If only investing were that simple.
Short of the ability to look into the future and timing the market, how do you determine what is low and what is classified as high?
Although keeping abreast of market commentary is always useful, particularly in helping to develop your investment acumen, it is unlikely to deliver guaranteed investment success.
So, what can you do to give yourself the best chance for investment success?
Start with the basics
Vanguard believes there are four simple principles that will help improve the chances of a successful investment portfolio – goals, balance, cost and discipline.
De-risking as you age
Where possible, always make investment decisions and portfolio allocations based on your personal circumstances and goals. Accordingly, asset allocations in a portfolio should not only be guided by your risk tolerance and its ability to guard against market volatility, but also by the stage of life you are at.
An investment portfolio that has regular contributions (as a result of regular income) has more money working in compound than an investment portfolio that has regular withdrawals (typical of a portfolio of a retiree funding their retirement).
Thus, the asset allocation in an investment portfolio of a younger investor (typically upto 40 years old) should look markedly different to that of an investor in the early stages of retirement.
An investment approach that is quite entrenched in the US and gaining traction in Australia is the target-date fund model, which could perhaps provide some lessons in asset allocation to meet goals for each life stage. These allow investors to nominate their target date for retirement and the fund will gradually shift the asset allocation as they approach and then begin their retirement.
Vanguard's US target-date fund glide path takes place over four stages and constructs a portfolio based on balancing market, inflation and longevity risks in an efficient and transparent manner over an investor's life cycle along our basic investment principles. It generally segments investors into four phases, starting with investors aged 40 and below, then moving into the mid-to-late career.
Phase one starts with an allocation of around 90 per cent to equities and then begins de-risking during the mid-to-late career phase. Phase three encompasses the transition to retirement phase, where the portfolio de-risks further before reaching a landing point in the final retirement phase.
Too often a sound concept can be undone by sub-par implementation. This arose as a theme in the Productivity Commission's final report, highlighting the impact to outcomes that can arise from a target-date fund that is:
Vanguard endorses the Productivity Commission's view. The objective of Vanguard's asset allocation model is to avoid being too conservative or too aggressive and to adequately diversify where possible.
Achieving your investment goals
Vanguard's research, time and again, continues to show that disciplined, diversified and patient investors who adopt a holistic view and focus on factors within their control are likely to be rewarded over the long term.
Following the four simple principles – goals, balance, cost and discipline – and focusing on the things you can control will help you become a better investor and ultimately deliver you the best chance for investment success.
* This article originally appeared in the ASX Newsletter on 8 October 2019
Head of Product Strategy
09 October 2019
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