Showing posts with label investing expenses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label investing expenses. Show all posts

Friday, 25 October 2019

Vanguard lowers expenses

Vanguard logo
If you’re a UK based investor who’s interested in keeping investment expenses low then it’s highly likely that you’re using Vanguard index and exchange traded funds (ETFs).  If that’s you then on Wednesday there was some good news with Vanguard lowering many of the annual expenses associated with these funds.  Full details are here which contains a list of the OCF reductions.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

The Passive Investing vs Active Investing Debate

A search on Google for passive investing vs active investing yields 1,330,000 results with plenty of support on both sides of the fence.  In brief passive investing is a method where you buy an investment product that simply tracks an index.  They are commonly called index trackers and with this method you expect to do no better than the index it is tracking after expenses.

In contrast active investing is a method where you pay a financial professional higher expenses than those of a passive tracker and in exchange he or she is supposed to beat an index s/he is measured against.

Beating the index is the critical point as research I’ve quoted before shows that somebody entrusting their money to a UK financial advisor or investment manager will be paying an average 2.56% annually for financial planning services and financial product expenses.

Let’s demonstrate the effect these expenses can wreak with a simple example knowing that UK equities have ‘only’ returned a real 5.0% over the last 116 years.  Passive Punter self invests £10,000 into a UK Equity Passive Fund which sees expenses of 0.25% and then promptly forgets about it for 20 years.  Assuming that fund returns a real annualised 5.0% before expenses over that period our Passive Punter ends up with a real £25,298.  So far so good.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Look after the pennies...

...and the pounds will look after themselves.  A reasonably well known proverb that simply means if you focus on saving many small amounts of money you'll soon amass a large amount.  It’s also a proverb that in the circle of people I associate with both at work and in my personal life seems to not get a lot of attention.  I’m a little different and so it’s a proverb I’ve lived throughout my journey to financial independence and one I continue focusing on even as I sit here typing this post with over £1 million of wealth to my name.  Let me give a couple of examples of it in action over the past few weeks.

The financial services industry is a voracious beast that is continually trying to devour as much of its host as possible without its host noticing (all in my honest opinion of course).  I showed this previously by referencing a Grant Thornton study that concluded that someone entrusting £100,000 for 10 years to a UK financial adviser or investment manager would pay an average 2.56% annually for financial planning services and financial product expenses. 

In contrast to this my work defined contribution scheme extracts 0.6% in annual expenses from me.  Sounds like a great deal in contrast but in relation to what I know is possible I know it’s still expensive.  I choose to be a part of the scheme because it allows me to receive free money in the form of an employers match to my contributions up to a contribution limit.  Additionally by salary sacrificing I save on employees National Insurance and my employer saves on employers National Insurance for which they also pay some of the savings they make into my pension (I actually think it’s derogatory that they don’t pay all of the savings but that’s for another day).  Amazingly some people in my company don’t seem to be contributing to the scheme at all which is just turning down free money but the remainder I’ve spoken to seem to be happy just leaving their pension investments in that scheme which means they are losing 0.6% of their wealth every year.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Why I won’t be using Vanguard wrappers


Vanguard has recently announced that in addition to the ETF’s and mutual funds (OEICs) currently offered, they will now offer a selection of wrappers to hold them in.  Given one of my mantras is to always minimise investment expenses and given Vanguard’s low cost reputation this should be a great thing.  Let’s take a look.

Firstly, let’s look at my SIPPs.  I have two – one from Hargreaves Lansdown and the other from YouInvest.  Over the years, despite pushing the actively managed variety through schemes like The Wealth 150, Hargreaves Lansdown have made it unattractive from an expense perspective to hold mutual funds in a SIPP wrapper.  The first £250,000 attracts a charge of 0.45%, the next £750,000 a charge of 0.25%, the next £1,000,000 a charge of 0.1% and above that level there is no charge.  In contrast shares, investment trusts, ETF’s, gilts and bonds attract a flat charge of 0.45% but importantly it’s capped at £200 per annum.  This meant that when I first started transferring my expensive employers insurance company based Group Personal Pension (GPPP) into Hargreaves Lansdown I went straight for direct shares (REIT’s such as Hansteen, Segro, British Land, etc) or ETF’s (VERX, ISXF, VFEM etc).  I currently have a little over £250,000 worth of wealth in my Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP meaning my annual wrapper expense is capped at £200 or 0.08%.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Rearranging my YouInvest SIPP

I have had a YouInvest (formerly Sippdeal) SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension) wrapper since 2011.  It came about when I first started transferring expensive insurance company based Stakeholder and Group Personal Pensions across to SIPP’s to save on expenses.  Over the years this SIPP has grown steadily to become a significant portion of my wealth as it now contains circa £200,000.

Within the YouInvest SIPP I was holding the following three investment products:
  • The Vanguard FTSE U.K. All Share Index Unit Trust with annual expenses of 0.08%;
  • The Vanguard U.K. Inflation-Linked Gilt Index Fund with annual expenses of 0.15%; and
  • The iShares European Property Yield UCITS (IPRP) with annual expenses of 0.4%.

