When we talk about uncertain times, we’re referring to what we think is best described as the “bouncy” economy lately.
For every economist shouting “recession!” there are growing job market and GDP numbers that have just as many publications wondering if we’re going to see a recession at all.
Whichever future you believe in, economic times don’t have to be uncertain and you don’t have to be afraid of an impending recession to get your financial affairs in order!
If you’re here because you’re considering moving around some investments to create more stability and protect your wealth — whatever the reason — then you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll help you catch your breath for a second and consider shifting your perspective first, then tackling your portfolio.
So come along as we uncover everything you need to know to determine:
- Whether or not it’s a good idea for you to shift asset allocation right now
- Which are the lowest-risk investment options you can add to your portfolio
- Where you may be able to find some upside in all this madness
Allocation: To Shift or Not to Shift?
As DIY investors ourselves here at Kubera, we know first-hand how easy it is to take knee-jerk action when you fear your finances are at risk.
In an effort to make sure we, and the readers who come to our blog for advice and support, are making the best decisions when the economy gets rocky — we’ve reached out to several financial experts to get their thoughts on what are the best moves to make right now.
We found our plans crystalized and our resolve strengthened by some advice from one financial pro in particular.
Robert Johnson is a chartered alternative investment analyst, chartered financial analyst, a professor of finance, and a financial writer!
He told us that instead of investors uprooting their entire asset allocation strategy, he recommends rebalancing allocations within the asset classes you already hold when possible.
Of course, if you have reason to believe your situation is going to change significantly and you’re going to need the cash you’re investing for survival, you’re probably beyond worrying about allocation and should halt putting any more money into investments right now.
However, if you plan to keep your job and are currently happy with the performance of your portfolio, he says it’s safe to mostly stay the course, basically.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to protect your wealth and your investment profits.
In addition to adjusting your holdings within asset classes to align with higher-return sectors, there are also several safe investments you can add to your portfolio to increase diversification and protect or even increase asset ROI.
Let’s check some of ‘em out right now.
Best Low-Risk Investments to Make for a Healthy Portfolio
Here’s how to adjust the assets you already hold and what to do with the spare cash you want to invest to remain as stable as possible in uncertain economic conditions.
Stocks in Sectors That Grow With Higher Interest Rates
Chances are you’re already invested in stocks, so this section is all about allocation rebalancing within an existing asset class, just like our financial expert Robert suggests.
Speaking of Robert, while writing Invest With the Fed, his co-authors uncovered a handful of best-performing sectors when high interest rates were at play (like today!):
- Equity REITs
- Consumer goods
What about sectors you want to diversify away from? They collected some data there, too, and identified these worst-performing sectors in times of high interest rates:
- Durables (consumer goods that last at least three years, like furniture, appliances, etc.)
Some other interesting findings Robert and co. made were that emerging markets did better than developed, global markets and large stocks outperformed smaller ones in a high interest rate setting.
Let’s talk a little more about stocks before moving on to some new asset types.
Preferred stock is a form of company equity that gets better treatment compared to common stock.
Typically, folks with preferred stock enjoy higher dividend payouts than those with common stock, and have “first dibs” when it comes to payouts and other assets if the company starts struggling or goes under.
The payouts with preferred stock are typically higher than those with corporate bonds, CDs, and some other “safer” assets we’re going to talk about soon. The balance is that there is of course some risk associated with buying into a functioning company.
Yet, because of their preferential treatment, they still come out above common stocks when it comes to their risk profile. Preferred stock may experience less price fluctuation compared to common stock, which reduces its volatility and increases predictability — aka safety.
Treasury Bills (T-Bills)
U.S. Treasury bills are “short-term government securities” that investors can acquire for a discount.
And, according to well-known investor and financial founder Bill Gross, one-year T-Bills are set to outperform “money market fund and almost all other alternatives” as interest rates rise and recession possibly looms.
Because, above all, they’re predictable.
The risk that you’ll lose your initial investment in a T-Bill is practically zero (thanks to U.S. government backing), they don’t tie up your money for long (most mature in a year or less), and once they’re mature you always get back what you paid plus the (small) interest payments generated.
T-Bills typically have a lower rate of return than most other types of investments in regular conditions, but they are something you can almost always rely on for returns no matter how the stock market heaves — something many other investment types can’t promise.
Note: Don’t confuse Treasury bills with Treasury bonds, Treasury notes, or other Treasury security types.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
CDs can be purchased from banks in any denomination, and are FDIC insured up to $250,000. You can select a short maturity rate of just a few months, or hold one for several years. And CDs pay interest at specific times, which you know the minute you purchase one.
Just like T-Bills, certificates of deposit are a lower reward yet lower risk investment, and they provide stable income at a time when nothing else may be stable.
Investments like these are a powerful outlet for upping your portfolio diversification.
Diversification — which is the practice of investing in assets that aren’t closely correlated with the stock market or with each other — is one of the best ways to cushion your investment portfolio against losses when the stock market, and all the markets that closely track it, turn downward.
Getting Physical: Precious Metals
For our last recommendation we thought we’d throw in something a little different to really boost that diversification — precious metals.
