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financial planner

A lot of people wonder “Why do I need a financial planner?” or “Why do I need a planner when all financial calculators are available online?”. Some people also think that “I cannot afford a financial planner as I do not have enough wealth!”. Many people who are not aware of the benefits of having a financial planner think this way. These thoughts and ideas are some of the myths that we shall address in this blog today.

With the abundance of information available online, the role of a financial planner becomes even more critical as every financial plan is customized to suit the needs and goals of the individual. A planner will give you a bird’s eye view of your financial situation because they are on the outside and can look at your finances holistically.

With the ever changing and dynamic global and domestic economic conditions and financial markets having a financial planner is of utmost importance. A prudent planner cannot predict, but will always guide you well to be prepared for global or domestic events which can have material impact on your financial goals.

A financial planner advises you on the following-

  • How much you need to save while you are earning?
  • How much would you need for retirement as per your lifestyle and nature of expenses?
  • What type of loans you should have or payoff?
  • How much and what type of insurance you need?
  • How much you should have as contingency funds?
  • How can you be more tax efficient in your investments?
  • How much returns should your investments generate in order to achieve your goals?
  • How inflation will affect your goals and finances? What projections and estimates are to be considered to account for inflation while planning for goals?

 

A financial planner helps you to organize your finances and assesses how prepared are you for your goals – for example – retirement. Professional financial planning goes far beyond just picking stocks or products. Hiring a planner arms you with the expertise and resources with which to approach planning your financial future.

 

A common misconception that people have when it comes to financial planners is that they will make you a millionaire overnight or advise you to invest in stocks which will give you multi-bagger returns. Financial planners help you to prioritise your financial goals and work with you to devise ways to achieve them.

 

A financial planner would be aware of appropriate financial opportunities and investments which will help you in taking wise financial decisions. Helping clients avoid ‘buy high and sell low’ is also one of the great benefits financial planning can bring. A planner will help you stay invested  in a bear market and at the same time will help you not get over-optimistic in a bull market.  A recent neuroscience experiment has proved that people with expert financial guidance are less stressed and better able to face challenges and absorb information relating to their own financial decisions.

 

So you may say that – “Why do you need a Financial Planner? I can do all this for myself”. For this you have to ask yourself these few questions-

  • How prepared are you to spend hours to assess the fundamentals of a mutual fund or company whose stock you are buying?
  • Can you spend hours analysing and building a portfolio that can give you retirement income and is tax efficient?
  • Can you analyse the complexities of different PMS products, mutual funds, insurance plans and annuity plans and determine the best mix for yourself?
  • Can you keep regular track of your goals and related investments?
  • Can you objectively assess your portfolio and keep emotions out of your financial decisions?

Usually we find the answers to most of the above lead to the need of seeking the professional help of a financial planner.

 

A financial planner possesses specialized training, knowledge, certifications and the requisite experience to handle all the above possible options. A financial planner is therefore better equipped to plan for you.

To put all of this in a nutshell, a financial planner helps you set your priorities and financial goals, helps understand the corpus needed for each of them and guides in devising customised ways and means to achieve your set goals.

Even in the busiest or most stressful times in your life – be it marriage, birth of a child or job change or any such transition, the financial planner is able to safeguard and nurture your wealth with sound advice and experience. In such situations of transition, a planner instils a kind of financial discipline and diligence which is much needed.

When you normally want to get a job done right, you usually hire an expert, so why should the same not hold true in the case of your finances? Talk to Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors today to know how a financial planner can help you.

 

 

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vector infographic car road timeline with pointers

 

As the media and dailies flash all the news and noise around the downgrade of debt securities of some of the IL&FS group companies and the ‘so called blood bath’ on the dalal street triggered by the sale of certain DHFL bonds, the average investor is obviously concerned about their investments. Spooked by these recent events and the volatility of both equity and debt markets investors are now wondering whether to continue their SIPs in mutual funds, buy stocks or just exit and hold cash? So what should you do?

There is no one size fits all solution to this problem. The answer lies in your long and short term objectives and whether you have a detailed drawn out financial plan. Situations like these (market volatility and uncertainty) truly highlight the need of a good weapon – your financial plan- your investment road map. When investors invest without a goal and financial plan in sight they do not know how much to invest, how long they should continue their investments and how close they are to their goals; thus how much volatility their portfolio can withstand.