For the privilege of using the YouInvest SIPP wrapper I was also paying annual expenses of £300 which was coming in the form of:
  • A YouInvest SIPP custody charge of £25 per quarter as my SIPP value was greater than £20,000; and
  • A YouInvest Funds (Unit trusts and OEICs) charge of 0.2% per annum but which was capped at a maximum of £50 per quarter

Life was good and even though I didn’t like paying the £300 per annum I didn’t do anything about it as to correct it I would have had to be out of the market and might lose significantly more than I gained.  That was until I received a notification from YouInvest in early August 2016 that they were intending to change their charging structure from the 01 October 2016 which included a great reason [sic] for the change – “We believe this will be easier to understand, whilst maintaining AJ Bell’s commitment to offering some of the lowest charges in the market.”

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Can you afford to not DIY invest

Grant Thornton has completed some research (free FT link or Google “How much do you really pay your money manager?”) which concludes that someone entrusting £100,000 for 10 years to a UK financial adviser or investment manager would pay an average 2.56% annually for financial planning services and financial product expenses.  Let’s look at what that might mean during both the wealth accumulation and drawdown (assuming no annuity is purchased) phases of a typical investor.

Wealth accumulation phase

When it comes to investment return, excluding expenses, I believe that active investing is a zero sum game resulting in average performance no better than that of the market average.  Of course there will be some winners and some losers, particularly in the short term, but that’s for another day.  Today let’s therefore assume that the investment return these money managers achieve is that of the market.  Let’s look at a couple of possible portfolios.

Unfortunately, the Vanguard LifeStrategy funds have only been around 5 years or so which isn’t enough time to use for this study as I need 10 years (or so) of data.  Vanguard does however have an interesting Asset class risk tool (h/t diy investor (uk))which allows you to input a period and an asset allocation.  Let’s create a reasonably balanced portfolio with 60% stocks, 35% bonds and 5% cash and run for a period of 10 years.

10 year time frame, 60% stocks (FTSE UK All Share Total Return Index), 35% bonds (FTSE British Govt. Fixed All Stocks Total Return Index (1983 - 2013) and BarCap Sterling Aggregate Total Return Index), 5% cash (LIBOR 3-month average over the year)
Click to enlarge, 10 year time frame, 60% stocks (FTSE UK All Share Total Return Index), 35% bonds (FTSE British Govt. Fixed All Stocks Total Return Index (1983 - 2013) and BarCap Sterling Aggregate Total Return Index), 5% cash (LIBOR 3-month average over the year)

The result is an average annual investment return of 5.59%.  So with this return what does our investor have left after a few subtractions.  Firstly, let’s subtract the erosion caused by inflation.  The RPI has averaged 2.87% over the last 10 years.  Subtracting that gives us a real return of 2.72%.  Now let our money manager and the investment products s/he is peddling take their cut of 2.56%.  Oops our real return is now 0.16%.  Looking at it another way our average money manager/investment product provider is taking 94% of our real return, leaving us with 6% only, which is hardly conducive to long term wealth building.  It also gets worse as that will be before portfolio turnover costs, taxes and trading costs to name but three.  After those we’ve probably nearly done no better, or maybe even worse, than matching inflation which might mean we’re actually even going backwards.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The power of AND

Putting the scores on the doors reveals that I progressed to my Financial Independence number at a rate greater than 0.9% per month.  In hindsight this wasn’t because of any one particular silver bullet but instead was made possible by focusing on the personal finance many, rather than a few, or even the one talked about so often, investment return.  Putting it another way I focused on the personal finance AND.  Mechanically that included earning more and spending less and an appropriate portfolio and minimising taxes and minimising expenses and investment return.  Psychologically that included starting and determination and accepting I’ll make mistakes and never becoming a victim to name a few.

Over the last couple of weeks I think I’ve shown this trait again by maximising pension contributions while also minimising expenses.

I have two low cost SIPP’s (two rather than one is for risk minimisation reasons) in which I buy low cost tracker products.  This is my method of minimising pension wrapper expenses and investment product expenses.  However, even though I have these and they would enable me to defer tax if I invested in them directly I choose not to use this route.  Instead all my contributions enter pension wrappers via my employer’s expensive defined contribution old school insurance company group personal pension.  I do it this way as in addition to deferring tax like I could also do in the SIPP this maximises my contributions in a few more ways:
  • My company does an employer match up to a few percent, which of course I take advantage of, however I also contribute a lot more than this for the two reasons below;
  • My company allows salary sacrifice which means I get an extra 2% contribution into my pension rather than it being lost to employee national insurance contributions;
  • My company adds 10% of the 13.8% employer national insurance contributions that they save if I sacrifice into the pension. 
So I’ve maximised contributions but my employer’s pension scheme then has the big elephant in the room - Expenses.  I try and keep it to a minimum by buying into their tracker funds but even this means I’m paying annual expenses of between 0.6% and 0.87% depending on fund selected.  I can do much better than that in my SIPP’s.  So the trick is to complete a partial transfer into my SIPP when the pot becomes a reasonable size.  The last time I did this it could only be described as a palaver however this time the more appropriate description would be a doddle.