The Beginner’s Guide to Investing

Over investing in this market could be a big risk, finance experts say

Damir Khabirov

If you're anything like most people, you're probably investing heavily in one market.

You may not know it. You may not realize you're investing at all. But chances are, you are — and it could be hurting your finances.

That market? Your home market.

We're not just talking your physical property or rental home. Your job, your income — even your pension — are tethered to the country in which you live and work, which could leave you overexposed to market risks pertaining to that geographical region.

A common problem

"If you think about it, essentially everything that is everything is in our home market," Dhruv Arora, CEO of Singapore-based digital wealth manager Syfe, told CNBC Make It.

"Our salaries, our jobs, our success, growth is deeply intertwined with our home market's growth," Arora, a former trader, continued.

That can be great during an economic boom. Jobs are plentiful, wages are rising, home prices are appreciating and pension funds are outperforming. But when a downturn hits, the implications can be severe and wide-reaching.

The reality is, you're putting all of your eggs in one basket and in the long-term that's never paid off.
Michele Ferrario
CEO, StashAway

"God forbid something happens in that market, the ramifications would be across all these areas," said Arora.

The tendency to hone in on your home market is not just common, it's inevitable. By taking a job or buying a home in a particular country, you naturally expose yourself to that market.

It's also psychological. You're more likely to invest in something you know better, "like an apartment you can look at or an industry you work in and understand better," explained Michele Ferrario of online wealth manager StashAway.

But that's why it's all the more important to hedge your bets and build in exposure to other markets.

"The reality is, you're putting all of your eggs in one basket and in the long term that's never paid off," said Ferrario.

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Diversifying away from home

Institutional investors, who are responsible for things like pension funds, have long advocated global diversification, building portfolios with exposure to a diverse range of assets — including equities, bonds, real estate and gold — as well as a variety of geographies.

But the rise of online investment platforms have opened up international investment opportunities to regular savers too.

Options such as Robinhood and Betterment in the U.S., Nutmeg in Europe and StashAway and Syfe in Asia can offer new investors access to a wide range of opportunities for as little as a dollar and annual fees of less than 1%.

Elsewhere, more experienced investors can invest in other specific markets and industries by buying exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which track stock market indexes like the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100.

Understanding the assets you’re putting your money into has major significance.
Steve Brice
chief investment strategist, Standard Chartered

Before moving into new investment opportunities, however, it's important to familiarize yourself with those assets and the potential risks involved, noted Steve Brice, chief investment strategist at Standard Chartered.

"Understanding the assets you're putting your money into has major significance. People generally have more staying power in assets they understand and are close to," Brice told CNBC Make It.

Investing is often as much about personal risk tolerance as anything — and if you're likely to be scared easily or overreact to the unknown — it may be sensible to stick with what you know, he said.

"If it encourages you to stay invested, that can be reason enough for a home bias," he continued. "That said, we do believe in diversification."

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