Everyone has a horror story about how a stock crashed and ruined their portfolio, but that is not the markets fault, it is the investors for not having a diversified portfolio. One stock should never spell disaster for anyone and while it can hurt you a little bit, it should never take you out of the game. To prevent this, make sure that you have a diversified portfolio.
Think of a diversified portfolio as a life jacket for your investment accounts. The ocean is the market and you would have to be a fool to wander into it without taking the right safety measures. Just when you think your investment portfolio is about to drown, your diversity will save it and keep you and your investments afloat.
In order to have a diversified portfolio, your money will have to be spread out over a variety of stocks that come from different investment points and different sectors of business. When one sector goes down, another sector is generally doing well. This gives the opportunity to either ride out the bad wave or pull your stocks out and move them while the other sectors recover your losses. Having the right mix of cyclical and countercyclical stocks is the best way to go about this.
Cyclical stocks will see the largest fluctuation with the market. These are companies that benefit from a rush or up time in their niche. Going back 15 years or so, the banking industry was a perfect example of this. People were buying homes and the market was going through the roof. Of course, all of that changed when people could not afford their mortgages and the cycle collapsed.
While there are some stocks that generally reflect the market as a whole, there are other cyclical stocks that go in the opposite direction of the market when it is headed down. Some industries flourish during tougher time and as you are pulling out of the downward stocks, you need to get invested in the sectors that benefit as the market and economy are rebuilding.
All the while, you need to also have a mix of countercyclical stocks in your portfolio to balance off the tough times. These are stocks that are things that people are going to use regardless of how the economy is. They may not show huge gains, but food companies, energy companies and gas companies will generally continue to show a moderate profit regardless of the economy.
Something else to consider is the volatility of the stocks that you are going to invest in. Large cap companies will require the most investment, but probably have a long history that you can research and decide if you want to invest or not. While they will show swings, they will not nearly be like the swings of small cap investments. This is where a lot of investors go to hit a home run as there are times when you can see you money grow by well over 10 times in a single trading session. However, you may also lose it as they can very easily bottom out.
Every investor that plans on staying active in the market needs to make sure that they have a diversified portfolio. This will enable you to reap the rewards during a bull market and still find opportunities during a bear market as well. When profits are rolling in, some extra risk may be warranted with some small cap stocks, but as long as you have that diversification, you should be in fine shape for your retirement years.