Erica’s investment journey: “I just turned 30. I wanted to start taking my money into my own hands”

11 July, 2017

Making the leap from sports reporter to financial brand spokesperson meant learning a whole new game for Erica Whyte. And just like anyone who takes their first steps into investments, she found it tough to even get past the sign-up process. But then with a stroke of genius, Erica enlisted the help of her new Charles Stanley Direct (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/isas-pensions/charles-stanley-direct/) colleagues, grabbed her camera, and created a series of videos (https://youtu.be/e5eITAUteFY) to take other wannabe investors along with her on her financial learning journey.

Just like anybody who’s trying to get into investing, I’m a complete beginner

“I’ve never been particularly good with money. I’ve always sort of turned a blind eye and not checked my balance, hoping I could make it through the rest of the month. But now that I’m a little older I wanted to actually take things seriously and start taking my own money into my own hands, and that’s when I started doing my research and dabbling in investing.

“I just turned 30, and as you get older your priorities do start to shift a little bit. You go from living paycheque to paycheque and going out to dinners and having a great time with your friends, to thinking a little bit farther into the future than just two weeks’ time. I live in a rented home so I would love to make a house purchase. And I’d love to feel more financially secure, especially as a woman. So that’s when I decided to take the plunge, do some research, and open up my Charles Stanley (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/isas-pensions/charles-stanley-direct/) account.

“The videos we made (https://youtu.be/e5eITAUteFY) are me on my actual, authentic journey, learning what the heck investing even is and how I can use it and maximise it to make best for my future self. I don’t feel like I’m an expert now but I understand what is going on and I can check my investments and think its super fun, whereas six months ago I had no idea!”

The biggest surprise was how inaccessible it feels to normal people

“Going from zero knowledge to now feeling like I have a lay of the land, I think the one thing that surprised me most throughout the journey was how the language that a lot of investment companies use makes investing feel so inaccessible to a normal person. Like if you don’t have a degree in finance or a background in economics or your parents are bankers then you don’t have a chance to use investing to your advantage.

“I think everybody should have the opportunity to be financially literate and feel financially safe, and the key to that shouldn’t be buried beneath the barriers that financial jargon currently holds. Otherwise it can be like, woah, this is too complicated for me, I’m just going to stick to what I know, which is holding my money in my savings account until I die.

“For me, I’m coming at it from dumdum level. Literally ground zero of finance knowledge! So I’m learning things like ‘what is an ISA (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/learn/investing-guides/product-guides/stocks-shares-isa/)?’, ‘what is impact investing (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/sustainable-savers-old/)’, and all these things that a finance expert would probably think everybody should already know. This way we can all pave a great future for all of us – investing shouldn’t just be an elite activity.”

Investing is actually fun now that I understand it – it’s sort of like sports

“Forgive me for bringing a sports analogy into this, but I see it kind of like this: whenever I participate in fantasy sports – like making little bets on which individual players would do well instead of just betting on the team – I automatically become more interested in sports as a whole. I’ve found that it’s the same with investing.

“I’m invested in a couple of different funds, which means I own a bunch of tiny bits of a broad range of companies. And now I’m interested in business news and I wonder what Elon Musk tweeted today and who McDonalds picked for their fake meat partner, etc. It’s made me become so much more interested in news as a whole, because now I am investing so it’s in my best interest to know if the companies I’m rooting for do well.

“Impact investing is also something that piqued my interest. Doing good for the future world and considering the environment are things that I do in my day-to-day life, so impact investing and focusing on ESG was something that I really gravitated towards because of the way I structure my life as a whole.”

The hardest part by far was the very start. Don’t give up!

“The biggest wall I came across was in the signup process, when the first thing you have to do is decide which account suits you best. On Charles Stanley Direct (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/isas-pensions/charles-stanley-direct/) you’ve got SIPP, ISA, Junior ISA and Investment Account. And that’s step one. So right away, not knowing the difference between those four accounts would be enough to put someone off if they aren’t educated enough on just the basics. That’s why it was important to me when making our videos that one of the first thing we address was account types, because to me with a total novice perspective I didn’t know the difference.

“Thankfully, just before lockdown we wrapped on filming a second series to accompany the Novice Investor videos, which we’re calling the Charles Stanley Learning Centre. It’s basically me as a school teacher explaining jargon terms in normal human language. So I’m explaining things like impact investing and what is pound-cost-averaging and basic things that build on the first set of videos.

“Because at the end of the day, knowledge is power. There can be so much anxiety around money these days, especially for our generation, and a lot of that is fear of the unknown. But the more you understand and have knowledge about these decisions, the more compelled and empowered you feel to take that plunge and start that journey. So don’t be afraid to start!”

Watch Erica’s Investment Journey video series, and find other helpful resources for beginners, on Charles Stanley Direct’s New To Investing (https://www.charles-stanley-direct.co.uk/New_To_Investing) pages.

Look out for the Charles Stanley Learning Centre series of videos, expected to be released by mid-January to mid-February, on Charles Stanley’s social media (https://twitter.com/CStanleyDirect).