Investment diversification: Smart means to diversify your assets

investment diversification

Diversification can be considered as a major important aspect of personal finance and investment. Even though it has received some criticisms from a few noted investors and financial analysts, the positive outcomes of it is still emphasised globally. This has therefore drawn the interest of many personal finance writers and bloggers to include diversification in their topics list. Diversification has similarly been mentioned in a number of write-ups on sikasem.org. In the post about Treasury bill vs. mutual fund, the importance of diversification and how mutual funds offer diversification opportunity was highlighted. The significance of diversification has also been covered in the following posts:

4 DUMB financial decisions I had made in the past

What is the ‘best’ investment product in Ghana?

Wealth tracking: Manage your wealth with Spf wealthTrack

Diversification approach

With the availability of abundant information and varying perceptions, following an effective and practical diversification approach can be challenging. Nevertheless, all diversification methods intend to reduce investment risks and volatilities by investing in a variety of assets classes or categories. At least, reducing investment risk, to some extent, can give you some peace of mind

Determining your assets mix

The main concept behind assets mix is that the growth of different assets categories can progress independently in different directions. For example, the growth of stocks is usually based on the prospects of companies. On the other hand, Treasury bills and bonds are mostly affected by prevailing interest rates. In a way, you hold different kinds of assets whose values neither grow nor fall at the same time. Thus, when stocks perform poorly, one may be cushioned by Treasury bills or bonds. The list of assets categories can be many. The common ones are stocks, mutual funds (equity, balanced, money market), Treasury bills, fixed deposits, bonds, savings accounts, cash, commodities, real estates (properties) and businesses.

 What is a good mix?

Arguably, there is no ideal formula when it comes to assets mix in diversification. How one chooses and mixes his assets ultimately depends on factors such as his financial goal, financial situation, age and level of risk he can cope with. Your financial goal could be building long-term wealth or an alternate retirement fund. With such a goal, your assets mix would be inclined towards long-term assets such as stocks and equity [mutual] funds. In other words, you would require an asset mix made up of a high percentage of long-term investment products.  On the other hand, if your goal is to create a source of regular income for the immediate to medium term, you may find it useful to have a mix comprising greater percentage of fixed income products. While focusing on your financial goals, you also consider how much risk you’re prepared to take to achieve those goals. For instance, if you’re the type who easily panics after losing some investments, then you may not be in the right position to allocate greater portion of your assets to risky investment products.

It is also noteworthy to consider mixing assets within the same category. That is, you don’t only diversify across different assets categories but also within the same category. In doing so, you diversify within stocks category by investing in different stocks on the market. This must also cover different industrial sectors such as banking stocks, manufacturing stocks and insurance stocks. Considering foreign stocks, beyond just the Ghana Stock Exchange could even be more helpful. This is because different markets don’t normally grow in the same direction. When Ghana Stock Exchange performs poorly, Johannesburg stock market may be performing better. The easiest way to invest in foreign stocks is to purchase equity funds that invest beyond the GSE. A typical example is Databank Epack fund as well as SEM All-Africa fund.

In addition, you diversify within fixed income securities by purchasing T-bills, bonds and probably fixed deposits. Similarly, you diversify within mutual funds by investing in equity funds, balanced funds and money market funds. You may even consider other alternative investments such as gold and antiques if you have the means.

Rebalancing your assets mix

As your assets keep growing, the original mix may become distorted due to the different growth rates of the different assets categories. Furthermore, your investment goal may change at any point in time. Thus, it would be necessary to regularly monitor and rebalance your assets mix. Stay abreast with current market updates and make use of the information to help rebalance your assets. The use of Spf wealthTrack can also guide you to know which assets categories require adjustments.



Avoiding over diversification

As earlier stated, a few seasoned investors have had their criticisms on diversification. For example, Warren Buffett, an American business magnate and investor, made a remark concerning people’s obsession about investment diversification. He argued:

Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.”

Deducing from the above statement, Warren Buffett does not entirely consider diversification as a bad practice. Rather, his concern centres on over diversification and the notion that diversification is the ‘Messiah’ of investment growth. Yes, too much of everything can be bad too. In fact, over diversification can even hold you back from potential earnings. For instance, anyone who might be precisely utilising the GSE Composite Index (used to track all stocks on the exchange) for his diversification approach may not be making more returns as the one who rather focus on a few profitable stocks on the market. This is because even though the stock market records negative returns in some financial years, a few individual stocks make huge gains in the same financial years.

It may similarly be needless to invest in numerous mutual funds in the name of diversification. Don’t forget that the investment strategies of most collective investment schemes in Ghana follow similar patterns. At least, a look at our previous post on foundational stocks can give you a clue. Selecting a few good schemes based on past fund performance and reputation of fund managers can be a good way to go. Essentially, get to know your mutual funds so as to have a vivid picture of what they invest in. In that way, you avoid stashing your money in repeated portfolios.

To conclude, diversification of investment can be very useful in reducing one’s exposure to market volatilities and other investment risks. However, it must not be like spreading your tentacles everywhere with no focus. The main point is to focus on a few and manageable number of assets in different categories while considering your financial goals.

Rates on mutual funds decline due to market losses

mutual funds decline

The poor performance of the stock market seems to be having negative effects on the returns of mutual funds. Until the 6th of September 2017, major mutual funds in the country had been riding on the Ghana Stock Exchange for their continuous gains. This increasing trend ceased to continue following the recent drop in share prices on the stock market. The year-to-date return of the Ghana Stock Exchange, which peaked at 45.53% on 6th September 2017, continuously dropped to 35.67 as of 22nd September 2017. Due to this downward trend, rates on mutual funds decline in response. Major equity and balanced funds have since registered some losses.

