Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time for a portfolio check-up?

Your personal health is important to you. That’s why you have periodic check-ups, follow your doctor’s recommendations on diet and exercise, and take your medications. Your financial life is also important to you. That’s why you should periodically perform a portfolio check-up and follow this prescription for maintaining its health.

Why a check-up? For two very good reasons:
  • One, the value of each investment in your portfolio will change over time as a result of fluctuations in its market value. By periodically rebalancing your portfolio, you’ll get it back on track to reaching your financial goals.

  • Two, your financial situation and goals change over time – and that means your portfolio probably needs to be revamped to meet your evolving needs.


When to check-up? You get statements from your bank, mutual fund investments, registered plans, stock purchases and sales, and your other investments. Review them at least every three months to compare your current returns against your longer-term goals and overall financial plan and if you’re off-track, make changes.

Your prescription for portfolio health: Here are a few important strategies for successful investing:
  • Follow a planned asset allocation strategy by constructing – and, very importantly, maintaining – a portfolio with a mix of investments across the three principal types of financial assets (cash, fixed-income vehicles and equities) that balance risk, create diversification, and will deliver the long-term returns you need to reach your financial goals.

  • Diversification is always the right way to go – even to the point of looking beyond Canadian markets. International markets don’t always follow Canadian or U.S. patterns. By adding foreign investments to your portfolio, you can lessen volatility and add the opportunity for enhanced returns.

  • Balance is the key. Experts and study after study agree that a balanced portfolio strategy is best over the longer term. Avoid chasing ‘winners’ and quickly dumping ‘losers’. If you do that, your portfolio is bound to become seriously unbalanced.

  • Rebalance to match your tolerance for risk. Your optimal asset mix depends on your age, income expectations, retirement dreams and much more – and it should contain investments that allow you to sleep comfortably at night. When the mix is right for you, you are not overly concerned about volatility or which asset class is performing or not performing at any particular time.

Your financial plan is not written in stone; it’s a reflection of your changing life. A professional planner can help you perform a portfolio check-up that maintains your financial health.

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