The importance of diversification in an SMSF

Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) that are not well diversified are quite risky investments since they aren’t as protected as they could be against shocks and volatility in the market.

Diversification aims to maximise an individual’s return by investing in different asset classes that react differently to the same event. Although it does not guarantee avoiding a loss, diversification is an important component of reaching long-term financial goals while minimising risk.

Diversification can control a super fund’s risk, as the better performing asset classes will help offset the others that aren’t performing very well. It also provides the super fund with the opportunity for long-term growth, as the portfolio is exposed to asset classes with strong growth potential.

SMSF trustees that don’t have the appropriate blend of different asset classes in their fund risk their portfolio experiencing increased and unnecessary volatility. Well-diversified SMSFs include all the major asset classes including cash, fixed interest, shares and property.

The first step to ensuring an SMSF is properly diversified is to consider the exposures the fund currently has to the major asset classes and assess how diversified the fund is. Trustees must then engage in the process of working out which asset classes the fund requires to be properly diversified.

For many SMSFs, the idea is looking to invest in other asset classes that could help improve the fund’s diversification. These may include assets that have a negative or low correlation with one another.

Those concerned about the diversification of their fund need to review their fund according to their investment strategy to assess whether it makes sense to increase diversification. However, it is important to work out any capital gains tax consequences before selling down any assets to buy investments to improve a fund’s diversification.

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