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The Extreme Risks of Trading Your Own Retirement Assets - November 01, 2019

Zacks Equity Research

Maybe you're a seasoned investor and have a good track record with stock-picking. And you may have a robust retirement portfolio - perhaps including some Zacks Top Retirement stock selections such as:

Lockheed Martin (LMT), Preferred Apartment Communities (APTS) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO).

If that sounds like you, should you actively trade your own retirement assets?

Maybe ...if you're an exceptional investor who can expertly manage risk and keep up perfectly resolute emotional control in the face of market volatility. Be that as it may, for most investors, there might be better ways to accomplish long-term retirement investing objectives.

That's because the risk - reward scenario and investing approach is completely different for long-term wealth building and active stock trading.

Managing Retirement Investments: Stock Picking vs. Diversification

While stock picking can potentially result in outsized returns, its outsized concentrated risk can pose significant hazards for retirement investors.

A study done by Hendrik Bessembinder of equity markets spanning nine decades revealed that only 4% of the best-performing U.S.stocks produced all the market's increases. The rest were flat - the gains of the following 38% were offset by the losses of the bottom 58%.

For even the most talented stock pickers, the odds for long-term success are slim.

Is it Possible to Invest "Rationally"?

Most people think they can make rational investment decisions, but research indicates the opposite is often true. Investors followed in a DALBAR study performed significantly worse than the S&P 500: For the 30 years between 1986 to 2015, the average investor earned just 3.66%, whereas the S&P 500 produced a 10.35% return.

Importantly, this period included the 1987 crash and big bear markets in 2000 and 2008, but also the bull market of the 1990s.

An important takeaway of this study is that investors seem to underperform because they try to time volatile markets ...and irrational, emotional responses tend to these investing mistakes.

Interestingly, even savvy traders tend to underperform because they can't help but allow emotions to drive investment decisions. They may be overconfident and misjudge risk, latch onto a price target, or perceive a pattern that isn't there. This "behavior gap", over the long-term, can be catastrophic with potential underperformance of hundreds of thousands of dollars sabotaging your retirement.

The Bottom Line for Retirement Investors

Your retirement portfolio ought to be dealt with a technique of performance over decades - not days, weeks or quarters. Most self-coordinated investors will in general miss the mark with regards to long-term outcomes.

We're not saying you should not trade at all - far from it. If you enjoy trading, perhaps you should put 10% of your investable assets to work in short-term investments to seek alpha and outsized returns.

But the bulk of your wealth - those assets earmarked for retirement - should be invested using a more measured, conservative, risk management approach to generate steady, compounded returns so you can safely reach your retirement goals.

Did you know that one in six people retire a multi-millionaire?

Read our just-released report: 7 Things You Can Do Now to Retire a Multi-Millionaire.

Click here for a free report>> Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT) : Free Stock Analysis Report American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO) : Free Stock Analysis Report Preferred Apartment Communities, Inc. (APTS) : Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research