Where should I invest £100,000 to generate income?
I've been made redundant and have £100,000 to invest for income. My mortgage is low and almost paid off so I need to invest for an income boost. Do I buy a house or where else could I get a decent return?
Essentially you are asking two separate questions:
- how to invest £100,000 to generate income now
- how to get the best return on £100,000
Investing for income and growth are two very different things (although you can do a combination of both). Firstly I will deal with how to invest £100,000 to generate income. Then at the end of this article I look at how to invest £100,000 for growth.
Seek independent financial advice if you are unsure
If you are not comfortable running your own investments I would suggest that you seek independent financial advice as your wider personal and financial circumstances need to be taken into consideration before you do anything. For example, how old are you? Are you a high rate income tax payer? Are you married? If so you may want to put investments in your spouse's name if he/she is a non-tax payer? What is your attitude to risk? What is your investment timescale and do you need access to the capital?
If you don't already have a reputable financial adviser who specialises in investments and would like assistance in running your own investments, you can find one near you using the search box below
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Types of assets to invest in
Whether you use a financial adviser or invest the £100k yourself there is a range of assets available when choosing investments for income in and I will run through each in turn.
On the assumption that you are looking to invest for income then buy-to-let is one option. As a nation we are obsessed with home ownership and as a result property is often seen as a safe investment. How many times have you heard the phrase as safe as houses or been told to invest in property?
Property returns do tend to be uncorrelated to investment markets but they are not without risk. Over the long term house prices have tended to beat inflation (around 2.8% above inflation per annum since 1960) but the housing market like investment markets experiences periodic price corrections and crashes.
For a buy-to-let investor concerned with rental income, the average UK property yield is around 5% gross (i.e. before tax) but there are massive regional variations. Buy-to-let shouldn’t be entered into lightly as property is an illiquid investment and there are often large initial capital outlays. In addition the level of tax relief available for buy-to-let investors has been reduced while the level of stamp duty incurred has increased. This means buy-to-let investing is still only attractive if you can buy the property with next to no mortgage.
Although a lot of people think of cash as the starting place when looking to invest for income it can be the eventual destination. If you really want to ensure you get the best interest rate for £100,000 or more of savings then I would highly recommend reading through my guide 7 steps to get the most interest on savings over £100,000. It’s free and provides everything you need to know to get the most interest and protection on your savings. The guide will tell you:
- How savings accounts really work
- What to look for in best buy tables
- The 7 key rules of saving large sums over £100k
- The simplest way to get the best savings rate and bag an additional £915 a year!
If you would rather go it alone then you need to realise that with inflation in excess of most savings account rates the real value of money on deposit can be quickly eroded.
Typically the only way to earn a higher rate of interest from a savings account is to lock your money away for a longer fixed term. You can use our table of the best savings rates on instant access accounts to help guide your choice of savings account, although these rates usually fall woefully short of inflation. An alternative is to consider the best fixed rate savings bonds available on the market which will provide inflation-beating interest rates and the good news is that they can be held in a cash ISA, so returns can be tax-free.
But one word of warning. These bonds will either restrict access to your capital during the term of the bond or impose penalties if you wish to withdraw your money early. If in the medium term the Bank of England Base Rate (which influences rates on savings and mortgages) start to return to normal (which is around 5%) then you could find yourself stuck with a deal which isn’t as competitive as rates offered on ordinary savings accounts. Something to think about.
One of the best free tools out there is the savings account rate tracker. You simply enter the details of the savings accounts you currently have and then not only will the system tell you if you are getting a good deal, but it will monitor the market for you and email when there are better deals out there than your existing account. Make sure you put in the current balance for each of your savings accounts. If you do decide to put your money into a savings account then you may wish to limit the amount held with any financial institution to £85,000 (£170,000 for a joint account) per banking licence. Bear in mind that banks can share banking licences. This will ensure your savings are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme should your chosen bank go bust. Of course, National Savings and Investment bank accounts are 100% backed by the Government so represent no investment risk. Surprisingly the returns from these products are now quite competitive after banks slashed their interest rates in the Spring of 2020. The NS&I Income bond pays out a regular monthly income with an AER of 1.16% and you can save up to £1million into the product.