 

Should you turn conservative?

Let’s assume that you have been been saving for the last 8 years for your child’s higher education and you have about 3 years left until you need the money. Now irrespective of whether the market is volatile or not, it is imperative that you re-balance your portfolio by moving your money in to conservative debt investments. This strategy should anyways have been a part of the financial plan to protect the corpus from short term market fluctuations and should be used only when you start approaching your goal.

If applied sooner than needed then you may run into the risk of falling short of the target amount. Also remember, getting closer to your goal is not the time to get speculative and increase your aggressive equity exposure.

 

How to deal with the amygdala hijack (the emotions and the panic)?

Turning conservative in tough market conditions is easy, staying focused on your goals and continuing your investments as you see the market giants come crashing down requires a lot of courage, focus and some science, data and rationale. Investors are believed to be irrational when it comes to dealing with money. When the markets are rallying investors want to be a part of it and they willingly invest. However as soon as they experience turbulence they drop their investments like hot potatoes in fact hurting their investments and networth. Market fluctuations affects a part of your brain called amygdala which induces fear. The fear leads to panic and the sell off frenzy begins.

At this point you have to go back to your financial plan and remind yourself what your goals are and follow your financial plan to avoid any knee jerk reaction. If your next milestone is 8-10 years away then the current volatility does not need you to act and also your portfolio can withstand this short term fluctuations.

 

How following your financial plan helps?

Staying on track with your financial plan and road map pays off in more than one way. Once you know your milestones and risk appetite through your plan:

  • You avoid taking unnecessary exits thereby saving unnecessary capital gain tax or any exit loads that may be applicable that could further reduce your profits.Money saved is money earned.
  • You stay invested (example SIPs) through a down cycle of the market , which actually helps you get a better value for your money invested. This over the long term can improve your portfolio returns and catapult corpus generation.
  • You may even get opportunities to start newer investments in good quality companies basis your risk profile and time horizon

An example to detail this : Sep 2008 is a period set in time; this is when the infamous Lehman brother crisis shook the global financial markets and sent the indices in India and across the world in a massive tailspin. It was a difficult time for investors, however the ones who persevered and continued their Sips reaped the benefits later.

Lets assume you had a plan and understood the corpus that you needed say in 2018 and started a simple SIP in a mutual fund. The chart below shows the trajectory of such an SIP of Rs 10,000 started in Oct 2008 in 3 different categories of funds.

SIP

SIP amount Total Amount invested in 10 yrs Current Value (Rs.) CAGR
Value Fund 10,000 12 lakhs 34.18 lakhs 18.26%
Multi Cap Fund 10,000 12 lakhs 28.80 lakhs 15.53%
Large Cap Fund 10,000 12 lakhs 28.43 lakhs 15.33%
Nifty 100 10,000 12 lakhs 25.98 lakhs 13.86%

 

Remember, in volatile times, people lose more money by fearing and holding back their investments and possibly denying themselves good opportunities that may present themselves in the form of a market downturn.

Markets will fluctuate and will be volatile, that is their inherent quality. Navigating these carefully is necessary for investors. A sound financial plan and the guidance of an independent and unbiased financial planner would help. In short, you need to stay on track and to follow your financial plan. This financial plan will be your guide and navigator during volatile markets.

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The-falling-indian-rupee

Often when the exchange rates cross a threshold, the stock markets get jittery and turn volatile. In the last year or so, the rupee has depreciated over 10 percent against the US dollar. Weakening of the rupee can be attributed to the following factors – increase in crude oil prices, rising US yields , US stand on tariffs, weakness in emerging markets, slowdown of foreign inflows into India.

Negatives of a weak rupee

Depreciating rupee increases the cost of imports. India being a large importer of crude oil, a weak rupee adversely affects inflation. A high inflation rate contributes to an increase in the household expenses. This means lesser savings which has an effect on your overall personal finances. As inflation and interest rates move in the same direction, consistent high inflation rates could lead to an increase in interest rates making loans expensive. A depreciating rupee also has a negative impact on any expenses to be made overseas such as foreign education and travel.

Benefits of a weak rupee

A weak rupee would benefit NRIs making remittances into India and also benefits redemption of foreign currency denominated investments. However, it can have a mixed effect on equity investors depending on how exposed or diversified their portfolio is.

