Rebalance And Diversify

 

The stock market has not been very kind to your investments lately. Your broker knows this so you may have received a call from him suggesting it is time to 'rebalance and diversify' your portfolio.

What does this really mean? He wants you to sell some of your holdings and buy something else. Probably sell stocks and buy bonds "because of market uncertainty". Sounds good, but it really means he needs some commission and you are "it". Yes, I agree it may be time to sell all your stocks and mutual funds and put everything in a money market account until this bear market is over. Your broker doesn't like money market funds because he doesn't make any commission. That may be why he never recommends them.

Rebalance doesn't have any true stock market meaning. It is one of those Wall Street words they use to confuse you. It sounds good, but that's all.

Diversify is another broker and financial planner favorite. Have part of your money in stocks, some in mutual funds, bonds and maybe 5% in a money market so you can take advantage of an initial public offering when a new one comes along. Yeah! Now let's try the true meaning of diversify: put some here, put some there and a little there (and all of this does generate commission, of course) because I really don't know what to do so we will spread it around and hope for the best.

No, I don't hate your broker or financial planner. It is just that I know they have not been trained to protect your capital or how to make money. How do I know that? I used to own a brokerage company and I know how these guys consistently lose their customers and their own money. Yes, they even do it to themselves. That's how dumb they are.

If you have lost money this year in your nice "safe" mutual fund you are not alone. Did you know that 99% of all stock mutual funds have a loss? Scary isn't it. Is there any thing you could have done to have protected your capital from a major loss? Yes there is.

For example, in 1998 you could have bought Janus 20 mutual fund for about $40/share. You and several hundred thousand others did. All of you watched as it went up to $94/share. Wonderful! Uh oh, it is now selling for $35. If you had been told by your broker (and you weren't) that it is a good policy to protect your profits with a mental stop-loss order of about 10% you could have sold out at about $80/share, but you are in for the long haul and you are a conservative investor so you won't sell.

The term conservative investor is an oxymoron. There is no such thing when you have your money on the line. You are a speculator. It happens to be that you are a long-term speculator. And they get just as burned as the day traders. It just takes longer.

Don't fall for the nonsense of rebalancing and diversifying. When one of your holdings starts down more than 10% just sell out. You want to diversify and rebalance into cash until this bear market is over.

Copyright 2005

 



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