The goal of investing is to make money so you can achieve your financial goals. Many investors ask where to invest money that they have ready to deploy, but the right answer for you depends on your own particular needs and preferences. With that in mind, below you'll find several strategies designed to appeal to certain types of investors, including looking for the best sectors for high growth, the best values in the market, the best income available from stocks, and an all-purpose strategy that includes stocks that do it all. Find the one that best fits your investing plan, and you'll go a long way toward becoming a more successful investor.
1. Growth investors like high-flying sectors
Many growth investors look to identify the best-performing sector of the market. By jumping into areas of the market that are already popular, growth investors hope to tap into long-term trends that still have a long way to run.
During the first half of 2017, the sectors that had the best performance were technology and healthcare. Tech stocks have climbed dramatically because of new initiatives that are driving interest in the sector, ranging from cloud computing and data analytics to artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Healthcare has done well in areas such as innovative medical devices and biotechnology, where success stories can create riches seemingly overnight. There's always risk involved in stocks like these, because the companies that do the best during good times often fall the furthest when the going gets rough. Nevertheless, growth investors who are comfortable with those risks can gravitate toward tech and healthcare to seek further gains down the road.
2. Value investors like beaten-down sectors
At the other end of the spectrum, value investors tend to look for bargain stocks that have been unfairly beaten down. The simplest way to find those stocks is to look in sectors that have had the worst performance and then ask whether the declines in those stocks are actually justified.
For 2017, the sector that has performed by far the worst is energy. Losses have resulted from weakness in crude oil prices, which resumed a downturn after rebounding somewhat in 2016. The problem with buying energy stocks near cyclical bottoms is that you can never be 100% sure that the oil market won't perform even worse in the near future, turning what seem to be smart value stock investments into value traps. However, if you are careful to identify strong energy stocks that can weather extended downturns, then the eventual uptick could be quite lucrative for your portfolio.
3. Dividend investors like getting paid while they wait
Income investors value the cash they receive from the stocks they hold. Dividend investing has been popular in recent years, as investors look for the greater stability that most dividend-paying stocks offer compared to the market at large. In addition, many of the best dividend stocks have characteristics that make them less volatile than the overall stock market, thereby helping to reduce overall risk as well.
Some income investors simply pick whichever stock they find that has the best available current dividend yield, but that can bring unexpected risks if there's an underlying reason why a share price is so low compared to the company's dividend payout. A more prudent strategy can be to choose stocks that have a long history of boosting their dividends over time. Even if their yields aren't as high, these dividend growers can offer a better risk-reward ratio and also provide for rising levels of income over the long run.
4. A catch-all strategy any investor can follow
If you don't find yourself particularly drawn to any of these three strategies, you shouldn't use it as an excuse not to invest at all. Instead, consider a more basic approach that includes stocks of all kinds. Exchange-traded funds track various market benchmarks, ranging from all-inclusive ETFs that essentially buy the entire stock market to more tailored selections that focus in on particular types of stocks. An all-market portfolio can give you exposure to stock returns without any hassle, and low-cost ETF choices are available that make investing cheap and easy.
Where to invest your money can be a hard decision, but don't let it stop you from moving forward. By making a strong choice that's consistent with your wishes and needs, you can feel confident about your prospects for gains over the long haul.