Investors of mutual funds having exposure to foreign stocks benefit when the rupee depreciates. International funds have two ways of generating returns – performance of the underlying stocks and currency movement. In recent times, such investments have gained from the rupee’s depreciation.

Incase of a well-diversified long-term portfolio rupee depreciation would not have too much of an impact. However, individual stocks would see volatility if they are in the export or import business, or are financing them.

 

Impact on your investments and budget

The recent, sharp decline in the rupee will impact not just your planned vacation abroad or studies in a foreign country, but also your investments and budget. Find out how to counter its debilitating effects.

A – Monthly budget

THE IMPACT: Imported commodities like fuel or medicines, or products that depend on imported inputs for their manufacturing will become expensive. These can include FMCG products like soaps and detergents, which use crude oil as the base, as well as cars and electronic goods, which depend on components from abroad.

YOUR STRATEGY: Rationalise your spending by slashing discretionary spends like those on entertainment and travel, and it may help cushion the hike in prices of essential items.

 

B – Salary

 

THE IMPACT: The rupee’s fall may also result in shrinking pay cheques for some especially in industries that are dependent on imports since it results in an increase in production and operation costs. To keep their margins intact these companies could cut costs one of which is human resources. Hence doling out lower increments and a freeze on hiring may be an option.

 

YOUR STRATEGY: IF your skill sets are aligned only to the sector you are in, a job switch may lead to an above-average hike.

 

C – Investments

 

  1. EQUITY INVESTMENTS

 

THE IMPACT

– It may result in an FII exodus, both from equity and debt markets.

– It could raise inflation and the RBI may raise rates which further hurts business input costs.

– A depreciation of Rs 1 against the USD increases oil under-recoveries by Rs 9,000 crore. This is a negative for oil marketing companies(OMCs) and worsens the fiscal deficit.

– While the exporters benefit, import businesses suffer.

– The companies with foreign debt may find it difficult to service it.

 

YOUR STRATEGY

– Stay with defensive sectors like IT, pharma and FMCG for now.

– Since the RBI is not expected to cut rates soon, avoid high-beta, rate-sensitive sectors like real estate and infrastructure for now.

– Since the rupee depreciation will compound asset quality issues, it is better to concentrate on private-sector banks or some PSU banks with high asset quality.

-The government may not allow OMCs to pass on the additional import costs before elections, so avoid these till there is clarity.

– The companies with high foreign debt are in a precarious situation, so steer clear of these for the time being.

– To diversify impact invest in equities via mutual funds as single stock exposures could drag your portfolio

 

  1. DEBT INVESTMENTS

 

THE IMPACT

– Bond yields expected to remain under pressure at the longer end.

– There is a chance that RBI may keep or hike repo rates so interest rate hardening is expected.

– The FII outflow from the debt market due to depreciation fears can raise yields; the 10-year yield has already gone up in the past few days making long term debt volatile.

 

YOUR STRATEGY

-Since the interest rates are expected to be volatile, it would be prudent to stay in short term debt papers and accrual/hold to maturity investments.

– Credit risk strategies would be an aggressive bet given the current scenario

– Do not resort to a knee-jerk strategy shift.

 

  1. GOLD

 

THE IMPACT

– Dollar appreciation brings down the international gold price. Currently, it is below $1,200/ ounce, a 34-month low.

– However, the rupee depreciation cushions a part of the global crash.

– Gold accounts for a big part of the current account deficit, so the government may take further measures to stem its import, cushioning the domestic price.

 

YOUR STRATEGY

– Investors with only a small strategic exposure to gold can continue to hold on to it.

– Those with a high exposure to the yellow metal should use any rally as an opportunity to book profit.

 

  1. REAL ESTATE

 

THE IMPACT

INTEREST RATE: The biggest casualty of rupee volatility is the expected rate increase by the RBI. This may reduce the demand and holding power of builders. So, it’s a negative as far as the real estate prices are concerned.

 

NRI: These are the major consumers of Indian real estate and rupee depreciation makes it more affordable for them. This may raise realty demand.

 

INFLATION: Since the material costs go up, along with the inflation, it may put an upward pressure on real estate prices as well.
YOUR STRATEGY: Real estate is already overvalued and, therefore, it makes sense to book profit on your investments (other than your primary residence).

