by | Apr 1, 2021

If 2020 taught us anything it is that, as investors, the best decision we can make is to sit tight and allow our equity focused investments the time they need to deliver the returns we expect. 2020 was a terrible year for most people, however, markets have delivered incredible returns which our clients have enjoyed because they remained invested and focused on the long-term goal, not the short-term noise.

Below is a simply written article by Coronation, who we use throughout our range of model portfolios, which further highlights the mentality required and the basics that need to be understood when investing over the long-term with the goal of growing your capital.


If you are looking to achieve long-term capital growth, time is your great advantage. When you are investing to fund a long-term objective such as your retirement, your investment time horizon spans decades rather than years. This enables your investment portfolio to benefit from the key drivers of capital growth.

Drivers of long-term capital growth

  1. THE POWER OF COMPOUNDING – Critical to long-term wealth creation

Compounding is when your investment returns (from either dividends or interest) are re-invested, creating a larger base from which you can earn returns in the future. Compounding is an exponential rather than a linear function, so the longer you have to invest, the greater the possibility of dramatically multiplying your long-term returns.

Consider the extraordinary power of compounding with this example:

Thando starts to invest R500 a month at the age of 25. She contributes the same amount monthly for a period of 10 years, with her investment growing at a rate of 10% a year. After 10 years, she stops contributing on a monthly basis and simply allows her investment to grow until her retirement age of 65. John also invests R500 a month, but only starts 10 years later than Thando (at the point where Thando stops her contributions). He then continues to contribute that same amount diligently until his 65th birthday. His investment also grows at 10% a year.

What has made the big difference for Thando?

The significant difference between the end values for Thando and John is highlighted in the illustration above. At 65, Thando (who only contributed for a period of 10 years and then left the investment to compound over a period of 40 years) had accumulated an amount of more than R2 million. At 65, John (who contributed three times more than Thando) only accumulated half the end value of Thando’s investment.

  1. TIME DIVERSIFICATION OF RISK – The benefit of lengthening the amount of time you invest.

Put simply, time diversification means that the longer you hold a growth asset (such as equities), the lower your risk of losing capital becomes. ‘After compounding, time diversification of risk is your second-best friend in the market,’ writes Franco Busetti in The Effective Investor (Pan Macmillan, 2009).

Consider an investment in equities – the asset class that provides the highest expected return over time, but with higher short-term volatility. The chance of losing capital in any one-year period is much greater than that of an investment in cash or bonds. However, the longer you remain invested in equities, the lower this variability becomes.

Figure 1 shows the odds of losing money on an investment in domestic equities (as measured by the FTSE/JSE All Share Index) over different investment time horizons (rolling 5, 10, 20 years, etc.). Using returns dating back as far as 1960, it confirms the fact that your likelihood of losing capital on your investment diminishes drastically as your investment horizon increases. While this doesn’t imply a future guarantee, it does illustrate the benefit of a longer-term horizon when allocating to growth assets.


  1. ASSET ALLOCATION AND DIVERSIFICATION – The benefit of making good strategic and tactical decisions

Investors in balanced funds, or those who have the skills to perform the asset allocation themselves (we use Morningstar for this skillset), can enhance their long-term savings by making good strategic and tactical asset allocation decisions in response to the dynamic market environment.

Examples of this may include:

  • New opportunities arising as companies, industries, countries and asset classes develop and contract;
  • Changes in relative valuation levels, both within and between asset classes over time;
  • A growing investible universe thanks to new asset classes (e.g. inflation– linked bonds);
  • The deepening of existing asset classes (e.g. new listings and more activity, as was the case in the domestic listed property market);
  • Changes to regulations that restrict or enhance the freedom to invest in foreign markets.

Investing with a skilled fund manager, which actively manages your portfolio, gives you the opportunity to add alpha*, which can add significantly to your investment over time. Coronation, like all active managers, pursues the outperformance of market indices or benchmarks (net of the fees we charge and costs that our portfolios incur).

Figure 3 shows the rewards of adding an active return to that of the market by having remained invested with Coronation over the long term. An investment in the local equity market more than 24 years ago would have grown your capital by a little over 15 times (in nominal terms), whereas a similar investment in the Coronation Equity Fund, which has outperformed the market by 2.5% p.a. after fees (a seemingly small number), would have grown your capital by just over 26 times.

The conclusion is as simple as it is compelling:

Invest in the equity markets for long periods of time, stick with winning fund managers for the long haul, and the power of compounding will most likely do extraordinary things for you.