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Demystifying Asset Allocation
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but within the equity portion of your portfolio, you can overweight large stocks and underweight small ones Similarly, if you want to reduce risk in your portfolio without changing that 60-40 split, you can invest in short-term bond funds instead of long-term bond funds within your xed income allocation This reduces the risk pro le in your overall portfolio without requiring you to shift more of your money out of stocks and into bonds Of course, there may be instances when an investor believes that short-term forces are so strong, they must adjust both their tactical and strategic allocations A change in your family situation a marriage or the birth of a child could also require you to reexamine your investment mix, as new time horizons (like college funding or buying a new house) develop But it s important to be cautious whenever making any dramatic shifts in your allocation strategy While it may feel safe, for instance, to ee stocks when the market is volatile, there comes a point in time when such moves add risk to your portfolio rather than reducing it That s because if you shift too much out of one asset and into another, you could upset your diversi cation strategy And a portfolio that is too concentrated even in xed-income securities can expose an investor to greater market risks Moreover, stepping completely out of the stock market poses another risk we already addressed: of investing so conservatively that you miss out on much needed gains Consider this interesting statistic: Had you invested your money in the S&P 500 between 1994 and 2003, you d have earned 111 percent a year on average Had you missed just the best 10 days within that decade, your equity returns would have fallen to 6 percent Had you missed the best 20 days, you d have earned just 21 percent (which is far less than even bonds were earning during this time) And had you missed the best 40 days in this decade stretch, you d be sitting on average annual losses of more than 4 percent
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Determining Your Asset Allocation
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There are an in nite number of ways to determine your strategic asset allocation In fact, asset allocation is considered more of an art than a science, since so many nuances (like your age, your health, the size of your family) and subjective variables (your tolerance for risk, your sensibilities when it comes to investing, your con dence in your future income) can have a huge impact on the appropriateness of your mix of stocks and bonds The good news is, there are many sources for assistance If you have a fullservice broker or a nancial planner, chances are that he or she would have
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PART 4 Organizing Your Assets
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helped you formulate an asset allocation plan already If you re a direct investor, you also have access to help Many online brokers such as Charles Schwab (wwwschwabcom), and mutual fund companies like Fidelity (www delitycom), Vanguard (wwwvanguardcom), and T Rowe Price (wwwtrowepricecom), o er investors free asset allocation tools that should help them get started In fact, most fund companies and other nancial Web sites such as wwwmorningstarcom or wwwmfeacom (the Mutual Fund Education Alliance) will provide investors with templates that o er model portfolios that in most cases will suit your needs In general, there are some basic guidelines that investors often use to help them get started, which we ll go into below
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YOUR AGE
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Investing is a dynamic, long-term endeavor tied to a particular goal As you move closer to your goals, it often makes sense to rein in risk After all, the worst thing that could happen to an investing plan is to su er losses a year or two before needing to tap those accounts This means younger investors have more room for error A 20-something may have a decade or two before his or her rst real nancial goal (perhaps buying a home) comes due Therefore, that young investor may feel justi ed in putting 100 percent of his money in stocks, so long as it is properly diversi ed among a variety of styles, sectors, and sizes Earlier in the book we mentioned that over rolling 10-year periods of time, there is only about a four in 100 chance of losing money in the broad stock market At the same time, there is about a 14 percent chance of losing money in equities in any three-year stretch So an investor who is older perhaps three years or less from needing the money probably would want to reduce his or her exposure to equities substantially As you can see, the age of an investor, in broad strokes, can play a role in determining an asset allocation mix That s why traditionally there has been a widely followed age-based approach to allocating your assets It s referred to as the 100-minus rule It s simple: Take your age and subtract it from 100 The answer tells you what percentage of your assets should be held in stocks The remainder, then, can be put into bonds, or a combination of bonds and cash (Figure 14-5) So if you re 20 years old and just starting out, the 100-minus rule says you should have 80 percent of your money in stocks (100 20 80) The remainder can be invested in bonds If you re 40, this rule says 60 percent of your money should be in equities And if you re 65, only about a third of your assets should be held in the stock market
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