Early Retirement goes Mainstream!

So one of my guilty “non FI” habits is my subscription to Moneyweek. I enjoy reading it and get a lot of useful information from it, and also the regular property porn part (so far I think only once have they had things that would be considered realistic – but I love looking at private islands and so forth!).

In addition they also provide some useful suggestions on the wine side, so I won’t complain.

Today is a pretty short post, but going through it I caught a section titled “Want to retire in your 30s? Here’s how to do it”. Obviously I can’t copy and paste it in here as it is part of a subscription – but if you are already a subscriber, then you can access the full details here but they cover Jacob and his approach. They rightly call out the extreme lengths that require it, but also give a link to his book. Whilst I don’t think Moneyweek is particularly aimed at the masses, it’s great to see some publicity starting and showing that it is possible. They also call out the great Monevator site as well so seems the visibility is getting higher, which has to be a good thing!

2013 Stock and Fund purchases

Stock Purchase – RDSB

Another regular in most of the funds, high yields etc. for a good solid payer. As with BP there are some long term concerns about if they can actually afford to pay their current dividends (at present Shell do not have enough free cash flow to cover their dividends), but are banking on a rise in the price of oil to get back to profitability. For me its a nice steady payer, although not rising which is annoying, but as long as it keeps firing into the pool of dividend returns, I am ok for now. I also topped up my holdings in both 2015 and 2016. With the takeover of BG (which I also used to hold) this increased my holdings further so is now one of my larger holdings.

I will continue to hold

Stock Purchase – RMG

So I tucked in on the IPO for this, and was lucky that I didn’t get too greedy and ask for too many, so I got an allocation. I watched the share price soar up to about £6, but I didn’t sell, I held on. I’ve reinvested the dividends for a couple of years (reflected in the average price) as I think long term this should give reasonable returns despite some of the challenges. Whilst letters are diminishing (apart from junk mail!), parcels are only going to get higher, and they have the backbone infrastructure in place. They do have some modernisation to do which is a challenge for them.  Short of a major overhaul to the way parcels are distributed, for me now its a hold. Will Amazon get the licence to use drones, who knows. For now the regular and increasing dividend I will hang on for.

Again, I will continue to hold.

Stock Purchase – HGM

One of the ones you have all been waiting for!

My first major foray into the AIM market, and what could possibly go wrong with a Russian gold mining company?! I did a fair bit of digging through the accounts that were available which gave a reasonable, but risky, ok to investigate further. I also found out that both Putin and Abramovich are shareholders, and it was helped more recently by a commitment from Putin to extend credit to the company. I topped up multiple times in 2013 and 2014 whilst the price was low (it didn’t occur to me that it would go bust) – committing another cardinal sin of doubling down. Now I don’t recommend this for most people (if any!). I must have spent over a year sitting with a paper 50% loss on my original stake as the share price languished around the 40p mark (prior to increasing my holdings). The way I got through was to look at the dividend I was receiving. It’s paid out consistently reasonable amounts, and last time they doubled the dividend so I got just over 5p a share – and plans to maintain this. My challenge is when to sell, and I don’t know. I should maybe have sold some when they hit 160p, but I didn’t. I guess as long as they still pay out a good dividend that is above the trackers payout, then I will keep the money in them. I did actually top slice off some of my holdings recently and take a significant profit to reinvest in other shares. As it stands, it is pretty much joint largest holding in my ISA EVEN NOW, and the combination of the recent top slice and dividends means I have taken out more money than I put in originally, the additional money still in shares is pure profit. Scary!

I will continue to hold.

December 2016 Performance

So the month has ended, and so it’s time to take stock of the performance across all of my holdings, and compare it to the usual index of choice. This enables me to see how I am doing. I calculate this by taking the value of the portfolio at the end of last month, add on any contributions for the month, and that was my starting value. End value is the value at the end of the reporting period. Simples 🙂

So without further ado, below is the overall performance of each of my various portfolios.

Portfolio Performance Income Notes
Company Pension 3.3% 0% No income generated as all funds are in growth or reinvested
Personal Pension 2.4% 0% No income generated as all funds are in growth or reinvested
ISA 1 3.1% 0% No income generated as all funds are in growth or reinvested
ISA 2 2.1% 0.2% The performance does not include the income that was paid out into my account.
ISA 3 5.6% 0% Although dividends are paid out, they remain in the ISA wrapper, and will get reinvested for growth. The performance figure includes both the Capital growth, and also income received which will get reinvested. The Income is the %age paid out by the portfolio but remains inside the wrapper to buy more goodies. I do keep a graph demonstrating the contributions vs. Portfolio value over time, the question is would people be interested in seeing this?
ISA 4 N/A N/A N/A – not yet set up, so will only start from the new tax year
FTSE-100 5.3% This excludes any dividends
FTSE-250 3.0% This excludes any dividends
FTSE-All 4.9% This excludes any dividends
S&P500 2.1% This excludes any dividends
Dow Jones 3.3% This excludes any dividends
VWRL 3.4% This excludes any dividends
VHYL 3.8% This excludes any dividends


So what does all of this tell us, apart from I have too much time on my hands to fill out the various spreadsheets? The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that I have added in two Vanguard funds into my monitoring as well so over time I can see the ongoing performance and that may well influence if I continue the self-selection and so forth. I am aware that it needs a reasonable period of time to get an accurate reflection.

