Perhaps the most important move you can make for your investments is to properly diversify your portfolio. By investing in a mix of stocks, bonds, and cash, you’ll reduce the risk of a significant loss.
How you combine your diverse mix of investments is called your asset allocation. Asset allocation is a highly individual determination that’s based on your risk tolerance, financial goals, and age. Asset allocation will spread out your investments among different asset classes including a mix of three types:
- Stock – Stocks tend to be a relatively risky investment. However, while they have a high potential for loss, they also offer a good potential for gain.
- Bonds – Bonds tend to be less risky than stocks but more risky than cash alternatives.
- Cash – Cash alternatives, such as savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts, typically offer the lowest risk and the lowest potential returns.
The benefits of allocating your assets across the three types of asset classes include:
- Proper asset allocation diversifies your portfolio among the three types of investments, reducing your risk.
- Allocating your assets between the three types allows you to tailor you portfolio to your specific goals.
- You can help manage the level of risk and volatility of your returns.
To properly allocate your investments across stocks, bonds, and cash, consider this three-step approach to asset allocation:
Step 1: Be honest about your level of risk tolerance. Some people think that investing in a relatively unknown start-up company with a great idea is a sound investment, while others prefer to stick with stable companies with household names. In other words, people’s risk tolerances vary.
If you don’t mind the more dramatic ups and downs associated with higher-risk investments, you may see higher return potential. But if you can’t stand the thought of putting your hard-earned money in an untested company, you’re probably better off sticking with relatively low-risk allocations, even though you may see more modest returns.
Step 2: Write down your financial goals. What are the purposes of your investments? Are you saving to buy your first home? Planning to send your children to college? Looking to retire early? Whatever your financial goals are, knowing them will help you determine how to allocate your assets to help you meet them.
Step 3: Consider your time horizon for meeting those goals. How much time do you have before you need your money for your goals? Is retirement a long-term goal, with 30 years to go? Or is it a short-term goal, with only five years to go? If you’re just starting a career, do you have short-term goals, like buying a house, as well as intermediate-term goals, like sending your children to college?
There’s no consensus on exactly how much of your portfolio should be in any of the three investment categories at any time. However, broadly speaking, the further away in time you are from your financial goals, the more aggressively you can be invested.
For example, if your financial goal is retirement and you’re just starting out, you’ll want to have a higher percentage of your assets invested in stocks and the lowest percentage in cash. As you near retirement, you’ll want to reallocate your assets more conservatively, so that a larger percentage is in bonds and cash than in stocks.
Please call so we can help you allocate your assets given your unique situation.
Copyright © Integrated Concepts 2012. Some articles in this newsletter were prepared by Integrated Concepts, a separate, nonaffiliated business entity. This newsletter intends to offer factual and up-to-date information on the subjects discussed, but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. The appropriate professional advisers should be consulted before implementing any options presented. No party assumes liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions or reliance on or use of this material.