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Making wise financial decisions and rewarding for your efforts If you do not know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? This is very true about financial goals. You need to set financial goals to help you make wise financial decisions, and also as a reward for your efforts. Goals should be clear, concise, detailed and written down. Unwritten goals are just wishes.

Protecting your wealth from market ups and downs A lifestyle financial plan has no value unless it is properly implemented through an appropriate investment strategy. If you’ve got a sufficient amount of money in your cash savings account – enough to cover you for at least six months – and you want to see your money grow over the long term, then you should consider investing some of it.

Making informed decisions to improve your chances of achieving your financial goals If you want to plan for your financial future, it helps to understand risk. If you understand the risks associated with investing and you know how much risk you are comfortable taking, you can make informed decisions and improve your chances of achieving your goals.

Spreading risk between different kinds of investments When you start investing, or even if you are a sophisticated investor, one of the most important tools available is diversification. Whether the market is bullish or bearish, maintaining a diversified portfolio is essential to any long-term investment strategy.

Making investment decisions on behalf of the investor There are many reasons to invest through a fund, rather than buying assets on your own. At a basic level, investing in a fund means having a fund manager make investment decisions on behalf of the investor.

Diverse range of funds that invest in different things with different strategies Pooled investment funds – also known as ‘collective investment schemes’ – are a way of combining sums of money from many people into a large fund spread across many investments and managed by a professional fund manager.

Stock market return linked but with fewer ups and downs than investing directly in shares If you save regularly or invest a lump sum using a life insurance policy, you might choose to invest in a with-profits fund. These aim to give you a return linked to the stock market but with fewer ups and downs than investing directly in shares. However, they are complex and are not as popular a form of investing as they used to be.

Public company aiming to make money by investing in other companies An investment trust is a public company that raises money by selling shares to investors, and then pools that money to buy and sell a wide range of shares and assets. Different investment trusts will have different aims and different mixes of investments.