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    The smart investor’s guide

    8 November 2014

    If you’re an active investor, you have thousands of market choices on which to test your skill and intuition. If you’re a more passive saver with a managed portfolio and a pension plan, you still have plenty of strategic options. Either way, the least interesting thing you can do is to leave excess cash on deposit earning less than the rate of inflation. Spectator Money is here to provide fresh ideas and opinions for those who enjoy the challenge of smart investment, with its constant search for the right balance of risk and reward.

    This first issue looks at choices available for the 10 or 20 per cent of disposable funds with which you might feel you can afford to take less conventional risks. Michael Hayman enthuses about high-tech start-ups: not for the faint-hearted, but well supported by tax breaks. Laura Whitcombe outlines the attractive returns — and so far surprisingly low bad-debt record — of the peer-to-peer lending sector. Freddy Gray explores new possibilities of investing in social enterprises. By way of warnings, Ross Clark says buying  to let may no longer be worth the hassle, and Louise Cooper takes a dim view of online share tipsters.

    As for the bigger picture, our theme is one of caution in the aftermath of October’s market turbulence. Professional investors Bruce Stout and Tim Price hold forth against the damage wrought by quantitative easing, which the US Fed has at last halted: Price foresees falling bond markets, while Stout says savers will continue to suffer. Elliot Wilson is wary of offerings of Chinese stocks but Joanna Pitman finds growing optimism in Japan.

    Investment is an activity that reflects the way each of us sees the wider world as well as our own circumstances. I hope Spectator Money stimulates your thinking, and helps to make your money work in more creative ways.