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Lessons Learned From My Fortress Fund Managers Account

Odd Cents - Saving and Investing

Late last year, as part of my end of year financial bucket list, I checked all of my bank accounts. My Fortress Fund Managers account was included in the round up and I realised that I have been slacking. Seeing that the Barbados banks got out of the business of applying interest to savings accounts, it makes perfect sense to look for alternative ways to save money.

When I started my Fortress account over ten years ago, I did not have a clue that this would become one of my premier ways to save money. Seeing how the account looked last year, in conjunction with everything else that was going on, I’m going to push my extra cash to this account from 2021 and onwards.

My Fortress Fund Managers Account

There is always a lesson to be learned about one’s finances, and I’m learning as the days go by. But my end-of-year-review was a sobering exercise which opened my eyes to new things and reminded me of things that I said I was going to do but didn’t. Who doesn’t love a good ol’ reality check every now and then?

From what I have observed, I’m saving more money by putting my money in Fortress. However, I must admit that a couple years ago I withdrew some cash and the account took a big hit. However, I made a promise to myself that I will not be taking any more money from this account. Part of the reason for this is that it takes a while to get the cheque. That being said, this would be a perfect place to save money because it’s a hassle to get cash and you do not have a debit card that you can swipe.

The Caribbean Growth Fund

Through my Fortress Fund Managers account, I invest in the Caribbean Growth Fund. I can’t remember how much I started my account with but if you want to join, the minimum investment is $100. This is comparable to most personal savings accounts in Barbados and is definitely not something to cause concern. According to the website, the fund only invests in companies that meet specific characteristics. These characteristics include:

  1. Well established products in local and/ or regional markets
  2. Attractive share prices when compared to the market
  3. High rates of growth in both revenues and profits
  4. Sustainable export earnings

This is a mutual fund account which pools money from small investors (like me) into one company which then invests the pooled money. If you’re new to investing and you want to get your feet wet, this is one of the easiest ways to get started.

Lessons Learned

I’ve been pretty satisfied with this account to date, but I’m a bit annoyed that I have not paid it much attention over the years. However, I’m taking this as a learning experience that will ultimately inspire me to be more focused about my money. I’ve learnt some important lessons that will hopefully reap good rewards in the near future.

1. No Deposits = No Growth

Let me explain. Looking back at my statement for July 01 – September 30, there was no activity. And, as a result, I did not benefit from any additional gains in my account. The lesson from this, is that I need to be more consistent and put some money in, so that I can benefit from any gains in the share prices in my account.

2. Success is a Long-Term Game

Looking back at the performance of the fund over 2020, revealed some highs and lows. I know that many of us are tempted to pull our money when rates drop, but that’s not the right approach. Successful investing is a long-term game and the you have to be ready to stay focused through the lows, no matter how bad they seem.

3. Expect the Unexpected

Every few years there will be an event that will impact your investment account. The major event from 2020 was COVID-19. And even though it was impact my account as badly as I was expecting, it still caused some damage. Do not set yourself up for disappointment. Always bear in mind that events will occur and they may affect your account.

4. Automation is My Friend

I learnt this the hard way when COVID-19 hit and I could not visit the Fortress office to deposit cash. If I had set up an automated savings plan, I would have saved a lot more money in my account for 2020. I’m going to set up a system for 2021 and beyond, that debits my bank account and deposits funds in my Fortress account.

5. Review the Reports

Fortress sends out a quarterly email that outlines the performance of the fund and provides outlooks for upcoming periods. I do not read these reports, and as a result, I missed some of the key updates for 2020. For 2021, I will try to pay more attention to what’s going on. It really makes sense to see what’s happening with your money, no matter where it is.

As I get closer to retiring from my full-time job, I have to be a bit more vigilant about my money. That means in addition to my Fortress Fund Managers account, I will be paying close attention to my savings accounts and my other investments. I’ve built some good systems over the years, and now is the time to use them.