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Advantages and disadvantages of micro investing platforms explained

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Micro-investing apps can be an easy way for Australians to dip their toe into investing, but experts warn the platforms still pose a potential financial risk.

Financial experts say there are advantages and disadvantages to the platforms and here, we break them down.

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What is the risk with micro-investing?

With all investing, there is a level of risk.

Finance expert Mark Humphrey-Jenner says micro-investing apps pose the same risk as "the broader market".

"Say, for example, you put your money into a micro-investing platform, that platform is going to invest your money on your behalf," the associate professor of finance at the University of New South Wales told 9news.com.au.

"It's going to invest in an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that will capture different things like the ASX 200.

"You're exposed to the same market risk.

"In that respect, it's no less risky than going to an online broker."

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AFR, ASX Bridge St Sydney 5th October 2022 Photo:Natalie Boog

Who are micro-investing apps good for?

Micro-investing platforms are marketed as an easy way to dip your toe into the investing world without a lot of financial experience.

But Humphrey-Jenner added the platforms can also be helpful for people who struggle to save money.

"It can be good for people who will go out and spend everything in their bank account instead of investing themselves," he said.

"It can also sometimes be more cost-effective than going out and buying stocks everyday because you have to pay a trading fee."

What should I do before jumping into micro-investing?

Like all things in the financial world, it comes with caveats and warnings.

Sally Tindall from financial comparison website RateCity said Australians should take some time before dipping their toe into micro-investing to make sure their finances are in good shape, they know their budget and understand their risk appetite.

"People should consider knocking off bad debts first before you jump in. Don't get sidetracked on what's important in your budget because it can burn a hole," she said.

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RateCity Sally Tindall speaks on savings interest rates being slashed.

Tindall said users should set some goals and be wary of the round-up function. 

"It can seem really convenient because you can be investing without thinking about it, but I would encourage you to think about it," she said.

"It's better to set your own budget and be in control of investing instead of an app rounding up your coffee purchases."

Tindall also said not to "put all your eggs in one basket" and the "golden rule of investing is to diversify".

Beware of the administration fees and taking money out

With all investments, there is always an additional cost like administration fees.

Tindall warned these can often catch users off-guard when trialling the platforms.

Humphrey-Jenner added the monthly fees can quickly add up and outweigh the benefit of the small investment amounts.

"Say you put in a small balance but then the market skyrockets and goes up 50 per cent, then the returns would outweigh the fees but generally you can't count on the market going up an astronomical amount to outweigh the fee," he said.

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Both Tindall and Humprey-Jenner said users should read the product disclosure statement on the apps before signing up to understand how to take their money out of the platforms.

"Most of these platforms say it's easy to take the money out and that is sort of true but the issue is if you want to exit your investment, you need to read the fine print and understand what price (the app) will give you for your investment," Humphrey-Jenner said.

Tindall added users should understand the tax implications micro-investing may have and make sure to talk to an accountant before signing up.

The information provided on this website is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information on this website you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.



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