You have a substantial retirement portfolio. You're an accomplished investor. You've done truly well selecting stocks. You probably already own a couple of Zacks Top Retirement stock picks like:
Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI - Free Report) , CNA Financial (CNA - Free Report) and Cedar Fair, L.P. (FUN - Free Report) .
If you did something similar, would it be advisable for you to trade your own retirement nest egg?
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.
That's because the risk - reward scenario and investing approach is completely different for long-term wealth building and active stock trading.
Diversification vs. Stock Picking
Picking individual stocks has the potential for huge returns - but also carries a lot of risk, which is particularly hazardous when investing for retirement.
A study done by Hendrik Bessembinder of equity markets spanning nine decades revealed that only 4% of the best-performing U.S.stocks produced all the market's increases. The rest were flat - the gains of the following 38% were offset 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 it Possible to Invest "Rationally"?
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 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.
Interestingly, even savvy traders tend to underperform because they can't help but allow emotions to drive investment decisions. They may be overconfident and misjudge risk, latch onto a price target, or perceive a pattern that isn't there. This "behavior gap", over the long-term, can be catastrophic with potential underperformance of hundreds of thousands of dollars sabotaging your retirement.
The Bottom Line for Retirement Investors
When it comes to managing your assets for retirement, you must look at performance over the course of years and decades - not weeks or months. Because most traders generally tend to focus on the short term, they may not have the right mindset to achieve successful long-term outcomes.
We're not saying you should not trade at all - far from it. If you enjoy trading, perhaps you should put 10% of your investable assets to work in short-term investments to seek alpha and outsized returns.
However, the major part of your wealth - those assets reserved for retirement - ought to be invested utilizing a more careful, conservative, risk management strategy to produce steady, compounded returns so you can securely achieve your retirement objectives.
Do You Know the Top 9 Retirement Investing Mistakes?
Whether you're planning to retire early or not, don't let investing mistakes derail your plans.
If you have $500,000 or more to invest and want to learn more, click the link to download our free report, 9 Retirement Mistakes that will Ruin Your Retirement.