1. Have a written investment plan, based on your need, willingness and comfort to take risk. It does not have to be fancy. But it is extremely important.
2. Regularly rebalance your portfolio. Be disciplined about this. It will help you to buy low and sell high.
3. Evaluate your portfolio performance against a set of benchmarks, at least annually.
4. A significant part of your stock portfolio should be invested in international and emerging markets.
5. Recognize that you do not have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future. Recognize that no one else can predict the future either. If you are using an advisor, and he or she regularly makes predictions or “bets,” you may need to make a change. Do not focus on past performance, as it is not an indicator of future performance.
6. Diversification. Always. For everything. You should own large and small companies. Growth and value companies. In many countries and industries. Understand the reason to own smaller and value companies.
7. Know when it makes sense to own municipal bonds. Know which municipal bonds sectors to avoid, due to higher historical default statistics. If you own municipal bonds, they should be diversified across many states, not just the state you live in.
8. If you have significant fixed income investments, like bonds or CDs, you should not own bond funds. And definitely not long term or low credit quality bond funds.
9. Focus on what you can control. Focus on costs and your asset allocation. You cannot control or influence any company, industry or the stock market.
10. Review your estate plan documents and retirement plan beneficiary designations, to make sure they reflect your wishes and are accurate. If you have a revocable trust, make sure that it is actually funded.
11. Use a fee-only financial advisor. Their interests will be aligned with your interests. Find an advisor that can provide many benefits and value. They can help you plan for the future. They can listen to you, so you can handle volatile markets and prevent big mistakes. They can save you time, improve your investment experience and provide your family a greater sense of comfort and security.
I hope this list is helpful and provides you with real value. If there are items on this list that you are not familiar with, or would like to discuss further, please contact us.