As a way of documenting the DIY Income Investor approach I am posting information about my portfolio of savings and investments. I will be giving details of any new investment decisions plus updates on performance so that you can see how the strategy works out over time.

These are real holdings and purchases/sales - this is not a 'fantasy' portfolio.

My overall financial strategy is based on holding three main groups of assets:
  • property: only our family house - buy-to-let seems like a lot of work/risk to me
  • pension funds: company employee pensions of different types plus Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) for family members
  • financial assets: cash, dividend shares and fixed-income investments

Although this blog concentrates on the management of financial assets, the other two (property and pensions) are clearly as important and SIPPs form part of the portfolio.

My financial assets are composed of four main types, in broadly equal proportions:
  • cash, including current accounts and peer-to-peer lending (there are no longer any attractive 'bonds' or savings accounts from High Street banks)
  • directly-held high-yield dividend shares
  • directly-held fixed-income securities of different types
  • Exchange Traded Funds specialising in dividend shares or fixed-income securities around the world 

All my investment purchases are on the London Stock Exchange, using Self-Select Stocks & Shares ISAs and SIPPs. I use two different ISA providers: iDealing.com and TD Direct. My Sipps are with YouInvest (formerly Sippdeal).

Savings accounts are set up in the most tax-effective way, by sharing assets with my spouse to make the most of our tax allowances.

Be aware that this is a 'mature' portfolio - it is not suitable for a beginner, who will need to work their way up the levels of the Income Pyramid.

Level 1: the solid (frugal) foundation

No debt or mortgage (and I'm continually looking for ways to reduce our family's expenditure)

Level 2: 'Easy Access' bank accounts 

Lloyds TSB Club Account,  a current (checking) account that no longer pays interest - but I do get free banking and a gardening magazine :-) The main condition of the account is that you need to pay in at least £1,500 per month and have two direct debits. I do this by just switching payments with my wife's account.

No current holdings. In the past I used Ratesetter, which was taken over by Metro Bank and shut to retail investors - Zopa may be an alternative but there is a waiting list for new lenders. 
Level 4: Collective Investments (e.g. Exchange Traded Funds, REITs, VCTs etc.)

Level 5: UK Government bonds (gilts)

No current holdings (given the current low yields)

Level 6: high-yield dividend shares (all quoted on the London Stock Exchange)

Some dividend shares in my portfolio have crashed and I am left with some 'wreckage' that I don't know what to do with:
  • Connect (CNCT) 
  • Carillion (CLLN)

Level 7: corporate debt/bonds/prefs/PIBS

Again, one of the holdings is 'mis-behaving':
  • Manchester Building Society 8% PIBS (MBSR): the coupon has been cancelled due to financial difficulties over the last couple of years - but the market price has gradually been recovering.

Portfolio Returns

Overall current (April 2021) stock market portfolio income yield is 5.1%.

The portfolio had the following quite variable performance, in 'total returns' (i.e. capital and income), making allowance for new cash invested:
  • FY 2007/08: -10% (ouch!)
  • CY 2008:      -36% (panic...)
  • FY 2008/09: -23.3% (double ouch!) 
  • CY 2009:       35.9% (oh yeah!)
  • FY 2009/10:  57.2% (phew!!)
  • CY 2010:         3.3%
  • FY 2010/11:    5.7% (?!)
  • CY 2011:        -2.5%
  • FY 2011/12:    5.9% (?!)
  • CY 2012:       33% (wow!)
  • FY 2012/13:  29%
  • CY 2013:       20.4%
  • FY 2013/14:  19.5%
  • CY 2014:       11.4%
  • FY 2014/15:    8.7%
  • CY 2015:       -3.3% (!)
  • FY 2015/16:   2.7% (?) 
  • CY 2016:       30.4% (hooray!)
  • FY 2016/17    25.5%
  • CY 2017          5.8% (hmm...)
  • FY 2017/18    -4.6%
  • CY 2018         -9.8% (!)
  • FY 2018/19     4.6%
  • CY 2019        13.1%  (Yes!)
  • FY 2019/20  -16.4% (Could be worse)
  • CY 2020        -4.0%  (Not bad, actually)
  • FY 2020/21   27.8% (Phew!)

Look at the possible benchmarks.

Portfolio Strategy

The 2007/8/9 stock market downturn hit dividend shares particularly hard. However, I held on and most of the portfolio I then owned has recovered. The same is true for the 2020 downturn - although I am now back to the previous value.

To reduce volatility. I subsequently redeployed capital to fixed-income securities, which was timely,
as this asset class boomed as a result of QE. I have taken profits in many of these but topped up with other high-yield fixed-income, aiming for a broadly 60%/40% balance between dividends and fixed income.

In addition, I have also built up the ETF portion of the portfolio to diversify geographically and currency-wise, using ETFs that target both dividend shares and fixed-income worldwide:

  • ETFs currently make up two-thirds of the portfolio, spread fairly equally between high-yield dividend shares and fixed-income. 
  • Directly-held dividend shares account for around one-fifth of the portfolio 
  • Directly-held fixed-interest securities add up to around one-eighth 
  • The rest is cash in investing accounts (typically accounting for less than 5% - there's usually something interesting to invest in!).

Previously, cash savings were held separately using Ratesetter, a peer-to-peer lender but this ceased to be an option in April 2021. At the moment I am debating how to hold cash, as most options have a very low rate of return. 

All securities held are quoted on the LSE, which is quite international in nature; at least one-third of the portfolio is specifically diversified outside the UK.

I plan to continue to move available cash savings to tax-free investments annually by taking advantage of the UK ISA and SIPP limits for my spouse, myself and kids.


There are three main types of risks to be aware of:
  • inflation
  • interest rates
  • market or specific security risk

Inflation risk is most relevant to fixed-income savings and securities: inflation can eat away the value of both your income and your capital. What is more, inflation expectations can significantly affect asset prices.

A change in base interest rates can affect the price of both fixed-income securities and dividend shares, particularly those of regulated utilities (which have some of the flavour of fixed-income).

On 'market' or 'specific security' risk the market will help you if you are a DIY Income Investor (it is more difficult if you are a 'value' investor) - be aware: the riskiest investments are usually those with the highest yields.

To manage risk I diversify my investments, aiming to hold no more than 5% of the portfolio in any single security (e.g. using ETFs) and diversifying market sectors (for dividend shares) and geographical areas.


For a 'buy and hold' investor, the following list looks much to long! However, I don't think there is much wrong with taking advantage of short-term price rises. And sometimes, you just need to sell - for example, when the future prospects don't look good.

I am not a financial adviser and the information provided does not constitute financial advice. You should always do your own research on top of what you learn here to ensure that it's right for your specific circumstances.