Professional Wealth Managementt

By PWM Editor

Benefits of diversification When constructing a portfolio, two main challenges present themselves – picking the right asset classes and then picking the best managers to run those assets. Choosing an asset allocation strategy can help protect you from downside risk as well as helping to ensure that you maximise the benefit from potential upside. Interestingly, diversification is one of the few elements in a portfolio that is also free. A strong investor can optimise their approach using the diversification tool. The last few weeks have exposed how quickly the direction of the markets can change, and investors’ risk appetite with it. It is moments like these that highlight the importance of protecting your client’s assets by holding as diversified a portfolio as possible. For example, while equities remain an attractive asset class with a return premium (over cash) of around 3 per cent per annum, they carry with them an annual volatility of 15 per cent, which can make your portfolio returns highly variable. It therefore makes sense to branch out into asset classes that don’t all behave alike, but can provide similar levels of return expectation. This is indicated by the correlation. For instance, if you add North American equity to a UK equity portfolio, the correlation is relatively high at 0.74; they behave in almost the same way (complete correlation being 1.0). Choose global high yield bonds instead (correlation of 0.36) and there is less likelihood of the two moving in sync and more likelihood of the combination working together to yield more robust returns. Combining multiple asset classes with a low correlation to each other has the potential to result in a more efficient portfolio, limiting your total risk and providing better opportunity for positive returns.

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