Michele Sparkes takes the drivers seat on investing


Michele Sparkes.jpgSix months ago, mom, TV producer, adventurer and bridge playing queen Michele Sparkes received her divorce settlement and faced an important decision as to what the best way would be to look after her funds. It was then that the 57-year-old discovered EasyEquities and was able to get her money in the market as well as set up Tax Free Savings Accounts for her kids.

This is new ground for me. Before I started using EasyEquities I had a husband who was responsible for doing all our investments, and now I’m doing it for myself. I feel so liberated and very excited about being in the driver’s seat and making decisions about my future. The idea that the “Man” will take care of the finances is an old-fashioned system. To grow your own wealth with wise investment decisions is empowering, exciting and rewarding.

I started by working out an investment road map with a qualified representative from the EasyEquities team. They helped me to create and plan an investment journey, which began with understanding my risk profile. Using an assessment tool called Riskalyze, we worked out my risk score and matched it to the relevant products. I’ve started with baskets, a collection of shares which are weighted and selected by an asset manager. I’ve also set up some recurring investments, which makes things a lot easier. I don’t even have to think about depositing money into my EasyEquities account each month, it just happens automatically.

Now that I know how important and easy it is to start investing, I’ve opened Tax Free Savings accounts (TFSA) for my son and daughter as well. TFSA’s are a really great way to save, especially when you have a long-term investment horizon like they do. They work out to be a lot cheaper than retirement annuities or pension funds if you’re a young saver. Instead of putting their money into a traditional savings account, they can now put it towards their TFSA where it has a better chance of growing. My daughter is 35 years old, married and delighted to be able to invest on her own! My Son is 27 years and also loves using the platform. Aside from not paying any tax on the money they make on their TFSA investments (including interest, dividends and capital gains), investing in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and managed portfolios helps them make sure that they spread their risk and that the growth of their savings beats inflation. There are even ETF baskets to make the choice that much easier, and they cater to different kinds of risk ranges: aggressive, growth, growth and income and conservative.

When I’m looking to invest, I look at all the information I can on the companies or ETFs I’m interested in, use my common sense, assimilate the information I pick up in my networks, think about the brands I use and make a decision from there. EasyEquities offers some great research from Intellidex and notes from financial analyst Mark Ingham, which are really helpful. When you are new to investing, all the options can seem scary at first. But then, like anything in life, you realize that you often need to just jump in, start, look at the results and adjust your strategy as you go.