By Allen Wastler

Allen Wastler is a former financial journalist with over 30-years of experience, including time at CNBC, CNN, and Knight-Ridder Newspapers.

Posted on Jul 14, 2021

If you’re a stock market junkie or perhaps even just a mildly active investor, you probably know. But if you shy away from 401(k) statements or sidestep making decisions about savings plans, you might not. And that might not be a wise thing these days.

The stock market can go up or down. It set new records here and there in the past few years while generally advancing well beyond the market troughs of the mid-2000s. But political and international uncertainties — not to mention unforeseen crises like a pandemic — rock it periodically. When that happens worries begin to surface about whether or not stock market pullbacks will linger.

Market retreats: Who gets hurt?

Pullbacks, obviously, affect all investors. But such retreats are particularly concerning for those people approaching retirement and expecting their stock portfolios to help support them through the Golden Years. Younger investors have time to recover from market losses; older investors, not so much.

That’s why most money managers and financial professionals preach the wisdom of diversification, the investment equivalent of not putting all your eggs in one basket. Although there are no guarantees, spreading investments out over a variety of vehicles in addition to stocks — like bonds, commodities, real estate, and, yes, even insurance and annuities — can help preserve value in a portfolio should the equity markets take a tumble.

Then again, when one market takes off, investments in other areas may limit a portfolio’s advance. Indeed, in any advancing market there will be pundits saying a correction may come there and others saying the gains will likely continue and investors shouldn’t miss out. No one can be sure and for each individual investor the question revolves around how much risk he or she is willing to accept.

Asset allocation

This is where asset allocation and diversification comes into play. The proper mix of investments – stocks, bonds, and other areas – will not be the same from investor to investor.

The investment mix within a portfolio — the asset allocation — will differ from person to person and depend on factors like his or her time horizon, financial circumstances, goals, and personal disposition toward risk and reward. Depending on the situation or complexity, some people opt to consult a financial professional or other expert to review their asset allocation, diversification, and investment mix.


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