Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Financial Adviser | New Yorker seeking long-term investment options

Published:Friday | April 22, 2016 | 4:07 PMOran Hall

I live and work in New York, but my mind is always set in Jamaica. With J$1 million,t or the US equivalent - keeping in mind depreciation over years to come - what type of long-term investment would you steer me towards? I wouldn't need to take withdrawals. Instead, I would like to add to it on a monthly basis from New York trading stocks online on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. Do you have any recommendations as per entities?
My goal is to obviously return home permanently years from now, so I'm looking to put things in place by playing my little cards strategically. What's the first investment option that comes to your thoughts?
- McLean

FINANCIAL ADVISER: It is commendable that you have chosen to take the long view of investments and are interested in building a portfolio in Jamaica as you plan for your return.
It is also commendable that you are interested in investing regularly. If you can stick to your plan to invest every month and avoid making withdrawals, you should be able to grow your portfolio to a good size. You have not indicated what timeline you have in mind, but the longer, the better it will likely get.
It seems to me that you have a preference for stocks considering what you have said about trading on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. I am sorry to disappoint you as it relates to recommending companies in which to invest as that is not a course that I follow in this column. Nonetheless, you can get very good guidance from the stockbrokers who practise here.
Although stocks are good long-term investments, I believe you would find unit trusts useful as well. They are very similar to the mutual funds that are so common in the US market, and some such funds are actually sold here. There are five unit trusts operating here, but they offer more than 30 funds to the investing public.
The funds are quite diversified. While some invest heavily in Jamaican securities, particularly stocks and short-term and long-term debt instruments, several invest in securities denominated in foreign currencies.
This should be of interest to you as the money you would be sending to be invested would be in a currency other than the Jamaican dollar, which you expect to depreciate in the future. Such funds would give you some protection against depreciation in the value of the local currency.
Apart from diversification by currency, many funds diversify by type of securities, including real estate, stocks and bonds. If you need liquidity at any time, that could be easily accommodated. Further, you could participate in the bond market here and abroad without investing directly in that market.
The fact that there are five unit trusts suggests also that you can benefit from diversification by management by spreading your investments among at least some of the companies if you so desire.
This is a good time to start your research. You should be able to glean valuable information on the various options from the internet. The companies that operate unit trusts are Jamaica Money Market Brokers, Barita Investments, NCB Capital Markets, Scotia Investments, and Sagicor Investments through its Sigma funds.
If you need help to make your decisions, or to get guidance otherwise, you should be able to get it from the wealth of investment advisers staffing these companies. Distance is not a hindrance.
- Oran A. Hall, the principal author of  'The Handbook of Personal Financial Planning', offers personal financial planning advice and counsel. Email