Year 2, week 21: £199,741.85 down -0.57%

Arrow pointing downPortfolio summary, gain/loss this week ending 28/06/2014:

Total Fund £199,741.85, down -£1,135.44, -0.57%
Stocks & Shares ISA is £87,153.36, down -£690.41, -0.79%
Vantage Fund & Share Account is £112,588.49, down -£445.03, -0.39%
Year 2 weekly average gain £203.88, 0.11%
Average annual gain (year 1:year 2) 8.75%

View a summary of the shares (excludes cash) held within each account at 28/06/2014, click on the links below:

ISA Summary 280614
Vantage Summary 280614

Year 2, week 20: £200,877.29 up 1.47%

Arrowing pointing upPortfolio summary, gain/loss this week ending 21/06/2014:

Total Fund £200,877.29, up £2,913.40, 1.47%
Stocks & Shares ISA is £87,843.77, up £2,171.40, 2.53%
Vantage Fund & Share Account is £113,033.52, up £742.00, 0.66%
Year 2 weekly average gain £270.84, 0.14%
Average annual gain (year 1:year 2) 9.63%

View a summary of the shares (excludes cash) held within each account at 21/06/2014, click on the links below:

ISA Summary 210614
Vantage Summary 210614

Year 2, week 19: £197,963.89 down -1.83%

Arrow pointing downPortfolio summary, gain/loss this week ending 14/06/2014:

Total Fund £197,963.89, down -£3,695.07, -1.83%
Stocks & Shares ISA is £85,672.37, down -£2,601.88, -2.95%
Vantage Fund & Share Account is £112,291.52, -£1,093.19, -0.96%
Year 2 weekly average gain £131.76, 0.07%
Average annual gain (year 1:year 2) 7.81%

View a summary of the shares (excludes cash) held within each account at 14/06/2014, click on the links below:

ISA Summary 140614
Vantage Summary 140614

Year 2, week 18: £201,658.96 up 0.35%

Arrowing pointing upPortfolio summary, gain/loss this week ending 07/06/2014:

Total Fund £201,658.96, up £709.95, 0.35%
Stocks & Shares ISA is £88,274.25, up £174.48, 0.20%
Vantage Fund & Share Account is £113,384.71, up £535.47, 0.47%
Year 2 weekly average gain £344.36, 0.18%
Average annual gain (year 1:year 2) 10.56%

View a summary of the shares (excludes cash) held within each account at 07/06/2014, click on the links below:

ISA Summary 070614
Vantage Summary 070614

Losing £40,000 in 6 months

There I was with more cash than I had before, it was 2007 and we (my partners and I) had just sold a business, now what to do with some of the money. The first thing was to give family members £1000 each with one proviso, they had to spend it. I had a family in new trainers, and the fags were being crashed (sharing cigarettes) left right and centre! The second was a family trip to Disney World, duty-free fags and ‘all you can eat’ lobster! I often reminisce and smile about taking my brother to a lobster buffet in Florida for the first time. After getting to grips with the idea that he could eat as many lobsters that he was able to stomach, it was a joy watching him devour lobster after lobster, pausing between tails to excrete profanities of delight, he even smuggled one out under his coat for later.

Then there was the stock market.

I was already feeling like a pro investor on the back of my property portfolio and reading an investment supplement. It was all nonsense, I didn’t really know anything! Did I mention I was cocky, OK not so much these days but looking back, boy have I been arrogant.

I opened an online account with broker Hargreaves Lansdown shovelled some cash across and began trading, I say trading because I’m waltzing around thinking I’m some super day-trader. I was buying shares in banks and other big name brands, watching the share price increase thinking why did I only buy so many and then buying more. As a rule I would buy £5000 standard in any one company, I bought Northern Rock, Alliance & Leicester, Bradford & Bingley among others. I was hearing faltering news on the banks and economy but of course I’m thinking these companies aren’t going anywhere, in fact when Northern Rock started to fall I bought more! I don’t know the exact figure but I had ploughed something around £75,000 into UK stocks within a few months.

The economic events that followed are well documented. Over the following 6 months or so I saw almost all of my shares fall and in many cases wipe out completely. In my first attempt at the stock market, I lost £40,000.

Year 2, week 17: £200,949.01 up 1.55%

Arrowing pointing upPortfolio summary, gain/loss this week ending 31/05/2014:

Total Fund £200,949.01, up £3,065.33, 1.55%
Stocks & Shares ISA is £88,099.77, up £1,199.90, 1.38%
Vantage Fund & Share Account is £112,849.24, up £1,865.43, 1.68%
Year 2 weekly average gain £322.86, 0.17%
Average annual gain (year 1:year 2) 10.30%

View a summary of the shares (excludes cash) held within each account at 31/05/2014, click on the links below:

ISA Summary 310514
Vantage Summary 310514

2014 a non-event so far

Well so far, 2014 as been a non-event. The portfolio value is pretty much where is was at the beginning of this year which is better than saying a loss I guess, however it is bringing the overall average percentage gain down, which at the end of year 1 was 11.74% and as of last week was down to 8.06%. This week has seen a good return and bumped the percentage up to 10.30%, back closer to the target of 13.7%.

I haven’t been as active in buying and selling as I would like over the past 3 months, I did sell my funds in India and more recently in Russia on the back of poor economic news and the conflict in Ukraine, as a result there is some cash on account. I have shortlisted the following shares as potentials buys: Telecom Plus, Supergroup, Workspace, Ted Baker, PayPoint, Homeserve, Enterprise Inns. Also the following funds: SLI UK Smaller Companies, Standard Life UK Unconstrained, Marlborough Multi Cap Income.

