The best investment strategy for 2012 and beyond will differ from the popular investment strategy offered by most investment advisers and financial planners today. The investment landscape has changed. Here’s a strategy for making the best of it.
Up until recent times you could stay out of serious trouble by simply allocating about half of your investment assets to stocks and the other half to bonds. That’s the traditional investment strategy often recommended for average investors, and most people deal with it by putting their money in stock funds and bond funds. Stock funds are the growth half of the equation and the risky part of the strategy. Bond funds are considered the relatively safe investment designed to pay higher interest income. Over the years losses in one fund type were usually offset by good returns in the other.
Welcome to the year 2012, where bonds and bond funds will likely not be such a safe investment. Stock funds are never safe and 2012 will be no exception to the rule. Asset allocation will be only half of the story going forward. Selecting the right funds within each category will be the other key to success. Let’s look at your best investment strategy in both fund categories, and the reason why certain funds will be your best choices.
Two things stand out about the so-called recovery the USA has supposedly experienced over the past few years. First, the economy did not recover as it has in the past after a recession – 9% of the working force is out of work. This makes for a weak economy and puts pressure on the stock market and stock funds. That’s why you’ll need to be careful about which stock funds you include in your investment portfolio.
Second, interest rates have been driven down to historically low levels to stimulate the economy in general and the pathetic housing market. Even with a 4% mortgage rate average folks can not qualify for a mortgage or afford to buy a house. Today’s ridiculously low interest rates mean savers can not earn a respectable interest income in truly safe investments. It also means that bond funds could be a trap in 2012 for people who don’t really understand bonds and bond funds. Let’s look at the best bond fund strategy first.
Even the best bond funds of the past few years could be big losers in 2012… if they hold long term bonds in their investment portfolios. When interest rates turn around and go back up the bonds they hold will lose significant value because new bonds will become available that pay more attractive (higher) interest income. Your best investment strategy for bond funds is to own funds that hold corporate bonds that mature in about 5 years to 7 years. CORPORATE BOND FUNDS pay more interest income than similar funds that invest primarily in government bonds. Funds that hold bonds maturing in 5 to 7 years (intermediate term bond funds) will be much less affected by rising interest rates than long term funds holding bonds that mature in 20 years or more. That’s a fact, and that’s how bonds work.
Your best investment strategy for stock funds will be to go with GROWTH AND INCOME funds that invest in high quality companies with a history of paying 2% or more per year in dividend income. If the stock market gets truly ugly in 2012 and beyond these funds will be your best bet to sidestep huge losses. In a bad stock market funds that pay little or nothing in dividends are usually the big losers.
Sometimes it pays to be aggressive and take on more risk. The year 2012 looks like a time to get more conservative and live to be a risk taker another day. Most investors need to hold stock funds and bond funds as well as truly safe investments like bank CDs. Your best investment strategy for 2012: allocate your investment assets with 40% going to INTERMEDIATE TERM CORPORATE BOND FUNDS and the same going to high quality GROWTH AND INCOME STOCK FUNDS paying 2% or more in dividend income. The other 20% of your investment portfolio goes to safe investments like bank CDs.