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Is cash still king?

Investments  |  19/01/2022  |   6 min read

Bucks, coins, lobsters or pineapples, whatever you call it, cash has long been viewed as one of the safest investments available.  

Looking ahead to 2022, is this still true? And what are the risks?  
 

What are the benefits of investing in cash?  

Cash investment options consist of money market securities, such as bank term deposits, bank bills and other liquid cash securities 

Historically, cash is one of the lowest risk investment options you can choose. You have surety of your capital, immediate access to funds, and there’s less risk of losing money when compared to other investment options which can be much more volatile, such as shares. Returns are stable, but lower over the long term.  

As an investment option, it can often benefit people with significant upcoming liabilities, or who need access to funds for big ticket purchases, such as buying a new house or car within a defined time frame. Or cash may be preferred for people in retirement.  
 

Risky business  

However, if you look more closely there are certain elements of risk inherent in cash investments.   

One risk is that cash can struggle to keep pace with inflation, which means the real value of your money goes down. Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money, and this can have a huge impact over long periods of time. Or to put it another way, imagine what $10 would have bought you in 1990 vs today. That’s inflation at work.  

As we enter 2022, inflation is looking to be a concern for investment markets, with inflation in the US hitting a 40-year high in January 2022. However, returns from cash investments are much lower than this, meaning the purchasing power of cash has declined in this time.  You can view our Cash option returns over the short-term and long-term via our investment returns table

Meanwhile, the empty supermarket shelves that we saw across Australia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are an indication of the supply chain issues that are having a knock-on effect on inflation – supply is struggling to keep up with demand, pushing prices up.  

If you’re holding your investments in cash for long periods of time you’ll end up with about the same amount, but what you can buy with it will be less than what you could have initially. This is the hidden risk of cash investments. It can significantly impact your retirement lifestyle over the long term. So it could be good to review how much of your super is held in cash.   
 

Safe harbour? 

The perceived safety of cash can also be its undoing. 

During periods of market volatility people may be tempted to move their savings into a cash option. While this may buffer short term changes, it can also ‘lock in’ losses, rather than allowing for market corrections. 

This happened to some people during the 2020 market crash prompted by the pandemic. A sharp investment drop in February 2020 saw some people transferring their balances to cash, only to then miss out on a huge market growth over the subsequent 12 months. Most members would have been better off ignoring the short-term panic and staying the course.  
 

Understanding your investments  

So – in many ways, cash is far from king.   

As with all investments, it is an individual proposition. That means the level of risk, the need to make a big-ticket purchase, and life stage can all play an important part in determining investment strategy.   

You can find out more about investing your money and assessing your current investments by talking to one of our financial planners

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Learn about your investment options and how they may impact your super balance and associated returns.

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Issued by Togethr Trustees Pty Ltd ABN 64 006 964 049, AFSL 246383 ("Togethr"), the trustee of the Equipsuper Superannuation Fund ABN 33 813 823 017 ("the Fund"). 
The information contained herein is general information only and does not take into account your personal financial situation or needs. You should consider whether this information is appropriate to your personal circumstances before acting on it and, if necessary, you should also seek professional financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. Where tax information is included, you should consider obtaining personal taxation advice. 
Before making a decision to invest in the Equipsuper Superannuation Fund, you should read the appropriate Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination for the product which are available at equipsuper.com.au  
Past performance is not an indication of future performance.
Financial advice services may be provided to members by the trustee’s related entity Togethr Financial Planning Pty Ltd (ABN 84 124 491 078; AFSL 455010). 

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