Year 2, week 16: £197,883.68 up 0.58%

Arrowing pointing upPortfolio summary, gain/loss this week ending 24/05/2014:

Total Fund £197,883.68, up £1,150.49, 0.58%
Stocks & Shares ISA is £86,899.87, up £101.62, 0.12%
Vantage Fund & Share Account is £110,983.81, up £1,048.87, 0.95%
Year 2 weekly average gain £151.45, 0.08%

I have adjusted the way I calculate the average annual gain of year 1 and year 2. Year 2 is now extrapolated to the year end and then averaged with year 1. Average annual gain (year 1:year 2) 8.06%

View a summary of the shares (excludes cash) held within each account at 24/05/2014, click on the links below:

ISA Summary 240514
Vantage Summary 240514

Building a £1 Million property portfolio without a plan

My first real step into investing, like many was a house, a straight forward 3 bed semi-detached in Cowplain, Hampshire. I bought it in 1999 as somewhere for me to live and not as an investment or with any plan to buy more. A solid family home in a pleasant neighbourhood with good local schools, qualities I didn’t seek out at the time but have since proved valuable. My mortgage was interest only plus an endowment policy, both with Abbey National, now Santander.

Building work on mums house

Renovating mums house

Two years later in 2001 I bought my mums house in Birmingham, it was a council house at a great price. Mum was very happy living there, mainly because she had spent years on her garden, a good-sized plot that had matured beautifully, she would often refer to it as her tonic, especially during Spring. We were talking about doing some work on the house which felt emotive not owning the property so I decided to buy it. At such a good price I was able to buy it with a personal loan, the interest payments were higher than a mortgage but I didn’t see it as long-term repayment, I wanted to pay it off within 5yrs. With it being a personal loan I didn’t need a deposit or have to jump through any hoops to get a second mortgage. This house remains my happiest buy, I had a wonderful time with mum turning her little old council house into something special. She would often hold church meetings in her newly extended open-plan state-of-the-art kitchen-diner looking out to her fabulous garden. Her showing off always made me feel great, she was very happy there.

Interior of my apartment in Gunwharf Quays being built

Gunwharf Quays apartment being built

The property market was doing well and by 2004 I had gained real equity in both properties. There was a local development at the seafront in Portsmouth called Gunwharf Quays. I used to go there most weekends to browse and shop, go to Starbucks, visit the cinema and often eat at one of the many restaurants. I liked the idea of owning one of the stylish apartments being built. This was the time that I started to think investment, I already had a couple of properties both of which had equity, I was feeling confident. I went to a mortgage broker and found a buy-to-let mortgage with Mortgage Express, I needed a £23k deposit so I remortgaged my first house. I had my third property, a very stylish seafront apartment (or flat, if like me you’re from a council house). Someone told me if you are buying to let, buy somewhere near a hospital, a university or a station, Gunwharf Quays is right next to Portsmouth University and a train station, I have yet to experience a problem finding tenants.

Meanwhile, business was growing and we soon moved from a small rented office to something a little bigger, along with my two business partners we set up a separate company to buy a commercial unit in Luton that we rented to ourselves. Business continued to grow and we bought the unit next door and soon after a larger unit within the same business park, spreading our company across the three properties. We sold the business in 2008, we still own the properties which we now lease.

I was working in Luton and living over 100 miles away in Cowplain, although I have always been able to work from pretty much anywhere, I decided to buy a small place closer to the office where I could stay during the week. With the idea that I may rent it out in the future I bought a small cottage in a village called Harlington, a few minutes walk from the train station with a direct line to London. This was in 2008 just before the financial crisis, within 6months I was down some £25k on the price I had paid for it. This property was bought cash and since moved to a buy-to-let mortgage with The Mortgage Works.

In 2010 mum died. Unable to take care of himself my brother was living with her at the time, I moved back to Birmingham. The prospect of living with my brother long-term wasn’t practical for me although I needed to keep a close eye on him for a time. I put in an offer on the house next door to me which was accepted. It was a cash buy and the sale went through very quickly, I was able to move my brother into his own little place right next door to me. He has since moved on from the property and I now have tenants.

I noted someone say “buy what you can, sell nothing”, something that pops up in my head when considering what to do about a house. Even though I do look forward to having a lovely big home (I call it the end house), the idea of building a property portfolio has been more interesting to me than selling and upgrading. Although my last two properties were bought cash, I had enough equity to raise the deposit required for buy-to-let mortgages. The only deposit I had to find out of my savings was £5000 for the first house I bought in Cowplain, the rest came from equity gained in a buoyant property market between 1999 and 2008. Today the portfolio, including share of the commercial property business, is worth more than £1 Million with over 60% equity.

I have a soft spot for property, it’s an asset you can see and feel. A house can bring income from rent as well as capital growth. It’s an investment that’s easy to understand, I have always felt secure with bricks and mortar, the investment term ‘safe as houses’ has proved true to me. I feel that now is a good time to buy again.

Year 2, week 15: £196,733.19 down -0.23%

Arrow pointing downPortfolio summary, gain/loss this week ending 17/05/2014:

Total Fund £196,733.19, down -£445.09, -0.23%
Stocks & Shares ISA is £86,798.25, down -£72.35, -0.08%
Vantage Fund & Share Account is £109,934.94, down -£372.74, -0.34%
Year 2 weekly average gain £84.85, 0.05%
Average annual gain (year 1:year 2) 11.83%

View a summary of the shares (excludes cash) held within each account at 17/05/2014, click on the links below:

ISA Summary 170514
Vantage Summary 170514