The importance of rebalancing

Investing is more than choosing different assets. It also involves managing your portfolio on an ongoing basis to achieve personal goals.

Your starting point

In the initial stages of constructing a portfolio of diverse investments, it is likely you will have made a deliberate decision about how much money to hold in different asset classes.

For example*, you may decide you want to hold:

Asset classHolding %
Fixed interest15
Property securities20
Australian shares35
International shares20

The way your portfolio is spread across different assets is known as your “asset allocation”. Over time, movements in investment markets can mean your asset allocation changes, perhaps significantly, even though you haven’t actively changed the weightings yourself. 

For example*, if share markets streak ahead, the relative value of your shareholdings may increase quicker than the rest of your investments so over time the value of your portfolio could look more like this:

Asset class% (start)% (later)
Fixed interest1510
Property securities2015
Australian shares3545
International shares2025

* This example has been provided for illustrative purposes only.

It may seem that the increase in shares as a proportion of your portfolio is a good thing. However as shares are a higher risk asset, this also means that the overall risk level of your portfolio may have increased beyond a level you are comfortable with. Unless you are happy to take on more risk, it may make sense to rebalance.

Rebalancing your portfolio

The process of rebalancing typically involves bringing a portfolio that has changed in value back to the initial asset weightings you had in place at the start. This can be done by selling some investments and purchasing more of those underrepresented investments. 

Yes, the process of rebalancing means you may incur capital gains tax on any profits made on sale of some investments. But if you don’t rebalance, you may find yourself overexposed to a market fall in one particular asset class.

It is worth reviewing your portfolio on a regular basis to see if rebalancing is necessary.

Professional support with rebalancing 

If the idea of reviewing your portfolio and taking active steps to rebalance the weightings on a regular basis sounds like hard work, one option is to use a managed investment where the asset allocations are set and a professional investment manager does all the rebalancing on your behalf.

Alternatively, if you don’t have the time or confidence to do this yourself, this is an area where a financial adviser can help.

Next: Gear­ing

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