When you look at the calendar and realize another year has passed, it is time for a few more strategies to enhance your retirement account. Some of these actions may seem simplistic in nature but investing is not as difficult as many people would like you to believe. Investing in a diversified portfolio and rebalancing periodically is about as simple as any process can be for protecting your future.
Before you leave the office for the holiday season, consider reviewing your current portfolio within your employer-provided plan. 2019 has been a year of significant market growth in the United States. Record highs have been reached this year and this is a good result for most equity investors. With such growth in a diversified portfolio it is likely that your risk level within the portfolio has increased, too.
To maintain the acceptable level of risk you originally desired at the onset of your portfolio development, it is critical to sustain the original allocation. This is accomplished by rebalancing your portfolio based on one of two methods: 1) time; or 2) asset class. This example is purely for educational purposes. When the portfolio was originally established, you may have chosen a 50/50 equity to fixed income allocation. Considering the markets have been very positive on your portfolio and your allocation has expanded to 60% equities. Based on the current allocation, you are now experiencing a greater level of risk than you desire.
By performing the task of rebalancing (i.e., selling your equities and buying more fixed income) you are keeping your level of risk in line with your original target. This strategy is the basis for most theories of portfolio design and risk acceptance. However, you must possess a degree of discipline that does not become greedy when times are good and fearful when the economy is contracting. As an anecdote, we often inform our clients that they must “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” The stock markets are auction-based markets. Someone must be selling something for someone to buy it. This belief applies to new issues when a company desires to “go public”. The issuer of the stock is asking for a certain price (i.e., Initial Public Offering Price our IPO) and the public may desire to buy at that price.
Another yearend strategy we recommend is a review of the individual assets classes within an allocation. For example, small cap stocks performed excellently in 2017 and declined in performance in 2018. However, in 2019, the asset class is, once again, performing well. I am not saying that you should own small cap mutual funds. As an illustration, you should review each of the different assets classes and determine the inherent risk within your portfolio.
To help our clients control the amount of risk within their portfolios, we developed a system that “stress tests” their holdings and overall allocation. By analyzing the risk of the portfolio, the investor can be more comfortable knowing their portfolio is not invested at levels of risk that cause them worry. Also, we believe diversification must be achieved in market sectors and geographically to control the risk component.
If you are confused by some of the language in this article, don’t let it keep you from moving forward to protect your future security. You may wish for someone to “stress test” your holdings, asset allocation and project potential for your future. Seek out a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and CPA that can help guide you through the confusion and help you reach your goals in a non-emotional and logical manner.
For additional, free information about managing your portfolio in a manner that allows you to sleep at night, go visit the Compass Capital Management website. You will find a wealth of information to help you navigate life!