Tips to Master Investment Portfolio Diversity



10 minutes
Table with piles of coins on different slots to symbolize Investment Portfolio Diversification
A well-diversified Portfolio sets you up for success

Investing in the stock market is all about balancing risk and reward. You want your portfolio to be well-diversified. For your stocks, this means investing in different sectors and industries. When the next market downturn comes around, your diversification will help you stay afloat. On the other hand, you also don’t want to over-diversify, as your portfolio might become unmanageable. This blog post focuses on long-term investment as your investment strategy. I truly believe that investing is not about trading your stocks on news and sentiment shifts but the quality of the businesses behind the stocks. Short-term trading requires an entirely different investing approach.

Do you want to learn more about investing in general? We have some great book suggestions for you!

Let’s break down how you can master Investment Portfolio Diversity and understand why it’s critical. We will discuss different ways to achieve it in your investment journey.

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What is Portfolio Diversity?

Portfolio diversity, or diversification, is the risk management strategy of mixing a variety of investments within a portfolio. It can be categorized into different asset classes (equities, bonds, cash, etc.), industries, geographical regions, and more. The primary rationale behind this approach is that a portfolio of different kinds of investments will yield higher returns. Therefore, it poses a lower risk than any investment within the portfolio. Of course, you need to strike a balance with your diversification to not miss out on opportunities.

What is the easiest way to Master Investment Portfolio Diversity?

Your easiest way to achieve Investment Portfolio Diversity is to invest a portion of your portfolio into an index. The most popular index fund example is the S&P 500. Your S&P 500 contains the 500 largest companies Listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Now, you also see why investing in such an index does give you immediate diversification. These 500 companies operate in many different industries. You can invest in the S&P 500 by investing in the SPY ETF (Exchange-Traded Fund).

You don’t need to invest all your portfolio into indices. However, for some investors, this is all they do. It is simple yet effective. The long-term average return of the S&P 500 is around 9.7% per year (higher in recent years when tech became a thing). I recommend that new investors start with a portfolio of 75% in an index like the S&P 500 and 25% in individual companies. You will get diversification and a part of your portfolio to play around with. Over time, you get more experience and will know what investment strategy you like the most.

Sector Concentration: A Risk to Avoid

Imagine investing all your money in technology companies and the tech sector crashes. Your portfolio would likely take a heavy hit because of its concentration risk. Concentration risk arises when your portfolio diversity is heavily weighted towards one particular sector or investment type. If that sector faces a downturn, it can significantly impact your investment. Diversification across sectors can help mitigate this risk. You ensure that a downfall in one sector doesn’t pull down your entire portfolio.

Geographic Concentration: Investments Across the Globe

World map showing the different markets to invest in and their risk profile.
The markets in our world all have a different risk profile

Geographic concentration is another facet of risk that investors need to consider when trying to master portfolio diversity. This refers to the potential risk of having too many investments concentrated in one country or region. It could disproportionately affect your portfolio’s value. If that region experiences an economic downturn, political instability, or any other region-specific adversities, your portfolio falls with it very quickly.

For instance, an investor whose portfolio consists solely of U.S. stocks is exposed to geographic concentration risk tied to the American market. Should the U.S. economy slump, this investor’s portfolio may experience significant losses. Diversification across geographies can help mitigate this risk. Investing in international or global funds can spread their investments across multiple countries and regions. This minimizes the potential impact of any geographic downturn.

It’s important to note that international investing also involves unique risks. Examples are currency fluctuations and differences in the regulatory environment. So, as always, prudent research and understanding of the global economic landscape are critical when diversifying your portfolio geographically.

Why Invest in a Minimum of 15 Individual Companies?

Investment experts often suggest that a well-diversified equity portfolio should contain at least 15 stocks spread across various sectors. But why is this magic number 15? It’s all about reducing the risk associated with individual stocks.

Statistically, investing in 15-20 companies can dramatically reduce the volatility of a portfolio. Especially when the companies are spread across different sectors. This practice smooths out the risk associated with any single stock and gives you a reasonale portfolio diversity. Poor performance in one company can be offset by solid performance in others.

However, adding more companies to your portfolio reduces individual stock risk but increases market risk. This means your portfolio’s performance will tend to mirror the overall market. It’s essential to consider your own risk tolerance and investment goals when deciding how many stocks to hold.

Are you interested in dividend-paying stocks but don’t know where to start?

The Role of ETFs and Index Funds in Portfolio Diversity

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds are the best way for achieving portfolio diversity. Consider an ETF like the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) for broad market exposure. This ETF aims to track the performance of the S&P 500 Index. By investing in SPY, you are effectively investing in all these companies. This gives you broad exposure to the U.S. equity market.

