When going on vacation, you probably wouldn't just hop in your car and start driving, hoping that you'd end up somewhere nice. You certainly wouldn't just follow the other cars on the road, assuming that they were going somewhere you wanted to go.
First, you'd think hard about the kind of vacation you wanted to take and choose a destination that best fits your needs and desires. Then, you'd map out the best way to get there, taking into account how much time you have and any potential obstacles that might get in your way – traffic, road work or weather. You would do this because you know that thorough planning is essential to ensuring that you get to your destination, and because it gives you the confidence that you're on the right path.
Investing works in much the same way. Making investments without a clear sense of your ultimate goal is like driving without a destination. You're liable to make snap decisions about your next move, encounter challenges you aren't prepared for and find yourself going around in circles while everyone else passes you by.
What you need is a plan that's tailored to your needs, aimed toward your goals and mindful of potential risks. A plan that is driven by your objectives, allowing you to stay focused on your destination and that keeps you from overreacting to the short-term, day-to-day fluctuations in the market.
Objective-driven investing is a framework for thinking about your portfolio. We believe that a long-term approach to managing your wealth provides the structure to help you best achieve your goals and avoid making emotional decisions that can undermine performance. When you know that your portfolio is constructed in a way that is customized to meet your lifestyle needs, wealth-transfer goals and tolerance for risk, you'll be less inclined to deviate from your plan during volatile periods in the market. You can't control how the market behaves, but you can control how you react to its behavior.
Before you invest your assets, you need to know why you're investing them. Perhaps you're interested in achieving a particular type of lifestyle, or looking to leave a legacy for subsequent generations. Maybe it's a combination of the two. Whatever your goals, it's crucial that you identify and articulate them – this is the foundation for your plan. Here are some common objectives that we see when talking to investors:
The relative importance of these needs and goals informs how you invest your assets. For example, an investor who is more interested in satisfying their current lifestyle needs may benefit from more conservative, income-generating investments, whereas those looking to build wealth and leave a legacy may want to take on more risk in pursuit of higher overall returns. Those who put a particular emphasis on their wealth-transfer goals may not just be planning for the next generation, but potentially for several generations beyond that. This means that the time horizon for investing assets could be well beyond their lifetime, which would have a significant influence on how assets are allocated and monitored.
Typically, we speak of risk in terms of the potential loss of assets. However, it's also important to consider the risk that an improperly allocated portfolio might not achieve its intended goal. While investing primarily in fixed income can protect against short- and near-term losses, as well as inflation, such a strategy won't generate the returns necessary to satisfy long-term growth of principal or wealth-transfer goals. In order to do that, an investor must be willing to venture into asset classes that meet those specific needs, and might be exposed to more risk.
When constructing a portfolio, we consider the role that different types of investments can play in helping you reach your goals. If you've decided that you're looking to fulfill your lifestyle needs, you may need to rely on these types of investments:
For those aiming for wealth-transfer goals, these types of investments may be more advantageous:
However, whatever your objective, it's important to manage risk by spreading investments across a variety of asset classes. Depending on your objective, your portfolio can be diversified in a way that favors asset classes that are complimentary to your goals, while maintaining smaller allocations in other asset classes intended to offset risk.
In order to achieve the necessary returns to fund long-term wealth-transfer goals, an investor would most likely have to rely on riskier strategies, which may include investments in domestic and international equity, as well as private equity. However, a portion of the portfolio could also be invested in international fixed income or hedge funds. These types of investments generally have a low correlation to equity asset classes, meaning their performance typically does not move in the same direction, which serves to lower the portfolio's overall volatility. Smaller allocations to cash or fixed income investments can help, as well.
By clearly articulating your goals and fully appreciating the risks that come with trying to reach them, you can arrive at an investment plan that gives you the confidence to stay on course and avoid overreacting to market volatility. Consider working with a wealth manager who has the tools and experience necessary to help you craft an investment plan that is specifically designed to get you where you want to go. A good wealth manager will work with you to evaluate your current investment plan (including cash flows, liabilities and the tax impact of each decision) and provide you with projections based on your personal investment situation.
This document is confidential and may not be copied, reproduced or distributed, in whole or in part, to others at any time without the prior written consent of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, its subsidiaries and affiliates (collectively, “BNY Mellon"). The material contained herein is not intended for distribution to, or to be used by, any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country in which distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation. Except as otherwise permitted herein, distribution of this material to any person other than the person to whom this was originally delivered and to such person's advisors is unauthorized and any reproduction, in whole or in part, or the divulgence of its contents, without the prior consent of BNY Mellon in each such instance is prohibited.The Bank of New York Mellon, Hong Kong branch is an authorized institution within the meaning of the Banking Ordinance (Cap.155 of the Laws of Hong Kong) and a registered institution (CE No. AIG365) under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap.571 of the Laws of Hong Kong) carrying on Type 1 (dealing in securities), Type 4 (advising on securities) and Type 9 (asset management) regulated activities. The Bank of New York Mellon, DIFC Branch (the “Authorized Firm") is communicating these materials on behalf of The Bank of New York Mellon. The Bank of New York Mellon is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. This material is intended for Professional Clients only and no other person should act upon it. The Authorized Firm is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority and is located at Dubai International Financial Centre, The Exchange Building 5 North, Level 6, Room 601, P.O. Box 506723, Dubai, UAE.The Bank of New York Mellon is supervised and regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services and the Federal Reserve and authorized by the Prudential Regulation Authority. The Bank of New York Mellon London Branch is subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and limited regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority are available from us on request. The Bank of New York Mellon is incorporated with limited liability in the State of New York, USA. Head Office: One Wall Street, New York, NY 10286, USA.In the U.K. a number of the services associated with BNY Mellon Wealth Management's Family Office Services– International are provided through The Bank of New York Mellon, London Branch, 160 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4V 4LA. The London Branch is registered in England and Wales with FC No. 005522 and #BR000818.Investment management services are offered through BNY Mellon Investment Management EMEA Limited, BNY Mellon Centre, 160 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4LA, which is registered in England No. 1118580 and is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Offshore trust and administration services are through BNY Mellon Trust Company (Cayman) Ltd.This document is issued in the U.K. by The Bank of New York Mellon. In the United States the information provided within this document is for use by professional investors. This material is a financial promotion in the UK and EMEA. This material, and the statements contained herein, are not an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any products (including financial products) or services or to participate in any particular strategy mentioned and should not be construed as such. BNY Mellon Fund Services (Ireland) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (International) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. BNY Mellon Wealth Management, Advisory Services, Inc. is registered as a portfolio manager and exempt market dealer in each province of Canada, and is registered as an investment fund manager in Ontario, Quebec, and New Foundland & Labrador. Its principal regulator is the Ontario Securities Commission and is subject to Canadian and provincial laws.Trademarks and logos belong to their respective owners. BNY Mellon Wealth Management conducts business through various operating subsidiaries of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.©2020 The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. All rights reserved.