In this series, we ask investors from all walks of life to chat about what it was like to make their first ever investment. We spoke to Jo Blundell, whose fish and chip shop earnings kick-started a passion for investing at the super young age of 14.
Big fish, small pond
Working at a Lower Hutt fish and chip shop after school, gave Jo the money she needed to create an investment portfolio that’s far from small fry.
The successful marketing manager was just 14 years old when she began setting aside money for savings.
Once she had $2000—her Dad (who worked in banking) suggested shares as a way to protect and grow her hard-earned cash.
“I think having a dad in banking was a major influence when it comes to my saving habits, and being responsible with money. Not having debt has been another major thing for me.”
Making investments work
Jo studied marketing at Victoria University and has worked in the investment banking industry in Edinburgh, Dublin and Sydney.
When the financial crisis hit in 2007, she returned to New Zealand and launched an ethical clothing website, before following her passion for technology to a small Wellington software company.
Now a marketing manager for Xero, she continues to save funds monthly for shares.
Despite a 15-year gap between her first and second investments, Jo’s committed to growing a strong portfolio and tells us why it has been well worth her while.
Can you tell us about your first investment?
My dad worked for BNZ bank, so as a teenager I would give him half my earnings to deposit each week and spend the rest. At the time, Contact Energy was about to list on the stock exchange. My dad was going to invest and suggested I buy some shares along with my sister. That was my first ever investment.
I’m 35 now and still have those shares. It’s probably doubled its purchase value since then. And I get regular dividend income that I use to purchase other investments.
How did you choose what to invest in and what was the process?
I didn’t invest again until my late 20s but continued the habit of saving half my pay into a growth account for travel etc.
When I got a bit older I thought about investing again. I had been working for an investment bank in the UK, learning about the share market and what metrics to look for.
Then I researched companies I thought were interesting and had long-term gain. I came across Chorus and could see the importance of the fibre network going forward. The price was right so I put money into shares, and it’s performed really well ever since.
“I always look at businesses and opportunities that I know something about and that I can see potential in.”
Would you do anything differently?
I wouldn’t change anything about my first investment, but I would change the break I took between investments.
It would have been good to have kept putting aside a certain amount when I think about the wealth I could have accumulated between the ages of 14 and 28. Now I allocate money monthly and have many different investments.
People often think you need loads of cash to invest. What do you think about this?
Many New Zealanders see owning a house as a safe investment. It’s something that’s easy for people to understand because it’s tangible.
But if you’re looking at a long-term investment, shares are a safe way to spread the risk over time—rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket.
It’s also very difficult to save for a 20% deposit for a house—it can take years to accumulate. With tools like Sharesies on the way, it will mean you don’t need a huge amount of money to get started. If property is your passion, you can invest in property shares instead.
What do you like about having an investment and why should people try it?
I like my money to work for me. Investing a small amount today will grow over time to the point where you will be pleasantly surprised with how it’s performing.
It’s a great way to spread your risk, and allow your money to do the hard yards.
How did you feel after becoming an ‘investor’?
I was excited—It’s just such a rollercoaster.
My dad was watching the numbers with me, and keeping an eye on his own investment—he always had a smile on his face.
What is the best piece of advice you have given (or been given) about investing?
It’s not worth looking at daily fluctuations. Look at how shares perform over a five-year period. As a first time investor, seeing the share market soar and dive can be quite intimidating. It’s very rare that people are able to buy low one day and sell high the next, you have to ride it out.
Aim for diversity is probably the main piece of advice I could give. Don’t be afraid to invest in interesting funds or businesses.
Thanks, Jo! 🙌
If you (or you know of anyone) who has an interesting investing story to tell. Or there is a particular part of investing you’d like to hear about—let us know.