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, 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.
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).
- Emerging Markets:
- iShares Emerging Markets Local Government Bond UCITS ETF (SEML)
- SPDR S&P Emerging Markets Dividend ETF (EMDV)
- SPDR Barclays Emerging Markets Local Bond UCITS ETF (EMDD)
- iShares $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (SHYU/IHYU)
- Asia Pacific:
- British Smaller Companies VCT (BSV)
Level 5: UK Government bonds (gilts)
Level 6: high-yield dividend shares (all quoted on the London Stock Exchange)
- Anglo Pacific Group (APF)
- BP (BP.)
- Galliford Try (GFRD)
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
- Maven Income & Growth VCT PLC (MIG1)
- Redefine International (RDI)
Some dividend shares in my portfolio have yields or track record that I am not happy with and are on my 'potential sell' list (i.e. 'if and when' the price recovers!):
- Connect (CNCT)
- Countrywide (CWD)
- Interserve (IRV)
- Carillion (CLLN)
Level 7: corporate debt/bonds/prefs/PIBS
- RSA Group 7 3/8% Cumulative Preference Share (RSAB)
- Skipton Building Society 8.5% PIBS (SBSA)
- Barclays 7.125% 2049 Subordinated (EB20)
- Provident Financial 7% 2020 (PFG7)
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.
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.
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 not yet 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 to maintain a broadly 50%/50% 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 separatelyusing 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:
- 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.
- Lloyds 6.3673% Non-Cumulative Preference Share (LLPG)
- HSBC Holdings (HSBA)
- Phoenix Group (PHNX)
- Huntsworth (HNT)
- Pan American Resources (PAF)
- Infinis Energy (INFI)
- RSA Group (RSA)
- Grafenia (GRA)
- Berkeley Group (BRG)
- db x-trackers Stoxx Global Select Dividend 100 UCITS ETF (XGSD)
- City of London Investment Group (CILG)
- Balfour Beatty (BBY)
- Halifax 9.375% (9 3/8%) Perpetual Subordinated Bond (HALP)
- Friends Group Limited (FGL)
- Manchester Building Society 8% PIBS (MSBR)
- Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust (SLI)
- Barclays (BARC)
- Home Retail Group (HOME)
- Aviva 8 3/4% Cum. Irrd. Pref (AV.A)
- iShares EURO STOXX Select Dividend 30 ETF (IDVY)
- Halifax plc 9 3/8% 2021 (EH21)
- Principality Building Society 7% PIBS (PPR7)
- William Hill (WMH)
- First Group (FGP)
- Nationwide 7.25% PIBS (callable 2021) (POB) - tender offer
- Standard Chartered 8.103% Perpetual (ESC6)
- Yorkshire Building Society 13.5% (YBS13.5) - tender offer
- iShares Markit iBoxx £ Corporate Bond ex-Financials ETF (ISXF)
- Aviva (AV.)
- Carillion (CLLN)
- Balfour Beatty (BBY)
- National Grid (NG.)
- AstraZeneca (AZN)
- Centaur Media (CAU)
- Chesnara (CSN)
- African Barrick Gold (ABG)
- Braemar Shipping Services (BMS)
- Vodafone Group (VOD)
- Tullett Prebon (TLPR)
- Morgan Sindall (MGNS)
- SEGRO (SGRO)
- Smiths News (NWS)
- SSE (Scottish & Southern Energy) (SSE)
- BAE Systems (BA.)
- Lloyds Banking Group 6.475% Non-Cum Pref Shares (LLPE)
- Homeserve (HSV)
- BT Group (BT.A)
- Persimmon (PSN)
- Sainsbury (SBRY)
- Intermediate Capital Group (ICP)
- Legal & General (LGEN)
- Santander UK 10 3/8% Preference Shares (SAN)
- Enterprise Inns 6.5% 2018 Corporate Bond (47VU)
- Catlin Group (CGL)
- Consols (UK government perpetual bonds - CN4)
Here are some investments possibilities that I have looked at in the past - but not bought, or I have subsequently sold them: they are all quoted on the London Stock Exchange:
- Newcastle Building Society PIBS
- Abbey National Perpetual Bond
- British Land (REIT)
- Thomas Cook - major business model problems
- The Merchants Trust (Investment Trust)
- Picton Property Investment Trust - dividend now cut significantly
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.