You’ll find plenty of ideas of how to get started in investing with your first couple of thousand pounds, and that really is what most people need when they’re starting out.
But what would you do if you had a million to start with? Come on, you must have thought about it — I know I have!
My first challenge would be to stop myself rushing all-in and investing the whole lot right from day one, and I’d make a big effort to spread the investments over maybe the next five years to reduce my overall risk. Sure, I might miss some bargains, but I wouldn’t want to plonk the whole lot down just before a possible big market crash.
But what would I actually buy? Though I’d be tempted by the kind of risky stocks you should only buy with money you can afford to lose, I’d first rein that in and start off boring.
I’d allocate maybe half the money to FTSE 100 stocks, picking at least one of the best in every sector, and focusing on the likelihood of long-term dividend income.
For certain I’d buy some shares in either BP or Royal Dutch Shell (or maybe both), because oil is sure to be a cash-cow commodity for many years to come. And who wouldn’t want those annual dividends of 6% and better?
Similarly, I’d go for at least one of the big pharma firms, GlaxoSmithKline and/or AstraZeneca, a bank or two (I hold Lloyds Banking Group, and I’d probably buy Barclays), a big housebuilder like Taylor Wimpey, maybe utilities provider National Grid. And I dare say I’d venture into mining and engineering too.
Something else I’d do, which I wouldn’t at my current levels of investment, is put some trust directly in my favourite investors. That means I’d be very tempted to buy some of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock, as he’s been my byword for sensible long-term investing for as long as I can remember.
I’d also be drawn to our home-grown guru Neil Woodford, and make an investment in his LF Woodford Equity Income Fund. He’s had a bit of bad luck with some of his picks of late, but I’d trust his expertise for the long term.
I’d then set aside the sensible older me (which I like to think actually exists) and try to recapture some of my youth, from the days when I used to enjoy looking for smaller-cap growth opportunities very much trying to follow the Jim Slater approach.
I think growth investing can be intellectually rewarding as well as financially, as uncovering a company that has great long-term prospects early on in its life takes a fair bit more brain power than just picking the biggest Footsie company in each sector.
Right now I don’t know what I’d actually buy, but I can think of a few promising oil explorers that would be on my shortlist. I’ve heard it suggested (by whom, I forget) that for every five small oilies you gamble on, you only need one to make it big. So you do need to have enough cash to spread around.
And I’d probably briefly abandon my unemotional approach and buy some companies just because I love them. Maybe I’d finally buy some Apple shares!
How to get the million
But a bit of harmless dreaming aside, let's get back to reality. Can you actually make a million in the stock market in the first place? Many have actually done just that, and with the right approach, you could too.
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Alan Oscroft owns shares in Lloyds Banking Group. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Apple, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and GlaxoSmithKline. The Motley Fool UK has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool UK has recommended AstraZeneca, Barclays, BP, Lloyds Banking Group, and Royal Dutch Shell B. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.