Every investor tries to build an excellent investment portfolio. To make such a portfolio, your investments require asset allocation.
In a bid to build a vast investment portfolio, most investors tend to focus on getting the best investment option, such as stocks or bonds. However, as an investor in today’s marketplace, the key to financial success and long-term growth of your investments is in a well-maintained diversified portfolio.
Take for instance a street vendor who sells both umbrella and sunglasses at the same time with the knowledge that it is easier to sell umbrellas during the rainy season and sunglasses in summer. What this example demonstrates is that as an investor, you should fill your portfolio with an appropriate mix of bonds, stocks, cash, fixed deposits, real estate, gold, pension funds, and other investments. This mix is what is known as an “asset allocation.” Your portfolio should meet your future financial requirements but still give you peace of mind.
Here are five steps to help you achieve a proper asset allocation.
Set your financial objectives
The first step towards constructing a proper allocation is to determine your personal financial goals and situation. You have to consider the amount of capital to invest, your age, future income needs, and your time horizon. When you need the money is just as important as what you’re saving, as such, your time horizon can be for a couple of months or several decades.
Your future income needs can be anything from buying a house, paying off debt, saving for a wedding, making a charitable donation, planning for a college fund or a retirement trip. Each of these goals requires a different amount of money for success. Setting your goals will help you identify the amount of money you need to save to achieve them
For instance, a 55-year older adult hoping to pay for a child’s college education and possibly retire in the next decade can’t have the same investment strategy as a 22-year old college graduate who is just starting in career. Your current wealth and saving habits versus your goals will help you determine your proper asset allocation.
Gauge your Risk Tolerance
Next, you have to factor in your risk tolerance and personality. While investing, you should base your risk tolerance on your view and attitude towards investment volatility and your time horizon. Are you willing to hazard the potential loss of some amount of money for the possibility of higher returns?
If you can’t handle the inevitable ups and downs of the stock market, fixed-income investments such as bonds may appeal to you more. Or if your investment is for a short-term goal of about three years, you can’t afford to take chances with the money not being there when you need it. If you can’t have a peaceful night rest if the value on your investments drops for a short while, then the chances are that the potential high returns are not worth the stress. What’s more, the possibility of higher returns comes with a greater risk of losses. So, you have to optimize the chance to suit your lifestyle and situation. For instance, a person nearing retirement should focus on protecting their assets and drawing income from them. On the other hand, a young person won’t have to rely on their investments for profit, so they can afford to take higher risks in the search for greater returns.
Find the Asset Class that Fit your Profile
Generally, investors who can bear more risk are more aggressive with their portfolio. If you have a high-risk tolerance, then you can devote a more substantial portion of your portfolio to equities and less to fixed-income securities like bonds. On the other hand, a person with a low tolerance level will have a more conservative collection of assets dominated by fixed income securities with fewer equities.
Choose a Mix of Assets
Keep in mind that beyond the particular fund or securities you choose, the way you distribute your funds among various asset classes has more impact on your success and returns. In alignment with this, you can divide the equity portion of your portfolio between companies with different market caps and industrial sectors. Then, you can allocate the bond portion across various subclasses such as long-term and short-term, and corporate debt versus government debt.
To enhance a diversified portfolio, some people prefer to invest in mutual funds. These funds include a wide range of asset classes, and they allow investors to hold bonds and stocks that are well-researched and selected by fund managers. If you do not like the idea of a mutual fund, you can invest in Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). Simply put, ETFs are mutual funds that trade like stocks. The diversification for ETFs is based on capitalization, country, sector, and the likes.
Have a Big Picture
To set up the most efficient allocation strategy for your financial goals, you have to look at your entire financial picture. It is best to diversify with an eye on all your assets, including real estate, bank savings, insurance policies, and tax-deferred retirement savings you may hold, such as an IRA.
Regularly Monitor your Asset Allocation
After establishing a proper portfolio, you still need to analyze, reassess, and rebalance it periodically. This is because the asset allocation can change over time. For instance, a rise in the assets’ value can increase the portfolio volatility, the investor’s financial status can change, and the risk tolerance of the investor can be reduced by age, especially some years before retirement.
If any of these factors alter, you also have to change your portfolio accordingly. Rebalancing involves determining which assets are overweighted (in an excess amount) and those that are underweighted.
The Bottom Line
As you construct and reconstruct your investment portfolio, it is incredibly crucial that you maintain your diversification. Owning securities within each asset class (equities and fixed-income) is not enough; you also have to diversify within an array of subclasses and industry sectors.
As we’ve earlier mentioned, you can easily achieve superior diversification by using ETFs and mutual funds. These two are investment vehicles that allow individual investors to enjoy the considerable scale diversification that fund managers and big companies enjoy.
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