Stop making these 5 mistakes, say these financial advisers
Across two series of Meet the adviser, we've met some amazing advisers with some great tips and lessons - both from their own fails and those of their clients. I took a journey down memory lane to find that alongside their careers and passion, this diverse group also had common ground in the mistakes they typically found in portfolios, along with the tips they had for investors in the current environment.
So without further ado, here's what you need to know.
The most common portfolio mistakes and how to fix them
1) LACK OF DIVERSIFICATION
“The most common thing I assist clients with initially is increasing the diversification of investments within their portfolio – many of them have a handful of concentrated shares in either one industry or market and they’re holding themselves back from other opportunities.”
Shayne Sommer, Shadforth Financial Group
Tip to investors: be sure to consider different asset classes, industries and styles of investment. You don’t need to have millions of different investments but an even spread is useful. Australian investors typically have a bias towards ASX 200 listed companies so don’t forget to look outside shares and also look internationally.
2) NOT BEING AWARE OF THE COSTS OF INVESTMENTS
“Another common mistake is the underlying cost of investments. Several retiree clients were sitting in older-style products or managed funds and they didn’t know what they were paying. We did a cost comparison and were able to show investments that were available at a fraction of the cost.”
Ron Pratap, RP Wealth Management
Tip for investors: Keep up-to-date with your investments and what they cost. It’s not always a bad thing to change funds if you can receive the equivalent package for better value.
3) LACK OF STRATEGY
I didn’t think I was the only investor guilty of purchasing whatever takes my fancy on a given day meaning a portfolio of very randomly selected investment and it turns out, it’s a common mistake.
“One common mistake we need to fix are haphazard investments which clients have selected over many years which don’t complement each other, such as holding similar (or sometimes exactly the same) assets, or where the investment styles conflict or are too highly correlated”
Antoinette Mullins, Steps Financial
Tip to investors: take a big step back from your portfolio and work out your overall strategy and what you need to build it and when you research investments, consider how it fits within the overall portfolio. (Yes, this sounds painful – there’s a reason why financial advisers exist and that’s to worry about this stuff for you!)
4) INVESTMENTS THAT DON’T MATCH THE INVESTOR’S RISK PROFILE
“The most common mistake I see with the portfolios I inherit is a misalignment of a client’s portfolio with their risk tolerance – especially when it comes to a client’s exposure to growth assets (and the type of growth assets). Fixing them depends on the situation and the experience a client has had previously with those assets.”
Nicola Beswick, FMD Financial
Tip to investors: spend the time working out what tolerance you have for investment risk – that’s not just your personal feelings on risk but your financial capacity to manage risk. It’s that old story of young people have longer to hold their investments through market cycles and can manage greater risk than those close to retirement. Then you can work out how best to structure your portfolio and which investments best suit your needs and objectives.
5) TOO MUCH TRADING AND ATTEMPTS TO TIME THE MARKET
Whether panic selling or FOMO investing in dips, too much trading is a common error. Most advisers typically take a buy and hold approach with investments for good reason – its conservative and tends to work better over time.
“The number one issue by far is selling when markets drop and buying again when people are confident that they have recovered. I believe more money is lost by doing this than any other mistake.”
Daniel Thompson, Finnacle
Tip to investors: If you pick good quality investments and have done your research, stay the course. Take profits where the opportunities are right, buy where you see value or the right opportunity for your portfolio, sell if you no longer want a position anymore or it doesn’t fit within your broader strategy.
The top tips for investing in the current market
1. PLAN FOR ALL MARKET CYCLES - NOT JUST THIS ONE
“I tell clients that instead of trying to beat the market, let’s make sure the market doesn’t beat you. The challenge for us as investors is to look beyond the now. By the time you and I can react or respond to the news, the market has probably already priced in the information. It does it pretty quickly and pretty well.”
Robert Baharian, Baharian Wealth Management
As part of this, you should stick to your strategy and keep up your regular investment plans regardless of what the market is doing.
