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Structuring your investment portfolio for a market dip

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It’s normal for share markets to go up and down, but it can still be nerve-wracking to see your investment portfolio take a dip—especially if it’s your first time experiencing one!

Twelve different old leather suitcases are all crammed in together taking up the whole photo—trying to fit them all in in as little space as possible.

It’s impossible to say exactly when a share market dip will happen, and how far the dip will go—so it’s helpful to be prepared, and consider how your portfolio might be structured to weather a market dip.

The big message: stay diversified! 

Diversification is about spreading your money across lots of different investments, so that you take less of a hit if one of your investments loses value. This can look like diversifying across different geographies, sectors, and kinds of investments (or asset classes). 

Even in a market-wide dip, some investments may be hit harder than others. Having a diversified portfolio can help to even out the impact of a market dip across your portfolio.

It’s also worth thinking about how your money is diversified outside of your investment portfolio. For example, do you have an emergency fund? If something unexpected happens and you have a few months of living expenses saved up in a bank account, you’ll have more of a financial cushion to fall back on, and may be less likely to be forced to sell your investments earlier than you might want to.

Growth and value stocks

Growth stocks are shares in companies with sales and earnings expected to grow at a faster rate than the market average. They’re often more volatile, and less likely to pay dividends because they prefer to reinvest their profits back into future growth. As a general rule of thumb, growth stocks tend to perform better in rising share markets, and worse during market dips.

Value stocks are companies considered to be undervalued based on their share price, relative to metrics like earnings and revenue. They tend to be more mature businesses that experience less volatility and are more likely to pay dividends. Value stocks tend to perform better in market dips, and worse in rising share markets. 

How is your portfolio diversified across growth and value stocks? And what does this mean for your portfolio if the market takes a dip? As always, you don’t need to invest with an ‘all or nothing’ approach. Doing due diligence and making sure your portfolio is diversified are some of the ways to keep your investment risks in check.

What about defensive stocks?

Defensive stocks are companies that are well-established, tend to have strong cash flows, and pay regular dividends—regardless of the state of the overall share market. Think utilities, big household consumer brands, and banks.

The advantage of these companies in a market dip is that they’re generally more stable—they don’t tend to drop as much as the overall market, and often continue paying dividends. And if they’re older, established companies, they may have weathered their share of market dips—which might make them better prepared to weather this one. 

One downside is that these shares tend to underperform relative to the market when things start going upwards. It’s also worth remembering that even well-established companies can do poorly, or even go under. Just because defensive stocks usually weather downturns, doesn’t mean they always will. This is why diversification is so important.

Think before you sell

This is true at all times, but might be more acute during a market dip. Sometimes, companies start to fall in value with no real hope of turning around. This could be because of factors such as poor management decisions, changes in underlying demand, or structural changes to the economy.

If this happens, you might consider selling low-performing investments and reinvesting in others with better prospects. Although these losses can hurt, you may sometimes be better off taking small losses early, rather than waiting to see if they’ll turn around. On the flip side, if you sell your investment and it turns around, you may have to pay a premium to buy back in—or just accept that you made a mistake and move on. 

The key thing to remember is that investing isn’t “set and forget.” You need to keep an eye on your investments, and review your portfolio regularly

Wrapping up

We can’t know for sure when the next market dip will come, or how long it will last. So it’s useful to think about how well prepared and diversified your portfolio and overall finances are for a dip. That way, you have the foundations in place for when one inevitably comes around. 

Ok, now for the legal bit

Investing involves risk. You aren’t guaranteed to make money, and you might lose the money you start with. We don’t provide personalised advice or recommendations. Any information we provide is general only and current at the time written. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice when considering whether an investment is appropriate for your objectives, financial situation or needs.

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