Is cash still king?

In choosing where to invest, you need to consider several factors such as inflation and current interest rates, your investment timeframe, and your risk appetite.

Stephen Katzenellenbogen CFP®

Stephen Katzenellenbogen CFP®

Senior Executive / Private Wealth Manager

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Is cash still king?

I won R3 million from the lottery, and I don't know anything about investments, or rather finances as a whole. Should I leave the money in a fixed deposit, or should I invest elsewhere?

Congratulations on your lottery win. I also want to applaud you for reaching out for investment advice. I scoured the internet, and it seems that approximately 45% to 75% of lottery winners lose their fortune and/or go bankrupt. With this in mind, you are off to a good start in seeking advice!

Unless you plan on spending the money within the next 18 months, I sense that a fixed deposit Is not the optimal place for you to be. Currently, the return on cash is below inflation, which means that money in the bank is losing value in real terms. If you cannot achieve a return on investment of at least inflation, then the purchasing power of your money will whittle away. This is currently a broad problem in South Africa, with around R1.6trn in cash and similar.

In the following chart, whenever the black line is below the blue line, the inflation rate is above the Repo rate. (The Repo rate is the rate at which the Reserve Bank lends money to commercial banks). Credit interest rates in a bank account are almost always less than the Repo rate.


As your money is in a fixed deposit, you should be achieving a return above a daily call account. Does this then negate my points above? A three-month fixed deposit currently pays interest of approximately 5.5% per annum, which is above the current inflation rate. An essential consideration is tax. Interest income, whether received or accrued, is taxable. If you have an average tax rate of 20%, the net return of a 5.5% return reduces to 4.4%, and now you are below inflation.

If we keep using our three year fixed deposit as a reference point, a further consideration is the gap between inflation and the interest rate received. Based on a fixed deposit rate of 5.5% and an inflation rate of 4.6% (per the chart above), the difference between the two is 0.9% (I'm discarding tax for this point). If the inflation rate stays constant and interest rates increase by more than 0.9% over the next three years, you may have an opportunity cost by locking in your money. If interest rates, for example, increased by 1.5% over the next 12 months, the three year fixed deposit rate could go to 7%, but you would be locked to 5.5%. As the gap between the inflation rate and the fixed deposit rate is low, with the market also predicting increases in the interest rate, the concept of "opportunity costs" needs to be carefully considered.

At this point, I am going to quote from an article I received from Nedgroup Investments Cash Solutions published on the 19th of August: "The amended implied policy path of the SARB's Quarterly Projection Model (QPM) now indicates a repo rate increase of 25 bps in 2021q4 and in each quarter of 2022. […] The risk is that should the fiscal outlook further deteriorate, and we have persistent currency weakness, the SARB may need to consider a more aggressive hiking pace." If this is correct, locking into a long rate now that does not provide a sufficient cushion could be disadvantageous.

The next consideration is where you will get your best long-term return. Savings (short-term needs eg. holiday) can be left in cash, but investments need to move beyond cash to achieve a better long-term return. The following table compares the return on different assets classes over four periods.


1 Year 3 Year 5 Year 10 Year
FTSE/JSE All Share Index 27,06% 9,67% 8,75% 11,60%
BEASSA All Bond Index 13,92% 8,67% 8,87% 8,46%
STeFI Call Deposit 3,51% 5,30% 5,91% 5,68%
SA Inflation 4,87% 3,85% 4,24% 4,98%
MSCI World NR USD 16,04% 18,79% 15,52% 20,05%

Source: Nedgroup Investments/Morningstar Direct. Data as of 31/07/2021 measured in ZAR

Don't pay too much attention to the 1-year returns. Firstly, the period is very short, and, secondly, they are a bit misleading coming off the Covid market lows, i.e. the returns look seriously good. What the table does show, however, are the good long-term returns achievable by investing outside of cash. Investing outside of cash does introduce more risk, particularly volatility risk, but the longer your investment timeframe is, the lower the risk becomes. Let us look at the Rand benefit of earning a few extra percent per year:

Example 1:

Invest R3,000,000 for 10 years earning the STeFI Call Deposit rate. The investment value after year 10 is R5 212 539

Example 2:

Invest R3,000,000 into the following portfolio, which broadly resembles a balanced investment:

40% FTSE/JSE All Share Index

20% MSCI Wolrd NR USD

30% BEASSA All Bond Index

10% STeFI Call Deposit

The investment value after year 10 is R9,111,640

In the examples above, the difference in the 10-year values is staggering and shows the benefit of taking on appropriate risk. The amount of risk you can take on will be influenced by, inter alia, your age, asset base, future liquidity requirements and personal attitude to risk.

You have not given us any information about yourself, so we cannot attempt to provide you with any ideas around the type of products and funds (unit trusts, ETF's, shares etc.) that you could consider. Given the high rate of lottery winners losing all their winnings, we suggest you seek professional advice. If possible, do not let the lottery win lead to increases in your lifestyle costs; instead, let it provide comfort to you by knowing you have a safety net and a boost to your retirement plan.

Good luck


Please note that the information provided below does not constitute financial advice; in fact, we are precluded from giving specific advice. Generic information is provided given the context of your question. We have limited details about you and your circumstances, and further details may impact any advice provided.


SteveK-I-won- R3m-lotto-How-should-I-invest it-Moneyweb This reader question, "I won R3m in the lotto. How should I invest it?" was published on Moneyweb.


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