2. HOLD GREATER CASH BALANCES IN A RECESSION
There are a few reasons for doing this. One is to avoid drawing down your portfolio and crystallising losses in times of market distress if you suddenly need cash. It’s also vital if you have any leveraged investments from mortgages to geared funds so you can cover any increases in interest rates or value changes. The final aspect is to have cash for opportunities if they arise, such as that company you’ve wanted for a while but it was overvalued before.
“The Buffets etc of this world are cash heavy and investors who are opportunistic and selective will ultimately do well from the current dislocation in financial markets.”
Anthony Murphy, Lucerne Investment Partners
3. REMEMBER THAT VOLATILITY IS ALL PART OF THE INVESTMENT EXPERIENCE
Investing holds risks of losses or gains – but it’s worth remembering you’ve only lost money if you’ve sold a position and crystallised that loss.
“There’s a reason rollercoasters have safety straps – it’s to stop you jumping off at the wrong time. With market volatility, we need to remember the roles growth and defensive assets play in portfolios.”
Shayne Sommer, Shadforth Financial Group
A final lesson across any market is about gearing – a few of the financial advisers we interviewed suggest steering clear of highly geared products, such as Trent Doughty and Antoinette Mullins. Both have been personally burnt and are wary on behalf of their clients.
The top performing go-to managed funds
Equities (Australian and global)
- PM Capital Australian Companies Fund - 10.6%
- Allan Gray Australian Equity Fund Class B - 6.46%
- Aoris International Fund Class A - -1.8%
Trent Doughty, Kelly+Partners Private Wealth, nominated the PM Capital Australian Companies Fund as a go-to fund for the Australian equities exposure (he nominated different managers for each asset class exposure). He also nominated the Aoris International Fund Class A for the global equities exposure.
“We know all the portfolio managers of these funds on a personal level and have a high degree of confidence in their ability to provide solid risk returns outcomes for our clients. We also closely monitor their performance each quarter.”
Antoinette Mullins, Steps Financial, nominated the Allan Gray Australian Equity Fund Class B as one of her two go-tos. She uses it outside the core of the portfolio to complement index allocations in the portfolio.
“It’s a fund we use in most models, though it might not be the Core fund. Given the concentrated and contrarian approach of the manager, this fund is expected to perform materially differently to the general Australian equity market.”
Ben is a realist and often avoids the hype and fads the stock market and investing can bring. His continued disciplined approach has delivered investors a return of 16.5% p.a. since inception with a substantial amount of that out-performance being delivered in weak equity market conditions.
“This came from the love of direct property and hearing from the direct manager as part of my work. There is no interesting story that goes with this investment, other than medical centres and hospitals are essential to everyday life.”
The go-to ETFs
Like retail investors, financial advisers also find ETFs a useful tool so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 13 ETFs made it to the list of go-tos or into advisers’ personal top holdings.
- iShares Global 100 Fund (ASX: IOO) - 0.2%
- BetaShares Global Cybersecurity ETF (ASX: HACK) - -5.51%
- SPDR S&P/ASX 200 ETF (ASX: STW) - -6.44%
Charlie Viola, Pitcher Partners Sydney Wealth Management, and Robert Baharian, Baharian Wealth Management nominated the iShares Global 100 Fund (ASX: IOO). Charlie finds it a good base for global exposure. He would also buy SPDR S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: STW) for pure ASX 200 exposure and to pick a dip in the market.
Felicity Thomas, Shaw & Partners, placed the BetaShares Global Cybersecurity ETF (ASX: HACK) as one of her go-tos. She notes that thematic investments such as this which offers exposure to cybersecurity investments are typically higher risk investments so she uses them as satellite positions with the core of her portfolio allocated to the Shaw & Partners managed accounts.
If you are interested in being profiled in our Meet the Adviser series in the future, contact us using the email address below: email@example.com
MORE ON Education
3 stocks mentioned
7 funds mentioned
Sara is a Content Editor at Livewire Markets. She is a passionate writer and reader with more than a decade of experience specific to finance and investments. Sara's background has included working at ETF Securities, BT Financial Group and...