Michele Clark
Clark Hourly Financial Planning - Chesterfield, MO Advisor
1415 Elbridge Payne Road, Suite 255
Chesterfield, MO 63017 USA
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Asset Allocation: Rebalancing a Portfolio in an Appreciated Market

February 22nd, 2017

You probably already know you need to monitor your investment portfolio and update it periodically. Even if you’ve chosen an asset allocation, market forces may quickly begin to tweak it.

For example, if stock prices go up, you may eventually find yourself with a greater percentage of stocks in your portfolio than you want, and therefore a more aggressive portfolio than you originally intended. If the market corrects, your portfolio will go down more than you originally felt comfortable with, because you had more in stock than you originally intended, due to stock market appreciation.

Do you have a strategy for dealing with those changes? You’ll probably want to take a look at your individual investments, but you’ll also want to think about your asset allocation.

How rebalancing works

To bring your asset allocation back to the original percentages you set for each type of investment, you’ll need to do something that may feel counterintuitive: sell some of what’s working well and use that money to buy investments in other areas that now represent less of your portfolio.

Typically, you’d buy enough to bring your percentages back into alignment. This keeps what’s called a “constant weighting” of the relative types of investments.

Let’s look at a hypothetical illustration. If stocks have risen, a portfolio that originally included only 60% in stocks might now have 70% in equities. Rebalancing would involve selling some of the stock and using the proceeds to buy enough of other asset classes to bring the percentage of stock in the portfolio back to 60%. This example doesn’t represent actual returns; it merely demonstrates how rebalancing works. Maintaining those relative percentages not only reminds you to take profits when a given asset class is doing well, but it also keeps your portfolio in line with your original risk tolerance.

Methods for Rebalancing your Portfolio

Knowing that the market can be volatile and that rebalancing is a disciplined process that helps offset the risk of volatility, how do you know when to rebalance your portfolio? There are a couple of methods for rebalancing.

Target Bands

One common rule of thumb is to rebalance your portfolio whenever one type of investment gets more than a certain percentage out of line, say, 5 to 10%. This type of monitoring typically requires sophisticated software and an alert system to send you an automated alert whenever your portfolio is outside of acceptable balance range.

Otherwise it would be a daily manual exercise of updating the value of each investment and the relative value of the asset classes of the overall portfolio. This is a daily disciplined practice that most investors would not maintain on a sustained basis over years, which would be required.  When we work with clients on an investment management basis, we use Target Bands as our method of rebalancing. We can do this because we have daily access to their account information and the software to monitor the accounts versus our target allocation.

Annual Rebalancing

You could also set a regular date for rebalancing. To stick to this strategy, you’ll need to be comfortable with the fact that investing is cyclical and all investments generally go up and down in value from time to time. When we work with clients on an hourly basis, we encourage them to come back to us on an annual basis for portfolio rebalancing. Because we do not have access to their accounts, we rely on investment statements that they provide us. In this situation, this is a good way to rebalance the portfolio back to the target allocation. The concern comes when too much time elapses between rebalancing periods and due to market fluctuation the portfolio can become an allocation that is not in line with their risk tolerance.

Our example has been about an appreciated stock market, because that is the market that we are experiencing. However, in a depressed market you would also want to rebalance. If stock prices go down, you might worry that you won’t be able to reach your financial goals because you no longer have the stocks needed to hedge against inflation, so you would want to rebalance back to your original asset allocation model. The same is true for bonds and other investments.

Balance the costs against the benefits of rebalancing

Don’t forget that too-frequent rebalancing can have adverse tax consequences for taxable accounts. Since you’ll be paying capital gains taxes if you sell a stock that has appreciated, you’ll want to check on whether you’ve held it for at least one year. If not, you may want to consider whether the benefits of selling immediately will outweigh the higher tax rate you’ll pay on short-term gains. This doesn’t affect accounts such as 401(k)s or IRAs, of course.

In taxable accounts, you can avoid or minimize taxes in another way. Instead of selling your portfolio winners, simply invest additional money in the asset classes that are underweighted in your portfolio. Doing so can return your portfolio to its original mix.

Sometimes rebalancing can be done in the tax deferred or tax free accounts, which will minimize the changes that need to be made in the taxable accounts, to minimize tax consequences.

You’ll also want to think about transaction costs; make sure any changes are cost-effective.

Also, look out for the impact that a sale in the taxable accounts can have in other areas of your financial plan. If your income goes up will it impact your FAFSA/college financial aid, Medicare means testing, Social Security benefit be taxed at a higher rate, put you in a higher income tax rate, etc.

