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Thursday, March 19 2015

Many people are reluctant to actively invest for their retirment because they are concerned about risk. Therefore they choose to do nothing believing this is a "safe bet". Unfortunately inaction carries with it as much risk as taking action. In fact I would argue greater risk.

Warren Buffet, one of the worlds wealthiest indivuals, highlighted this in his recent letter to his clients. The simple message - if you try to play it safe by holding cash you will go backwards.

By way of example he compared the performance of holding the S&P500 with holding cash over a 50 year period. The S&P 500 achieved a 11,196 per cent return as opposed to cash which depreciated by 87 per cent over the same period.

At certain points in time cash may be a safe haven but it is only effective in the short term. Over the long term (with the correct approach and advice) assets like property and shares will grow in value while the real value of cash will go backwards. Sure you can reinvest interest in your cash holdings but what are you actually doing? Your rate of return is only matching the inflation rate so at best you are treading water but after tax you are steadily going backward. 

Assuming an average rate of inflation of 3% the real value of $100,000 would reduce by more than $25,000 over 10 years. If that was $1 million dollars then that would be more $250,000.

The reality is there's no such thing as playing it safe. But if you choose to do nothing your outcome is guranteed.

Posted by: Greg Carroll AT 01:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email