Hi Julian,
This is an interesting question and one that normally would have me ask you more questions such as what is your investment timeframe, what does safe mean to you (is it a regular income, a return of capital or perhaps both?). Based on your answers, I could provide a more tailored answer. For now, I hope my answers below will assist you further.
Firstly, all investments carry some form of risk. It’s a matter of knowing and understanding the risks and managing those risks as best you can. Currently cash may be considered the “safest” option. The government provides a guarantee for your first $250,000 in cash. The rate of return is low at present, even for term deposits so you would need to be comfortable that the low rate of return from a cash investment meets your needs over your time horizon.
Fixed interest investments are also considered to be defensive assets (known as “safer” assets). Fixed interest investments usually include investments like government and corporate bonds, debentures and capital notes. These types of investments require some investment knowledge however can be accessed via managed funds which provides a professional manager choosing the appropriate mix for your risk tolerance and desired rate of return or even via exchange traded funds which may provide diversification of your fixed interest investment.
There are other investment products that one might consider “safe”. For example a Lifetime Annuity locks in a rate of return and pays you a set amount of income for your lifetime. You can also purchase a Term Annuity which works in a similar fashion by locking in the rate of return for your chosen term of investment period. Regardless of market movements you will be paid the agreed rate of return. These products could be explored further to see if they suited your needs as other considerations and features would need to be assessed.
If you have a longer time frame you could even consider a share portfolio of carefully chosen investments with a heavier weighting to defensive assets which might achieve a higher return than the cash rate but possibly be subject to more volatility. This would need to be explored in more detail to determine whether this met your requirements.
Investing in the current climate is no different to investing when markets are less volatile, you always need to consider your time frame, budget, risks and comfort level.