The year 2010 proved fruitful for the markets. However, 2011 is uncertain. How investors choose to position their portfolios this coming year could have a significant impact on their future.
Today, the market is looking for direction. With high unemployment, poor credit facilities, a questionable healthcare system, and various other issues, investors must plan for growth and stability in the year to come.
We are still in a range-bound market. Returns increase in spots when good news presents itself, but then they drop to a common low when another country reveals its financial issues. This has gone on for several months, with no end in sight.
There are three rules that could prove instrumental in the quest for positives returns. First, add more diversification. Most people ask how "the market" is doing. A good follow up question would be: what market? There are numerous markets to invest in, but the average investor does not utilize even a fraction of them. Invest in the stock markets of the world--diversify, diversify, diversify.
Build a better portfolio by including large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap growth and value stocks. Next, add government, corporate, and high-yield bonds and limit their maturities as interest rates rise. Sounds pretty basic so far, but here is the kicker: For your international positions, think more globally. Utilize currencies, commodities, global real estate, and global bonds. This is where you find real diversification. Each of these investments is available through mutual funds or exchange-traded funds at the retail level, so anyone can invest in them.
Second, add investments that automatically reduce risk. Finally, add managed futures into the mix. Managed futures are an asset class that allows a manager to invest long and sell short in vehicles like commodities, currencies, or even oil. These volatile assets are used every day in every country and are traded in very liquid markets. The beauty of using this type of investment is that it has the tendency to provide an average return in good years, but blow the cover off the ball in poor years. Think about what rebalancing is doing. If an asset class is over-weighted in your portfolio, sell some of it and put those proceeds into the one that is under-weighted. Essentially, when you rebalance, you are buying low and selling high. Isn't that what we were always told to do?