The year-to-date return of Databank Epack, for example, has dropped from 35.32% (recorded on 6th September 2017) to 29.37% as of 22nd September 2017. In the same period, Databank’s Bfund dropped from 31.50% to 28.37%. Similarly, SAS Fortune fund (an equity fund managed by Strategic African Securities) declined from 41.20% as of 5th September 2017 to 37.15% on 22nd September 2017.

Other investment funds experiencing decline in their rates include FirstBanc Heritage fund, HFC Equity Trust and Gold Fund Unit Trust. The rate on FirstBanc Heritage fund has slightly declined from 34.89% as of 4th September 2017 to 32.68% on the 22nd of September 2017. Rate on HFC Equity Trust also declined from 26.89% as of 7th September 2017 to 23.72% on 22nd September 2017. Finally, rate on Gold Fund Unit Trust dropped from 34.56% (recorded on 4th September 2017) to 33.60% as of 20th September 2017.


Ghana Stock Exchange suffers losses after record high

ghana stock exchange

After attaining a record high of 45.53% in the current year, the Ghana Stock Exchange suffers a fall-back in its performance indices. The GSE composite index (GSE-CI) which peaked at a year-to-date figure of 45.53% on 6th September 2017, started to decline on the following trading day (7th September 2017). This followed a continuous decline in subsequent trading days. At the end of trading yesterday (15th September 2017), the Ghana Stock Exchange closed with a year-to-date return of 36.78%. Overall, the stock market has therefore dropped by 8.75% over the past week. Furthermore, the GSE Financial Stocks Index (GSE-FSI) has similarly plunged from its year-to-date figure of 44.14% (recorded on 6th September) to 30.92% on 15th September 2017. This translates in a loss of 13.22%.

The losses were mainly contributed by some financial stocks on the bourse. Standard Chartered Bank Limited (SCB), for instance, suffered a cumulative loss of 23.11% between 6th September and 15th September 2017. The banking stock, which was trading at GH¢26.01 on 6th September 2017, closed trading at GH¢20 on 15th September 2017. GCB Bank Limited (GCB) similarly recorded a loss of 12.43% between 6th September and 15th September 2017. In addition, Enterprise Group Limited (EGL) registered a loss of 10.71% over the same period. The Insurance stock retreated from its trading price of GH¢5.6 (on 6th September 2017) to GH¢5.00 on 15th September 2017.



Investments on the GSE: Has the foreign investor benefited?

GSE foreign investor

Investors all over the world look out for avenues to put their funds in order to get some returns and the Ghana Stock Exchange is one of the possible options.  In the article “The performance of the GSE vs T-Bills”,published on citifmonline.com on 31st January, 2017, it was revealed that in the long term, the GSE returned marginally better than Treasury bills.

Looking at the GSE from the perspective of a foreign investor takes a different twist. I was in a discussion with an investor who informed me he had invested about USD5 Million on the Ghana Stock Exchange in the last eight years but has lost more than 50% of his investment even though the stock market is returning about 40% Year-To-Date this year (2017). I decided to take a closer look at the figures within that period.



GSE foreign investor _ interbank exchange rate

GSE foreign investor _ inflation year on year

The graphs above depict the performance of the various factors that have impacted the funds placed in the investment over the period. The Ghana Cedi has depreciated more than 70% within the period under consideration while the GSE has returned about 13% on average- More than 5% lower than that of 91 Day Treasury bill.

GSE foreign investor _ GSE return

Putting the investor’s funds into perspective, as shown in the table above, the investor converted $5M to Ghana Cedis, which was GHC6M in 2008. He earned about 13% on the investment on the GSE to about GH¢16M. He then converted this amount to Dollars which as at the end of 2016 stood at about $3.8M. The result is that about 24% of his funds had depleted.

Even though the GSE may be returning positively to local investors, the foreign investor that converts Dollars to Cedis to invest in the local bourse may be making a mistake. The main issue here, after the analysis, is the stability of the cedi.

Managers of the Exchange and all stakeholders must work together to ensure measures are put in place to ensure that the GSE is competitive.

One major action that must be taken seriously is getting a policy in place that will compel multinationals to list. Owners of these multinationals who are mostly foreigners receive their dividends in foreign currencies especially the USD which are shipped out of Ghana’s economy. This puts pressure on the local currency thus contributes to depreciation.

Others include taking a second look at the cap on price changes on the Ghana Stock Market. Market Forces should be allowed fully to determine price changes.

In bigger markets, the stock exchanges communicate the health of their economies, but ours do not tell the full picture as companies are not fully represented.

The GSE needs rebranding, repackaging and fresh ideas to ensure acceptable returns to all investors.

 

Credit: Kofi Busia Kyei (Financial analyst)

Source: citibusinessnews



Ghana Stock Exchange suspends trading of CPC shares

five listed companies

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) has suspended trading of Cocoa Processing Company Limited (CPC) shares with effect from August 30, 2017.

According to the GSE, CPC has failed to meet its continuing listing obligations in spite of several promptings. The obligations are failure to submit financial reports and failure to conduct Annual General Meeting.

The suspension of trading in CPC will be in force until September 13, 2017, which is the deadline for the company to rectify the anomalies. Failure to do so will attract further sanctions as per the GSE Listing Rules.

Source: Ghana Stock Exchange