Sharesies have just celebrated their first birthday and up until this point I have resisted having a play around with their product. But I figure that they are still here after a year, the social media fan party has faded away and yet they still keep coming up in conversation.

I have not signed up before because I already invest on a monthly basis with SmartShares and to then sign up for Sharesies would have been doubling up and a bit pointless because Sharesies are enabling me to invest into the same SmartShares funds (and two other funds from a different provider). I was explaining it to a friend that it’s like buying the same pair of slippers (it’s cold here and she was looking to buy slippers) and the EXACT same pair are sold at two different retailers in town.

Plus if I had also gone ahead and signed up with Sharesies I would have had to pay that dreaded word in the world of investing... FEES! Arrrggghhh.

But then I reminded myself why I write this blog in the first place: to help others work out how to invest. So in the interests of education I’m signing up and as luck would have it they are having a birthday promo and there are no fees to pay! (FAKE NEWS! To be fair, they have just changed their fee structure anyway and it’s not a one off birthday promo ;-)

STILL, it’s like everybody kicked a goal! I win and they win.

Sharesies teaches you to walk before you run. It has the lowest barrier to entry to any investing I’ve come across, outside of a piggy bank, just $5. And a better return too. Who doesn’t have $5 to spare? And I must admit that is what put me off in the first place. Investing just $5 a week seemed pretty pointless in the grand scheme of things. Investing just $260 a year is unlikely to see you living out your retirement in grandeur I’m sorry to tell you. We all need to aim a lot higher.

But the investing world is a complicated labyrinth of mumbo jumbo and the Sharesies team have been doing their level best to cut through all the crap and just teach you and I how to invest, how the ‘system’ works, even if we only have $5. That is a cheap education when you think about it.

So, let’s get educated!

I need to be 18 to sign up. Luckily, at 44 I just scrape in and I have passed the first hurdle. I know they are looking at creating kids accounts if you are younger than this but its not available yet. And you can also now sign up to Sharesies if you are from another country and can show your passport, a residential NZ address, NZ bank account, IRD number etc.

First up, ORANGE is hands down my favourite colour, but PINK is pretty cool too and pink is certainly their colour! A single click on their “Start Investing Now” button leads me through to a lot of tropical FRUIT. Well, I like fruit a lot too so all signs are suggesting a good outcome and in all of my experiences with banks, financial advisors and the NZX none of them have lead with branding that is pink and has a lot of fruit.

So this is already a more INTERESTING investing experience:

Click on all images to enlarge.

First page of signup is all the usual stuff that they need to identify me because make no mistake you are NOT signing up for a gimmick here (despite the fruit), you are signing up to be an investor and this is a serious business.

They were impressed with the password I chose, a good strong one and they told me “Whoa, that’s super!”, so very little investment jargon to be seen here which is good because that is a sure fire way to put people off. And then I read their T & C’s (I really did), because I just knew there would have to be some dry investing jargon somewhere and I was not disappointed. But by the time I finished that lengthy tome I received this email in my inbox:

I’M STOKED TOO! I progressed onto the next stage and they needed a bit of ID so I used my passport and entered in all of my details. No scanning required! Using all of this information they checked with a number of agencies to check that I am indeed who I say I am - I was VERIFIED IN ABOUT 10 SECONDS. I’m loving this process.

Another 5 seconds later and my address was also verified.

Am I a tax resident of another country? Yes or No?

And I’m in! That was extremely easy to do:

First up I need to put some money in my “Sharesies Wallet” so I clicked the button to “Top up my wallet” and using the details they gave me I went to my online bank and transferred $30 across.

And now I wait…..

I’m really bad at waiting. I tend to fidget…

It could take 10 minutes for the money to appear in my account, it could take two days. It just depends on the bank you use. After waiting a while it appears I use a really slow bank. So, I can instantly see that going forward there is a benefit of always having a bit in your Sharesies wallet just ready and waiting for you to invest with. I can set up an automatic payment to do this so I never get stuck waiting again...

