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The Extreme Risks of Trading Your Own Retirement Assets - October 30, 2019

Zacks Equity Research

You have a significant retirement portfolio. You're an experienced investor. You've done pretty well at picking stocks. You probably even own a few of Zacks Top Retirement stock picks like:

CVS Health (CVS), AT&T (T) and Lakeland Bancorp (LBAI).

If that sounds like you, should you actively trade your own retirement assets?

Maybe ...if you're an exceptional investor who can expertly manage risk and keep up perfectly resolute emotional control in the face of market volatility. Be that as it may, for most investors, there might be better ways to accomplish long-term retirement investing objectives.

That's because the risk - reward scenario and investing approach is completely different for long-term wealth building and active stock trading.

How Diversification Differs from Stock Picking

While stock picking can potentially generate outsized returns, its excessive concentrated risk can present huge perils for retirement investors.

A study done by Hendrik Bessembinder of equity markets over nine decades found that just 4% of the best-performing U.S.stocks generated all the market's gains. The rest were flat - the gains of the next 38% were wiped out by the bottom 58%, which lost money.

Those numbers reinforce that, even if you are an experienced and talented stock picker, your chances of success over a long period are very slim.

Is Investing Success All In Your Mind?

Investors feel they can make sensible choices, however research demonstrates that the opposite is what often happens. A DALBAR study analyzed investors from 1986 to 2015 and found that the average investor significantly underperformed compared to the S&P 500. Over 30 years, the S&P 500 produced a return of 10.35%, while the average investor return was only 3.66%.

It is interesting to note that the period covered by this study includes the 1987 crash, the 2000 bear market, and the Great Recession of 2008, as well as the bull market of the 1990s.

This study suggests that one key reason for investor underperformance is trying to time volatile markets - and that irrational behavior biases tend to compound investor mistakes.

Curiously, even experienced traders tend to underperform since they can't resist the emotional urge to make impulsive investment choices. They might be overly self-assured and miscalculate risk, get attached to a price target, or perceive a pattern that does not exist. This behavioral fallacy, over the long-term, can be disastrous with potential underperformance of a huge number of dollars disrupting your retirement.

The Key Takeaway for Retirement Investors

Your retirement portfolio ought to be dealt with a technique of performance over decades - not days, weeks or quarters. Most self-coordinated investors will in general miss the mark with regards to long-term outcomes.

Does that mean you should give up trading? Not necessarily. One solution is to take 10% of your investable assets and trade to generate alpha and seek outsized returns.

But the bulk of your wealth - those assets earmarked for retirement - should be invested using a more measured, conservative, risk management approach to generate steady, compounded returns so you can safely reach your retirement goals.

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CVS Health Corporation (CVS) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
AT&T Inc. (T) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Lakeland Bancorp, Inc. (LBAI) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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