Investing is never a sure-fire way to make money – the value of your investments can go down as well as up, after all, and there's always the risk you could get back less that you put in.
There's no guaranteed way to get a better outcome for your investments, but there are a few things you can do to try to maximise your potential returns. Here are our top six suggestions.
Make the most of your ISA allowance
The ISA allowance for the 2020/21 tax year is £20,000. That's up to £20,000 you can put away without paying Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax. If you don't use your full allowance this tax year, it's gone – no rolling over into the new tax year. So the sooner you can start investing in an ISA, the better.
Interest rates are currently low, and as a result, the interest you'll get on a Cash ISA is likely to be low too. If you're willing to take a bit more risk, a Stocks & Shares ISA could make you more money.
Otherwise known as not putting all your eggs in one basket. Spread your money across as many different investments as possible so that if one goes down, another one may remain stable or even go up.
You can aim for diversification by investing in a range of sectors, geographical locations and assets, like shares, property and bonds.
Sound like hard work? Take a look at investment funds . Each fund is like a ready-made multipack of different assets, so they're often seen as a shortcut to diversification. Investment platforms can select funds for you based on how risky you want to get with your investments, or you can pick your own from their shortlist. If you're a confident investor, you can even pick from every single fund they have to offer.
Keep an eye on fees
If you're using an investment platform, you'll be charged a fee. It's usually a percentage of your total investment that's deducted monthly, quarterly, biannually or annually. The lower the fee, the more of your investment returns you get to keep, so it's worth shopping around to compare like-for-like services.
Stay in it for the long haul
Investing certainly isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. To make the most out of your investments, you'll need to leave them alone. Hold onto them for at least five years, preferably more, regardless of market ups and downs. The benefit of investing long term is that you'll be able to weather those dips in the market, while money invested for a short time won't have as long to recover from any drops in value.
Make changes if you need to
While it's a good idea to invest for the long term, there's no reason you can't change exactly what you're investing in. How risky you want to be may change as you approach retirement, for example, as you want more guarantee that you're going to have a pot of money to see you through your golden years. So you could switch your portfolio so it's invested in less volatile assets.
Keep an eye on what's happening in the world too – economic or political events could impact your portfolio, so don't be afraid to make some adjustments. Most investment platforms will be monitoring these anyway and will make the adjustments on your behalf, especially if your investments are actively managed.
Invest little and often
Imagine you have £10,000 to invest (lucky you). You could either put it into a portfolio of funds, all at once, and hope that the market performs consistently well to increase your investment month on month. Or you could drip feed that £10,000 into the portfolio over the course of a year (or more).
This second approach is known as pound cost averaging, and it's a way to try to cushion your investment against market falls. It works because some months your shares will be more expensive if the market is doing well, but sometimes they will be cheaper if the market is down. So the cost of your shares will average out over time.
Pound cost is also a great way to instil good investing behaviour: investing little and often and not trying to time the market.
Whether you want to be hands-on with your investments or just monitor how they're doing from time to time, MyAviva allows you to check your Aviva Pension, Stocks & Shares ISA or Investment Account whenever you like.