Is it best to diversify or to pick out shares?

Richard | 05/02/2017 | 3

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Richard's question in full

Hi Holly, I hope this finds you well. You gave me some advise the other week re funds. I have taken up your advise as below and also what you said in the Times last year regarding investing £10k, I now have a portfolio of about £30k in funds, I have done a lot of research and happy with what I have, accumulation, income with some risk attached over 12 or so funds. I have also set up a 'DD' to feed the funds each month, which seems to be recommended advice by many. I have taken out a Standard Life pension to top up my police pension in 12 years time when I hit 67 and can draw my state pension. I have signed up with HL as a platform provider, I know they are a bit more expensive but I like their site and the way they explain stuff. I have just had a good look on 'Boring Money' re investing in shares. I am particularly interested to know whether it is best to diversify and try and cover of a number of shares with investments or to pick out a smaller number and invest more. I cannot find anything, I have trawled thru the Tribe site too. Should I invest in say 20 shares with between 100/200 pounds or a lesser number with much more investments or am I better to put these monies into another fund ? Robotics, US Mid range companies, wait for Woodfords Income 5% bond in March etc, plus I would save on HL fees if I invest in another fund, whereas they will charge me for purchasing shares and topping up, I think ! I am tempted to leave shares alone but maybe I am missing a trick ! These are all long term investments, which I want to periodically check but leave alone. I am learning a lot and enjoying it, so thanks again... Best Richard

Holly Mackay's Response

Hi Richard


You will pay about £10 a pop every time you buy a share. Which makes no sense for smaller investments – you’re under water by a significant  % before you have started.

I also think investing is one of those things where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I include myself in that. I don’t invest in any shares as I can’t keep up with them. I think it’s too risky. I’d rather pay a boffin who spends all day staring at screens!

You sound like you have a good balanced chunk of investments which have spread the risk around in shares. If I were you I would top up existing funds OR think about a low-cost passive ‘multi-asset fund’ such as the Vanguard LifeStrategy range. And then leave it alone. Buying a portfolio of 20 shares could be a nightmare. You’ll overlap with some you own already in your funds and you’ll lose a lot in trading fees.

Just an opinion….!

Good luck



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Holly Mackay

Founder and MD of Boring Money, Holly Mackay has been working in the investments space since 1998. She read Modern Languages at Oxford, with a special focus on Mediaeval French which was deeply interesting and arguably utterly useless.

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