Instead take some time away from monitoring the news flow and focus on getting the basics of investing right. This week's Portfolio Clinic patient freely admits that he hasn't paid enough attention to the structure of his portfolio. Like many investors, he has focused on stock picking.
But the selection of companies and funds to hold in your portfolio is secondary to the way you allocate your investment between asset classes. Getting the right balance in your portfolio between assets such as UK and overseas equities, bonds, commercial property, commodities and cash will be the principal determinants of your investment results.
Most financial professionals agree that asset allocation is one of the most important decisions that investors make. There is no simple asset allocation formula that will be right for everyone so you first need to think about your risk profile - are you cautious or high risk? You also need to think about your goals for the portfolio and what type of investor you are - income, balanced or growth. To help you get started, there are plenty of online models that investors can access for free.
The models that we mention often in the Portfolio Clinic and that investment trust columnist John Baron uses as benchmarks for his portfolios are the five FTSE WMA Private Investor Indices. These provide investors with objective measures of performance against which to measure their investment portfolios in the long term. The indices aim to track allocation over time and provide valuable insight over an extended period, rather than reacting to short term trends.
The models are put together by a committee of 15 Wealth Management Association member firms - mostly wealth managers and stockbrokers - who offer a range of services from execution only through to full discretionary management of a portfolio.
So if you follow the portfolios, then you are tapping into a lot of professional expertise for free. An afternoon or evening focusing on these will help soothe your investment worries about today's developments in Europe.
If you already follow these indices then make sure that you keep up to date with any quarterly changes. This month the WMA has announced that the Balanced portfolio will cut UK Equity exposure from 37.5 per cent to 35.0 per cent. This will run alongside an increase in Alternatives from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent of the portfolio.
If, like our Portfolio Clinic patient this week you have a lot of duplication in your UK equity portfolio, it could be time to look at cutting back on this. Plus to up your exposure to Alternatives you might consider adding some exposure to hedge funds via investment trusts that specialise in this sector.
A good way to get this exposure is via BH Macro Investment Trust (BHMG), a member of the IC's Top 100 Funds. The trust is currently trading at a 5 per cent discount to its underlying net asset value, compared with its 12-month average discount of 4.59 per cent.
This trust makes very different returns to equities by investing all of its assets into the Brevan Howard Master Fund, one of the largest hedge funds globally. This hedge fund aims to generate consistent long-term appreciation through active leveraged trading and investment on a global basis.
The WMA Balanced portfolio change will be implemented as of 3 August 2015. There will be no changes to the other four portfolios.
I also like the nine asset allocation models provided by Tilney Bestinvest on its website:
These models cater for all types of investors under headings from defensive and cautious income to aggressive and maximum growth. Importantly, they also tell you how volatile the portfolios could be and provide an estimated range for annual returns.
WMA Private Investor Balanced Index
|Asset||Balanced index June 2015 %||New balanced index from August 2015 2015%||Underlying asset index|
|UK Equities||37.5||35||FTSE All-Share Index|
|International Equities||30||30||FTSE All World Ex-UK Index (sterling)|
|Bonds||17.5||17.5||FTSE Gilts All Stocks Index|
|Cash||5||5||7-Day LIBOR -1%|
|Commercial Property||5||5||FTSE All UK Property Index|
|Hedge Funds/Alternatives||5||7.5||FTSE/WMA Hedge (Investment trust) index|