One of the biggest mistakes that investors often make is treating their portfolios as a “set it and forget it” proposition.
That might work when you’re cooking a pot roast in the slow cooker, but when you want to make the most of your investments and see the highest possible returns, you need to do a little bit of work periodically to make sure everything is as it should be.
Financial advisors suggest that investors periodically rebalance their portfolios to ensure that they have the right mix of assets and aren’t too heavily weighted in one area or another. While opinions vary on how often you should rebalance, in general, most experts suggest that you review your portfolio and make changes at least once a year, with quarterly reviews the most common recommendation.
But what exactly does it mean to rebalance your investment portfolio?
The Basics of Portfolio Rebalancing
When you first open an investment account, you were probably advised to allocate your money among several different asset types, as it’s never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. So you might have put 50 percent of your money in stock, 25 percent in bonds, and 25 percent in treasuries. The idea is to balance the risk, so that major losses in any one category aren’t devastating to your overall portfolio.
However, by its very nature, the market isn’t static. The whole idea of investing is to put your money to work for you. And when it works, it’s great – except that earnings or losses in any category can change the balance of your allocations, and change the overall risk factors of your portfolio.
Let’s look at a specific example. An investor has $100,000 to invest, so she puts $50,000 in stocks and $50,000 in bonds. She examines trending stocks through a site like Trends Investing before setting her portfolio, and the value of her stocks rises to $75,000 over six months, while the bonds hold steady and see only a modest $5,000 gain. However, now her portfolio is about 57 percent stocks, and 43 percent bonds. This isn’t a huge shift, but over time if her stocks continue to outperform the bonds, the disparity will continue to expand, thereby creating more risk.
This is why it is important to rebalance your portfolio to return to your original allocation. There are several ways to do that. First, some investors choose to sell off some of the assets in the more heavily weighted categories. However, this does come with some tax implications that could offset the gains, so it’s not usually the first choice. Many people opt instead to move some of the money from the larger segments into the lower performing asset classes, or simply stop contributing to the heavily weighted areas in order to allow the other segments to “catch up.”
Maintaining Your Balance
While quarterly rebalancing is important for regulating risk, it’s also important to rebalance to ensure that you are maximizing your investments over time. This is especially true for younger people who open retirement accounts. Most young people are advised to be more aggressive with their investments in their 20s and 30s, as they have more time to recoup losses.
However, there are factors other than age that can influence your portfolio’s performance. For example, as you earn more, you are probably investing more, and maintaining the same aggressive mix when you are contributing more money could be disastrous. Periodic rebalancing ensures that your allocations are always in line with your contributions, goals, and risk tolerance.
It’s also important to note that it is possible to rebalance too often. Some people spend a great deal of time focusing on their portfolio, rebalancing their allocations as often as monthly. Studies show that rebalancing too often doesn’t have any measurable benefit for your portfolio’s overall value, and in fact can actually be detrimental, depending on the fees associated with making too many changes and trades. If you rebalance too seldom – as in less than once a year – you could lose any potential gains, and even lose more money than you would have otherwise because you have too much invested in one particular area.
Successfully managing an investment portfolio does not have to be time consuming or difficult. If you have questions, work with a qualified financial advisor and get help ensuring that your portfolio has the right balance and isn’t working against you.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
My main acceptance in life would be that “change” itself is a constant and regardless of opinion it is inevitable. Making peace with ones self and accepting the things we CANNOT change is key to living a full and happy life. Within those experiences we grow as people and learn.
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I have learned to appreciate all of my imperfections as it makes me who I am as a person and in reality “perfection” is all up for interpretation. In return I have taught myself to replace the old methods in dealing with situations and problems with ones that will deliver or elicit positive responses and solutions.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
I believe my core values or the personal rules I have set in place for myself and chose to live by have brought nothing but reward to my life as it has created my known presence to be one of value and those things remind me daily of my standards set if ever I were to steer off course.
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
Over analyzing every situation would definitely be a not-so-perfect quirk about myself, leading my mind to wander with thoughts of what-if’s, that usually are just that, “what-if’s”. Along with spontaneity and positivity it creates my not-so-perfect, but awesome self!! 🙂
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)
Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?
I love my positive outlook on life and the huge heart I carry with me daily filled with nothing but compassion for others and a willingness to always be learning something new.