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The Case for Diversifying

Diversifying your portfolio means more than just buying stocks and bonds. Here’s why you should consider diversifying your investments while making stocks a core holding.

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In the world of investing, one of the most fundamental principles for success is diversification. By spreading your investments across different asset classes, you can mitigate risk, maximize returns, and achieve long-term financial growth.

While there are various investment options available, stocks stand out as one of the cornerstone assets for building a diversified portfolio.

What Is Diversification?

Diversification is the practice of spreading your investments across various assets to reduce exposure to any single risk. Done properly, it’s a strategy that balances risk and reward by investing in a mix of assets that do not move together (i.e., when growth stocks are hot utility stocks tend to be out of favor, or when bonds are doing well stocks may experience downward pressure). Diversification helps you weather market volatility and protect your portfolio from significant losses.

The Role of Stocks in a Diversified Portfolio

Stocks have historically been one of the best-performing asset classes, offering the potential for long-term growth and solid returns. By allocating a significant portion of your portfolio to stocks, you position yourself to benefit from the growth of the global economy, productivity, and corporate profits. Stocks can provide capital appreciation, dividend income, and inflation protection, making them a crucially important component of a diversified portfolio.

The Benefits of Stocks

Stocks offer the potential for a wide range of benefits as part of your diversified investment portfolio:

· Long-Term Growth: Stocks have the potential to deliver high returns over the long term, outperforming other asset classes like bonds and cash investments.

· Income Generation: Many stocks pay dividends, providing you with a steady stream of income in addition to capital appreciation.

· Inflation Hedge: Stocks historically have performed well against inflation with the stock market beating inflation on a pretty consistent basis over time. This helps you preserve the purchasing power of your wealth.

· Portfolio Balance: Stocks have a low correlation with other asset classes like bonds and real estate (which simply means when bonds and real estate drop, stocks tend to do well), which can help diversify your risk and enhance your overall portfolio stability.

Elements of a Diversified Stock Portfolio

What exactly does it mean to have a diversified stock portfolio? Well, there are a few primary dimensions on which you should diversify:

· Sector: You want to diversify your stock holdings across different sectors of the economy to reduce sector-specific risks and take advantage of growth opportunities in various industries. For instance, even though they often perform well, it is inherently risky to over-invest in tech stocks. Through individual shares, mutual funds, and ETFs, many investors have a very high concentration of their holdings in tech giants like Amazon, Apple, or Nvidia. And, other sectors can be even more volatile, such as retail during the pandemic.

· Market Cap: Invest in stocks of companies with different market capitalizations (large-cap, mid-cap, small-cap) to access a range of growth potential and risk profiles. While small- and mid-cap stocks can perform very well at times, when the market becomes turbulent, many investors shift money into large-cap stocks which can send smaller stocks plummeting.

· Geography: Consider investing in international stocks to diversify your portfolio geographically and capture growth opportunities in global markets. The U.S. stock market makes up about 60% of the total global stock market. The next closest national market is Japan at 6.2%. So it is not surprising that most investors are heavily invested here. But it is a mistake to discount opportunities elsewhere, and there have been many times when the U.S. markets are soft but Japan, the U.K., and Germany are strong.

· Risk Management: Use techniques like dollar-cost averaging (when you do not try to time the market but just keep buying shares as the market rises and falls), stop-loss orders, and rebalancing to manage risk and protect your investments during market fluctuations.

The Challenges

Since its founding in 1970, Cabot Wealth Network has always been bullish on the long-term performance of stocks. That doesn’t mean that investors should take stock investing for granted. As with any asset class, there are challenges of which you should be aware:

· Volatility: Stocks are known for their price fluctuations, which can be unsettling for many investors. It’s crucial to have a long-term perspective and stay disciplined during market ups and downs. Depending on your tolerance for volatility and your investing time horizon, it may be that watching your portfolio too closely just adds stress and perhaps you should back off to once a day if that helps.

· Company Selection: Choosing the right stocks requires thorough research and analysis to identify companies with strong fundamentals, competitive advantages, and growth potential. Of course, for the past 50+ years, this is what the expert analysts at Cabot Wealth Network do full-time so you don’t have to.

· Market Timing: Timing the market is notoriously difficult, and attempting to do so requires a level of discipline and attention that’s not for everyone. So, instead of trying to predict short-term movements, focus on the quality of the companies you invest in and their long-term growth prospects. Then have a plan and stay disciplined about when you buy and when you sell.

Rebalancing Your Portfolio

Regularly review your stock holdings and assess their performance relative to your investment goals and risk tolerance. Rebalancing your portfolio involves selling overperforming assets and buying underperforming ones to maintain your target asset allocation and risk profile. This keeps your portfolio from drifting into higher-risk levels of concentration.

Building a diversified investment portfolio with stocks as the largest percentage can provide you with a strong foundation for long-term wealth creation and financial security. By harnessing the growth potential of stocks while managing your risk through strategic diversification, you can achieve your financial goals and navigate the ever-changing dynamics of the market with confidence. Embrace diversification, harness the power of stocks, and set yourself on a path to a prosperous financial future.

Ed Coburn has run Cabot Wealth Network since 2018 when he bought the company from longtime friend and colleague Tim Lutts. Ed is a graduate of Cornell University and holds an MBA from the Olin School of Management at Babson College. His career has brought him into many different sectors of the economy, from software and healthcare to transportation and manufacturing, and even oil spills. He is active in the Financial Media Association, a past Director of the Software & Information Industry Association, a member of the American Association of Individual Investors, and a frequent speaker at industry events.