The Importance of Diversification in a Modern Portfolio for an Emerging Market Investor

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Portfolio Diversification Importance

This is a definitive guide on portfolio diversification for emerging markets.

The highlight?

We’ll uncover how to safeguard and potentially amplify your investments, even amidst the unpredictable ebbs and flows of emerging economies.

Whether you're aiming to mitigate risks, target higher returns, or secure a stable financial future in the face of emerging market volatility, diversification is your best bet.

With the right strategies, you can achieve a harmonious blend of assets that can stand resilient against market unpredictability, while also opening doors to unparalleled growth opportunities.

Ready to master the nuances and elevate your investment game? Dive right in and discover the transformative power of diversification.

What Is Portfolio Diversification?

As the name suggests, portfolio diversification is the process by which you can spread your investments across various assets. If you put too much money in the same stock, it can be extremely risky. If the price of the stock falls rapidly, you'll have to bear the brunt by suffering major losses.

Diversification of a portfolio focuses on holding a variety of investments where the poor performance of one investment can be offset by the good performance of another.

It doesn't mean that you won't suffer from losses at all. It just means that diversification will be a vital component of reaching long-range financial goals while minimizing risk.

How Diversification Of Portfolio Works?

When you diversify your portfolio, the objective is to look into investing in as many promising securities as possible. A small amount will be put into different assets and a particular return will be ascertained on them. 

Each asset has its perks. Let's look at them in brief:

1. Stocks

While stocks are often considered riskier, they also present the potential for significant rewards. Investing in stocks can yield substantial returns.

2. Diversified Funds

Diversified funds are inherently spread across various investment avenues and are expertly managed by fund managers. They offer relatively lower but consistent returns.

3. Bonds and Debt

Bonds and debt instruments provide investors with the assurance of fixed returns and carry minimal associated risk, albeit at generally lower interest rates.

4. Real Estate

Real estate is a notable asset class known for appreciating in value over time, offering substantial income potential. And not to ignore that, physical real estate can incur maintenance costs and high transaction fees.

5. Savings Accounts

Savings accounts offer a reliable source of consistent returns over time, providing stability. However, their interest rates are typically lower compared to other asset classes mentioned here.

Importance Of Diversification In A Modern Portfolio 

Things have changed in the current financial market, so much so that it has almost become unpredictable. Even the most developed nation in the world, the USA, had to face the brunt of the stock market crash last year. It hasn't been long since Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, creating havoc all over the stock and financial market. 

Therefore, it has become more important to diversify the modern portfolio, especially for an emerging market investor who doesn't understand the market conditions nicely yet. Let's check the importance of diversification in a modern portfolio in detail here: 

1. Minimizing Risk 

It is known to most people that the stock market can generate huge incomes for them. But why are some of them still reluctant to invest their money in it? The reason is the volatility of the market. It doesn't take a long time for a trending stock to fall in value. 

After all, it's the game of reputation, something that can change within short spells. Therefore, we cannot disregard the risk involved in this market. 

With the help of diversification, you can minimize the risk of losing your money. It's a simple equation, the more diversified your portfolio, the less your risk exposure. So even if it comes at the cost of getting fewer returns, you should be satisfied as it reduces your risk even more.

2. Less Volatility And Preserving Capital 

Another good aspect of diversification of a portfolio is that there's less volatility involved with it. Volatility is directly proportional to risk. If you minimize risk, you can reduce the volatility of your investment and preserve your capital. 

Now what it means is that you won't lose your money at a greater pace. Since the risk involved is low, the losses will be low as well. So even if you suffer from losses consistently over some time, they will be minor losses, thanks to the diversification. 

This means that your capital is going to work for a long time. Usually, the returns will be earned all the time, even if they are very low.

3. Increasing The Long-Term Returns 

Diversification of the portfolio is going to be beneficial in the long run. You have combined the assets in such a manner that they can give you the returns of your choices along with minimum risk. But you have to invest in stocks or bonds that are meant to be profitable in the future. 

You can also target a particular risk level. Suppose you want to take a decent risk, you should invest plenty of money in stocks. But as a new investor, you should go for bonds or mutual funds as they are considered more safe. 

All in all, you have to combine assets that can give you the returns you desire in a way that minimizes your risk. This risk should be bearable which means that even if your portfolio leads to losses at some point, you shouldn't be too bothered with them. 

4. Fewer Chances Of Getting Wiped Out 

When you invest in highly risky assets, there are chances that you earn huge profits overnight. But in case the scenario is contrasting, your portfolio may get wiped out within a short amount of time. 

Let's compare your portfolio with cricket. Some people consider it to be a T10 inning, they want to hurry with their investments and get returns as soon as possible. Playing short innings is generally risky. The chances are that you will hit huge fours and sixes. 

