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Investing 101: What New Investors Need to Know Thumbnail

Investing 101: What New Investors Need to Know

We've all heard the term “investments” used in many ways - and it’s a concept most of us are familiar with to some degree. But unless you’ve taken an interest in the markets or spent significant amounts of time studying them, you may not understand what investing is, everything involved with investing, or what different types of investments are out there. Before you do a deep dive into theories, past performances or principles, we’ll get you up to speed with the basics of investing and what you should know as you look to grow your financial knowledge.

What Is Investing?

In its simplest form, investing is giving money to another entity (such as the government or a company), hoping they return more money to you (a profit) later. While it sounds simple enough, giving money to another with the expectation of gaining more in return introduces the idea of weighing risk versus reward.

Understanding Risk

According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, risk refers to “the potential of losing your money when investing, or the level of uncertainty regarding what you will earn or lose on your investment.”1

How does this relate to investments? In general, the higher the risk of an investment, the greater the potential reward. Every investment vehicle and product comes with its own set of risks, from determining how quickly an investor will be able to access their money when they need it to figure out how fast their money will grow where it is.

Everyone’s tolerance for risk is unique to them. A common determining factor may be a person’s time horizon, such as how far away they are from retirement or how close they are to needing access to the money invested. Another factor could be considering how much money you’re willing to risk losing without affecting your lifestyle or jeopardizing your needs. 

If Investing Is a Risk, Why Do It?

Due to inflation, the value of a dollar in your hand (or under the mattress) is continuously deteriorating, which makes investing an appealing choice for many. The idea is to put a certain amount of your dollars where they’re expected to earn more in the future (assuming a positive return is earned) than a dollar left sitting in savings. 

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Common Types of Investments

You’ve likely heard the term “diversification” regarding investing. Diversification refers to having various asset classes or investment types in your portfolio, and this is an essential strategy investors use to help reduce risk.

Here are a few common types of investments you could use to diversify your portfolio:

  • Stocks: Giving your money to a specific company, earning you a share or piece of the company. 
  • Mutual funds: Using a professional money manager, pooling your money together with other investors and purchasing a group of stocks, bonds or a mix of both in a single transaction.
  • Exchange-traded funds: Index funds that can be traded on an exchange throughout the day as the prices of stocks fluctuate.
  • Canada Savings Bond (CSB): Loan your money to the federal government with a minimum guaranteed interest rate for a specified period.
  • Guaranteed investment certificate (GIC): Your initial invested capital is protected, meaning you won’t lose money on the investment.

Whether you’re interested in taking a do-it-yourself approach or looking to work with an advisor to develop a tailored portfolio, it’s essential to understand the basics of investing, how diverse your options are, and the risks involved with seeking returns.

  1. 1https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/savings-investments/investing-basics.html#toc2
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