Always remember that investments can go down as well as up in value, so you could get back less than you put in. A rule of thumb is to hang on to your investments for at least five years to give them the best chance of providing the returns you are hoping for.
Investing is a way of setting money aside with the expectation that your money will grow in value over time. When you invest, you are essentially putting your money towards assets in the hope that they will appreciate in the future.
As the value of your assets appreciates, you make positive returns on your investments and generate some income along the way. In the same way, the value of your assets could also fall, and you could lose the money you invested.
We all have financial goals. For some, it might be saving towards long-term goals such as living comfortably in retirement. For others, it might be saving towards significant life events such as buying a home or getting married.
Whatever the goal, investing in stock and shares can be a great way to grow your money and can offer you higher long-term returns than leaving your money in a savings or current account.
According to a 2019 Barclays Equity and Gilt survey, shares do better than cash nine times out of ten in any ten-year period. This reduces to seven times out of ten when investing for just five years.
People often ask how much money can be made in the stock market. On average, the value of your investment could rise by about 3 - 12% a year depending on a number of factors, but there are no guarantees.
The success or failure of your investment portfolio will usually depend on several factors, including:
Apart from the value of your investments appreciating, you can also earn regular income from some of the companies you invest in when they make a profit. This income is called a dividend. A dividend is your share of a company's profit.
As you progress in your investment journey, you will come across the phrase, "past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results". This is usually to let you know that sometimes your investments can fail, and no human or algorithm can predict how your investments will perform. A company's past performance cannot guarantee its future success, so the onus is on you to do your own research before investing in the stock market.
The stock market is a marketplace where shares and other assets are bought and sold. There are several stock markets around the world, and in the UK, the main exchange is the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
The LSE offers trading in shares from big names you'll have heard of, such as Vodafone on its main market, to smaller companies such as ASOS listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), its junior market. Anyone can buy shares on the London Stock Exchange, but you need to go through a stockbroker.
When you start investing in the stock market, you'll come across market indices. In the UK, the main indices are the FTSE 100 (an index of the 100 largest companies on the LSE), the FTSE 250 (an index of the next 250 largest companies) and the FTSE All-Share (an index of all the shares listed on the LSE's main market).
A market index is simply a group of shares of companies representing a particular segment. These companies are usually grouped by size and value.
Indices are used as benchmarks to gauge the movement and performance of market segments. For example, the FTSE 250 can be used to gauge the fortunes of the UK economy.
Beginners can invest in a variety of assets in the stock market. The major types of assets are stocks and shares, funds, bonds, commodities and properties.
Also Read: Investing in the UK (in Your 20s and 30s)
Before you start investing, it is important to separate the money you want to invest with from your emergency fund and everyday spending pot.
Your emergency fund should be equal to at least three times your monthly living expenses. This will prevent you from dipping into your investments if you find yourself in any form of major financial crisis like a job loss or severe health problem. Try to keep your emergency fund in a high-yield, easily accessible cash savings account like a cash ISA or a standard easy-access savings account.
You also want to have an everyday spending pot so that you do not feel the urge to cash out your investments every time you need to buy groceries or hang out with friends.
More importantly, it is crucial to consider your wider financial position before investing in the stock market. This might include paying off outstanding debts, such as a credit card bill or personal loan. Suppose you have £4,000 outstanding on a credit card charging interest at 19%, it will cost you £760 a year to pay back the debt. Your investments are unlikely to match this return, so it might be wise to pay off the credit card debt and other expensive debts before investing.
Once your finances are in order, you can invest as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Most investment platforms and robo advisors will allow you to start investing with as little as £25 a month, and some even accept £1 a month. Investing small amounts regularly is known as 'drip-feeding' into your investment pot, and it can sometimes be better than investing a huge lump sum once.
To invest in stocks in the UK, you need to decide first what you want to invest in (e.g. shares, bonds, funds, ETFs, commodities, etc.), then pick an investment platform, stockbroker or financial adviser, and finally, choose a tax wrapper.
Here is a breakdown of how to start investing in the stock market and a handy video on how to invest in funds (ETFs specifically) with InvestEngine:
It is also worth mentioning that if you do not want to use a tax wrapper, perhaps because you have already used up your ISA allowance for the tax year, you can choose to invest in a general investment account (GIA).
