Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Broken Investment Strategy? Here's How to Fix It

Don't let it get away!

Keep track of the stocks that matter to you.

Help yourself with the Fool's FREE and easy new watchlist service today.

If you want to reach your financial goals, you need an investment strategy you can rely on to get you through tough times while making the most of the long-term growth opportunities in the financial markets. Too often, though, people get stuck with an investment strategy that doesn't work the way they want it to, yet they don't know what to do to fix it.

Fortunately, addressing problems with the strategies you use to select stocks, bonds, and other investments doesn't have to be complicated. Here are a few ideas on what to do if you face some common problems with your investing.

Problem 1: Your returns are falling short of the market.
One of the most common complaints comes from investors who find that their portfolio returns don't match up to the overall market. There's nothing more frustrating than seeing stock markets rise to record highs day in and day out, only to see your own investments lag behind.

There are two ways you can address this issue. One is simply to recognize that with many investments, expecting perfect correlation with market returns is unreasonable. For instance, many niche investment products deal with completely different markets than those that the most popular benchmarks track, and so the entire reason for choosing those products is to avoid perfectly matching the broader market.

But if you want to match the market, tailor your investment strategy to use market-tracking ETFs. For instance, the SPDR Dow Jones Industrials ETF (NYSEMKT: DIA  ) , colloquially known as the Diamonds, tracks the popular Dow average. The popular Spiders, officially called the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEMKT: SPY  ) , moves nearly in lockstep with the S&P 500. You won't get exactly the performance of the indexes, as ETFs have fees involved that will detract somewhat from total returns. But with ETF fees being relatively low, the amount you lose to those costs is much less than you'd pay with an actively managed mutual fund.

Problem 2: Your portfolio seems too risky.
After a pullback like we've seen over the past couple of days, it's common to discover that your portfolio seems to have more risk than you thought. While making a knee-jerk emotional response to steep losses is never a good idea, sometimes the only way to get a true read on the risk level in your investment strategy is to go through an actual correction.

Often, all it takes to get your risk level back to where it belongs is to rebalance your portfolio. With huge gains in stocks in recent years, many investors have seen the percentage of stock investments in their overall portfolio rise dramatically. Bringing your stock allocation down to more appropriate levels will reduce risk, with the caveat that the usually more sedate bond market has actually exhibited greater risk lately.

Problem 3: You've got too many stocks.
When you run into a promising stock, there's a great temptation simply to buy it. But as a result, many investors end up owning dozens of stocks added on impulse buys but never critically assessed to see if they deserve to remain in their portfolio. That can make it impossible to track what's happening with every company.

One solution is to pick your best one or two ideas in each industry. As an example, if you think that natural gas is poised to keep rebounding, then low-cost producer Ultra Petroleum (NASDAQOTH: UPLMQ  ) is arguably the most likely to produce the greatest profits from the space. Similarly, with gold-mining stocks, Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY  ) emerges with the most attractive combination of low costs, growth potential, and balance-sheet strength.

On the other hand, if you truly can't figure out which company in a given industry is most likely to succeed, then sector-specific ETFs are very useful in giving you broader exposure without unduly cluttering up your portfolio. Again using natural gas as an example, United States Natural Gas (NYSEMKT: UNG  ) focuses on prices of nat-gas futures rather than concentrating on any one producer, and with the nat-gas futures markets exhibiting minimal amounts of contango currently, the ETF isn't subject to the same downward pressure that has plagued its longer-term results over the years.

You can fix it!
Having a broken investment strategy is no fun for anyone. But if you keep these simple fixes in mind, you should be able to make your investing experience a lot more rewarding, both financially and in providing peace of mind.

To learn more about a few ETFs that have great promise for delivering profits to shareholders, check out The Motley Fool's special free report "3 ETFs Set to Soar." Just click here to access it now.

Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 21, 2013, at 10:00 PM, Velek wrote:

    As this site repeats often, it's hard to beat the S&P 500. I think many people would be best served by buying SPY and living their lives.

Add your comment.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2502463, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/22/2016 7:38:51 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 22 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,145.71 -16.64 -0.09%
S&P 500 2,141.16 -0.18 -0.01%
NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/21/2016 4:03 PM
AUY $3.82 Down -0.07 -1.80%
Yamana Gold CAPS Rating: ***
DIA $181.22 Down -0.14 -0.08%
SPDR Dow Jones Ind… CAPS Rating: **
SPY $213.98 Up +0.10 +0.05%
S and P Depository… CAPS Rating: No stars
UNG $8.99 Down -0.23 -2.49%
United States Natu… CAPS Rating: **
UPLMQ $6.94 Up +0.29 +4.29%
Ultra Petroleum CAPS Rating: **