But in case it doesn't connect, you may get out on the very first ball itself. Similarly, having an aggressive portfolio may generate huge returns. But chances are high that you suffer from huge losses initially, leading to the end of your investment journey. 

You have to consider it a test match instead. There will be times when you have to leave the ball and defend it solidly. You might edge it but if you play with soft hands, it won't carry to the keeper. 

You should play your shots in between, but be in full control of those shots. Investments need to work like a test match, it's about focusing on the long run. The more diversified your portfolio is, the lesser will be the risk, guaranteeing its long run. 

Challenges That Comes With a Portfolio Diversification

While the diversification of a portfolio is extremely important, you cannot disregard the issues with it as well. The major issues involved with it, especially for new investors, go as follows: 

1. Complexity with a Growing Portfolio

As your portfolio expands, managing it becomes increasingly complex. For newcomers to the world of investments, this can feel overwhelming and burdensome, especially when just starting out.

2. Tracking Numerous Holdings

The intricacy of managing a diversified portfolio may lead to difficulties in closely monitoring a large number of holdings. This could result in missed opportunities, which can be regrettable in the long run.

3. Expertise Requirement

As an emerging market investor focusing on diversification, seeking professional guidance may become necessary. Diversification strategies can be intricate, making it challenging to navigate alone. However, hiring an expert can be expensive and may not always align with your budget.

4. Limited Brokerage Offerings

Certain brokerages may not provide access to the specific asset classes you wish to include in your diversified portfolio. This means you may need to invest significant effort in finding a brokerage that offers the desired asset classes, potentially adding complexity to your investment journey.

Risk Comparison Between A Diversified & Non-Diversified Portfolio

Now that you know that diversification is a key principle in risk management for investments. By spreading investments across a variety of stocks (or other assets), the investor can reduce the impact of any single stock's poor performance on their overall portfolio.

Here's a simple table to understand the concept in a much clearer way taking an example of Investor A and Investor B:

ScenarioAmount Invested per StockNumber of StocksPoor Performance by One StockImpact on Total Investment
Investor A₹10,0001-50% loss (e.g., drops to ₹5,000)Overall portfolio down by 50%
Investor B₹1,00010-50% loss on one stock (e.g., drops to ₹500)Only 5% of overall portfolio affected (₹500 of ₹10,000)

Explanation for the table above:

  • In the case of Investor A, their entire ₹10,000 is tied to the performance of one stock. If that stock does poorly (e.g., it loses half its value), the entire investment takes a hit and they lose 50% of their money.
  • For Investor B, even if one out of their ten stocks has the same poor performance, it only affects ₹1,000 of their ₹10,000 total investment. So, they only see a 5% decline in their overall portfolio from that single stock's poor performance.

Hence we can conclude that Investor B, who diversified across 10 stocks, is less prone to risk than Investor A, who invested everything in just one stock. If any of the stocks in Investor B's portfolio declines or even goes bankrupt, the damage to the overall portfolio is limited, whereas Investor A can face a total loss if that one stock performs poorly.

Modern Ways of Achieving An Effective Portfolio Diversification

To achieve effective portfolio diversification, you can utilize four distinct methods:

1. Diversification by Asset Class

Diversifying your portfolio by asset class involves allocating your investments across major asset classes, which typically include stocks, bonds, and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). This strategy spreads risk and provides exposure to various financial instruments.

2. Geographic or Market-Based Diversification

Geographic or market-based diversification involves investing in different countries or regions. This approach helps mitigate systematic risks that can impact an entire country's economy. By diversifying across geographic regions, you can reduce exposure to regional economic fluctuations.

3. Industry-Based Diversification

Diversifying your portfolio by industry entails investing in sectors that exhibit minimal correlation. This means avoiding industries that tend to move in tandem. By doing so, you can potentially offset losses in one industry with gains in another during adverse market conditions.

4. Market Capitalization Diversification

Market capitalization diversification involves allocating funds to companies with different market capitalization sizes. There are typically three categories: small-cap, medium-cap, and large-cap stocks. 

Small-cap stocks are often considered riskier but offer growth potential, while large-cap stocks are perceived as more stable. Balancing your portfolio among these categories can help manage risk and optimize returns according to your risk tolerance.

Key Takeaways 

Here are some takeaways that you need to keep in mind: 

  • Risk and returns are part and parcel of an investor's life. Diversification may lower the risk but it cannot be eradicated completely.
  • Generally, a diversified portfolio contains assets that are less positively correlated. 
  • ETFs are the most suited for diversification.

If you're an emerging market investor, you should consider hiring an expert for better diversification.

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  • Is diversification of portfolio a complex process?

  • How should the diversification normally be done?

  • Will I be able to mitigate the risks completely with diversification?

  • What is the best way to achieve diversification?

  • What's the basic goal that needs to be followed with the diversification of the portfolio?