3. Peer-to-Peer lending (the savings account alternative)
If the interest available on cash is unexciting enough for you then one way to get a better rate is through peer-to-peer lending. When savers deposit money in a normal savings account the bank can and does lend that money to other people in the form of loans. The profits that the bank makes help pay the interest you earn on your savings account. Peer-to-peer lenders cut out the middleman (the bank) and allow you to lend your money to borrowers directly in return for a higher rate of interest. The way this works is that when you deposit your money the peer-to-peer lender will parcel it up into smaller loans to manage risk (much like a bank). The reason why you get a much better interest rate is because without the middleman (the bank) you keep more of the profits as there are no bank branches etc to pay for.
At present use of a peer-to-peer lender is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so be aware. Yet the industry is gaining growing support from the UK Government with the announcement that the first £1,000 of interest from peer-to-peer lending is now tax-free for a basic rate tax payer, in line with ordinary savings accounts, plus peer-to-peer savings can now be held within certain ISAs.
It is possible to invest for income directly in shares and hopefully receive an income stream via regular dividend payments along with a bit of capital appreciation (for which you can use your annual capital gains tax allowance to receive tax- free, or at least in part). Well, that’s the theory. Direct equity holdings carry much higher investment risk and hopefully rewards. The problem is that if you get your timing or research wrong you can swiftly find yourself sitting on a huge loss and no income stream. (that’s exactly what happened to people who invested in banks in 2008). According to the Barclays Equity Gilt Study equities have produced an annual return of around 5.4% over the last 50 years but this does mask huge crashes and market rallies.
In terms of generating income, shares can produce regular dividend payments. Companies can choose to pay some of their profits to shareholders in the form of dividends. In theory if you held a portfolio of shares that paid regular dividends you could use that income to live off. The added benefit is that currently the first £2,000 of dividend income is tax-free. However, building a portfolio of shares that generate a growing and dependable income is tricky but later in this article I describe a better method, using funds.
Corporate bonds are essentially loans to companies paying you an interest payment (a coupon) and your original loan amount back at an agreed date. The riskier the company the more likely they are to default, so the greater your potential return by way of compensation. But as ever with greater risk comes the potential for greater loss.
At the safest end of the spectrum we have Gilts (which are loans to the UK Government) through to investment-grade bonds (companies with good credit ratings) through to non-investment grade and high-yield bonds (loans to companies with poorer credit ratings). Like equities it is possible to hold bonds directly and a number of companies (such as Tesco) have even marketed their bonds directly to the public.
Bonds are deemed lower risk than equities and their typical annual return (income and capital growth) over 20 years has been around 4.37%. But as ever past performance is no guide to future returns. From an income-generating perspective bonds tend to produce an income that doesn’t grow over time, i.e it is fixed at outset. If you want your income stream to keep pace with inflation that typically means investing in equities (shares).
The above are just a few of the main investment asset classes. There are others such as commodities and hedge funds but I don’t wish to bamboozle you. The main point being you have a wide choice of assets which can produce income.
But up until this point I have talked about holding assets directly. Placing all your money into a single asset (such as one company’s shares) is akin to putting all your eggs into one basket. However, most people invest via an investment wrapper or product into a number of investment funds which invest in a range of assets.
When you invest, two things to consider are ‘how’ you invest and ‘what’ you invest in. The ‘how’ is whether you invest via a pension, investment bonds, collectives etc. While the ‘what’ is usually the underlying investment itself, such as equities, bonds, property etc.
Without trying to oversimplify investing, try and think of it like a car. In order to get from A to B (ie your current situation to your desired stage in life) you need to choose a car. The car that best suits you will depend on the journey you plan to take, your current budget etc. Every car will have different running costs, tax etc and not one car suits all. Think of this as the investment wrapper (pension, Stock and Shares ISA etc). Once you have chosen a car you need to put petrol in it to get you to your desired destination. This is akin to the underlying investment choices. Clearly the petrol drives performance but the car can enhance it. But obviously it’s no good buying a Ferrari if all you plan on doing is going to the shops and back each day. It’s a similar thing with investment – excessive costs can wipe out any benefit.
