A guide to micro-investing for beginners

The world of investment can be intimidating. If you’ve never dabbled before, it can seem like there’s too much to learn, too much risk and too much effort. That’s where micro-investing apps come in, offering a more accessible route into the world of high finance and investment.

The convenience of apps

Traditionally, to get started buying stocks and shares, you’ve had to use a broker and invest large sums. Micro-investing apps aim to remove those barriers, to encourage people to invest whatever their incomes and assets.

Micro-investing apps are easy and convenient to use. Setting up an account takes a few minutes, and from there you can view your investment options and track your portfolio. Plus, micro-investing users can start with as little as a dollar (although bear in mind there can be a fee to sign up to the app).

Given the current low-rate environment, micro-investing offers the potential to earn more than putting your money in a savings account.

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How it works

Micro-investing apps predominantly invest in exchange traded funds (ETFs) and managed funds. To get you started, most apps pair you with an investment portfolio based on your risk tolerance.  

If you don’t speak finance …

  • Shares: When you buy shares, you invest in a particular company, like Tesla or Facebook. Shares can be bought or sold between people on an exchange, which is a market where people can trade shares.
  • Exchange traded funds: ETFs are a group of different assets rather than one particular company, but they trade like shares on an exchange. Think of it in terms of a bakery. Buying individual buns is like buying shares. You pay the price for each different kind of bun. An ETF is like buying a box of buns, you get all the different types, which can be grouped by a theme.
  • Managed funds: These work a bit like ETFs, except they don’t trade on an exchange. There’s a person behind the fund doing the calculations. You can buy them directly from the fund provider or through an investment app. 

What micro-investing apps are on offer in NZ?

Sharesies

Sharesies has over 165 companies and funds to choose from. There’s no minimum investment, it lets you buy fractionalised shares of everything: NZX-listed companies, ETFs and managed funds. 

Membership costs:

  • Monthly: the price is based on your portfolio value and ranges from free (for portfolios valued under $50), to $3 a month. They recommend this if you’re looking to invest less than $3000 over the next year.
  • Annually: Sharesies is $30 annually for portfolio values over $50. 

There’s a transaction fee for buying and selling companies based on the dollar amount you want to buy, or the amount you receive when you sell. There’s also a management fee built into the price of ETFs and managed funds, charged by the fund manager. 

ShareMeUp

ShareMeUp allows you to invest in selected NZX-listed shares from a minimum of $50. You choose your recurring investment period (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) and the companies you’d like to invest in. They do the rest. 

Membership costs:

  • No monthly fees charged – ShareMeUp only charges a fee when you purchase investments.
  • A minimum brokerage fee of 99c is charged, which is based on the minimum purchase of $50. The fee is capped at 1.98% of the investment amount.

Hatch

Hatch looks outside New Zealand to US markets. You can invest in over 2900 companies and 500+ ETFs that are listed on the US share markets. There’s no minimum investment, you can invest as little or as much as you like.

Membership costs:

  • Opening an account with Hatch is free, but there are brokerage, exchange and tax reporting fees.
  • To buy or sell a part of a share is US$3.
  • To buy or sell one or more shares is US$0.02 a share, rounded to the nearest US$0.01.  There’s an US$8 minimum fee, so up until you buy 400 shares, you’ll be paying a flat rate of US$8 on every order.

What are the risks?

If you’re looking to start small and potentially ease yourself into investing, then micro-investing is an option. It can give you a good feel for investing without playing with large sums of money. But investment values can go up and down like a yo-yo. Remember, there’s no guarantee on your investments – the fund or company’s performance can always change. 

 

They don’t work for everyone

Micro-investing apps don’t suit all investors. If you’re already confident in investing, you may be disappointed with the returns on these apps. Engaging with a fund manager or picking your own stocks or ETFs could result in better returns. Micro-investing also does require a long time-frame in order to build up any significant wealth. So, if you’re not in it for the long game, it may not build the funds you’d hope for. 

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