PORTFOLIO DIVERSIFICATION Why you should spread your savings and investments G U I D E T O JULY 2021 02 GUIDE TO PORTFOLIO DIVERSIFICATION If we could see into the future, there would be no need to diversify our investments. We could merely choose a date when we needed our money back, then select the investment that would provide the highest return to that date. It might be a company share, or a bond, or gold, or any other kind of asset. The problem is that we do not have the gift of foresight. Combining a number of different investments Diversi!cation helps to address this uncertainty by combining a number of di"erent investments. In order to maximise the performance potential of a diversi!ed portfolio, managers actively change the mix of assets they hold to re#ect the prevailing market conditions. $ese changes can be made at a number of levels, including the overall asset mix, the target markets within each asset class and the risk pro!le of underlying funds within markets. As a rule, an environment of positive or recovering economic growth and healthy risk appetite would be likely to prompt an increased weighting in equities and a lower exposure to bonds. Within these baskets of assets, the manager might also move into more aggressive portfolios when markets are doing well and more cautious ones when conditions are more di%cult. Defensive positioning when risk appetite is low Geographical factors such as local economic growth, interest rates and the political background will also affect the weighting between markets within equities and bonds. In the underlying portfolios, managers will normally adopt a more defensive positioning when risk appetite is low. For example, in equities they might have higher weightings in large companies operating in parts of the market that are less reliant on robust economic growth. Conversely, when risk appetite is abundant, underlying portfolios will tend to raise their exposure to more economically sensitive parts of the market and to smaller companies. Asset allocation $e term ‘asset allocation’ simply means deciding how to spread your money across the di"erent asset classes (including equities, bonds, property and cash) and how much you want to hold in each. Your overall asset allocation needs to re#ect your future capital or income needs, the timescales before those capital sums are required or the level of income sought, and the amount of risk you can tolerate. Investing is all about risk and return. Not only does asset allocation naturally spread risk, but it can also help you to boost your returns while maintaining, or even lowering, the level of risk of your portfolio. Most rational investors would prefer to maximise their returns, but every investor has their own individual attitude towards risk. G U I D E T O PORTFOLIO DIVERSIFICATION Why you should spread your savings and investments Trying to navigate the ups and downs of market returns, investors seem to naturally want to jump in at the lows and cash out at the highs. But no one can predict when those will occur. By maintaining proper portfolio diversi!cation and avoiding the pitfalls of market timing, you’ll have the foundation needed to help manage your overall exposure to market volatility. Historically, the stock market has been up more than down. 03 GUIDE TO PORTFOLIO DIVERSIFICATION Investment characteristics Portfolios can incorporate a wide range of different assets, all of which have their own characteristics, like cash, bonds, equities (shares in companies) and property. The idea behind allocating your money among different assets is to spread risk through diversification and to understand these characteristics and their implications on how a portfolio will perform in different conditions – the idea of not putting all your eggs in one basket. Investments can go down as well as up, and these ups and downs can depend on the assets you’re invested in and how the markets are performing. It’s a natural part of investing. Changing risk tolerance Moreover, the potential returns available from di"erent kinds of investment, and the risks involved, change over time as a result of economic, political and regulatory developments, as well as a host of other factors. Your risk tolerance will change over time. For example, investors in their 20s may not be too worried about a 30% fall in the market, reasoning they have time to ride it out. Investors in their 40s, however, if they have responsibilities such as a mortgage and a family, may focus more on protecting against this kind of loss. Asset classes When putting together a portfolio, there are a number of asset classes, or types of investments, that can be combined in different ways. The starting point is cash – and the aim of employing the other asset classes is to achieve a better return than could be achieved by leaving all of the investment on deposit. Cash The most common types of cash investments are bank and building society savings accounts and money market funds (investment vehicles which invest in securities such as short-term bonds to enable institutions and larger personal investors to invest cash for the short term). Money held in the bank is arguably more secure than any of the other asset classes, but it is also likely to provide the poorest return over the long term. But it’s important to be able to pay unexpected expenses, or to deal with an unexpected loss of income, without tapping into your core portfolio. There’s no sure way to protect your money from the effects of inflation. The only rule is that cash savings accounts are generally the worst places to put your money long term – the interest is almost always lower than inflation, so you’re constantly losing money. Bonds Bonds are e"ectively IOUs issued by governments or companies. In return for your initial investment, the issuer pays a pre-agreed regular return (the ‘coupon’) for a !xed term, at the end of which it agrees to return your initial investment. The term ‘asset allocation’ simply means deciding how to spread your money across the different asset classes (including equities, bonds, property and cash) and how much you want to hold in each. 04 GUIDE TO PORTFOLIO DIVERSIFICATION Depending on the !nancial strength of the issuer, bonds can be very low or relatively high risk, and the level of interest paid varies accordingly, with higher-risk issuers needing to o"er more