In terms of making money, perhaps the most important consideration to get right is choosing the best petrol i.e. picking the right underlying investments/assets. But rather than buy the aforementioned assets directly it is often preferable to invest in funds (also called collective investments) via a wrapper (investment vehicles). Later in this article I will look at building a portfolio of funds to produce an income.
But what about the investment wrapper, i.e the car in my analogy above? Below is a selection of investment vehicles. Each is taxed differently and has its own rules when it comes to access and drawing an income which a financial adviser will be able to explain in full detail.
General Investment Account
This is effectively buying funds (Unit trusts/Investment trusts) outside of any investment wrapper. I explain funds in more detail later in this article, but they represent lots of investors’ money combined into a pool which is run by an investment manager with a certain brief. This can be based on the asset type such as bonds, property, shares, a geographical region or a theme such as cautious managed. The fund manager will buy and sell a much larger range of holdings which will hopefully reduce exposure to a single company’s share for example. If collective investments are held outside of a wrapper (in a general investment account) then they are subject to income and capital gains tax.
Stocks and Shares ISA
This is simply a tax wrapper and can hold cash, shares and collective investments (funds). The benefit of investing for income via an ISA is that income and capital gains are tax-free but you have a limited subscription each tax year which is currently £20,000.
Defined contribution or personal pensions are another tax wrapper to consider when investing for income as income and capital gains are tax-free. Again you can invest in the aforementioned assets and collectives (but not residential property). If you are looking to generate an income from your pension then see our article ‘How much income could I get from a £100,000 pension pot?‘
These are products that are offered by life insurance companies that are subject to income tax. Their investment flexibility is usually limited to a range of investment funds.
Building a Portfolio
By building a portfolio it is possible to diversify your investments so as to not put all your eggs in one basket. Consequently, other than your investment amount, there is nothing to stop you spreading your risk by investing in a range of assets with which to provide an income. By choosing the right combination of assets and investment wrapper/product to suit your circumstances you can enhance your returns.
Most investors will invest via funds (either via a general investment account or via a pension or ISA) as a simple way to gain exposure to all the assets mentioned above.
How to invest in funds
Funds work by pooling investors money together so they benefit from economies of scale as well as the ability to change their investments easily. Understanding how investing in funds works is simpler than it sounds. To help you become a successful DIY investor the investing in funds guide covers everything including how to get started with buying funds, explaining what funds are and how they work.
Once you’ve downloaded the FREE guide look at page 3 where it explains what funds are and how they work. Even if you don’t use it now it’s worth keeping a copy for future reference, especially as it’s free.
So how do you build a fund portfolio to produce an income? What sort of income can you expect?
Ready-made income portfolios
Fortunately, the investment professionals out there have done the hard work for you. Interactive Investor (known as ii) has produced a number of model portfolios, including a Low-cost income portfolio as well as an Active Income portfolio. If you follow the link above you can see the historic income yield for the funds in each portfolio as well as the suggested allocation. Interactive Investor also happens to be one of the most cost-effective investment platforms to use to buy these portfolios.
The other alternative is to build a portfolio of funds yourself that can each produce an income. This could be a mixture of income-producing bond funds and/or equity income funds. If you want your income to grow over time and keep pace with inflation then I would suggest investing in a range of equity income funds. The key is to build a collection of equity income funds that invest in the UK and globally that have a strong track record of not only paying out dividends but also growing these payouts year after year. Historically the information required to build such a portfolio has not been readily available which is why I produce it for 80-20 Investor members. You can read more about how to build the perfect income portfolio.
If you simply want to invest for income with no access to capital then it is possible to buy an annuity (called a purchased life annuity) which will provide you with a guaranteed income stream. The level of income will depend on your age and possibly health but once purchased you lose all access to the capital.
So is property the best way to provide income? Not necessarily and in my opinion I’d be wary of putting all my eggs in one basket. Buy-to-let yields vary wildly and the costs involved are often unforeseen.
Diversifying the assets you invest in not only reduces risk but also diversifies the source of your income. The greater the investment risk you take the greater the potential loss. Can you afford to lose any money? If not then you may need to be realistic with your income targets for any investment and settle for safer assets.
Growth – How to invest £100,000 for the best return
Investing for growth is very different from investing for income. That is why I have produced a separate article detailing how to invest £100,000 for the best return.
I hope that helps
Money to the Masses