When you're dealing with personal investments, you're looking at everything from a big-ticket item like real estate to the humble bank deposit account. And like any investor, you want to stay on top of your investment game.
However, there is one crucial aspect of investment management that is often overlooked - documenting your investments.
From the point of view of a typical UAE-based expat investor, a list of the most commonly held local and international investments include savings and deposit accounts; insurance plans; retirement savings/long-term investment plans; equity investments; bond certificates; mutual fund investments; physical gold or gold certificates; offshore investments; and real estate investments, among others.
You may have invested in one or more of these, and with ownership comes the added responsibility of record keeping. The more investments you hold, the more documents and paper trail you'll have to manage.
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And why should you document your investments? Documenting your investments properly will not only help you keep track of how your investments are doing, but will also ensure that you have ready access to these investments, if and when you choose to liquidate them. Here are six tips to help you stay organised when handling your investments:
Scan and store all your important documents
It might be a good idea to scan all the investment documents in your possession and save these scans in a folder on your computer. In fact, you can go a step further and save these documents on the cloud as an additional back up. iOS users have the option of saving their files in the iCloud Drive. Otherwise, you can save your files on Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive.
Keep a personal investment journal
If you're a seasoned investor, you've probably made some good calls as well some mistakes along your investment journey. By recording the details of all your past investment decisions and the rationale behind them, you can examine their effectiveness, spot patterns that have worked in your favour as well as avoid the mistakes that have cost you in the past. Want to start an investment journal? Choose a medium that you're most comfortable with: a simple notebook would do, or you could go digital with apps like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote.
Use an investment aggregator in your home country
Account and investment aggregators offer you a consolidated view of all your financial holdings. Aggregators like Mint.com or Personal Capital are popular in the US, and help investors track multiple investments and assess their overall investment portfolio. This option is not available for your local investments in the UAE, but if you're an expat, it's worth checking if such an investment-tracking app is available in your home country.
Skip paper, opt for online updates
If you still receive quarterly or annual updates of how your investments are performing via physical mail, it's about time you went green. And we're not just talking about avoiding paper waste. Opting for e-updates sent to your email address will also save you the hassle of maintaining paper records.
Manage old share and bond certificates
Have old share or bond certificates passed down from your parents or grandparents? You might be pleasantly surprised with what they're worth today. Old stock (company share) certificates don't just have wallpaper value; if the company is still in business, these old certificates may be worth actual cash. You can take these certificates to a stockbroker, who can help you find out the value of the stocks held and how you can cash them in. These can also be converted into an electronic format, so you can trade with them as you see fit.
Keep your family informed
Your closest family members - spouse, parents or children, must know exactly where you've filed all the important documents related to your investments. Life is uncertain and if you're not around any more, your family may come to depend on the savings and investments you leave behind. Be it a folder in your computer, a file in your desk drawer, or documents stashed away in a bank safety locker - make sure your family's aware of how to access it.
By Ambareen Musa
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