I’m using this down time to work out what I want to buy though and they have nice clear graphics showing me what is available. I can choose from nine SmartShares funds or two Pathfinder Asset Management Funds.

Your choice of index fund is limited (SmartShares and Pathfinder do have more options) but there is certainly enough choice there to get started. Any more and a new investor would be bamboozled by too much choice:
NZ Top 50 (FNZ
Australian Top 20 (OZY)
US 500 (USF)
NZ Bond (NZB)
NZ Property (NPF)
Australian Resources (ASR)
NZ Mid Cap (MDZ)
Emerging Markets (EMF)
Europe Fund (EUF)
Pathfinder Global Responsibility
Pathfinder Global Water

I already directly invest with SmartShares and I already hold the NZ Top 50 (FNZ) and the US 500 (USF) funds. So, although I was perfectly happy to just stick to these two funds in my portfolio, for the interests of my education and yours I have my eye on a different fund entirely, this time the NZ Property Fund (NPF).

They have some basic information about this fund:

They go on to tell me good, clear, simple stuff about the fund, how it has been performing, that it is medium risk, how to get my money out, when they pay dividends out in June and December (they are paid out to my wallet and not directly reinvested), current gross dividend yield is 5.080% (certainly less than the other funds I’m in but that’s OK), fees charged by the fund itself (not Sharesies) .54%.

And just for clarity for those of you who are completely COMPLETELY new to investing (which is awesome by the way), Sharesies give you the opportunity to buy into what is called an Index Fund. For the fund I’m going to choose (NPF) instead of buying a share in one property my money is pooled with other investors money and I am instead buying a share in a very large group of companies and in turn THEY each own a heap of property. To use an analogy, I’m not buying a fraction of a building in a suburb, I’m buying into the entire town and this is how I am able to get involved for a very small amount of money and also how I can spread my risk. If one building burns down, then there are a hundred others that are doing just fine. If they do well, you get paid dividends (a piece of their profits paid to you) and your share price goes up, if they have a downturn, well so does your dividend payout and your share price. Markets go up and down which is entirely NORMAL but you stay involved over a long period of time and you ride out the bumps.

These are the holdings that make up the New Zealand Property Fund (NPF)
Source: SmartShares

The product disclosure statement takes me directly to SmartShares, so these are the same funds that I can and do already access directly. Sharesies is just giving me another way of buying them with the key feature being the lower barrier to entry, just $5.

Sharesies say “We want someone with $50 to have the same investment opportunities as someone with $50,000”.

To compare, if I were to invest in these funds direct with SmartShares I need an initial investment of $500 for each fund with ongoing monthly contributions of $50.

While I was STILL waiting for my money to appear I also looked at my membership:

“Your subscription will renew on 5 July, 2018. It'll be based on your Portfolio value on that day.
Right now it’s less than $50 so it’s free!”

As at June 2018 they have changed their fee structure so I can sign up for free for the first month now. After a month I can decide which subscription I want to use going forward. For the purpose of this blog I’m probably just going to stick with the free monthly subscription, but I can also see myself getting a little bit excited if I get to play with their app and invest willy nilly.

Bored at work? Ooo, I might buy some shares!

Waiting for the kettle to boil? Ooo, I might buy some shares!

Waiting for my daughter to get her shoes on for school? Ooo, I might buy some shares!

I note that I can load a credit card against my Sharesies account but I WILL NOT BE DOING THAT. Investing on credit is certainly not my cup of tea and if you are new to investing I suggest that it should NOT be your cup of tea either!

So, I’ve been reading every word on their website while I was still WAITING for my money to show up in my account. Prior to sign up I knew I could use a referral link from a friend which would mean Sharesies would give THEM $5 to add to their own wallet. Prior to setting up my own account this morning I asked for a link from a friend/subscriber which she sent me. I then COMPLETELY FORGOT to use that link. Yes, I am an idiot sometimes.

