Whether you are performing a check-up on your portfolio, or you are planning on starting a new investment, evaluate your investments in a logical sequence. To help you think clearly about exactly what you want to get out of them, ask yourself five questions… in this order:

1. â??What is the time horizon of my investment strategy?â?

This is where most people fall short in their investment strategy.  Many people expect instant returns from their investments.  You need to have a clear time horizon when you decide to undertake an investment strategy and you need to have the discipline to understand that your investment returns will not be achieved without a few hiccups on the way.  All forms of investment suffer setbacks from time to time, you need to understand that and remain focused on the end goal.

2. â??What asset classes I am going to consider?â?

Your investment portfolio can be made up of the property, which you are paying off, a stock portfolio comprising various types of shares, bonds, money market deposits, unit trusts and other funds managed on your behalf.

3. â??What will be the mix among asset classes?â?

You need to select what vehicles you will use to achieve your financial goals.  There are endless options in this regard and most differ with regards to risk, return and time frame. My advice to you is to sit down with a financial planner and ascertain your appetite for risk.  Once you have done this you will be able to decide on the correct combination of shares, bonds, property, managed funds and unit trusts that will suit your unique needs.

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A lot of this depends on your age and risk tolerance.  Generally the younger you might be and the less commitments you have by way of family and debt, the more inclined you will be to take higher risk with your investments.  As one becomes older and has more family commitments the less likely you should be to take unnecessary investment risk.

4. What sub-asset classes will I consider?

This is where your financial advisor will be crucial.  Your risk profile will determine what type of shares you might put in your portfolio.  There are so many unit trusts to choose from and without the proper guidance you might make a decision now that turns out to be incorrect in years to come.  Very often the choice of sub-asset class is more important than the asset class itself.

5. Which managers/funds will I select?

Do your homework to find out who of the fund managers have a proven and successful track record.  Alan Gray has a phenomenal track record and would be my choice of fund manager. You can contact them via their website: www.alangray.co.za

Answering the four questions above will be a great starting point to get your investment portfolio on track.  Just remember to be honest and to set realistic goals.

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