Embracing a disciplined approach to rebalancing can lead to better long-term investment outcomes — yet some investors would rather sit in traffic than spend time rebalancing their portfolios.
A new article from Research Affiliates called “Rebalance or Rush Hour?” examines how advisors can help investors overcome a natural tendency to wait and see before repositioning their portfolios.
According to a recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Survey, 31% of investors would opt to spend an hour stuck in traffic rather than spend that time rebalancing their portfolios.
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“Why would we subject ourselves to gridlock instead of performing a simple task such as rebalancing a portfolio?” the article asks, and then tries to answer this question too.
The article guesses that for many investors rebalancing could feel worse than rush hour.
“When we’re stuck in traffic, at the very least we’re in the comfort of our cars and can find other productive ways to pass the time, such as listening to the radio, podcasts, or audiobooks,” the article states. “In contrast, rebalancing forces us to endure the discomfort of buying assets that have just inflicted pain from underperformance and of selling recent winning assets.”
The article also states that rebalancing portfolios may also induce additional pain if momentum carries prices further from fair value. And, unlike on the highway, no GPS is available to pinpoint when market cycles will end. According to the article, “fair value may take months, years, and sometimes even decades to assert itself.”
To overcome some of this hesitation with rebalancing, the article suggests keeping the destination in the forefront.
“Because rebalancing our portfolios may induce pain, and even punish us with short-term losses, it becomes even more crucial to keep the end destination — to increase the likelihood of our achieving better investment outcomes over time — forefront in our minds,” the article states.
Rebalancing allows an investor to maintain the desired risk exposure of a portfolio over its life.