So instead I used the Sharesies “gift giving service” to gift her $5 instead. Yes, I’m paying for this out of my own pocket now but it was so worth it to test out their system:

Once again, it was fast, fun and painless. I did use my credit card to purchase the gift for her and the total cost to me was actually $5.33 as there were some additional charges thrown in there. I received a ‘gift certificate’ with a unique code on it that I then emailed on to her (within minutes of receiving it she emailed me back to say that they went “Straight onto the NZ Top 50 because they were exactly $2.50 each 🤗”. This is indeed the gift that keeps on giving as her fiver will keep on working for her for years to come. I love it!

Blogging in New Zealand is a notoriously underpaid endeavour so I am going to shamelessly plug my OWN LINK right here and if you use it to sign up with Sharesies I will receive $5 in my own Sharesies wallet that I can buy funds with!

Unlike me, please do REMEMBER to use this link if you want to sign up and give it a try yourself!

Eventually, after an exciting half hour of keeping myself busy I had to log off my new Sharesies account because it became obvious that it was going to take a good long while for the money to move from my account to theirs, so I put it aside to come back to tomorrow.

About an hour later when I was at work I checked my email and there was one there to let me know the money had arrived! So, it was actually not too long a wait after all, maybe two hours.

Apart from the wait while my bank sent some money over the whole system was flawless.

I had other things to do for the rest of that day but I was back at it the next morning and it was time to go shopping! Now, that is a weird statement to use because I don’t often associate buying shares with shopping, but their system certainly has a internet shopping vibe about it. Must be all the pink and all the fruit perhaps?

I found the fund I wanted to invest in again, the New Zealand Property Fund (NPF), entered $5 as my investment amount and hit “Add To Cart”. Then I was given the option to ‘browse other investments’ or “view my cart” (I’m kinda hoping there is a free gift with purchase at the checkout or something now)...

I hit BUY, my efforts were rewarded with a bit of onscreen fanfare and now I just have to wait for my order to be processed over the next couple of days (it was confirmed the very next day!) before I can safely say I own a teeny tiny sliver of this:

Looks like I have just bought into the Auckland property market without taking on a ridiculous sized mortgage folks!

And to finish I received this. You can’t buy “a bit” of a share, so it turns out that they left .58 cents in my account to use for my next transaction:

I have to be honest that it’s the ability to sign up and have a play around for FREE that has finally hooked me in to trying Sharesies. It’s a really easy site to use and with their reduced fees it eliminates yet another barrier to entry.

I can set up a direct debit to top up my account but I will still need to remind myself to buy into my fund, unlike the other funds I buy into that are just set up to happen automatically. So, for me I might have to set a calendar alert to remind me but YOU might jump on and buy every time you get paid perhaps?

So, I’ve learned a lot, its a great system and an excellent way to get educated in investing.

It definitely taps into a different market and appeals to those who never would have had a go at investing before because they see it as dry, boring and confusing. Sharesies has made inroads on solving that problem. Today I chose to invest in a property fund, New Zealanders are beside themselves to invest in property as the ONLY way to get ahead, but the stock market is a very valuable alternative. For every person 18+ who feels locked out of the property market, well this is your way into it. And you don’t have the hassle of a mortgage, insurance, rates or the tenants themselves. Let someone else whose passion this is handle all that stuff; you just give them the funds they need to do their job and you can go to work and do what YOU LOVE TO DO and can collect the dividends that they pay out. Have a go, just pick a fund that appeals to you, do some research and get involved and if you change your mind down the track, just sell it!

Everybody kicked a goal!

Remember if you would like to have a go with Sharesies, consider using my link to sign up and help support me and what I do on this blog. If you use it to sign up with Sharesies I will receive $5 in my own Sharesies wallet that I can buy funds with! SIGN UP TO SHARESIES

Happy Saving!


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KIWISAVER FOR KIDS: Is this the best investment tool?

Mortgage be gone!

Mortgage be gone!