 

CONCLUSION

Assuming there is a decline in the prices of oil and other commodities, the Indian investors might still not benefit as the rupee depreciation could negate the price reduction. The depreciating rupee could pressurise the domestic inflation situation. As India is an import intensive country, the domestic costs will rise on account of rupee depreciation mainly due to fuel prices and its spiralling effects.

Exchange rates definitely have an impact on our lives and they cannot be ignored. Most people may say that it does not affect me, but as can be seen from the blog above, it surely does. If you can note the above impacts and trends and understand the strategies suggested, you would be better prepared to face the effects of a falling rupee on your personal finances.

 

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Listen up professionals and start-up owners!

Every individual has a passion and a dream. Many wish to break free from their mundane work life to pursue their passions. However, it can be difficult to break the shackles of comfort and security that a well paying job offers and venture into unchartered territory that your dream might lead you to. For those who manage to do so, we tip our hats to you and offer these words of advice.

 

Being a business ourselves, we understand the trials and tribulations that a professional or a start-up founder goes through. The fact is that it can take a while before you break even and start drawing an income. Even the revenues generated can be irregular so how do you manage your personal finances and ensure neither your nor your family’s dreams are compromised.

 

  1. Know your expenses– With a job that gives you a fat paycheck your lifestyle expenses are bound to be high. Now with an irregular salary keeping up with the same expenses will get challenging. You and your family should be prepared to adapt to your new financial situation and trim down your expenses wherever possible. It might make sense to set up a SWP (Systematic Withdrawal Plan) that provides the necessary income and help you stick to a budget without going bust.
  2. Keep those SIPS going through the good and the bad days-As the case is with most businesses, the revenues are not steady. There will be times when the business would have done well and the receivables have also come in and then there would be not such great times. With such irregular and unsteady income how do you manage to keep your family’s dreams alive. The Key is to invest the surplus in a liquid fund which will then systematically transfer the money on a regular basis in an equity fund. This will ensure that you keep saving and investing towards your future goals unhindered by the ups and downs of your business.
  3. Insurance, your protection shield– The job of a life insurance policy is to not only provide for your family in case of an unforeseen event, it is supposed to also cover your outstanding loans and the financial goals such as kid’s higher education, comfortable life for your dependents etc. So ensure you have taken a cover large enough to meet your family’s needs. A simple term plan will do the needful.
  4. Health is wealth– With the medical inflation rising at 10-15% annually, the importance of a medical insurance can not be stressed enough. Health is indeed wealth but you don’t want to lose your wealth due to any illness or accidents. You might also want to consider taking an accidental and critical illness policy as a safe guard measure along with a regular medical cover.
  5. Contingency fund- This fund should be large enough to cover your 6-8 months expenses. Since you do not have a regular income, it is optimum to consider expenses over a longer period. You could even consider including your SIPs amounts for those many months, this will ensure your goals are right on track and are not hampered by the volatility in your income.
  6. Keep personal and business expenses separate– This is the most important advice as it is very easy for the business expenses to spill over and be paid for from your family kitty. This is especially possible if you use the same credit card for both personal and business use. This can further stress your family budget over time.

With an irregular income it becomes essential to plan and channelize your money to ensure your family is well secured financially and their goals and dreams have wings. You might want to consult a financial planner to see how to fund your family goals if you choose to launch your start-up.

 

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Rakshabandhan is an auspicious day in India. The festival signifies love and affection between brothers and sisters. It is a time where brothers reaffirm their duty to protect and care for their sisters during their entire life.

Usually brothers gift cash and or gifts to their sisters as a sign of their love. But what if you could give them something that will truly be there in their life? A sound piece of contribution could end being a much more significant gesture in the long run, both personally as well as her financial future.