With the GIA, you are allowed to make up to £12,300 of gains tax-free. Additionally, the first £2,000 you receive in dividends is tax-free. Read our Stocks and Shares ISA guide for more information.
Here's a video on how to invest in funds (ETFs specifically) with InvestEngine:
We've outlined some typical investment fees below, focusing only on the fees charged by fund providers. Share-dealing platforms charge pretty similarly, so no need to worry about that for now.
Quick Tip: Fixed fees tend to work out cheaper for people investing high amounts, whereas percentage-based fees tend to be less expensive for those with little to invest.
Here are our seven top tips for investing in the stock market:
At Koody, we divide investment platforms into three categories based on the type of service and level of support or guidance they offer. The three categories are robo advisors, trading apps and investment platforms.
Robo advisors are technology companies that provide automated financial planning with little or no human supervision. Their products include ready-made investments, managed investments and financial advice.
Robo advisors are excellent for beginner investors or those who do not want to deal with the hassle of choosing individual stocks, shares and other investments themselves.
Compare some of the best robo advisors in the UK below. To make sense of the charges, use our robo advisor price comparison table.
Capital at risk. ISA rules apply. Other charges apply.
Moneyfarm is a UK robo advisor that provides you with a personalised investment plan based on your risk preferences. Investors can choose from seven globally diversified risk-rated portfolios, including ethical investments, if you prefer to invest in line with your values. The team at Moneyfarm actively manages your investments, but each investment portfolio is made up of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other passive trackers. You also benefit from free and personalised digital financial advice from Moneyfarm's investment consultants, and you can chat, phone, email, or meet your consultant in person. Moneyfarm's products include a Stocks and Shares ISA, General Investment Account, and Personal Pension.
Promo: Up to £500 cashback when you deposit into your account before 28 October 2022. Terms apply.
Capital at risk.
Wealthify is a UK robo advisor that allows you to choose from five investment Plans based on your attitude to risk. These investment Plans are named Cautious, Tentative, Confident, Ambitious and Adventurous and allow you to choose a risk level that best suits your needs. If you are conscious about the environment or would simply like to invest in line with your values, Wealthify’s five portfolios are also available as ethical investment plans, so you can stay true to your values while potentially growing your money. With Wealthify, the minimum investment is £1, and you can withdraw your money anytime. There is an annual platform fee of 0.60%, and fund management fees range from 0.16% to 0.70% per year, depending on your chosen investment theme. Once you complete the signup process, you can start investing with a lump sum from £1 which you can top up as frequently as you want.
Wealthify’s suite of products includes a General Investment Account, Stocks and Shares ISA, Junior ISA and SIPP in both Original and Ethical themes.
Capital at risk.
When you subscribe to Plum Plus or Plum Pro (from £1 a month), you can choose to invest your money in a variety of funds. Plum calculates how much you can afford to set aside and automatically invests that amount for you. You choose your investments based on what matters to you. For example, you could choose to invest in emerging markets, technology, ethical companies, etc. Plum offers a Stocks and Shares ISA, SIPP, and other money management tools.
Capital at risk.
Trading apps allow you to buy and sell investments such as shares, bonds, funds, ETFs, crypto and CFDs. Unlike robo advisors, they do not provide financial advice or any form of guidance. Their services are aimed at people happy making their own investment decisions.
Compare some of the best trading apps in the UK below.
Capital at risk. ISA rules apply. Other charges apply.
Freetrade is a UK mobile trading app that gives you access to thousands of UK and overseas stocks, ETFs and investment trusts covering different sectors and markets worldwide. The Freetrade mobile app can be accessed on iOS and Android and offers a slick and easy-to-use user interface and experience. The app is also a great choice for both beginners and experienced investors. With Freetrade, you can invest in fractional shares of even the most expensive US shares with as little as £2. Depositing, trading and withdrawing on Freetrade are commission-free (other charges may apply). FX rates also apply for US stocks at the spot rate + 0.45%. Freetrade’s products include a Stocks and Shares ISA, General Investment Account and SIPP.
