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Should I worry about the impact of world events on my savings?

The war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, higher interest rates, increasing inflation, an unpredictable rand/dollar exchange rate and volatile financial markets are making headlines weekly.

As a member of a Momentum retail retirement fund, you have taken the critical first step of saving for retirement.

But seeing these headlines and the turmoil it creates on world markets might have you wondering – should I be worried about my money?

Stay the course

In the middle of a crisis the stress can be so overwhelming that our strong emotions crowd out the rational mind. As retirement fund members, and investors, we know one thing: we are people, driven by strong emotions. We therefore often do exactly the opposite of what would be in our long-term financial interest. The fear of losing money is often at the heart of ill-informed financial decisions.

The worst thing that we as investors can do during times of market turmoil is panic and start changing our investment strategy. Your strategy was based on the goals you agreed with your financial adviser – and we strongly recommend you talk to your financial adviser before making any changes to your financial plan.

Although you should regularly review your financial plan with your financial adviser, in uncertain times, it is worthwhile to remember the golden rule: only change your financial plan when your circumstances change, not when the markets change.

In general, the best course of action, once you have a clear financial plan, is to do nothing. Rather than change your investments or disinvest, review your level of savings to ensure you are still on track to reach your retirement goals.

Storms in financial markets eventually abate. Generally, this time is not really that different and most often the right course of action is to remain invested.

It is important to stay the course.

Learn more about investing

When you do have that conversation with your financial adviser, why not brush up on some investment terms and lingo. After all, the better informed you are, the better questions you can ask your adviser and the more comfortable you will feel about your finances.

Here are some terms for you to know*:

Investment returns Your retirement fund invests your contributions, after deductions, in investment portfolios to make your money grow. Investment returns mean the amount by which your retirement savings account has increased. However, during times of uncertainty and market volatility, your investment portfolios can also experience negative returns, meaning your money has decreased.

Retirement fund savings are long-term, and you should typically invest more in growth asset classes like equities that have the potential for high growth, inflation-beating returns over time. So over time, the return you should receive from your investment portfolios should be quite a bit higher than a savings account with the bank or other shorter-term savings, even though the value of your retirement savings may move up and down over time.
Investment portfolio An investment portfolio can be a basket of mixed asset classes made up of equities, property, bonds, cash, and other specialised asset classes.
Diversification It’s important to have a diversified investment portfolio when it comes to investing your retirement savings. This means that instead of putting all your money into a single company, industry sector or asset class, the experts that manage your money and make it grow spread the money across a range of suitable companies, industries, and asset classes. In this way, when one investment does not perform well, another better-performing investment can compensate for that.

This strategy helps to manage risk. It’s a bit like not putting all your eggs into one basket.
Asset class An asset class is a group of investments that have similar characteristics and are subject to the same rules. The main asset classes for retirement savings are equities, bonds, and cash.
Bonds Bonds are an important asset class for retirement fund members. With a bond, you are like a bank. You lend your savings to a borrower, like the government or a company, who promises to pay you the money back in full with regular interest payments on specified dates. These regular payments are your return on investment (ROI) that can grow your retirement savings.
Cash Cash is another asset class retirement fund members could consider as part of their investment portfolio. A low risk, low return asset, cash is usually the safest asset class in the short-term as its value does not fluctuate.
Equities (or shares) Equities, also known as shares, are one of the main asset classes that your retirement savings could be invested in. Investing in equities means buying a share in a company. These high-growth assets increase in value as the company’s value increases.

Equities tend to earn high, inflation-beating returns over time. This makes them a great place for long-term investments like retirement savings because your money maintains its purchasing power and can grow into a much larger amount. But the value of equities can go up and down in the short-term in line with the market.

You can also learn more about the terminology on fact sheets.

Getting financial advice

A financial adviser can make a huge difference in planning your financial future. A financial adviser can help you stay focused and on track to achieve your financial goals.

Research shows that people who take advice over the long term are more likely to accumulate wealth and have more income in retirement than those that don’t use a financial adviser.

We recommend that you get in touch with your financial adviser to plan for your retirement together.

South African retirement funds must also give their members access to retirement benefit counselling when they are close to retirement and at retirement.

If you don’t have a financial adviser and would like to speak to one, click on the 'Find an adviser' button below.

In case you missed it

Find all our previous newsletters under one, easy-to-find space, for
your convenience.

Retirement funds trustee newsletter 2023

Learn more

Retirement funds trustee newsletter 2021

Learn more

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