Mark from Edinburgh is taking higher risks in an effort to hit a number of goals
Thursday 12 Sep 2019 Author: Daniel Coatsworth

Twenty eight year-old Mark has made 14% average annual return from his equity, derivative and loan investments over the past five years. He comes across as someone with a high appetite for risk and is prepared to try many different strategies in order to make money.

The financial gains exclude additional investments which are spread across buy-to-let property, crowdfunding (including investments linked to beer group Brewdog and financial services group Nutmeg) and bitcoin.

‘I’m active in so many parts of the market because of diversity and curiosity,’ he says. ‘I could put everything into index funds and hopefully achieve an average of 10% a year, but frankly it’s boring and I see it as a challenge to achieve above-average returns.’

Mark works as a chemical engineer in Edinburgh and started investing when he was aged 20. His job has taken him to the North Sea, the Middle East and Azerbaijan and provided insight into the commodities market. 

Having started his investment journey with low cost tracker funds, he now invests in stocks, passive and actively-managed funds and has had some experience with derivatives such as trading the oil price as well as peer-to-peer lending.

The very high-risk investments are ring-fenced from his core portfolio by being held in a separate account. The bulk of his money is held in Vanguard tracker funds, shares in companies including Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, and various investment trusts including City of London (CTY), Scottish Mortgage (SMT) and F&C (FCIT).

His best performing stocks have been software group Blue Prism (PRSM:AIM) and Chinese giants Alibaba and Tencent. The biggest losses have come from Woodford Equity Income Fund (BLRZQ62) and Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT).

He makes regular contributions into an ISA and tries to use the entire £20,000 allowance each year. ‘I purchase funds on a monthly basis so that I pay the average price,’ explains the enthusiastic investor. ‘This only takes an hour or two a month as I reflect on my decisions and strategy.’

Earlier in his investment journey, Mark spent more time trading the markets and found this took up more of his time, often consuming an hour or two a day.

‘I was making about £400 net earnings a month, but it was high risk, time consuming and to make any money I had to sustain a high success rate,’ he says.

‘I now have limited time to dedicate to day trading so my frequency has reduced and I take a more cautious approach to investments.
I try to understand a company and how it might perform over a six to 12 month period rather than my old time period of a week and where I might have sold hours after buying. This change in approach has resulted in less time spent on the markets, lower fees and smoother returns.’

Mark initially started investing as a way of making money to buy a house. Now that’s been achieved, his future goals include making enough returns to pay for his wedding and buy a McLaren sports car. ‘The long term goal is to design and build an environmentally-friendly house which is as self-sufficient as possible.’

Clearly an ambitious person, Mark has worked out how and when he could become an ISA millionaire, saving enough in his tax-efficient investment wrapper and calculating the necessary returns to hit the seven-figure number. On paper that’s 25 years of saving £20,000 a year and achieving 5% annual return.

Mark says he tends to avoid talking about the higher risk investments he makes – because it worries his mum.

He adds that  friends and family don’t really share his passion for investing and understanding the opportunities.

‘Most of my family and friends wish to discuss investments purely to benefit financially, not out of interest, hence why I find solace in reading Shares magazine on a weekly basis.’

Getting lucky with cryptocurrency

Mark took a punt on the price of Bitcoin with a £1,000 investment in 2014. The cryptocurrency saw its price soar in 2017 to just shy of $19,800 (c£14,780) in December that year. He timed the exit well, selling down progressively during 2017 before the bubble burst.

‘I would consider it my luckiest investment to date and have not since invested in cryptocurrencies. I don’t ever anticipate achieving returns of the same magnitude again.’


We are looking for individuals or couples who can discuss their experience with investing and some details about their portfolios.

Anyone interested should email with ‘case study’ in the subject line.

Please note, we do not provide financial advice and we are unable to comment on the suitability of any investments you have made. If you’re unsure please consult a suitably qualified financial adviser.

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