One paradox of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is that even as businesses have shut down and jobs have disappeared, some British households have on average been saving more money than they usually do, due to lower spending, according to new research .
But the choice between holding large amounts of cash long term in a savings account versus investing could have a big impact on your future wealth. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, data also highlighted the fact that a considerable number of people already had substantial amounts of money in cash, including those with £250k or more in investable assets.
More money to invest than usual
The research reveals that 18% of those with £250k or more in investable assets have 40-60% of these assets in cash, or at least £100k. This group have also benefitted from the lockdown as 35.5% have said they have more money to invest than usual.
During periods of stock market volatility, which we’ve seen over the past year, it’s totally understandable that cash feels safe, and can be looked upon as a security blanket of sorts. But in the long run, it can do more harm than good to your financial wellbeing.
Below the rate of inflation
By leaving large amounts of money sitting in cash you could be losing out on substantial returns over the long run. The rates of return on cash accounts are extremely low and have plummeted further still since the COVID-19 outbreak, with the average currently below the rate of inflation.
The research also reveals this group are aware of the opportunities, as 42%, the largest of any wealth group, think there are good opportunities in the current market. Indeed, 29% would like to move their cash to investment but don’t know what to do, and 37% plan to be more active with their investments overall.
Long-term return for specific goals
Every investor needs a cash buffer in case of emergencies, but too much can negatively impact on returns. A good rule of thumb is to save six months of your salary in cash and then invest in a spread of different assets that can deliver a long-term return for your specific goals.
It’s important to do this in the most tax efficient way, by making sure you fully utilise your allowances, including the Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance and the pension allowance.
Purchasing power over time
You might choose to invest because you are looking to achieve potentially higher returns on your money than you might get from holding cash and are comfortable with the idea of setting your money aside for the long term (at least five years or more).
Whether you’re concerned that you’ll lose your money or just don’t know where to begin investing, it’s common for some people to hold large cash balances in deposit accounts, especially in times of market uncertainty. But historically cash has not been a good store of value for individuals due to the corrosive nature of inflation eating into its purchasing power over time.
Well-structured and well-diversified portfolio
This is particularly acute in the current environment where deposit rates on cash are low and in the event inflation starts to accelerate. If you have excess cash balances you should consider how to protect and grow your capital to meet your specific needs.
Investing does, of course, carry its own risks but a well-structured and well-diversified portfolio, tailored to an individual’s requirements and managed sensibly, ought to protect capital from inflation and the decline in purchasing power over time. Diversifying your investment portfolio is one of the best ways to reduce risk, and thus promote growth.
If you have any questions about this article get in touch via our contact form, or if you would like to speak directly to one of our advisors please don’t hesitate to contact Waverton Wealth Director and Chartered Financial Planner, Stephen Hall.
Source data:  Quilter research of 2,005 UK adults aged 40+ carried out by Toluna. According to ONS figures over-40s hold 90% of the UK’s savings