Kerim Derhalli, the former head of global equities at Deutsche Bank, has spent more than 30 years in leadership roles with financial institutions including Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan. Now, as CEO and founder of Invstr, a financial education and investment app, he’s teaching both new and seasoned investors how to survive in this tough economy.
“The older you get, the less time you have before you need the money and the less risk you can afford to take,” says Derhalli. Here’s what he says retirement investors should know now:
1. Make sure your investments are appropriate for your age
Older people, he says, should have less volatile investments in their portfolio than younger investors, which means more high grade bonds, fewer stocks and probably no cryptocurrencies.
“As you approach retirement, focus more on capital preservation rather than capital growth,” says Derhalli. “A general rule of thumb is to subtract your age from 100 to determine the appropriate stock exposure. That would imply a 40% weight in stocks at age 60, and I would suggest an even more conservative approach with only 20% to 25% in stocks, 70% to 75% in bonds and 0% to 5% in cash,” says Derhalli.
2. Diversification is essential
Everyone should ensure their portfolio is strategically allocated to avoid major losses, and that advice remains true for retirement investors. “Use diversification to reduce risk and make fewer large bets that could go wrong,” says Derhalli.
Diversification is a way of spreading out risks so that the overall value of the portfolio fluctuates less over time. There are many elements to diversification including asset class selection like stocks, bonds, commodities and real estate; geographical exposure like domestic and international equities; sector diversification; market capitalization like buying large cap stocks, medium-sized or small cap companies; and factor or style selection, which refers to buying stocks that are more appropriate for growth, value, income and momentum. (This MarketWatch Picks guide can help you further understand diversification.)
3. If you’re taking on too much risk, make changes
Older investors should ensure they aren’t taking on too much risk. “Scale down risk in your portfolio,” he says. Risk is the amount by which your portfolio is expected to go up and down in valuation and less volatility equals less risk. Experts across the board recommend that retirement investors explore safer investments with the highest returns which are commonly high-yield savings accounts, Series-I savings bonds, short-term CDs, money market funds and more.
Think too about your asset classes like stocks, bonds, equities, commodities and investment funds. “Change asset class allocations to reduce risk. Fixed income is traditionally safer than equities and equities are less risky than cryptocurrencies,” says Derhalli.
Another thing to consider is the sectors you’re invested in. Sectors in the S&P 500, for example, include information technology, healthcare, financials, communication services, energy and more. And just like diversifying asset types, retirement investors should also strive to diversify among sectors in their portfolio. “Change sector allocations to reduce stock risk. Some sectors like financials do better when rates are rising. Utilities are less risky than tech stocks,” Derhalli says.