More on micro-investments by experts (FirstStep co-founders)

All advice and information is general and factual in nature. Please consider your personal circumstance before investing.

Meet Shiraj De Silva and Matthew Fish - co-founders of FirstStep

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What inspired you to start FirstStep?

FirstStep was inspired by the realisation that many young people in Australia weren’t actively investing in their financial future. We found that this was due to high minimum investment amounts (upwards of $5,000), lack of knowledge around what to invest in, high fees and tedious paper applications and forms. We dug deeper into the funds management industry and we found that fund managers were incredibly inefficient, with heavy administration costs, a lot of manual work (which result in high minimums) and legacy systems, and financial advisors didn’t want to deal with young people unless they had up to $30,000 to invest.

We set out to build FirstStep to allow young investors to start investing with as little as $1, and to focus on continuous smaller contributions over the longer time. We wanted to focus on user experience through a free mobile app, which includes a 5-minute signup process (no more paper applications and certified identify documents!), while charging as little as $1.25 per month. 

 

What is micro-investing?   

Micro-investing is the idea of investing small amounts regularly. This involves a low minimum investment amount, i.e the amount you need to get started and then a way to invest small amounts regularly, like $5 a week or fortnight. Micro investing platforms like FirstStep aims to reduce/remove the barriers of traditional investing, like brokerage minimums ($500) or managed fund minimums ($5,000+). Micro-investment platforms like FirstStep aim to enable more investors to start investing earlier but with smaller amounts.

A commonly used element of micro-investing is the use of roundups. This is the idea of rounding up your everyday transactions to the nearest dollar and investing the ‘loose change’. For example, if you purchase a coffee for $4.50, we round up the transaction to the nearest dollar, $5, and invest $0.50. 

 

What is your general advice when it comes to investing?

Do’s:

  1. Start investing as soon as you can. The key is ‘time in the market’ and letting compounding work for you.

  2. Start small but try and get your investment balance over $1,500 to reduce the impact of fees

  3. Spend less than you earn and invest the rest

  4. Don’t keep all your funds in high-interest savings accounts (HISA). Shares have historically returned more than real estate over 30 years

  5. Invest small amounts regularly by setting a recurring contribution and make use of dollar cost averaging

  6. Diversify your investments

  7. Pick the lowest cost investment option(s)

  8. Be patient

 

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t try to ‘time’ the market

  2. Don’t let emotion rule investing, i.e. don’t buy in times of ecstasy and euphoria, especially when markets are at all-time highs

  3. Don’t interrupt compounding, i.e. don’t sell when markets are down / crashing

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