peril to others.
It is about your investments as well as mine, so I am keen to hear what issues interest you – send your emails to prudentinvestor@daily mail.co.uk. I will endeavour to tackle some in this column, but I cannot provide individual responses.
Mrs Hazell was to blame. Her announcement that we must extend the kitchen coincided with a stock market plunge when we voted to leave the European Union. It was dreadful timing, but we had to sell some investments to pay for it.
Tony Hazell said his wife’s announcement that they ‘must’ extend the kitchen coincided with a stock market plunge (stock image)
She mercilessly batted responsibility back to me. It was my purchase of a Man Chair, as she calls it, from which I view the garden while sipping my morning latte, that had made the existing kitchen too cramped. It was difficult to argue.
Eighteen excruciating months later, with the kitchen now 5 ft deeper and the builders finally gone, I sat down to look at why our nest egg was not flourishing as we would like. The closer I looked, the more I began to question why I was holding some investments that appeared to have done very little for years.
So the time has come to plunge back into the world of investment. I’m inviting you to join me in this new weekly column where I will share my hopes, plans, successes and, no doubt, disasters as I navigate the unpredictable world of the stock market.
At 59, I have worked hard for almost 40 years, scrimping away small amounts of savings when I was younger, more as I became able to afford it, and less again after I married and acquired two stepsons.
Now I am anxious to make our investments grow to pay for family holidays and grander expeditions and fund a secure, active retirement. Though, please, no more home improvements! You should know a bit more about me. I worked full-time at the Daily Mail for 16 years when I was lucky enough to build a final salary pension. So I’m better off than many. But for around half of my career, when I was young and again now, I have been freelance.
Like all self-employed people, I’m responsible for my own pension and savings and must build as big a pot as possible while steering clear of unacceptable risks. But whether our savings are large or small, whether we are starting out or trying to make the most of what we’ve already built up, we all face similar issues.
ABOUT TONY HAZELL
Family: Wife Val (who may bear a passing resemblance to the wife mentioned in this column). Two grown-up stepsons, Andrew and Alex, who left home to escape my obsession with PopMaster on Radio 2.
Interests: Playing bridge, good food, beers, wine, gardening, travel, quizzes and drinking lattes.
Weakness: Should exercise more, but would rather read a good book.
TV: Scandi-noir — The Bridge.
films this year: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.
Love: Norwich City FC (stress and disappointment build character).
Hate: Mashed potato.
Tony worked full-time at the Daily Mail for 16 years
Bank and building society savings accounts don’t come close to keeping pace with inflation, let alone releasing extra money to pay an income later in life.
So we need a steady, long-term return that will beat inflation. This leads us into the stock market. I’ve rarely been a direct investor in shares, preferring the relative security of investment funds. These hold a mix of investments, supposedly helping to smooth out the risk.
While you can choose simply to track a stock market index, you can also pick one run by a professional manager who researches companies to decide which have the best prospects. But judging from the results of their efforts, some might as well spread a copy of the Financial Times on their desks and stick a pin in the page.
So is it worth backing a fund manager, or would you be better off choosing an index-tracker and paying lower fees?
I want to achieve steady growth from my investments, but I’m also willing to take the odd punt on something more exotic in the hope of achieving better returns. I plan to dig deeper into the funds I hold to ensure they are suitable for my aims.
We are on the back of what one pundit calls the most unloved Bull Run in history. The stock market has risen steadily for nine years, with a brief post-Brexit-vote blip, while commentators have lined up to talk it down and investors have at times been reluctant to join the ride.
It now trades at near record levels — though we have seen significant falls over the past week. So is this a time for caution or optimism? Should I hoard money waiting for further falls or continue to invest, accepting it is impossible to pick perfect timing in the stock market?
What about Brexit? Cards on the table, I voted to leave the EU, but I am very aware this will have effects — both good and bad — on my investments.
The fact is that even for someone like me, who has been regularly saving for 35 years and writing about personal finance for 30 years, investing can at times feel like an impenetrable maze.
To begin my odyssey, I printed a list of my investments so I could get a clear picture of what has been going on. It wasn’t all pleasant reading. My eye had clearly been off the ball since I vacated the Money Mail editor’s chair in 2011.
Family issues when my mum, who has Alzheimer’s, went into a home and later sorting out her estate took priority for me, as they do for many of us in mid-life. Since then, things have drifted. Clearly I have a lot of work to do.