Company pension.

So not a great result compared to a lot of the markets above, however it’s a global portfolio, and the contributions going in are still a very high percentage of the overall value of it, so for the minute I tend to write this off on the grounds I have matching from my employer, and until the fund value has grown significantly this will continue to cause wide swings. Give it another year or two when the contributions have a lower impact on the returns. One good thing I found out with the company pension website is that is automatically shows how the total value is split between contributions and fund growth.

Personal Pension & ISA1.

Not a great month for it compared to UK, but then it’s another global portfolio, and the aim is to build wealth and not lose it. Certainly something to keep an eye on – but is it fair to compare when this covers UK, US, APAC, bonds, alternatives etc. – probably not quite, the telling time will come in the downturns I guess. Certainly the last downturn it performed far better with a much lower drop.


Contributions are still a reasonably significant amount of the value going in so it will take another year or two for these things to calm down, however the returns aren’t too bad. I look at the 0.2% in dividends as not great, but then put that averaged over the year (which makes it 2.4%) and it’s providing a regular steady income already, albeit it low. This continues to help chip away at the mortgage for now, but may also help me reduce my reliance on my salary.


Not too bad a month, but so far this year I have had better months. I am pretty happy with that so far as long as it continues to keep going, although I do need to think about cashing out some of the more profitable positions. Also a significant amount of dividend income from it as well, higher again than I was expecting which has really pushed up the income. I also note that TD Direct are offering 2 days of £1 dealing costs, so I think I may be topping up some holdings – although this isn’t when I would like to do it as I think the market is high, however low costs and time in the market….


So I don’t usually do a conclusion but as it’s year end, and the second report I thought it may be worth mentioning – normally it would only be tax year end.

The actively managed portfolio’s under performed somewhat compared to if I had put it all in one of the above trackers or even a Vanguard fund – but this isn’t really a like for like comparison given the composition. I am also aware that this is a long term game, and I am not willing to transfer to frequently so I am willing to give it time to show the difference. FIREplanter asked in a previous comment if I tracked my performance. As you can see with these updates on a monthly basis I do and I share these, and I will publish my returns over the year at the end of the tax year. I did see that TD Direct have started providing a snapshot of the performance of the portfolio over the year. I have no idea how they calculate it, nor what they determine is the “Benchmark”, but for this year, I will share the snapshot below that they provide. This is not something I intend to do going forwards once I get into the regular year end report in April, but as its early days, I thought I would share – it also gives me a warm fuzzy glow, even if it has dropped its returns by 10% over the last couple of months.


I seriously doubt I will repeat these figures any time soon (if ever!) as a lot of my high risk holdings did well this year, so I need to learn to sell them and find new opportunities.


Company Pension: This consists of a number of actively managed funds – I don’t have any choice of trackers etc, but I will take the matching, that will more than cover the fees, and I will just live with it. It is split across global markets and growth funds and some bonds (I will look up the standard percentage). I can’t easily rebalance as I can only change my contributions once a year.

Personal Pension: This is managed by my FA and contains Actively Managed funds. I continue to contribute each month and the contribution is included in the performance – before my FA has taken their cut (e.g. if I put in £100, and they charged me £5, so only £95 went into the account, I would still class that as £100). This really is a widely diversified portfolio, not just equities across the globe, but bonds, alternatives etc.

ISA 1: This is also managed by my FA, but no new contributions going in (nor planned). This does contain some property investment as well as global equities and bonds.

ISA 2: This is also managed by my FA, however its slightly more complicated than that. There are 3 sub portfolios within, each of which have funds added each month, but each portfolio has different levels of contribution, different investment strategies and different targets. This means that the performance is a little trickier to compare given that I do take out one of the sub portfolios dividends rather than reinvest them.

ISA 3: This is the ISA I manage myself, trying to time the market. The last contributions added to it will be this tax year, 2016 – 2017 until some of my other ISAs have grown to a similar size. All dividends will continue to be reinvested once they get to a sensible level to make the cost of dealing worthwhile.

ISA 4: This is the Go T’ Pub ISA that is being held for now for reference, but will start from the new tax year in 2017 – 2018