No matter what your strategy, work with your financial professional to keep your portfolio on track.

Portions of this blog post are from an article prepared by Broadridge Investor Communications Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017  But, I just had to add my own two cents!

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Garrett Planning Network Retreat 2016

August 8th, 2016

I was recently out of the St. Louis area for a bit while I attended The Garrett Planning Network 16th Annual Retreat which was held in Denver, Colorado. I am a member of the Garrett Planning Network which is an international  group of financial planners that offer planning and investment advice on an hourly basis.  Each member owns their own firm. I have written about the Garrett Planning Network before.  This was the eighth year I have gone.

I attended the conference and earned continuing education credits by going to various educational programs, which I need so that I can keep my designations and licenses such as:

  • CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
  • NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor
  • CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠

During the four day conference I attended various educational programs such as:

  • Behavioral Finance: Psychology and Economics in Investing
  • Reverse Mortgages in Retirement Income Planning
  • Planning Costs Related to Caregiving
  • Fiduciary Best Practices for Registered Investment Advisor Owners
  • And others

Noted author William Bernstein, a bit of a rock star in our industry, gave one of the Keynote addresses titled “What the Liberal Arts Have to Teach Us about Finance.”  He talked about the difficulty of forecasting, and characteristics of good forecasters.  He discussed economic history; not the usual economic history going back to the market crash of the 20s, or even the tulip bulb bubble.  But economic history going back to biblical times and what conclusions can be drawn from such “longitudinal studies.”

Allan Roth, another well known author and fellow financial advisor delivered the Keynote address “Behavioral Finance: Psychology and Economics in Investing”, wonderfully telling it like it is in his typical style.  He shared financial decision making biases that negatively impact consumers and advisors alike based on academic research and personal observation.

You can see some of the live tweeting that I did at the conference under my Twitter handle @HourlyPlanner.  You do not need a Twitter account.

The Garrett Planning Network, has dozens of conference calls throughout the year, and the members interact on an internal forum to help each other with more complex planning cases on a daily basis.  One of the most beneficial outcomes of my annual trip to this retreat, is getting together with this group, sharing ideas, and getting updates from these amazing colleagues in person.  I am already looking forward to next year!

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2013 Garrett Planning Network Retreat

August 12th, 2013

The Garrett Planning Network 13th Annual Retreat was recently held in Kansas City, Missouri. I am a member of the Garrett Planning Network. It is a group of about 300 financial planners that offer financial planning on an hourly basis, each member owns their own firm. I have written about the Garrett Planning Network before.

I attended the conference and earned continuing education credits by going to various educational programs, which I need so that I can keep my designations and licenses such as:

  • CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
  • CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠
  • NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor

During the four day conference I attended various educational programs such as:

  • State of the Industry
  • The 7Twelve Portfolio: A Better Balanced Portfolio
  • Long Term Care Planning – Past Present Future
  • Estate Planning Update
  • And others

Ron Rhoades, JD, CFP ®  of ScholarFi, Inc., gave one of the Keynote addresses on the state of the Industry:  Will Fiduciary Duties be expanded – by the DOL or the SEC? In the fast-paced presentation, professor Rhoades covered various trends about the CFP Board, marketing of financial services and future effective business models.

Craig L. Israelsen, Ph.D. gave a keynote address on the 7Twelve Portfolio: A Better Balanced Portfolio. Laurence B. Siegel, another keynote speaker, spoke on Wake up and Smell the Coffee! Investors are Poorly Prepared for Retirement – A Balance Sheet Solution.

Throughout the year, the Garrett Planning Network, has three or four conference calls each month.  One of the most beneficial outcomes of my annual trip to this retreat, is getting together with this group in person. On Thursday I was with a group of Garrett Planning Network members and Sheryl Garrett as Sheryl rang the closing bell at the BATS Global Markets stock exchange, the third largest exchange in the world. We took a tour of the exchange.  It was inspiring to learn about the volume of trades that goes through there.

Another a highlight for me, is that I met Gail Marks Jarvis and she signed a copy of her new book for me. She is a very knowledgeable journalist for the Chicago Tribune and really roots for the consumer.  One discussion point that really connected with me was something she mentioned at the book signing table.  She talked about the fact that investors do not care about percentages they care about dollars.  Their dollars.  I agree wholeheartedly.  It is something that I have kept in mind for years when I talk with someone about what allocation model is best for them.

Garrett Planning Network is a terrific group of professional financial planners who, like me, work with clients on an hourly basis.  We share ideas and act as a resource for each other all year, so it is so nice to get together once a year and see each other again.

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