For investors only. . . and for speculators who need to invest their winnings.
Lesson One: Asset Allocation is an Investment Planning Tool, not an Investment Strategy. . . few investment professionals understand the distinction, because most think that Investment Planning and Financial Planning are the same thing. Financial Planning is a broader concept, and one that involves such non-investment considerations as Wills and Estates, Insurance, Budgeting, Trusts, etc. Investment Planning takes place within the Trusts, Endowments, IRAs, and other Brokerage Accounts that come into existence as a result of, or without, Financial Planning.
Lesson Two: Asset Allocation is a planning tool that allows the Investment Manager (you, if you have not hired one) to structure the investment portfolio in a manner most likely to accomplish the goals of each specific investment portfolio AND of the investment program as a whole. Asset Allocation is the process of planning how an investment portfolio is to be divided between the two basic classes (and only these two classes) of investment securities: Equities and Fixed Income. Security sub-classes have little relevance.
Lesson Three: Equities are the riskier of the two classes of securities, but not because of the price fluctuations that are their basic character trait. They are riskier because they represent ownership in a business enterprise that could fail. The risk of capital loss can be moderated or minimized in the security selection process and with a management control activity called diversification. The primary purpose for buying Equities is to sell them for capital gains, not to save them as trophies to brag about in chat rooms. They are less risky than other, non-fixed income endeavors.
Fixed income securities are less risky because they represent debt of the issuing entity, and owners have a claim on the assets of the issuer that is superior to that of Equity holders and their salivating class action attorneys. With proper selection criteria and diversification, the risk of capital loss is negligible and price fluctuations can be ignored except for the trading opportunities that they provide. The primary purpose of these securities is income generation, either for current consumption or for use later in life. Capital gains here should be taken…and bragged about in chat rooms!
Lesson Four: An Asset Allocation Formula is a long-range, semi-permanent, planning decision that has absolutely nothing to do with market timing or hedging of any kind. It is designed to produce the combination of Capital Growth and Income that will achieve the long-range personal (pay those bills) goals of the individual. Thus, it must not be tinkered with because of expectations about anything, or rebalanced arbitrarily because of natural changes in the market values of one asset class or the other. Thus, an asset allocation fund is an oxymoron.
Lesson Five: Asset Allocation is the only proven cure for inflation. If properly managed using “The Working Capital Model”, it will almost certainly increase the level of portfolio income by more than the rate of inflation, which is a measure of the purchasing power of your dollars, not the dollar value of your purchased securities. Six figure portfolios allocated 100% to Equities are not nearly as inflation proof as those that are more balanced… see Lesson Six.
Lesson Six: In addition to the potential of failing to keep up with inflation using an Equity Only asset allocation, regardless of your age, greed management becomes much more of a problem. In a rising market, evidenced by more profit taking opportunities than lower priced bargains, investors tend to take positions in lower quality issues, current story stocks, newer issues, etc… just to be in there. A 30% or so Fixed Income allocation can be a major focus factor. How’s that for throwing cold water on an ancient Wall Street maxim.
Lesson Seven: These are just some of the lessons to be learned about asset allocation.
Author of: “The Brainwashing of the American Investor: The Book that Wall Street Does Not Want YOU to Read" and “A Millionaire's Secret Investment Strategy