BLOG: It’s time to bite the bullet and take more risk with your money

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The death of the UK saver was officially marked today with a mock funeral outside the Bank of England on Threadneedle Street.
BLOG: It’s time to bite the bullet and take more risk with your money

Campaign group Save Our Savers organised the demonstration to emphasise how five years of record low interest rates have savaged the nation’s savers.

Simon Rose of Save Our Savers said: “We are gathered to mourn our dearly departed savings, under attack for the past five years from the blight known as the MPC [Monetary Policy Committee].

“This canker selectively attacks savers, stealing their life blood, using it to invigorate borrowers and making them ever more dependent upon debt.”

A mock funeral may sound like a dramatic gesture but the reality is that since the bank rate was cut to 0.5% in March 2009, savers in UK banks and building societies have lost a staggering £326.3bn, the equivalent of £5,123 for every man, woman and child in Britain.

In today’s post-credit crunch environment, where the cost of living is still dramatically outpacing wage increases, putting any money aside at all is no mean feat.

But thanks to the impact of inflation, those prudent enough to have a safety net in place are losing money in real terms.

One solution to this issue – which is unsurprisingly being strongly advocated by fund manager groups – is for savers to ditch cash accounts altogether and invest their money in more volatile stock markets. Their message is: take more risk, but get more in return.

Despite the clear self-interest of their message, they have a point. If you want to get above inflation rate returns you will need to take some sort of risk with your money.

F&C Investments is the latest fund group to illustrate the benefits of investing, pointing out that if the average UK household invested half of its estimated £100 a month average savings into a stocks and shares ISA, it could receive a return of £43,143 over 25 years, almost triple the amount invested in a cash equivalent product.

An example from Fidelity, meanwhile, showed that if a saver had invested £1,000 in the average high street cash savings account ten years ago, they’d now be left with £1,106.71. But if they had invested £1,000 in the FTSE All Share ten years ago, they’d now be left with £2,201.41.

These numbers speak for themselves. They prove that the one in five people polled by F&C who thought cash provides similar returns to investments for less risk were massively wrong.

But moving your savings out of the perceived safety of cash accounts and into the unpredictable world of stock market investing requires a complete change of mind-set.

You have to be prepared for the ups and downs, the periods of underperformance as well as outperformance.

But if you have a long savings time line – say five years or longer – the figures above prove that it’s worth taking some risk.

If you don’t feel confident managing your investments yourself, get advice. There is no end to the list of professional investors who would be more than happy to look after your money on your behalf.

Joanna Faith is editor of

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