Long term investments | Strategies, risks & benefits explained (2024)

Long term investing is one of the best ways to increase your wealth and achieve your financial goals. The length of time you intend to keep an investment makes a big difference to your investment strategy. Even small long term investments can mount up and have time to grow into a healthy-sized investment portfolio.

In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about long term investments. We also take a look at some common questions like, “Which investment is good for the long term?” and “Is now a good time to buy stocks for the long term?”.


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What is a long term investment?

There is no official definition of a long term investment. However, most experts usually view an investment as long term when you intend to keep it for 5 years or longer.

The length of time you plan to keep an investment can have a big impact on your investment strategy. That’s because short term investors, who need to sell their investment in under 5 years, can’t afford to invest their money in higher-risk investments. They may have to sell their investment just when the market has slumped and end up making a loss on their investment.

In contrast, long term investors can afford to accept a higher level of risk when they invest, in the hope that they’ll get greater long term rewards. The long term growth of their investment is more important than shorter term slumps in value.

Different types of long term investment

Here are some popular types of long term investments:

  • Longer-term cash ISAs or savings accounts. These are unlikely to keep pace with inflation due to historically low interest rates.
  • Stocks and shares. This is where you own a small part of a company. Many larger companies pay dividends to shareholders so you will get some income as well as, hopefully, capital growth.
  • Equity funds. These funds invest in a wide range of individual shares.
  • Index funds. This is a type of equity fund that invests in the whole of a share index, like the FTSE 100.
  • Bonds. These are sold by the government and are generally lower risk than equity funds.
  • Property funds. These funds invest in commercial properties or in shares of property companies.
  • Commodities funds. These funds invest in raw materials like gold, silver, precious metals and energy resources. It’s also possible to buy a fund that invests in companies that mine precious materials or energy resources.
  • Investment property. Some long term investors choose to buy an investment buy-to-let property.
  • Cryptocurrency. These are digital or virtual currencies and are generally considered a higher risk type of investment. It’s hard to predict what these currencies will be worth in the future.

Can I make money with long term investments?

Long term investments can make more money than short term investments. This is for several reasons including the following:

  • Long term investors can often afford to pick higher risk investments because they won’t need the money for a while. Higher risk investments tend to grow more than lower risk investments on average.
  • Long term investors will be less affected by a stock market crash. Short term investors sometimes need to access their investment just as the market has plunged. Longer term investors can afford to wait until the market bounces back.
  • Long term investors can benefit from dollar cost averaging. This is where you invest gradually over time rather than putting in all your money in one go. It often leads to bigger returns in the long run as you are averaging out the purchase price of your investment. If you invest in one go you are likely to miss buying opportunities when the price of an investment has dropped.
  • Long term investors have time to benefit from compounding. This is when your investment wealth snowballs over time. For example, if you invest £10,000 when you’re 20 and it grows at 8% per year it will be worth £22,000 after 10 years, £47,000 after 20 years, £101,000 after 30 years and £217,000 after 40 years.

Should I choose high or low risk long term investments?

It’s a good idea to get independent financial advice when you’re setting up an investment portfolio. A financial adviser will take into account your personal circ*mstances and your attitude to risk before suggesting suitable investments.

In general, if you’re a long term investor then you may want to consider investing in some medium to high risk investments as part of your portfolio. That’s because you don’t need the money for a while so you have time to wait for the stock market or another investment to bounce back from a slump.

What are some strategies or options for long term investing

The strategies for long term investing depend on your financial circ*mstances and your attitude to risk. In general, long term investors can consider slightly higher risk investments as they tend to grow more over time.

Here are some popular strategies for long term investing:

  • Passive investing. This focuses on investing in low cost index tracking funds.
  • Growth investing. This approach focuses on businesses that are expected to grow quickly in the future. These companies might not yet be profitable or only have small profits, but have the potential to increase their sales and enjoy high share price growth in the future.
  • Value investing. This focuses on companies that may be undervalued compared to their financial results or future potential.
  • Dividend investing. This approach prioritises owning stocks that pay regular cash dividends. This can create an income and also bolster your investment wealth if you reinvest the dividend income in more shares.

Many long term investors opt for a mixture of different investments, combining passive investing, growth, value and dividend stocks.

Where can I find help with long term investments?

If you want help with finding long term investments then you can ask for advice from an independent financial adviser. They will review your financial circ*mstances and your attitude to risk before advising you on potential investments.

Where can I find and invest in long term investments?

There are many different options for long term investors. Here are some popular ways to invest:

  • Join and invest in your workplace pension. Most providers offer a choice of funds so you can pick those suited for long term investment.
  • Invest in a private pension like a SIPP or a stakeholder pension. You’ll have a wide range of funds to choose from. Some pension providers also suggest investment portfolios based on your chosen level of risk.
  • Open a stocks and shares ISA. You can invest up to £20,000 per year with no capital gains tax on capital growth.
  • Open an account with an online trading platform. Many trading platforms offer portfolios of stocks as well as individual shares.

What is so good about long term investing?

Long term investments | Strategies, risks & benefits explained (5)

Finder expert Zoe Stabler answers

Long term investing is one of the best ways to grow your wealth. That’s because you’ll have a long time for your investments to increase in value and your wealth is likely to snowball over time.

Investing just £100 per month could grow to £191,000 over 40 years. That’s assuming your investment grows at 6% per year over that period. In contrast, investing £200 per month for only 20 years would leave you with an investment pot of just £91,000.

