You might be thinking about investing with a specific goal in mind, or you may just be aiming for a more financially secure future.
This will depend on your personal circumstances, your attitude to risk and how long you're looking to invest for. Investing in funds can potentially deliver higher returns than cash savings in the long run, although investing in funds comes with greater risk than cash savings. You could get back less than you invest as the value of funds can fall as well as rise. You need to decide how comfortable you are with this and what your capacity is for dealing with any losses.
A Stocks and Shares ISA and a Trading Account let you invest in a variety of investment funds.
Some investment goals may be open-ended, such as investing for that dream holiday while others may come with a specific deadline, such as investing for a child’s education.
When it comes to choosing your funds you should think about how long you'll need to invest for to meet your goal as well as your attitude to risk.
It's also important to remember that a Stocks and Shares ISA and a Trading Account should be seen as a medium to long-term investment of at least 5 years. To find out why this is, read more about investing for the long-term.
It's helpful to have a clear investment plan in mind to guide your fund choices. Here are some important factors to help you develop your personal plan:
1. Your goal
What are you investing for and how much are you hoping to get back?
2. Your attitude to risk
How comfortable are you with taking risk with your money, as you may get back less than you invested?
3. Your timescales
How long are you prepared to put your money away for?
4. "Income" or "growth"
You may want to look at funds that aim to make regular payments through dividends or interest (like an income), or at those that aim to increase in value over time. When choosing a fund it's a good idea to have a look at the fund's objective, which you can find in the Fund factsheet or Key Investor Information Document (KIID).
To potentially reduce the amount of risk you're taking with your money, you could consider spreading your investment across funds which invest in different markets and regions. You can find information about where funds invest in the Key Investor Information Document (KIID) and Fund factsheet, displayed next to each fund in the fund selection tables.
6. The cost
Funds will vary in what they charge, so it's important you know what they are and what they cover before you invest. These charges can be found in the fund's KIID and Fund factsheet, next to the fund in the fund selection tables.
7. Asset classes
Funds invest in a variety of assets, with different strategies and levels of risk. Find out more about this and asset allocation by reading more about funds.
8. Ongoing monitoring
Think about how much time you want to spend reviewing your investments in the long run. If you'd prefer lower maintenance options, you could consider funds which invest in a range of assets, geographies and sectors.
How much you choose to invest is likely to depend on a number of factors, including the amount you can afford to pay in, either as a lump sum or regularly, the size of return you're hoping to achieve and the length of time you have to invest. Remember the value of investments can fall as well as rise and you could get back less than you invest. So you need to decide on your capacity to deal with any losses.
If you're considering a Stocks and Shares ISA, our ISA calculator can give you an idea of the potential return you could get in the future based on the amount of money you want to invest.
Choosing funds to match your goals may seem like a daunting task. We offer a wide selection of over 1,250 funds from across the market.
When choosing your funds you should pay close attention to the KIID (Key Investor Information Document), which will give you detailed information about each fund's risk profile, investment objective, cost and past performance.
Whatever investment funds you choose, you should review your selections regularly to ensure they continue to match your goals and personal circumstances. If you’re an investor with Standard Life Self Investor you can make changes by buying and selling funds whenever you like by logging in to your account. There's no charge for this.