You have a significant retirement portfolio. You're an experienced investor. You've done pretty well at picking stocks. You probably even own a few of Zacks Top Retirement stock picks like:
Southwest Gas (SWX), AT&T (T) and CNB Financial (CCNE).
If this sounds like you, then here's a question: With your background and skills, should you manage your own retirement investments?
It could be a good idea - that is, if you are one of the very few investors who understands your own risk tolerance and can keep your emotions in check during chaotic market swings. However, if you're like the rest of us, there are likely more prudent ways to reach your retirement investing goals.
Active stock trading requires an altogether different investing philosophy and risk - reward understanding than building wealth for retirement.
Diversification vs. Stock Picking
Picking individual stocks has the potential for huge returns - but also carries a lot of risk, which is particularly hazardous when investing for retirement.
A study done by Hendrik Bessembinder of equity markets over nine decades found that just 4% of the best-performing U.S.stocks generated all the market's gains. The rest were flat - the gains of the next 38% were wiped out by the bottom 58%, which lost money.
For even the most expert stock pickers, the chances for long-term achievement are thin.
Is it Possible to Invest "Rationally"?
Investors feel they can make sensible choices, however research demonstrates that the opposite is what often happens. A DALBAR study analyzed investors from 1986 to 2015 and found that the average investor significantly underperformed compared to the S&P 500. Over 30 years, the S&P 500 produced a return of 10.35%, while the average investor return was only 3.66%.
Importantly, this period included the 1987 crash and big bear markets in 2000 and 2008, but also the bull market of the 1990s.
This study suggests that one key reason for investor underperformance is trying to time volatile markets - and that irrational behavior biases tend to compound investor mistakes.
Curiously, even experienced traders tend to underperform since they can't resist the emotional urge to make impulsive investment choices. They might be overly self-assured and miscalculate risk, get attached to a price target, or perceive a pattern that does not exist. This behavioral fallacy, over the long-term, can be disastrous with potential underperformance of a huge number of dollars disrupting your retirement.
What It All Means for Retirement Investors
Your retirement portfolio should be managed with a strategy of performance over decades - not days, weeks or quarters. Most self-directed investors tend to fall short when it comes to long-term results.
Does that mean you should quit trading? Not really. One plan is to take 10% of your investable resources and trade to create alpha and look for 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.
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Southwest Gas Corporation (SWX) : Free Stock Analysis Report
AT&T Inc. (T) : Free Stock Analysis Report
CNB Financial Corporation (CCNE) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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