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Financial Adviser | Millennial wants to know where to begin investing

Published:Sunday | April 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM

QUESTION: I am an ambitious not so young lady (28 years) who would love to understand stocks, credit, bonds, investing, managing my finances their structure and importance for the purpose of investing, having good financial management skills, and becoming an entrepreneur. Currently, I am not working in the financial sector. I have worked in customer service and administrative clerical positions for over five years.

My 10 to 12-month goal is to begin this process and earn at least $50,000 per week, starting from scratch. I am willing to learn and work very hard to accomplish this. Is this possible, and where do I begin?


FINANCIAL ADVISER: You are on a positive path in that you have set a goal that is measurable and has a timeline. You are also prepared to learn about relevant matters such as investing, financial management, and entrepreneurship so you can be equipped to make informed decisions.

You are still quite young and have many years ahead, so you should not let your age be a deterrent to achieving your goals Neither should you let it pressure you into undue haste to achieve your goals.

You do not have to work in the financial sector to take an interest in investment and business. In fact, your expeence in customer service and administrative positions can be very helpful in your own business as an entrepreneurship.

If you remain focused on working hard and being willing to learn, you can succeed. My major concern is the short-term nature of your goal. You have not mentioned where you want to be beyond one year, and what you want to earn weekly in the short term seems lofty to me.

I have no idea how much you have to invest in securities and business, but you should realise that returns on any kind of investment take time to build up. Consider also that neither business nor securities investment is risk-free, so you could lose and heavily, too before you see any meaningful returns.

Success does not come overnight. Many successful investors and business persons will tell you that they experienced many setbacks before finally tasting success. Indeed, some will tell you they met serious setbacks even after experiencing significant success.

If you are to realise your goals, you need to have some funds of your own; you should have some savings. If you do not, you should start saving now, which means you should be prepared to postpone current gratification to enable you to reap better rewards in the future.

To know about stocks and bonds and investing, I suggest you enrol in one of the short courses on offer from time to time. They last about three or four months and are generally offered in the evening. The University of Technology Jamaica and the University College of the Caribbean offer securities courses. The Jamaica Stock Exchange is introducing an online trading securities course.

These courses require an investment of, time and money but they should give you a solid foundation and equip you to make good investment decisions. Develop the habit of reading the financial press and attend investment seminars and workshops when they become available. There are not many of these nowadays.

Do not forget that the Internet is a powerful tool. Use it to learn about investments and business, too. The Vocational Training Development Institute offers a course in entrepreneurship. It runs for one year full time and two years part time. You need not do the full course but may select specific short courses such as 'Writing a Business Plan' or 'Market Research'. Applicants need a high school education to qualify for admission.

A course in entrepreneurship is helpful as it often covers topics such as product development, conducting market research marketing, risk management and regulatory issues.

As you go forward, set realistic goals, be patient, learn all you can, and practise what you learn if it is relevant to you, and remember that you need financial resources. Start saving if you have not started as yet.

Oran A. Hall, principal author of 'The Handbook of Personal Financial Planning', offers personal financial planning advice and