Archive:

Investing Lessons from the World Cup

All over the United States, people have caught World Cup fever as the U.S. side takes on the so-called “Group of Death” in Brazil. But as soccer fans debate the Americans’ chances against the best teams in the world, it’s a good time to remember how to balance expectations and reality.

This is an especially important distinction in retirement planning and investing in general. One investment or even an entire portfolio can quickly rise or fall in value, seemingly without reason. But by practicing smart risk management and following these three tips, investors can better protect their assets.

  1. Don’t be dependent on a star player. Some World Cup teams have a very well-balanced squad, while others rely on one or two superstar players to carry them. But if that star player has a poor game or gets injured, his teammates struggle.

The same thing can happen to your investment portfolio if you aren’t properly diversified. By rounding out your portfolio with a number of different securities, each with its own set of risks and return drivers, you can help protect yourself from a cataclysmic loss.

  1. Plan for all scenarios. National soccer teams hoping to make a deep run in the World Cup must be able to match up with different types of opponents. Some teams prefer employing a high-stakes offense to generate lots of goal-scoring opportunities. Other teams prefer a conservative approach that stresses high-percentage passes and counterattacking. It’s up to the manager to put the right personnel on the field to give his team the best chance of winning.

Investors must cope with different playing conditions as well, including bull and bear markets. Different securities perform better in certain market environments. Knowing this can help an investor to maximize return and minimize losses through periodic rebalancing and/or repositioning of his or her portfolio.

  1. Choose your substitutes wisely. Every team can make up to three substitutions per game, and the manager must choose these players carefully. A team that’s trailing might want to bring on an extra attacker, while a team holding on to a lead may bring on a defensive specialist to slow down the game. Substitutes, when chosen correctly, can be the difference between a win and a loss. (Just ask John Brooks, a substitute who came in to score the game-winner for the U.S.A against Ghana).

Investors also have some difficult decisions to make as they age. As they near and enter retirement, investors should talk with their financial advisor about the possibility of substituting out their high-risk investments for more stable or income producing investments, such as municipal, corporate or government bond strategies.