Investing in Innovation

I hope everyone has had a good start to 2021. That’s one month gone already! I have been thinking about writing a 2021 investment outlook for weeks, but given the start to the year we’ve had it hardly seems worth it. In one short month we have seen the storming of the US Capitol, a new state of emergency declared in Japan, Olympics uncertainty, vaccine uncertainty, a short squeeze on a down and out game retailer, and possibly a new one on silver. Not to mention a surge in the Bitcoin price to $40k followed by a drop back down to $30k, and a pump and dump on the one and only DOGE coin. Who knows what’s in store for February!

Given that last year I wrote an investment outlook less than 2 weeks before the corona virus went from “something happening in China / on a cruise ship” to “global pandemic”, I think I will pass on making short term predictions this year, but I will say this: expect some volatility! Last week saw the largest hedge fund de-grossing since February 2019, so take care out there. (remember what happened in March)

Given all that, I thought it would be much more productive to zoom out and look at some long term themes. Instead of trying to figure out how various asset classes will fare over the next 12 months, let’s consider what is going to be big over the next 10-20 years.

Luckily this doesn’t require weeks of research, because Ark Invest have already done it for us. Click here to access their 2021 Big Ideas report. You need to register your email address in order to view it, but I can promise you it is worth getting a few emails for. At 112 pages it is quite hefty but a quick skim through will give you the idea. Ark have done their homework on companies at the cutting edge of fields such as Deep Learning, Digital Wallets, Automation, Delivery Drones, 3D Printing and Gene Therapy, to name but a few.

Even better, if you think these are areas you should have some exposure to, Ark Invest have a range of ETFs which make it simple to get involved. You can pick and choose the particular field you like, or just get a bit of everything with their Ark Disruptive Innovation ETF. They even have a Space Exploration ETF on the way.

The only tricky thing with Ark is you will need a US / International Brokerage account in order to access their ETFs. But never fear – a search through the US Market ETFs available in my Japan SBI account turned up a number of Global X Innovation ETFs that are available and cover similar themes. They have even released two new tech focussed thematic ETFs in Japan – see the story here, and more at the Global X Japan website.

As exciting as innovation strategies are, I’m not suggesting you abandon your asset allocation and put everything into them right away. However, they are an excellent place to be averaging in a little money every month and leaving it invested for the long term. Personally I know I don’t have the skill or the time to do the level of research where I can identify the winners of the future at an early stage, so I’m happy to drip money into a broad innovation strategy like Ark’s and let them do the work. And yes, I’m going to buy a bit of the Space Exploration ETF when it’s available, just because it’s cool!

Here’s wishing you all the best for 2021 and beyond!

Disclaimer: This should go without saying, but the information contained in this blog is not investment advice, or an incentive to invest, and should not be considered as such. This is for information only.

I don’t have any affiliation with any of the fund managers mentioned in this post.

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