1. Risk and Diversification: Introduction
  2. Risk and Diversification: What Is Risk?
  3. Risk and Diversification: Different Types of Risk
  4. Risk and Diversification: The Risk-Reward Tradeoff
  5. Risk and Diversification: Diversifying Your Portfolio
  6. Risk and Diversification: Conclusion

The most basic – and effective – strategy for minimizing risk is diversification. A well-diversified portfolio consists of different types of securities from diverse industries, with varying degrees of risk. While most investment professionals agree that diversification can’t guarantee against a loss, it is the most important component to helping you reach your long-range financial goals, while minimizing your risk. (For more, see: 5 Tips for Diversifying Your Portfolio.)

Am I sufficiently diversified?

There are several ways to ensure you are adequately diversified, including: 

  1. Spread your portfolio among many different investment vehicles – including cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and other funds. Look for assets whose returns haven’t historically moved in the same direction and to the same degree. That way, if part of your portfolio is declining, the rest may still be growing. (See also: Bond Basics.)
  2. Stay diversified within each type of investment. Include securities that vary by sector, industry, region and market capitalization. It’s also a good idea to mix styles too, such as growth, income and value. The same goes for bonds: consider varying maturities, credit qualities and durations.
  3. Include securities that vary in risk. You're not restricted to picking only blue-chip stocks. In fact, the opposite is true. Picking different investments with different rates of return will ensure that large gains offset losses in other areas.

Keep in mind that portfolio diversification is not a one-time task. Plan on performing regular “check-ups” or rebalancing to make sure your portfolio has a risk level that’s consistent with your financial strategy and goals. In many cases, for example, investors will taper off riskier investments and stack up on “safe” investments after they retire. (For related reading, see: The Importance of Diversification.)

Risk and Diversification: Conclusion
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