Diversification, the only free lunch in investing

 

09/05/2016 

Diversification – the one free lunch in investing

Robin Powell interviews Lars Kroijer / Investment author

Hello there. It has been said that diversification is the investing equivalent of a free lunch. The evidence shows that it’s the best way to manage risk and that, over the long-term, it also leads to higher returns. The good news is that index funds and other passively managed investments have diversification built in. Here’s investment author Lars Kroijer.

I believe in index funds because you can very cheaply get exposure to a very broad array of industries, sectors, geographies and jurisdictions without really doing much yourself. It is better than buying A: individual stocks or even picking individual industries or countries.

We’re always hearing of investors who managed to buy just the right thing at the right time. But they’re actually a tiny minority. Sure, you might get lucky.. but why take the risk of being unlucky?

Take the example 20 years ago that you had invested in just one market. If you’d picked the right market that would’ve been great. If you had picked the market that was en vogue at the time namely Japan, you would’ve lost 75 or 80% of your money. If you had picked the whole world, which is what I advocate doing, you would had diversified the risk away of being unlucky and picking just one country, in this case Japan.

Of course, this is the age of globalisation. Markets in different parts of the world are more closely correlated than they were before. So, have the benefits of diversification lessened?

I’ll give the short answer and the short answer is yes. And why is that? Because companies are now more global, look at Google they operate in every country in the world im sure as does McDonalds and Phillips and all the other big companies. The short answer is the benefits of diversification is lessened. The cantor to that is though that 50 years ago, even when I was at University…not quite, in the early to mid 90’s you couldn’t actually buy it. So you could’t actually easily get exposure to most of these countries. If you say: “Let’s buy some shares in India”, well 20 years ago you couldn’t actually do it. You could by the US, some countries in Western Europe, perhaps Japan. All these other diversifying markets were simply not available to you. Now they are. Just like back then, index investments like Vanguard were just really beginning to increase in size, but even back then they only had the US markets. Now they’re global. Use those benefits you can gain from that.

That’s all for now. Thanks for watching.

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