Knowledge hub

Diversification is the only free lunch in investing

Back to insights

By startdig Markets and Investments

The good news is that index funds and other passively managed investments have diversification built in.

Smart investors believe in index funds because you can very cheaply get exposure to a very broad array of industry sectors, geographies and jurisdictions without really doing much yourself.

This method is better than buying individual stocks or even picking individual industries or countries.

We always hear about investors who bought just the right thing at the right time but they’re in a tiny minority.

You may get lucky but why take the risk of being unlucky?

Take the example 20 years ago, if you had picked the market that was in vogue at the time, namely Japan, you would have lost 75 or 80 percent of your money.

If you had picked the whole world which is what I advocate doing, you would have diversified the risk away of being unlucky in picking just one country, in this case Japan.

This is the age of globalisation markets. Different parts of the world are more closely correlated than they were before.

So have the benefits of diversification lessened?

The short answer is yes because companies are now more global.

Take, Google. They operate in every country in the world, as do McDonald’s and Phillips and all the other big companies.

20 years ago, you couldn’t do this. You could buy in the US, some countries in Western Europe, perhaps Japan.

All these other diversifying markets were simply not available to you. Now they are.

Just like back then, index investments like Vanguard were just really beginning to increase in size but even back then they only had the US markets.

Now they’re global.

Make those the benefits you can gain from.

The information provided on this site is of a general nature only and may not be relevant to your particular circumstances. The circumstances of each investor are different and you should seek advice from a financial planner who can consider if these strategies and products are right for you.

Ideas & insights

Knowledge Hub

Bonus | Steven Boyce on what makes a successful business owner

podcast

Kathryn Creasy wins Financial Planner of the Year in Women in Wealth Awards

Capital Partners News • Article

The influence of reality TV stars on financial decisions

Wealth Planning • Article