This article is about the basics of investing in shares. It is a well known fact that the markets have outperformed other asset classes such as property over time. Investing in shares offer tax benefits, diversification, flexibility and control over your own financial future. Buying a share (or in other words the stock) means that you are buying a share of the company. You own a share of the profits, which are handed down to shareholders through dividends and you can also see capital growth as share price increases. The company benefits from listing on the stock market as they can finance their business or an expansion plan without needing to borrow money.
But before you jump into investing into any company shares, here are a few important questions to ponder and answer to help assess your own financial situation and your financial goals for the future: What is the outcome that you want to achieve from investing in shares? What kind of return would you like? Income from company dividends or capital growth? Are you aware of the risks? And are you prepared to take the risk of investing your capital in the share market for the opportunity for a return?
Starting capital for investing in shares can vary greatly: but if you are looking to start with the minimal amount, you can start investing from $500 plus brokerage costs. However, most people start with $2000.
Another part of a sound comprehensive investment plan (of which investing in shares is one component) is considering your time frame as well as your age. For example, someone who is young have the time to risk a little more (since they have time to recover any major losses) but may have limited capital to invest with. Older people have less time to correct any major loss, hence have to choose more secure investments but are more likely to have more capital to play with.
Holding shares and investing in stocks may have tax implications and you may be eligible for some tax benefits. When companies have paid tax on their profits, as the dividends are distributed to the shareholders, tax credits which are called franking credits are included per share. The franking credits can then be used to offset the tax payable on your other income. Another tax benefit that may be available to you is a 50 percent discount on capital gains payable if you hold your shares for longer than 12 months. Please obtain professional advice from your accountant which suits your particular circumstances.
Investing in shares allows you the investor to diversify. This will spread your risk and you may choose to distribute your risk over different industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare or the risky exploration sector.
Another benefit in investing in shares is that you basically have flexibility of choice: you can buy or sell shares quickly as you please. For highly liquid shares, once you execute a sell order, you have access to your cash within two days. Compared to other investment classes (such as real estate) it may take much longer to exchange or liquidate your investment into cash.
Finally, choosing to invest in shares you’ve basically put yourself into the driving seat of your financial future. You’ve got the steering wheel and you are in charge of controlling your financial future – you have the responsibility of choosing where your investment capital will be placed and for how long. You may also choose to use a full service broker to give you further advice.