Promo: Get a free share worth between £3 and £200.
Please note: When you invest, your capital is at risk. The value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. ISA rules apply. SIPP eligibility and tax rules apply. Free share terms and conditions apply. The reward probability is weighted, so more expensive free shares will be rarer.
Interactive Investor, recently acquired by wealth management giant abrdn, is the second-largest investment platform in the UK. Interactive Investor is well known for its fixed charges (as opposed to percentage-based fees like most other investment platforms), and it has been providing investment services and financial information since 1995. If you choose to invest with Interactive Investor, you’ll gain access to over 40,000 investment options, including UK and overseas shares, funds, investment trusts, and ETFs. This is the widest choice of UK and international investments offered by any investment platform in the UK. You will also be able to access 17 global exchanges, including exchanges in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. These include markets such as the FTSE 100, FTSE 250, FTSE All-Share, NASDAQ, Dow Jones and more. In addition to the exchanges above, Interactive Investor offers Japanese, Indian and Chinese shares in the form of ADRs (American Depositary Receipts).
Interactive Investor gives you a free trade every month, which you can use to buy or sell any investment. After that, trades usually cost £5.99. Interactive Investor also offers a free regular investing service that allows you to invest regularly without paying a trading fee each time. The site also has lots of expert ideas, research and insights, which can be helpful when choosing investments. Interactive Investor’s services include a Trading Account, Stocks and Shares ISA, SIPP and Junior ISA.
Capital at risk.
DEGIRO is an award-winning investment broker that allows you to trade in stocks, bonds, ETFs, options, futures, warrants, certificates and more across 50 international exchanges. It offers tens of thousands of regulated financial instruments that enable investors to diversify their portfolios worldwide. With DEGIRO, you can invest in up to 200 commission-free ETFs. This means you may not have to pay a dealing charge when you invest in just ETFs (terms apply). Dealing in UK stocks costs £1.75 + 0.014% per deal, while US stocks cost €0.5 + $0.004 per share and Irish stocks are €4 + 0.05% per deal. To make sense of the charges, click here. DEGIRO currently has over 1 million customers across 18 countries. It is suitable for both beginners and advanced investors, and you can access the platform on any device via the web portal or mobile app. DEGIRO does not offer an ISA or SIPP.
Capital at risk.
An investment platform, otherwise known as a fund supermarket, allows investors to buy, sell and hold a range of investments in one place, including shares, funds, bonds, commodities, properties, CFDs and more. You can think of them as a combination of robo advisors, trading apps and much more. They are quite powerful, and you can buy and sell almost any type of investment with them.
Compare some of the best investment platforms in the UK below.
Capital at risk. ISA rules apply. Other charges apply.
eToro is a multi-asset platform that offers both investing in stocks and cryptoassets, as well as trading CFDs. It is entirely free to open an account with eToro, and all registered users receive a US$100,000 demo account for free, which you can use to practice trading until you become confident. eToro gives you real-time access to thousands of stocks, ETFs and cryptocurrencies from top exchanges worldwide. If you prefer to select a ready-made portfolio, eToro has over 40 fully allocated, balanced investment portfolios, focusing on market segments you can understand and to which you can relate. Some of the portfolios include MetaverseLife, BigTech, GoldWorldWide, Vaccine-Med, BitcoinWorldWide, Diabetes-Med, Driverless, GigEconomy, and many more. These portfolios are a grouping of several assets, such as stocks, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, and even people, bundled together based on a predetermined theme or strategy. Withdrawals incur a fee of US$5, and FX rates apply to non-USD deposits and withdrawals. eToro does not offer an ISA or SIPP.
Please note: Cryptoassets are a highly volatile unregulated investment product with no UK or EU investor protection. Your capital is at risk. Additionally, 78% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Your capital is at risk. Other fees apply. For more information, visit eToro.
