In recent years, scientist Gina Peeters has tried to educate herself about finance. She says: “My work is in population studies. I didn’t know much about finance to begin with, but I knew that demographics mean it is going to be very difficult for the Government to provide me with the kind of pensions they have in the past. It made me realise that I have to be more serious about saving for my own future.”
I’ve tried to avoid investing in tobacco and armaments
Forty-year-old Peeters started saving seriously several years ago, but only initially in cash.
“I just went with the savings and investment options offered by my bank,” she explained. “But my money didn’t seem to be working very hard. I have the impression they were selling me what suited them, not what suited me.”
Peeters, who works in Brussels and London, started to read a books, magazines, at look at financial websites – even attending a few investment seminars.
From this she has formed her own views on what is likely to deliver the best returns over the long-term. Given her work in population studies it is perhaps not surprising that she has chosen to invest in many emerging economies.
Emerging Market Fund Picks
Aberdeen Latin American fund has a Bronze Rating from Morningstar analysts, and a four-star performance rating, reflecting its strong track record in recent years.
Lena Tsymbaluk, an analyst at Morningstar said: “This fund remains a compelling choice within its sector, managed by a team we regard highly.
“One of this fund’s strengths lies in the team approach and the depth of the analytical resource of Aberdeen’s 18-strong global emerging-markets team, which is headed by seasoned investor Devan Kaloo.”
Investment trust VinaCapital has a four star rating, reflecting its strong growth in recent years compared to peers. Peeters says this has been one of the best performing funds in her portfolio of late. She says: “I’ve seen a return of around 70% over the past year. It’s been a very good fund, but when you look at the demographics of this region I think it has the potential to deliver over the longer term.”
Peeters has steered clear of US stocks because she considers then expensive. She says: “For a while I worked for a US company and was forced to join their pension scheme. It didn’t do particularly well. I think US stocks are very over-valued. I think there is much more potential in other parts of the market.”
Precious Metals and Commodities
Peeters has also invested in precious metal and commodities. She owns physical gold, making a small deposit each month with BullionVault to increase her holding. She has also invested in gold and silver ETFs, the BlackRock Gold & General fund and has invested directly in Anglo American (AAL) shares.
She says: “These are quite high-risk investments and can be volatile. Some I’ve bought and sold, others I am holding onto for the longer term.”
She sold her shares in Anglo American following a steep rally: “It went up so much – particularly after the first interest rate increase in the US – that I decided I should simply take these profits and reinvest elsewhere.”
In hindsight this looks like a sensible move: shares in Anglo American almost doubled between September 2016 and February 2017, according to Morningstar data. From then they fell from a high of £14.09 to £9.59 by mid-June.
Peeters has stuck with her holding in BlackRock Gold and General though. This fund has a coveted Gold Rating from Morningstar analysts. Morningstar’s Fatima Khizou says: “This fund continues to be a strong choice for investors seeking mainstream gold and precious-metals equity exposure in a risk-controlled manner.” The fund has been managed by Evy Hambro since April 2009.
Khizou adds: “Performance has been strong, with returns substantially ahead of the FTSE Gold Mines Index and the sector equity precious metals Morningstar Category. Strong stock-picking has been the main driver behind the fund’s outperformance.”
Sustainable Fund Delivers Top Returns
Peeters invests through AJ Bell’s Youinvest platform and likes that she can manage her ETFs, funds, and direct shareholdings in one place.
One of her first holdings – and one of her most successful investments – has been in Triodos Bank’s Sustainable Pioneer Fund. This has a three-star rating from Morningstar, and over a three year period has delivered annualised returns of 13%.
This fund invests in global equities issued by small and medium-sized listed companies. The fund’s focus is on climate protection and sustainable energy, healthy living and medical technology, environmental technology and companies that are pioneers in terms of corporate social responsibility within their sectors.
Peeters says: “I wish there were more funds that offered this kind of sustainable and ethical investment strategy. I’ve tried to avoid investing in tobacco and armaments, but as well as avoiding these areas this fund invest in companies that are taking positive steps to address some of the issues we face at present. It has delivered excellent returns as well.”
Peeters has a 10-month old daughter and would like to start investing for her too. She says: “As well as investing for her future I think its important to educate her about the importance of money and finance.
“I didn’t really get that from my parents. They had good professional jobs, but they were of a generation that could rely on their employers and the Government to look after them. I don’t think this is true today.”
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