Diversification

The Connection Between Asset Allocation and Diversification

Diversification is a strategy that can be neatly summed up by the timeless adage "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."  The strategy involves spreading your money among various investments in the hope that if one investment loses money, the other investments will more than make up for those losses.

Many investors use asset allocation as a way to diversify their investments among asset categories.  But other investors deliberately do not.  For example, investing entirely in stock, in the case of a twenty-five year-old investing for retirement, or investing entirely in cash equivalents, in the case of a family saving for the down payment on a house, might be reasonable asset allocation strategies under certain circumstances.  But neither strategy attempts to reduce risk by holding different types of asset categories. So choosing an asset allocation model won't necessarily diversify your portfolio. Whether your portfolio is diversified will depend on how you spread the money in your portfolio among different types of investments.

Diversification 101

A diversified portfolio should be diversified at two levels: between asset categories and within asset categories.  So in addition to allocating your investments among stocks, bonds, cash equivalents, and possibly other asset categories, you'll also need to spread out your investments within each asset category.  The key is to identify investments in segments of each asset category that may perform differently under different market conditions.

One of way of diversifying your investments within an asset category is to identify and invest in a wide range of companies and industry sectors.  But the stock portion of your investment portfolio won't be diversified, for example, if you only invest in only four or five individual stocks.  You'll need at least a dozen carefully selected individual stocks to be truly diversified.

Because achieving diversification can be so challenging, some investors may find it easier to diversify within each asset category through the ownership of mutual funds rather than through individual investments from each asset category.  A mutual fund is a company that pools money from many investors and invests the money in stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments.  Mutual funds make it easy for investors to own a small portion of many investments.  A total stock market index fund, for example, owns stock in thousands of companies.  That's a lot of diversification for one investment!

Be aware, however, that a mutual fund investment doesn't necessarily provide instant diversification, especially if the fund focuses on only one particular industry sector.  If you invest in narrowly focused mutual funds, you may need to invest in more than one mutual fund to get the diversification you seek.  Within asset categories, that may mean considering, for instance, large company stock funds as well as some small company and international stock funds.  Between asset categories, that may mean considering stock funds, bond funds, and money market funds. Of course, as you add more investments to your portfolio, you'll likely pay additional fees and expenses, which will, in turn, lower your investment returns.  So you'll need to consider these costs when deciding the best way to diversify your portfolio.

*All videos were created by an independent third party.  Demars Financial Group LLC, is not held liable for the content found in any video, does not offer tax advice or insurance planning.  Insurance products are offered through Ted Demars and David Demars as independent agents.

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