Diversification: Reducing Risk through a Balanced Investment Portfolio

August 16, 2023

You have probably heard the old proverb: «Don't put all your eggs in one basket.» Those words of wisdom go well beyond farming and encapsulate the idea of not risking all your money on a single investment.

Portfolio diversification: what is it

Portfolio diversification is a strategy of investing in various assets to reduce risk. By diversifying your portfolio, you are spreading your money across different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and cash. It helps to reduce your risk because if one asset class performs poorly, the others may still perform well.

There are two main types of portfolio diversification:

  • Asset class diversification. It involves investing in different asset classes. You can reduce your overall risk by investing in diverse asset classes, as each of them has its unique risk and return profile. 
  • Security diversification. In this case, you invest in different securities within the same asset class. For example, if you invest in stocks, you could invest in numerous sectors, such as technology, healthcare, and consumer staples. 

Why do you need to diversify your investments

Diversification in investing is crucial for several reasons, all of which are aimed at reducing overall risk and increasing the potential for better returns over the long term. Among the main reasons:

  1. Risk Reduction. Investing in a single asset or a limited number of assets exposes your portfolio to significant risk. Different investments can be affected by various factors, such as economic conditions, industry-specific events, geopolitical events, and so on. By diversifying across asset classes, industries, and geographic regions, you spread the risk and avoid significant losses.
  2. Smoothing Investment Performance. Diversified investment smoothes out the ups and downs in your portfolio's performance. When you have a mix of investments with low correlations, they tend to respond differently to changing market conditions. Some assets may be performing well while others are underperforming. Thus diversification leads to more consistent returns over time and reduces the impact of severe market fluctuations on your overall portfolio.
  3. Reducing Company-Specific Risk. Holding a significant amount of stock in a single company exposes you to company-specific risks, such as poor management decisions, competitive pressures, or legal issues. If its stock price plummets, the impact on your portfolio could be severe. 
  4. Protecting Against Market Timing Mistakes. Market timing is challenging, and even seasoned investors often struggle to predict short-term market movements accurately. Diversification helps mitigate the risks associated with market timing mistakes. 
  5. Capitalizing on Different Economic Cycles. Each asset class tends to perform differently during various stages of the economic cycle. For instance, stocks may perform well during periods of economic expansion, while bonds and cash may be more attractive during economic downturns. By diversifying across various asset classes, you can take advantage of the different opportunities presented by changing economic conditions.
  6. Protecting Against Inflation and Currency Risk. Inflation and currency fluctuations can erode the value of investments. Diversification across asset classes, including commodities and international investments, protects your portfolio from these risks. 
  7. Reducing Behavioral Biases. Investors are susceptible to emotional biases, such as fear and greed, which can lead to impulsive decision-making. Diversification helps reduce the emotional impact of short-term market movements, as the overall performance of your portfolio is not tied to a single investment or asset class.
  8. Long-Term Growth Potential. While diversification may not deliver the highest returns in a given year, it provides a greater likelihood of achieving consistent growth over the long term. 

Diversified investment: tips for beginners

Here are some tips on how to start diversifying your investments:

  • Determine your risk tolerance. If you are risk-averse, you would want to invest in more conservative assets, such as bonds. If you are more comfortable with risk, you can invest in more aggressive assets, such as stocks.
  • Set your investment goals. What are you hoping to achieve with your investments? Are you saving for retirement? Or are you saving for a down payment on a house? Once you know your goals, you can start developing a portfolio that is tailored to your needs.
  • Rebalance your portfolio regularly. As your investments grow, you would need to rebalance portfolio to ensure that it remains diversified. It means selling some of the assets that have performed well and buying more of the assets that have not performed as well.

In conclusion, we should note that the best investment portfolio is a diversified one. Thus, you can reduce the risks and stay on track to reach your goals.