Sounds to good to be true? Well here are some options you can consider:

Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) Investments: An easy option, but not not many know it can be gifted or that it can be started with an amount as low as Rs 500 per month. Also, one can not only do SIPs into mutual funds (either equity or debt) but certain blue chip equity stocks as well. So forget those fancy gifts for once and gift your sister that will truly be there for her in the future

Systematic Withdrawal Plans (SWP): A rather new feature in the Indian Mutual Fund environment. Certain AMCs now allow you to initiate an SWP, which essentially is the opposite of SIP such that money flows from the mutual fund to your bank account at pre – specified periods and at specific amounts; but with the added benefit that you can chose your relatives to be the beneficiary of this inflow rather than yourself. Another benefit of such a SWP is that because this inflow would be considered a gift in the hands of your relative, there is no tax applicable to the receiver of this SWP. Perfect way to support your sister with cash flow needs!

Insurance Cover: Few things may convey that you truly care for your sister’s health than an adequate health insurance cover. Now more than ever, health insurance is the need of the hour with parallel rise in not only health costs but also increase in reports of lifestyle diseases and ailments. A health insurance cover will insure that your sister is never financially affected by these hurdles.

On the other hand, providing a term cover for your sister who may have her own financial dependants is a warm way of showing that you are there to share her responsibilities

Estate Planning: This almost always is a personal and complicated topic. But having a solid estate plan is as important as any other life decision. And as a brother you could be the trusted guide to helping her make this important decision.

Furthermore, you yourself can be a part of Estate Planning as a potential guardian to her underage children. Or possibly a trustee in case she needs to make a trust. Ensuring one’s hard earned assets are bequeathed as they intended to is a huge responsibility and who better than a brother to take this up

Gold: The yellow metal will protect her from any economic crisis and will act as hedge during volatile times.But not the cumbersome physical gold that comes with its own headaches and costs. Rather you should consider paper gold i.e. instruments that invest into gold themselves or track their prices. These instruments range from Gold ETFs to the Sovereign Gold Bonds

On this day brothers take a pledge to protect and take care of their sisters under all circumstances. We at Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors understand the enormity of this pledge. And through our experience of understanding the complexities of money and human emotions, we also pledge to help you ensure that your sister stays financially secure in her lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FMP

Fixed Maturity Plans are a category of debt mutual funds that are currently attracting the attention of Ultra HNI and retail investors alike. With the debt market looking fragile and the 10 year Gsec yield on a back breaking spree, are FMPs the next alternative investment solutions that can save the investors from interest rate risk? Are FMPs for you, read to find out.

Fixed Maturity Plan or FMPs are close ended debt mutual funds that have a fixed maturity period. The AMC launches a New Fund Offer (NFO) and inviting subscription to scheme. Unlike an open ended scheme which stays open for subscription all the time, a FMP remains open for a limited period. The NFO will have a launch date and a closing date till when an investor can subscribe to the fund and after it’s maturity the fund ceases to exist. In the interim, an investor can trade the FMP on the stock exchange.


Where do FMPs invest and what are the indicative returns?

Being a debt fund, FMPs invest in debt securities like corporate and government of India (GOI) bonds, Non Convertible Debentures (NCD), and liquid instruments like T-bills, Repo, Corporate Deposits (CD) and Commercial Papers (CP), based on the market yield and the scheme’s investment objective, an FMP could invest in AAA to A+ rated securities with varying credit risk.

With the 10 year G-sec yields having crossed 7.9% mark, the bond yields too have surged. Now a portfolio of high quality of AAA rated securities can easily give a return in the range of 7.7-8.4% thus making them very attractive.


What is the maturity of an FMP?

The maturity of an FMP is similar to the maturity of its underlying assets. Since the FMP exists for a fixed period which is defined during the subscription of the NFO, it invests in debt securities with similar maturities such that they mature on or before it’s maturity date.

Eg: If the Fund has the maturity period of 1110 days then it will pick instruments that will mature on or before 3 years.

The fund manager of a close ended FMP follows a passive investment strategy where in they buy and then hold securities until they mature. Therefore there is minimum churning unlike in a open ended fund where the fund manager churns the portfolio more regularly based on his strategy and market outlook.

This helps an FMP keep its expenses lower.


How are they taxed?

Most FMPs have a maturity of 3 or 5 years. Being a debt fund, the biggest advantage of investing in a FMP is the indexation benefit that an investor receives after completing 3 years.

Although it is similar to a Fixed Deposit, the tax benefit that an investor earns makes an FMP triumph over any FD or NCDs.

Assume you had invested Rs 10 lakhs in a FD and FMP with the maturity of 5 years. Even though return generated by an FMP is higher, to level the playing field lets consider both had generated a return of 8%.

