If you are new to investing online, do not put your entitlement life savings into an online account. Start with a smaller sum, which will be easier to handle and keep track of. Once you feel confident, you can then decide to add more money to your investing online account.
Once online, many investors tend to concentrate on stocks, specifically large-cap domestic stocks. While these stocks should make up part of your portfolio, they should not be ALL of it! Take into account your time horizon and risk tolerance to develop a well-balanced portfolio of stocks, bonds, and cash.
If you're new to investing online and are looking to open a brokerage account, there are some important facts you should know before choosing a broker. Each one has strengths and weaknesses, but not everyone sees a broker in the same way. For example, if you're comfortable finding your own research for investing online, then the deep discount brokers will work well for you.
Ask yourself …
What services are offered? Do they have research available? What is the cost to you for investing online? What are the real commission costs to do a trade, including any handling fees? How are confirmations sent to you – by e-mail, by snail mail, by phone? Can you enter orders by phone, by e-mail, directly on-line? Does it cost extra to call and talk to a broker for help with your account?
Basically you can make money from trading money. If you have US dollars you can buy British pounds for a set rate and they trade the money back in the future at a different rate. This can make your gains immense. Much larger than gains made on the stock market. Just as the upside for currency trading is high, the downside is just as scary and can be immense also. There are currency trading brokers available on line that can provide strategies to limit your losses and maximize your gains.
In a low interest rate environment like the US, it can be a problem to invest in secure high-yielding fixed income investments. Most of these investments are around the base rate as set by the government. It would be difficult to get secure investments around the 3% mark. In New Zealand or Australia some fixed interest investments are worth 7.5% or 8%. An issue with making an investment abroad is that currency rates are so volatile that even though you make 5% on yield, that gain can be wiped out in currency rates.
Equally, currency rates can work in your favor and your investment will have an extremely high yield. To eliminate this uncertainty you can make a foreign investment today using a spot trade and also set up a forward trade at the time of investment maturity. This way you eliminate currency risk in your investment and can capitalize on foreign products. Setting up a forward trade costs money but in many instances the cost of the trade is minimal in comparison to the gains that can be made.