Belfast Telegraph

Invest now for a princely pension

Business View by David Elliott

Put down the cheque book, close your wallet and step away from the baby. That would seem to be the most salient advice if Prince Charles is thinking of following in the footsteps of grandparents up and down the land by buying premium bonds for his new grandson.

In case you haven't heard, Kate Middleton and Prince William had a baby this week and band wagons up and down the country have been heavy laden with advice for all concerned.

Most are as useful as a tracing paper nappy but some have unveiled some interesting statistics, in particular a note from stock brokers Brewin Dolphin.

Their divisional director Hal Catherwood timed his advice not just with the arrival of the royal baby but also with news from National Savings and Investments that the chances of winning big on UK Premium Bonds is to be cut.

Rather than five prizes of £100,000 a month there'll only be three prizes a month and the odds will also fall.

Now you might think premium bonds have fallen out of favour in recent years but it would appear that's not the cases with 21.6 million people responsible for a total investment of £44bn.

That, according to Mr Catherwood, appears to be misguided.

"The returns are barely better than putting the cash in a moneybox for the next 18 years," he said.

Instead, you should think about starting a pension for your new born prince or any one of the other 2,199 babies born on Monday and any time since.

If you put £300 a month (which equates to £3,600 a year, the maximum allowed) into a stakeholder pension, when the child reaches 55 in 2068 they could have a pension worth £1,670,000, assuming the fund grows 7% a year and inflation stays at 2.5%.

That is a sobering thought and one which we could all do with taking heed of, although maybe one that might prove a little expensive for most.

Of course if your investing for the extremely long-term period of 55 years there are other options to consider.

Take gold. If you'd bought the yellow metal 55 years ago you'd have picked it up for $38 an ounce whereas now it's worth a whopping $1,300.

Of course, you'd have to have somewhere to store it over all those years and hope that you don't get burgled, and you'd also need to rely on gold not falling out of fashion or becoming as easy to mine as sand.

So maybe it's best to stick to a pension to welcome a new born into the world, because as Hal said, kids are a pricey business and risky or low yield markets aren't where you want to invest.

"The one thing every parent can be sure of is that the costs associated with children do not disappear at 18, so a long term savings plan is gift that really will keep on giving," the Holywood broker added.

Belfast Telegraph