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Maintaining a diversified portfolio

29 January 2021

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Spreading risk among different kinds of investments

When you start investing, or even if you are a sophisticated investor, one of the most important tools available is diversification.

Whether the market is bullish or bearish, maintaining a diversified portfolio is essential to any long-term investment strategy.

Diversification allows an investor to spread risk among different kinds of investments, called ‘asset classes’, to potentially improve investment returns. This helps reduce the risk of the overall investments in your portfolio underperforming or losing money.

With some careful investment planning and an understanding of how various asset classes work together, a properly diversified portfolio provides investors with an effective tool for reducing risk and volatility without necessarily giving up returns.

If you have a lot of cash – more than six months’ worth of living expenses – you might consider putting some of that excess into investments like shares and fixed interest securities, especially if you’re looking to invest your money for at least five years and are unlikely to require access to your capital during that time.

If you’re heavily invested in a single company’s shares – perhaps your employer – start looking for ways to add diversification.

Diversifying within an asset class

There are many opportunities for diversification, even within a single kind of investment.

For example, with shares, you could spread your investments between:

• Large and small companies

• The UK and overseas markets

• Different sectors (industrial, financial, oil, etc.)

Different sectors of the economy

Diversification within each asset class is the key to a successful, balanced portfolio. You need to find assets that work well with each other. True diversification means having your money in as many different sectors of the economy as possible.

With shares, for example, you don’t want to invest exclusively in big established companies or small start-ups. You want a little bit of both (and something in between, too). Mostly, you don’t want to restrict your investments to related or correlated industries. An example might be car manufacturing and steel. The problem is that if one industry goes down, so will the other.

With bonds, you also don’t want to buy too much of the same thing. Instead, you’ll want to buy bonds with different maturity dates, interest rates and credit ratings.

What Next?

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to consider your existing financial goals and decide if they still align with your priorities. It may also be a good time to check if you have the right systems and support needed to achieve these goals when you want to. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you achieve your financial and life goals, please contact us.

Who to contact

Bruce Barrett

Bruce Barrett

Bruce joined Kerr Henderson in 2015 having worked in various roles for insurance companies where he accumulated experience before becoming an independent financial adviser in 2013.

With over 17 years' experience in financial services, 4 of which accumulated in South Africa Bruce provides advice on pensions and investments.

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