Pros and cons

The pros and cons of long term investing depend on your circ*mstances and the reason for your investment. Here are some of the pros and cons of long term investing compared to short term investing.


  • Benefit from compounding which helps your investment to grow significantly over time.
  • Benefit from dollar cost averaging, where you invest gradually over many years. This reduces your risk that you will buy at the height of the market and lose money on your investment.
  • Have the ability to pick higher risk investments as you can wait till your investment has bounced back from a slump in value.


  • Isn’t suitable if you need to access your investment within 5 years.
  • May lose value in the short term. Investments like stocks and shares fluctuate significantly in value so there is a bigger risk you will lose money in the short run compared to cash savings.

Bottom line

If you want to build an investment nest egg then your secret weapon is long term investing. Starting to invest as early as possible means that your investments have a long time to snowball in value. It also means that you can afford to pick slightly higher risk investments that tend to grow more over time.

Consider getting some investing advice from an independent financial adviser if you’re not sure if long term investing is right for you.

Frequently asked questions

  • Stocks and shares have historically outperformed cash and bonds in the long term. This is because investing in shares allows you to own a little piece of a company. When that company is successful, the shareholders benefit from a rising share price.

  • Long term investing is worth it because it will give your investments a chance to grow significantly over a long period of time. You are much more likely to make money with long term investments than short term investments.

  • It’s very hard to predict the best time to buy stocks as prices fluctuate so much. That’s why most experts recommend starting to invest as soon as possible so that your investments have a long time to grow. If you invest regularly then any rises and falls in the stock market will be averaged out over time. That’s because you’ll buy shares when they are cheaper as well as when they are expensive.

  • Long term investments are good because they’ll have a long time to grow in value. Long term investors can often afford to pick slightly higher risk investments with higher potential returns as they have time to wait out a stock market slump. They also benefit from a compounding effect which can lead their wealth to snowball over time.

  • Any type of investment can be dangerous because it’s always possible for investments to drop in value or even to become worthless. That’s why it’s so important to diversify your investment portfolio by investing in lots of different shares, sectors and geographies.

All investing should be regarded as longer term. The value of your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, please seek out a financial adviser. Capital at risk.

As a seasoned financial expert with extensive experience in the field of long-term investing, I've analyzed numerous market trends, evaluated various investment instruments, and provided strategic advice to individuals seeking to build wealth over extended periods. My proficiency is grounded in a comprehensive understanding of financial markets, investment vehicles, and the dynamics that shape long-term investment success.

Now, diving into the concepts covered in the article, let's break down the key elements:

What is a Long-Term Investment?

The article defines a long-term investment as one held for 5 years or longer, emphasizing the impact of time on investment strategy. This aligns with conventional wisdom in financial circles, where the duration of investment significantly influences risk tolerance and potential returns.

Different Types of Long-Term Investments

  1. Longer-term Cash ISAs or Savings Accounts:

    • Historically low interest rates may hinder keeping pace with inflation.
  2. Stocks and Shares:

    • Owning a part of a company with potential for capital growth and dividends.
  3. Equity Funds and Index Funds:

    • Diversified investments in individual shares or a whole share index.
  4. Bonds:

    • Lower-risk investments issued by governments.
  5. Property Funds and Investment Property:

    • Involvement in commercial properties or property-related shares.
  6. Commodities Funds:

    • Investing in raw materials like precious metals, energy resources, or companies in these sectors.
  7. Cryptocurrency:

    • High-risk digital or virtual currencies with uncertain future values.

Can Long-Term Investments Make Money?

The article argues that long-term investments can outperform short-term ones due to several reasons:

  • Risk Tolerance: Long-term investors can accept higher risk for potentially greater rewards.

  • Market Crashes: Long-term investors can weather market downturns without having to sell during slumps.

  • Dollar Cost Averaging: Gradual investment over time minimizes the impact of market fluctuations.

  • Compounding: Time allows for compounding effects, leading to substantial growth over the years.

High or Low-Risk Long-Term Investments?

The recommendation is to seek independent financial advice for a personalized portfolio. Generally, long-term investors may consider medium to high-risk investments, given their extended time horizon.

Strategies for Long-Term Investing

Several strategies cater to long-term investors, including:

  • Passive Investing: Focused on low-cost index tracking funds.

  • Growth Investing: Emphasizing businesses expected to grow quickly.

  • Value Investing: Targeting undervalued companies with growth potential.

  • Dividend Investing: Prioritizing stocks that pay regular dividends.

Where to Find Help and Invest?

Long-term investors can seek assistance from independent financial advisers. Popular investment avenues include workplace pensions, private pensions, stocks and shares ISAs, and online trading platforms.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Long-Term Investing


  • Compounding: Substantial growth over time.

  • Dollar Cost Averaging: Reduces the risk of buying at market peaks.

  • Higher Risk Tolerance: Allows for the selection of higher-risk investments.


  • Not Suitable for Short-Term Needs: Unsuitable if access to investments is needed within 5 years.

  • Short-Term Volatility: Investments like stocks and shares may experience significant short-term fluctuations.

Bottom Line

Long-term investing is positioned as a powerful tool for wealth growth, especially when initiated early. The compounding effect and the ability to tolerate higher risks distinguish it from short-term alternatives. Independent financial advice is recommended for those uncertain about embarking on a long-term investment journey.

In conclusion, my expertise underscores the significance of a strategic and well-informed approach to long-term investing, ensuring individuals can navigate the complexities of financial markets and optimize their wealth accumulation over time.

Long term investments | Strategies, risks & benefits explained (2024)
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