attractive coupons to attract investment. As long as the issuer is still solvent at the time the bond matures, investors get back the initial value of the bond. However, during the life of the bond, its price will fluctuate to take account of a number of factors, including: Interest rates – as cash is an alternative lower-risk investment, the value of government bonds is particularly affected by changes in interest rates. Rising base rates will tend to lead to lower government bond prices, and vice versa Inflation expectations – the coupons paid by the majority of bonds do not change over time. Therefore, high inflation reduces the real value of future coupon payments, making bonds less attractive and driving their prices lower Credit quality – the ability of the issuer to pay regular coupons and redeem the bonds at maturity is a key consideration for bond investors. Higher-risk bonds such as corporate bonds are susceptible to changes in the perceived creditworthiness of the issuer Equities Equities, or shares in companies, are regarded as riskier investments than bonds, but they also tend to produce superior returns over the long term. They are riskier because, in the event of a company getting into financial difficulty, bond holders rank ahead of equity holders when the remaining cash is distributed. However, their superior long-term returns come from the fact that, unlike a bond which matures at the same price at which it was issued, share prices can rise dramatically as a company grows. Returns from equities are made up of changes in the share price and, in some cases, dividends paid by the company to its investors. Share prices fluctuate constantly as a result of factors such as: Company pro!ts – by buying shares, you are e"ectively investing in the future pro!tability of a company, so the operating outlook for the business is of paramount importance. Higher pro!ts are likely to lead to a higher share price and/or increased dividends, whereas sustained losses could place the dividend or even the long-term viability of the business in jeopardy Economic background – companies perform best in an environment of healthy economic growth, modest in#ation and low interest rates. A poor outlook for growth could suggest waning demand for the company’s products or services. High in#ation could impact companies in the form of increased input prices, although in some cases companies may be able to pass this on to consumers. Rising interest rates could put strain on companies that have borrowed heavily to grow the business Investor sentiment – as higher-risk assets, equities are susceptible to changes in investor sentiment. Deterioration in risk appetite normally sees share prices fall, while a turn to positive sentiment can see equity markets rise sharply Property In investment terms, property normally means commercial real estate – offices, warehouses, retail units and the like. Unlike the assets we have mentioned so far, properties are unique – only one fund can own a particular office building or shop. Bonds are effectively IOUs issued by governments or companies. In return for your initial investment, the issuer pays a pre-agreed regular return (the ‘coupon’) for a fixed term, at the end of which it agrees to return your initial investment. 05 GUIDE TO PORTFOLIO DIVERSIFICATION The performance of these assets can sometimes be dominated by changes in capital values. These unusually dramatic moves in capital value illustrate another of property’s key characteristics, namely its relative illiquidity compared to equities or bonds. Buying equities or bonds is normally a relatively quick and inexpensive process, but property investing involves considerable valuation and legal involvement. The more normal state of affairs is for rental income to be the main driver of commercial property returns. Owners of property can enhance the income potential and capital value of their assets by undertaking refurbishment work or other improvements. Indeed, without such work, property can quickly become uncompetitive and run down. When managed properly, the relatively stable nature of property’s income return is key to its appeal for investors. THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENT CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP AND YOU MAY GET BACK LESS THAN YOU PAID IN. LAWS AND TAX RULES MAY CHANGE IN THE FUTURE. YOUR OWN CIRCUMSTANCES AND WHERE YOU LIVE IN THE UK ALSO HAVE AN IMPACT ON TAX TREATMENT. READY TO START A CONVERSATION? Although we all have di"erent goals depending on what life stage we’re at, our goals can be broadly categorised into essential needs, lifestyle wants and legacy aspirations. Getting investment advice can be one of the most bene!cial things you can do for your personal !nances and long-term !nancial wellbeing. To identify which investment options are right for your individual circumstances or to !nd out more, please contact us – we look forward to hearing from you. In investment terms, property normally means commercial real estate – offices, warehouses, retail units and the like. Published by Goldmine Media Limited, Rivers Lodge, West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JD. Content copyright protected by Goldmine Media Limited 2021. Unauthorised duplication or distribution is strictly forbidden. This guide is for your general information and use only, and is not intended to address your particular requirements. The content should not be relied upon in its entirety and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, advice. Although endeavours have been made to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No individual or company should act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of their particular situation. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of the content. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested. All figures relate to the 2021/22 tax year, unless otherwise stated. LIFE DOESN’T STAND STILL, SO YOUR INVESTMENT APPROACH SHOULDN’T EITHER Making the right choices to invest for your future can seem complex. But with the right investment strategy in place, you can ensure you are able to make informed decisions to secure the financial future you want. To review your current situation or to discuss the options available, please contact us for further information – we look forward to hearing from you.