For investors, one of the most important considerations is how to manage portfolio risk.
Diversification is the practice of building a portfolio with a variety of investments that have different expected risks and returns.
Diversification can help protect you against events that would affect specific investments.
As an example, let’s look at industry-specific risk found in energy stocks. If the price of oil falls, it’s possible that multiple corporations that work in gas and oil may see their share prices fall. If you’ve invested in industries aside from energy, that decline in value would likely have less of an impact on your portfolio.
Diversification does not guarantee returns or protect against losses and can help mitigate some, but not all, risk. For example, systematic risks – which include inflation, interest rates or geopolitical events – can cause instability in markets and affect the broader economy and market overall.
It’s important to consider the correlation between the investments in your portfolio.
Even if you own many different investments, if they all trend up or down together, your portfolio isn’t appropriately diversified. For instance, high-yield bonds often have a positive correlation with stocks. Therefore, a portfolio made up entirely of high-yield bonds and stocks is not well diversified.
Investing offers several asset classes to choose from, including:
These asset classes have varying levels of risk and returns, so including investments across asset classes will help you create a diversified portfolio. Diversified investment portfolios generally contain at least two asset classes.
Following are a few ways to diversify within an asset class.
Asset classes aren’t the only way to diversify. It’s a good idea to consider location and global exposure.
For example, if you only own U.S. securities, your entire portfolio is subject to U.S.-specific risk. Foreign stocks and bonds can increase a portfolio’s diversification but are subject to country-specific risks, such as foreign taxation, currency risks, and risks associated with political and economic development.
If you’re seeking additional diversification, assets such as real estate investment trusts (REITs) and commodities are potential options.
Even the most diversified portfolio needs to be rebalanced. Over time, certain investments will gain value, while others lose it. Rebalancing is a negotiation between risk and reward that can help your portfolio stay on track amidst the market highs and lows.
There are certain situations that might trigger rebalancing, including market volatility and major life events. Read more about when to rebalance your portfolio.
Your tolerance for risk can impact your approach to diversification. Generally, the longer your timeframe, the more you can weather short-term losses for the potential to capture long-term gains. There are a few questions that can help you determine your risk tolerance, and you’ll generally fall into one of three buckets.
Diversification is designed to help your investment portfolio generate more consistent returns over time. Review your portfolio to determine if it's appropriately diversified for your financial goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.
Whether you want to invest on your own or with personalized financial guidance, we have investing options to meet your needs.
Equity securities are subject to stock market fluctuations that occur in response to economic and business developments. Investments in fixed income securities are subject to various risks, including changes in interest rates, credit quality, market valuations, liquidity, prepayments, early redemption, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors. Investment in fixed income securities typically decrease in value when interest rates rise. This risk is usually greater for longer-term securities. Investments in lower-rated and non-rated securities present a greater risk of loss to principal and interest than higher-rated securities. There are special risks associated with an investment in commodities, including market price fluctuations, regulatory changes, interest rate changes, credit risk, economic changes and the impact of adverse political or financial factors. Investments in real estate securities can be subject to fluctuations in the value of the underlying properties, the effect of economic conditions on real estate values, changes in interest rates and risks related to renting properties (such as rental defaults).