Do you know what you own

Do you know what you own

Anyone can look at their quarterly statements and see what they have in their portfolio, right? But, do you really know what you own? Granted, you can easily see the ticker symbols for your mutual funds, but you might be surprised to know how much drift there is in any mutual fund in the United States. 

It’s always good to sit down with your clients and review their portfolio’s asset allocation – many advisors use tools such as Morningtar, Albridge or other data aggregators. Before your client meeting, however, it’s important to review the style drift and correlation of the selected mutual funds. Style drift happens when fund managers tend to chase returns and look to different asset classes to gain extra return. Before you know it, the large cap equity fund becomes a small cap emerging growth fund. 

It’s the advisor’s responsibility to make sure the fund managers continue to meet the requirements of the allocation strategy by maintaining their expected asset class. 

A recent article from Financial Planning (subscription required) highlighted the increased correlation in returns between several bond funds and the S&P 500. Due to the continued low-interest-rate environment, many bond funds perform similar to equities. The idea of an asset allocation strategy is to have uncorrelated assets in the portfolio to balance and reduce volatility. While those bond funds may have maintained the integrity of their portfolio design at one time, the current economic environment makes it necessary to revisit their viability into today’s portfolios.  

When you dig deep in your clients’ portfolios, you’re promoting trust and deeper relationships. Take the extra time to review all aspects of the portfolio, including risks and potential solutions to reduce risks. Many of us may not see the risks of our current allocation strategy until it’s too late. Take the extra step to look at vehicles that remain uncorrelated to portfolios.

The Bottom Line: The current economic environment has changed the way traditional investment vehicles perform. Take time to re-evaluate the products used for a client’s asset allocation strategy and reduce volatility due to highly correlated investments.