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:
Sandy Spring Bancorp (SASR - Free Report) , CenterPoint Energy (CNP - Free Report) and Darden Restaurants (DRI - Free Report) .
If that sounds like you, should you actively trade your own retirement assets?
It could be a good idea - that is, if you are one of the very few investors who understands your own risk tolerance and can keep your emotions in check during chaotic market swings. However, if you're like the rest of us, there are likely more prudent ways to reach your retirement investing goals.
Active stock trading requires an altogether different investing philosophy and risk - reward understanding than building wealth for retirement.
Diversification vs. Stock Picking
While stock picking can potentially result in outsized returns, its outsized concentrated risk can pose significant hazards 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%.
Those numbers reinforce that, even if you are an experienced and talented stock picker, your chances of success over a long period are very slim.
Is Investing Success All In Your Mind?
Investors think they can make rational decisions, but research shows that the opposite is often true. A recent DALBAR study tracked investors from 1986 to 2015 and found that the average investor substantially underperformed compared to the S&P 500. Over 30 years, the S&P 500 returned 10.35%, but the average investor return was just 3.66%.
It is interesting to note that the period covered by this study includes the 1987 crash, the 2000 bear market, and the Great Recession of 2008, as well as the bull market of the 1990s.
An important takeaway of this study is that investors seem to underperform because they try to time volatile markets...and irrational, emotional responses tend to these investing 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.
What It All Means 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.
Did you know that one in six people retire a multi-millionaire?
Read our just-released report: 7 Things You Can Do Now to Retire a Multi-Millionaire.