The core-satellite investing approach

You may be relieved to learn that you don’t have to choose one investing style over the other, active or passive, and that combining them could reinforce your portfolio with structure to protect you from dangerous levels of risk.

Even the top stock pickers, who aim to beat the market over time, see some value in putting part of their portfolio in ETFs and mutual funds. There are two important ways this technique can help your probability of long-term success.

Firstly, exchange-traded funds can add immediate diversification to your portfolio. If you’re just starting off, this provides a stable platform from which to build. It requires very little time and effort, while giving you a low-fee way of accessing a range of different asset classes. Staying invested in the market, through thick and thin, is the most important part – as the phrase goes, “it’s about time in the markets, not timing the markets”.

Allocating the majority of your portfolio to index tracking ETFs ensures that you passively match market returns, compounding your gains over time. This becomes your core, which is passive, freeing up time to dedicate to opportunities that may earn greater returns in an active manner.

Now that you’ve established the core, enter the satellite; you can start to introduce individual investment ideas with confidence, setting aside a small percentage of your portfolio for well researched individual stocks. The greater your investing time horizon, the more you can afford to add riskier stocks into the mix. Some investments will be unsuccessful, but it’s often said that 20% of the holdings in a portfolio are responsible for 80% of the portfolio’s growth; you just need a few 10-baggers and you won’t have to worry about any duds!

This balanced, low-fuss approach may not be for everyone but it can certainly help steady the ship during turbulent market conditions. If you prefer to keep things simple, while maintaining some level of control, the core-satellite method is a sensible way to go.

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