IT used to be that you needed to have quite a bit of money to make an investment. But, things have changed.
Investment houses have now introduced products, which don't carry fees on the front end nor impose high limits.
And while unit trust funds carry a front-end load — the difference between the unit price that an investor pays to buy into the fund and the price they get when they are selling units — you can buy into if you are strapped for cash.
With as little as $500, when you invest in a unit trust fund, you have access to the fund at any time, according to Paulette Small, investment advisor, treasury asset and management, Sagicor Life Jamaica.
"You benefit from diversification within and across asset classes to manage risk," she said.
Fundamentally, unit trust funds give small investors the combined benefits of diversification, security and a sufficient weight of assets to ensure cost-effectiveness.
It is managed by a professional manager who buys a portfolio of securities, which may include money market instruments, fixed income securities, equities, real estate or other classes of assets, manages the fund.
"You don't determine what is done with it, that's up to the investment manager," said Adrian Haye, research analyst at Barita Investments. "It's pretty much limited to local fixed income and equity."
He suggests that you keep funding the unit trust account after the initial buy in, and when it reaches a certain threshold you can create your own portfolio.
In other words, when you have created enough wealth you can driectly invest in other types of instruments, such as stocks in companies and even global bonds.
Rather than putting aside cash every month in a savings account, Haye said that returns are greater with the unit trust.
"But if you fancy using the bank to secure your cash to make an investment, use a certificate of deposit," he said.
This is a promissory note issued by a bank. It restricts holders from withdrawing funds on demand.
"It's not a savings account, your exposure to fees will be less," said Haye. "When the maturity ends you are given your money (principal) and your interest."
When it comes to directly investing in stocks, it's better to start with a larger sum of money, but because share prices fluctuate, "It's not a good idea to wait an entire year before you get in," Barita's research analyst said.
Once you decide to invest, you should approach a financial institution that offers investment products or a brokerage house. That way, you can get sound advice and get to evaluate your needs, and objectives, Small said.
"Know where you stand in terms of income and the available money you have to invest," she said.
Investments carry risk, and it gets you to making money to meet long-term goals.
Not all brokerage houses are the same; they each have different minimum opening balance.
Initial public offerings (IPO) can help you to get a foot in the market if you don't have a lot of money.
"By law, as a Jamaican citizen, you have the right to participate in an IPO," said Winston Wong, investment advisor at Mayberry Investments, "As such, brokerage houses doing an IPO have to relax their minimum opening balance as indicated on the prospectus of the company going public."
For instance, the minimum required investment in Paramount Trading Limited, which listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Junior Market last month, was $2,430.