InvestEngine is a UK low-cost investment platform providing a choice of managed portfolios tailored to you and commission-free DIY investing to help you build long-term wealth. Users can invest in over 500 exchange-traded funds (ETFs) from iShares, Vanguard and other leading brands. With InvestEngine, you can invest in two ways depending on your investing savviness: Beginner investors or those who prefer to choose a ready-made investment portfolio can select from one of the Managed Portfolios on offer where the team of experts at InvestEngine will take care of the day-to-day investment decisions for you. These portfolios attract a platform fee of 0.25% per year. Advanced or more confident investors can choose from 500+ commission-free ETFs and build their portfolios themselves. With the DIY Portfolio, there are no platform fees. All InvestEngine portfolios are free of setup fees, dealing fees, ISA fees or withdrawal fees. InvestEngine allows you to invest via a Stocks and Shares ISA, Personal Account or Business Account.
Promo: £25 welcome bonus for new customers who invest at least £100. Terms apply.
Capital at risk.
FinecoBank is one of Europe's largest banks, with 20 years of leadership history in brokerage and over 30 million orders processed every year. Its core mission is to make online trading simple by providing direct access to the markets in just one click. With Fineco, you can access 26 global markets and trade over 20,000 financial instruments worldwide on a single account, including UK and overseas shares, ETFs, funds, bonds, and CFDs. Users can also invest and trade directly in GBP, EUR, USD, Swiss Franc and 20+ currencies. FinecoBank's products include a Trading Account and Stocks and Shares ISA.
Promo: Apply with the link below by the 31st of December 2022, and trade commission-free up to a maximum commission amount of £500. Terms apply.
Please note: When you invest, your capital is at risk. 71.97% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Vanguard is a popular low-cost investment platform with over 70 funds. You can only invest in its own funds, and it does not offer share trading. It gives you the flexibility to choose a ready-made portfolio or build your own. Vanguard's products include a SIPP, Stocks and Shares ISA and Junior ISA.
Capital at risk.
To make sense of the charges, use our investment platform comparison table.
Yes, you can lose more than the amount of money you invested in the stock market.
However, the only time you really lose money in the stock market is when you are forced to sell your investments in bad years. If you can hold on to your investments even when the market takes a hit, things should get better in the following years, but there are no guarantees.
You may also lose money if you choose to invest in only one company, and that company fails. The riskiest thing you could do in the stock market is to invest in just one company. Ideally, you should invest in at least ten companies operating in different sectors and even different geographies. We recognise that creating a diversified investment portfolio like this can be quite tricky; that’s why most investors, even the experienced ones, invest in funds.
Yes, you can make a lot of money from investing in stocks, but you can lose a lot of money too. Always remember that the stock market is not a place to create wealth. It is a place to grow your wealth.
The best way to create wealth is to build a company or get hired in an existing company. Depending on your circumstances, the business you build may create wealth for you passively or actively. As an employee, you create wealth actively by going to work and earning a wage.
The second-best way to create wealth is to cut your costs. It is the gap between your income and expenses that creates wealth. We cannot stress this enough. Do not let society pressure you into spending unnecessarily. If you need to track your expenses to understand your spending better, use our free budget app, Budget by Koody.
The third-best way to create wealth is to improve your skills. One of our favourite quotes is by best-selling author Hal Elrod. He wrote, "Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development because success is something you attract by the person you become."
It is when you have created wealth that you may invest and grow your wealth in the stock market. Wealth can be anything from £1 to £1 billion or more, depending on your circumstances. Today, many investment platforms will allow you to start investing with as little as £25 per month. Some even accept £1 per month.
There are many ways to research what to invest in. We recommend the following websites for company news, research and commentary: Motley Fool, ADVFN, Hargreaves Lansdown, Interactive Investor, CNBC, The FT and Reuters. Additionally, have a look at this Spot the Dog guide by Bestinvest - it shows underperforming funds that you probably want to avoid. Finally, we also publish a list of the best stocks to buy now (according to Koody).
As a beginner investing for the first time, you can invest as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Most investment platforms and robo advisors will allow you to start investing with as little as £25 a month, and some even accept £1 a month.
Here are some of the best ways to invest with little money:
Here are some of the best investment platforms for beginners in the UK:
For more information on how to invest, check out these investing books.
Every month, we'll send you The Plug - a curation of the best personal finance content in the UK. We share real-life stories, how-to guides, top personal finance news, popular community questions, and tips to help you stay on top of your money.