What’s the best investing approach to low interest rates?

In response to the UK’s worsening post-Brexit economic outlook, the Bank of England (BoE) announced on Thursday an interest rate cut from 0.5% to 0.25%, with more to come if needed. There will also be further quantitative easing, in the shape of a £60bn purchase of government bonds and £10bn of corporate bonds.

The BoE has also slashed its 2017 growth forecast from 2.3% to 0.8%, the biggest cut since it started issuing such forecasts in 1993 — it seems the leave vote has destroyed the strong UK recovery that was just starting to get established.

But for us, the questions are what effect will it have on our investments, and how should we adjust our strategy accordingly?

The short answer to the second question is actually pretty easy — it shouldn’t affect our investing strategy at all, as the best long-term approach is completely independent of interest rates.

How should we invest?

In the short term, average monthly mortgage repayments should fall by around £22 (according to the ONS), so you could have another £264 per year to invest (or more if you have a larger mortgage). Set against that, the cash you’re likely to get in interest from a savings account is going to crash to maybe enough for a bottle of sherry at Christmas.

That highlights something we already know — whether times are good or bad, cash in a savings account is one of the worst performing investments of all time (with obvious exceptions like the lottery and the gee-gees). In fact, according to the annual Barclays Equity-Gilt Study, investing in shares has beaten cash 91% of the time over rolling 10-year periods since 1899, and shares have won in 99% of all rolling 18-year periods.

Other than some cash kept in an easy-access account for short-term emergencies (most would suggest a couple of months’ salary), I think times like this truly reinforce the superiority of keeping your long-term investments in shares. So, if you have a decade or more of investing ahead of you, what should you be looking for?

Dividends rule

I reckon the best approach is to look for FTSE 100 shares paying good dividends for the bulk of your investments, and spread the cash around various sectors to minimise the risk. So which are the best dividend payers in the FTSE 100 today?

The biggest right now come from our housebuilders and banks, which have both been hard hit by Brexit fallout. But if you think, as I do, that the share price falls are overdone, you could get a very nice dividend yield of 6.7% from Barratt Developments (assuming current forecasts turn out to be accurate), and 6.5% from Lloyds Banking Group.

Essentially unaffected by Brexit, but still suffering from low oil prices, both BP and Royal Dutch Shell are expected to pay out around 7% in dividends this year. And there are some nice forecast yields from the depressed insurance sector too — my picks are the 6% from Aviva and 7% from Legal & General, both of which have said they expect minimal hardship (if any) from leaving the EU.

Then there are super-safe payers like SSE offering 6% and National Grid on 4%. If you invest in a diversified selection from these shares, I expect you’ll be smiling in 10 years time — and well ahead of those relying on paltry interest rates.

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Alan Oscroft owns shares of Aviva and Lloyds Banking Group. The Motley Fool UK has recommended BP and Royal Dutch Shell. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.