On the other end of the spectrum are more focused ETFs that target specific sectors or themes. For instance, the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ) focuses on companies that potentially stand to benefit from increased adoption and utilization of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). BOTZ provides you exposure to firms in developed markets involved in the production or use of robotics and AI.

With SPY, you’re spreading your risk across various companies and sectors. Conversely, while you still gain exposure to a diversified range of companies with BOTZ, they all operate within the AI and robotics sector.

You can create a diversified and diversified portfolio by combining broad market ETFs like SPY with specific ETFs like BOTZ. It becomes tailored to your specific interests or beliefs about future market trends. Remember, though, that every investment comes with risks, and it’s crucial to do your due diligence before investing.

These ETFs can help you spread your risk across many companies, sectors, or countries. Your portfolio will provide significant protection against the volatility of individual stocks.

If you lack the time to research individual companies, investing in ETFs is right. Studying and managing a wide range of individual stocks can be challenging and time-consuming.

Check out our guide “ETF vs Mutual Funds: Which is Right for You?

Invest More Money Over Time in Your Winners, Not the Losers

A common mistake some investors make is doubling down on losing stocks, hoping they will rebound. This is known as ‘averaging down’. While this strategy can work in some situations, it’s often more productive to ‘average up.’ You do so by investing more money over time in your winners.

Investing in your winners can make sense if the company’s fundamentals remain strong. A well-performing company might continue to excel due to strong leadership, innovative products, or a robust market position. By contrast, a poorly performing company may continue to struggle.

However, not blindly throwing money at a winning investment is crucial. Continually reassess the company’s fundamentals. Consider the overall state of the market, and remember that past performance is not a guaranteed indicator of future success.

In conclusion, portfolio diversity is crucial in managing investment risk and maximizing potential returns. It’s a process that requires a strategic mix of various assets, sectors, and geographies. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced investor, mastering diversification will serve you well on your investment journey. Remember, it’s not about putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s about having many baskets and knowing which one deserves more eggs.

Your Risk Tolerance can change over Time

As we journey through life, our investment strategy needs to adapt. It should stay in line with our financial goals and risk appetite. Its a good idea to revisit your investment strategy over time.

A widely recognized strategy for maintaining portfolio diversity adjusted to your risk tolerance throughout your life is the “100 minus age” rule. This formula suggests you subtract your age from 100. The result is the percentage of your investment account that should be in more volatile assets like stocks. The younger you are, the longer your money can work in the financial markets.

Let’s take a look at an example:

If you’re 35, the rule implies that 65% (100-35) of your portfolio should be allocated to stocks. With the remaining 35% funneled into less volatile assets such as bonds or ETFs that track stable indices. This method is rooted in the idea that younger investors can weather higher risk. They have a longer investment horizon, allowing potential losses to be recuperated.

However, moving closer to retirement, your strategy should pivot to protect your nest egg. The percentage of stocks in your portfolio diminishes (so by the time you’re 70, you’d have 30% in stocks). Now, more stable assets take precedence, safeguarding you from market volatility.

That said, it’s important to remember that this rule is a guide, not an ironclad law. Investing is deeply personal, and your strategy should mirror your risk tolerance. While potential returns are vital, they should not come at the expense of your peace of mind. You might be a more conservative investor than age-based rules suggest, and that’s okay. Or you want to invest even more aggressively in your younger years. Some aggressive investors initially chose to invest solely in stocks, often growth stocks. Such a stock portfolio poses much risk, but the rewards can be higher over time. There are many different ways to approach portfolio diversification and asset allocation.

Final Thoughts – Tips to Master Investment Portfolio Diversity

Investment strategies should be gauged not just by their monetary returns. It’s essential that you feel good about your strategy. Finding the right balance between risk and comfort is a unique journey for everyone.

In this blog post you learned about different ways to master portfolio diversity. You can use index funds, ETFs and mutual funds to get instant portfolio diversification. Investing in individual companies is a great way to achieve higher returns, if you have a long time horizon and the time to track those companies.

Market conditions can change over time. Your most important factor for long-term success is your mindset. If you stay strong and hold on to good companies and stocks even if the market turns down, you position yourself for greater returns over time. For more on that, check out our guide “Navigating a Down Market: Maintaining a Strong Mindset“.

You should talk to your financial advisor or financial expert for more specific questions about your portfolio and overall financial goal.

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 #1 Buy and hold Stocks for 5+ years
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