FDvs FMP

As you can see from the table above, you can potentially save Rs 1 Lakh in taxes by investing in an FMP. Even for an investor in 20% tax bracket, the post tax corpus earned from an FD would be significantly higher than a bank FD.


What are the drawbacks of an FMP?

Being a close ended fund an investor can’t redeem the units until the FMP matures. However, the investor does have an option of early exit through a stock exchange. For this the SEBI has mandated the FMPs to be listed on the stock exchange. The problem is that there is little demand for them in the secondary market and even when there is a buyer the price offered is lower than its NAV.

So an investor must subscribe to an FMP with an intention to keep their money locked-in for the duration of the fund and with the knowledge that this money would not be needed in the interim.

Also the indexation benefit can be enjoyed only if the debt fund investment has been held for 3 years, so it would be ideal to pick FMP with a maturity of at least 1100 days which is just a few days over 3 years.

 

Who should invest in a FMP?

Unlike a debt fund, an FMP is insulated from the interest rate volatility since the fund manager buys and holds the securities until maturity. Thus the returns of the FMP are less impacted by the price fluctuations triggered by the swinging interest rates of the market.

Therefore, HNI, ultra HNI in the highest tax bracket, retail investors and even senior citizens can benefit from investing in an FMP as the yields offered are competitive and the capital gains are taxed with indexation benefit making FMPs a very attractive investment solution in the tumultuous and uncertain interest rate scenario.

 

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According to Investopedia, “Geographical Diversification” is the practice of diversifying an investment portfolio across different geographic regions so as to reduce the overall risk and improve returns on the portfolio.

As with diversification in general, geographical diversification is based on the premise that financial markets in different parts of the world may not be highly correlated with one another. For example, if the US and European stock markets are declining because their economies are in a recession, an investor may choose to allocate part of his portfolio to emerging economies with higher growth rates such as China, Brazil and India.

There are two major advantages in diversifying one’s investment portfolio based on geography:

  • Taking Advantage of Opportunities in other Strong Economies:

A significant benefit to a geographic diversification of assets has to do with the way it allows you to mitigate risk by taking advantage of stable economies elsewhere in the world. It’s no secret that some economies are struggling to recover from the trying economic times of the last few years. Other countries, however, have seen higher growth rates due to a variety of factors. International portfolios have been shown, in general, to outperform domestic ones, this is because when there are so many markets to choose from, it is unlikely that the same country will ever repeatedly achieve the highest level of growth. With improved access to international markets and investment instruments such as mutual funds bringing down the costs, an additional option to further diversify has been to buy in international markets.

Picture1

(Source: Bloomberg, Kotak MF. As of 31st Jan, 2018)

The above returns data chart clearly shows that while the Indian Equity Markets have performed significantly in the last year, there were opportunities elsewhere which proved even better. Diversification into such economies can therefore result in better yielding portfolios.

  • Balancing out the risks:

While chasing better returns might definitely be one aspect of any investment portfolio, it is also crucial to understand how any strategy helps in mitigating the associated risks that are part of every investment decision. Geographic diversification provides a much needed balance that all investors strive for. If one of your assets is located in a part of the world that is or could be vulnerable, the investments in other geographies could compensate or buffer any unexpected losses. This is because despite the impact of globalisation, geographies and economies can still have limited correlation between them, and over time international markets could perform very differently to domestic markets. Following is a chart that shows how various sectors form part of some regions around the world, in % of total market capitalization:

Picture2

(Source: credit suisse global investment returns yearbook 2015)

As you may notice, different regions give different weightages to every sector. Thus by accessing these regions, you can in essence, reduce investment risks in individual sectors and therefore your entire portfolio as a whole.

Since the cycles that drive business and investment are experienced at different times in different countries, foreign markets seldom move in perfect tandem with each other. Losses in one market may be offset by gains in another. Geographical diversification significantly reduces the overall level of volatility and exposure to external factors. For an investor, theoretically this would mean that the more diversified your assets, the safer is your money. However it is true that a significant black swan event, such as the financial crisis of 2008, will likely deplete any such benefits, especially in the short term immediately after such an event. What is rather important to keep in perspective is (a) your investment horizon and (b) your risk taking capability to diversify into foreign markets.

 

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