The Extreme Risks of Trading Your Own Retirement Assets - October 16, 2019

Zacks Equity Research

Maybe you're a seasoned investor and have a good track record with stock-picking. And you may have a robust retirement portfolio - perhaps including some Zacks Top Retirement stock selections such as:

OceanFirst Financial (OCFC), Cedar Fair, L.P. (FUN) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO).

If that sounds like you, should you actively trade your own retirement assets?

Maybe ...if you're an exceptional investor who can expertly manage risk and keep up perfectly resolute emotional control in the face of market volatility. Be that as it may, for most investors, there might be better ways to accomplish long-term retirement investing objectives.

Active stock trading requires an altogether different investing philosophy and risk - reward understanding than building wealth for retirement.

Managing Retirement Investments: Stock Picking vs. Diversification

While stock picking can potentially generate outsized returns, its excessive concentrated risk can present huge perils for retirement investors.

In fact, a study done by Hendrik Bessembinder revealed that only 4% of equities produced all of the stock market's gains over the last 90 years. All other stocks "broke even" with the increases of 38% canceled out by the losses of the bottom 58%.

For even the most expert stock pickers, the chances for long-term achievement are thin.

Is it Possible to Invest "Rationally"?

Most people think they can make rational investment decisions, but research indicates the opposite is often true. Investors followed in a DALBAR study performed significantly worse than the S&P 500: For the 30 years between 1986 to 2015, the average investor earned just 3.66%, whereas the S&P 500 produced a 10.35% return.

It is worth noting that this period included the 1987 crash and enormous bear markets in 2000 and 2008, and the positively trending market of the 1990s as well.

This study suggests that one key reason for investor underperformance is trying to time volatile markets - and that irrational behavior biases tend to compound investor mistakes.

Curiously, even experienced traders tend to underperform since they can't resist the emotional urge to make impulsive investment choices. They might be overly self-assured and miscalculate risk, get attached to a price target, or perceive a pattern that does not exist. This behavioral fallacy, over the long-term, can be disastrous with potential underperformance of a huge number of dollars disrupting your retirement.

The Bottom Line for Retirement Investors

Your retirement portfolio should be managed with a strategy of performance over decades - not days, weeks or quarters. Most self-directed investors tend to fall short when it comes to long-term results.

Does that mean you should give up trading? Not necessarily. One solution is to take 10% of your investable assets and trade to generate alpha and seek outsized returns.

But the bulk of your wealth - those assets earmarked for retirement - should be invested using a more measured, conservative, risk management approach to generate steady, compounded returns so you can safely reach your retirement goals.

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OceanFirst Financial Corp. (OCFC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Cedar Fair, L.P. (FUN) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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