Financial Focus: Put your portfolio’s 2018 progress in perspective (column)
How can you assess your investment portfolio’s performance in 2018? The year was full of wild swings in the financial markets. But you can still get a clear picture of how you did if you keep your investments’ returns in the proper perspective — by making sure your expectations are relevant, realistic and reviewed.
Relevant: Many investors compare their portfolio returns to a popular market index, such as the S&P 500. But this comparison is not really valid for a variety of reasons. For one thing, indexes are typically not diversified across different types of investments.
But your portfolio should consist of a broad range of investments: domestic and international stocks, bonds, mutual funds, government securities and so on, appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance. Also, your portfolio’s performance will be affected by your contributions and withdrawals, while market index returns are not. So, instead of measuring your results against an index, you’re better off establishing relevant expectations of your investment returns, based on your specific goals.
Realistic: Ideally, of course, you’d like really high returns with really low risk, but that’s really not feasible. To get high returns, you’ll need to invest aggressively, which means you’ll need your portfolio to be heavily weighted in stocks. However, stocks are also riskier than more conservative investments, such as bonds or government securities. So, you’ll need to be realistic in what you can anticipate from your portfolio. You can shoot for high returns and accept the higher level of risk, or you can lower your expectations in exchange for greater stability.
Reviewed: The performance of the financial markets — and also your own portfolio — will fluctuate from year to year. Consequently, it’s important to review your portfolio’s results and the progress you’re making toward your goals on a regular basis, possibly with the help of a financial professional. In these reviews, you may conclude that you’re doing fine, or you might discover that you need to rebalance your portfolio by realigning your investments with your goals and risk tolerance or perhaps make other adjustments to get you back on track. In addition, you may even need to re-evaluate these goals in response to changes in your life, as these changes could affect the rate of return you need from your investments.
As you look back on 2018, by looking for relevance, being realistic about what you can expect and reviewing your portfolio in the context of your goals, risk tolerance and changing circumstances, you can gain a thorough understanding of where you are, where you want to go — and how you can help yourself get there.
This article was written for use by local Edward Jones financial advisors. Edward Jones and its associates and financial advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Chuck Smallwood, Kevin Brubeck, Tina DeWitt, Charlie Wick and Bret Hooper are financial advisors with Edward Jones Investments and can be reached in Edwards at 970-926-1728, in Eagle at 970-328-0361, 970-328-0639 or 970-328-4959 and in Avon at 970-688-5420.
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