Ask the Expert: If the economy is on the slide, should I cash in my share portfolio?

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green - Credit: Archant

Election uncertainty has this reader worried about the possibility of his share portfolio losing value. Carl Lamb of Almary Green offers his advice.

Q. I have £175,000 invested in a portfolio of shares and bonds, but I'm worried the election result is going to be bad for the economy and share prices will fall.

Also, I will need to cash in some investments soon to help my son buy a house. Is this a good time to move my investments into cash accounts, even though interest rates are so low?

Response from Carl Lamb of Almary Green:

A. There are a number of areas to think about here. Firstly, it is important that any investments you hold take into account your attitude to risk and – equally important – what is called your 'capacity for loss', which is whether or not you can continue with your desired lifestyle and future goals if the investment in question were to fail. A financial adviser will ensure the investments they recommend are suitable for you.

For most people, diversification is a critical factor: if you have a broad range of investments, then your exposure to market falls should be less severe. In practice that may mean investing in a mix of equities from different countries as well as different industries or markets. Cash investments are usually an important element of the investment mix too.

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The third point to think about is access to the money you have invested.

If you have a specific point in time when you want to turn your investments into cash – as is the case with helping your son – then you need to ensure that you are not vulnerable to a drop in the market at the very time you need the money.

This will again mean diversifying and ensuring that at least some of your portfolio is in investments that are at a lower risk level, which may indeed mean using cash investments.

The other option to consider is investment management. This involves investing in a portfolio of investments that is aligned to your risk level and putting the portfolio into the hands of an experienced investment manager who can adjust the portfolio in line with market changes.

While this doesn't guarantee your portfolio won't lose value, it does provide some protection against market turbulence.

The investment manager will charge a fee for this service, but there are different levels of reactivity and portfolio choice which can suit almost every investor's pocket.