Money Matters: Micro-Investing

Illustrator: Alexander Abrahams

Written July 2020, all information correct at the time of writing.

Shares Magazine found that only 23% of female adults in the UK hold an investment product in comparison to 35% of male adults. This difference is starker still on the professional side, with only 1 in 10 UK investment funds being run by a female manager. Getting more people into investing their money is key to accessing financial growth that has previously been perceived as the playground of a very particular kind of person. 

According to Boring Money, confidence plays a big part in making investment decisions. Only 32% of women feel at all confident choosing an investment product, against 46% of men. While a man might have the same level of knowledge as, say, a woman, the woman is more likely to feel she needs a higher level of knowledge and expertise before investing than the man. Moreover, excessive use of financial jargon and acronyms make it even harder to figure out what the hell is going on (find a useful glossary here). 

Often investing is perceived as a highly risky activity, with many people expressing that they prefer the security of guaranteed returns from cash savings with banks rather than the higher risk, higher reward system of investment. Of course, your capital is always subject to some level of risk with investment and you may get back less than you originally put in. Yet many often overestimate their risk and miss the opportunity of the returns performance of investing in shares. 

This mini-series on investing your money should hopefully help demystify some of the process for you, or at least help give you the tools to make an informed decision. Investment is a big decision, and not one that should be made lightly. Once you figure it out, it can prove to be a great way to grow your savings. Moreover, your 20s are a great place to start investing if you can – as a younger investor, you are able to take on more risk as you have time to wait for long-term growth and are not often relying on using your money right away. 

There are four main types of investment or ‘asset classes’:

  1. Shares: Purchasing a stake in a company
  2. Cash: Savings in a bank or building society account
  3. Property: Investing in a physical building/location
  4. Fixed Interest Securities (Bonds): Money loans to a company/government

You can also invest in foreign currency, commodities (coffee, renewable energy, gold) and collectibles.  

I thought I’d start off first with a quick chat about micro-investing. Micro-investing is a relatively new concept, aimed at challenging and breaking down barriers to traditional investing. Using a micro-investment service- (usually in the form of an app) you invest in fractional shares that don’t require a large up-front payment to buy into the investment – perfect for just dipping your toe into the water, so to speak. 

Essentially, through your chosen micro-investment service, you invest small amounts of money that you can spare from your budget (this is why it’s also called spare change investing) into purchasing fractional shares of ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds). A fractional share is just a portion of one full share.

ETFs track a set of assets, not just one stock or bond, so your investment is diversified. Many micro-investing apps help you build a portfolio that matches both your financial goals and your risk tolerance. 

Top Micro-Investment Apps 

Moneybox

  • £1 minimum contribution. Rounds up your everyday purchases to the nearest pound to invest your ‘spare change’ or lets you invest through set auto-payments. 
  • Allows you to choose your starting options from: 
    • “Cautious” 
    • “Balanced”
    • “Adventurous” 
  • Moneybox creates a portfolio of tracker investments made up of shares, bonds and property. You invest in either a general investment account, stocks and shares ISA, a Lifetime ISA, pension or socially responsible investing account.
    • Only ISA accounts are tax-free (up to £20,000 per annum)
  • Access to fractional shares in big global companies such as Facebook, Netflix and Disney. 
  • Fees for all accounts except pensions:
    • Platform fee: 0.45% of your investment, accrued daily
    • Fund charges range from 0.21 to 0.3% 
    • £1/month subscription fee
  • Has a Time Machine feature that lets you calculate how increasing your weekly deposit could add to your investment over 10 years. 

Plum 

  • Invest from £1 upwards. Plum automatically sets money aside for you, using AI to analyse your spending patterns and budget. You can also decide how much you want to save above or below a ‘normal’ level if you want. 
  • Plum is authorised and regulated by the FCA but is not FSCS protected. 
  • You can choose between different risk levels
    • “Slow and Steady”
    • “Balanced Bundle”
    • “Growth Stack”
  • Plum offers a range of investment options from tech, emerging markets and ethical companies. 
  • The charges include:
    • 0.15% fee on investment value,
    • £1 monthly fee 
    • Fund fee from 0.08-0.9%. 
  • Over the last five years, they have seen a 8.51% average annual return across all Plum investment funds. 

Wealthify

  • You can invest from only £1 and set your risk level from “cautious” to “adventurous”.
  • You can withdraw your money at any time, at no cost. 
  • Registered with the FCA and your money is protected by the FSCS.
  • They charge an annual management fee of 0.6% and fund charges of 0.22% for original plans. For ethical plans, they charge 0.66%. 

Nutmeg 

  • A choice of 10 different portfolio options determined from a survey about your financial situation, attitude and goals by an AI digital wealth manager. 
  • Offers socially responsible investment portfolios. 
  • A charge of 0.45% on fixed allocation investments up to £100,000; the fee goes up to 0.75% for fully managed or socially responsible investments.
  • There are no setup, exit, transaction or trading fees. 
  • BUT you need £500 to open most accounts with Nutmeg, so this one for longer term investors that have more saved to invest and are looking to avoid fees. 

Wombat 

  • You need only £10 to begin investing.
  • You can tailor your investment portfolio depending on your interests and lifestyle with “themes” such as ‘The Foodie,’ ‘British Bulldog’, and ‘The Green Machine’.
  • Fractional investments are available for companies such as Ocado, Trainline and Greggs.
  • Offers automated investment services with funds deposited through direct debit. 
  • Regulated and authorised by the FCA and FSCS protected.
  • Your account is free until £1000 – you only pay the fund provider fees (0.07-0.7%)
    • Over £1000, you pay an auto-charged £1/month fee as well as the 0.45% platform fee and the fund provider fees above.

As always, I have literally zero financial qualifications – all of this info is based on my own knowledge and research. Please do your own thorough research and evaluation before making any investment decisions as your capital will be at risk. Most investment services are happy to chat in detail about any questions you may have so give them a call if you’re curious!

Sarina Chandaria

Sarina Chandaria is a Senior Editor for Lifestyle and a weekly columnist at The Oxford Blue. She reads Geography at Christ Church, and is going into her third year. She has a particular fondness for travel writing, chats about personal finance and buying more books than she could ever possibly read.

About the Author

Sarina Chandaria
Sarina Chandaria
Sarina Chandaria is a Senior Editor for Lifestyle and a weekly columnist at The Oxford Blue. She reads Geography at Christ Church, and is going into her third year. She has a particular fondness for travel writing, chats about personal finance and buying more books than she could ever possibly read.