Precious metals are called that because several factors have come together to make them especially valuable:
- They’re scarce
- They’re pivotal in some sort of industrial process
- Their value typically rises with inflation
- They’ve historically been seen as a store of value
The most popular precious metals today are still gold, silver, and platinum.
There are two ways to invest in precious metals. You can always buy the physical thing, insure it, and lock it up somewhere safe.
But if you don’t desire holding onto the “real thing,” you can also invest in metals by way of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, futures contracts, or even stock in public companies that work with precious metals in some way.
Exceeding Performance Expectations? Where to Take Advantage
If you’re in a good spot financially and have already taken steps to ensure your wealth is safe and your diverse investments will continue to generate ROI, there may be one more interesting and fun thing you can do right now.
Look out for the upsides!
Consider Diversifying Into the Digital
Back to those finance experts we mentioned chatting with.
After talks with a few different folks in the crypto space, we thought we should pass along some of our key takeaways to help you determine whether or not you’re interested in digital asset investment:
1. The Ethereum Merge is coming, cutting the blockchain network’s energy consumption by a huge margin. Some think this will help boost the value of their native coin, ether (ETH). Others don’t. Either way, if you’ve been waiting to get into crypto because of energy concerns, now could be a good time to do it.
2. According to chartered financial analyst, financial risk manager, and analyst at Investing in the Web Toni Nasr: “Although the short-term is highly volatile, the growth potential is still huge.” Toni recommends investors devote 5% of their portfolios to crypto, with a focus on stablecoins.
Stock Up on Blue-Chip and Similarly Strong Stocks
As the saying goes, buy low.
What should you buy when they’re at their lowest prices?
Certainly not the assets that are always affordable — aim higher!
When prices fall, focus your cash on blue-chip stocks (usually associated with high-performing, well-known companies) and other stocks (or other assets) with a high return record.
As owner and principal agent at Insurance Geek Brad Cummins put it to us: “Stack up more during this discounted period of time and you’ll probably 10x or 100x your investments when the bull run returns.”
Use a Money Market Account to Set Aside Cash for Real Estate
This is a two-in-one tip.
First, the money market account part.
Money market accounts (MMAs) are basically like savings accounts, but you can spend from them the same way you can from a checking account (debit card, checks, etc.)
While this account type used to offer really awesome APYs compared to savings accounts (regular, not high-yield savings accounts), that’s not a huge differentiator these days. What makes MMAs different is that they usually require high balances and deposits and can’t be withdrawn from super often.
Basically, an MMA is like a super-charged savings account that might not make you a lot of money, but it will keep it safe and prevent you from dipping into it too regularly. And that’s a good thing in this case, because you’re saving up for the second part of this tip: real estate.
As financial analyst at PiggyBank Sophia Jones told us: “ … being liquid will help people invest for very low prices, which can help them gain more profit when the market picks back up.”
Real estate is one of those assets that may very well come up for grabs if the economy does turn upside down. This is a great opportunity for you if you have liquid cash in your MMA, because real estate isn’t just a path for diversifying away from the stock market, it also generates income and tends to do even better as inflation rises.
You can become a landlord if you want, but you can also use tools like Yieldstreet, Fundrise, and so on to get involved with real estate investment trusts (REITs) that handle all the purchasing and management and pay dividends to you.
Now, Bring All Your Investments Together Under One Roof
What else has the uncertain economy left investors searching for?
A much better way to view, understand, and optimize their investments — especially now that every dollar counts.
Now that is a trend we can get behind.
In fact, it’s why we created Kubera in the first place!
When we set up Kubera, it was because we couldn’t find a singular platform from which to manage every single one of our investments — foreign, digital, traditional, and everything in between.
So we built the ultimate personal balance sheet software to provide the birds-eye view modern, diversified investors need to make wise, informed decisions.
It’s so very simple to get started with Kubera. Just sign up and get set up in a few hours, flat.
Here’s what that process looks like:
1. Input all your assets with accounts. These include bank accounts, brokerage profiles, crypto wallets, mortgages, you get the idea. As long as you keep tracking them in Kubera, your dashboard will keep displaying their real-time value.
Not sure we can track your account? We bet we can! Kubera integrates with thousands of a variety of financial institutions thanks to the custom integrations on which we’ve built our platform.
2. Here’s where it gets really cool. Kubera also helps you manage the types of assets no other portfolio tracker can handle.
Foreign and U.S. currencies, collectible investments, family heirlooms, crypto assets, real and virtual precious metal holdings, DeFi coins, real estate, art, and more — if you can own it, we can help you track it. Just use Kubera’s easy spreadsheet-like interface to add and update your asset details as needed.
That’s it. That’s all you have to do to gain visibility into your entire portfolio.
But we’re about more than just viewing your assets.
Kubera’s dashboard even automatically calculates IRR for investments.
Internal rate of return (IRR) is a more accurate take on ROI. Kubera uses initial investment, current value, cash flow, and holding time to find IRR. By displaying IRR in your preferred currency and alongside popular indices and cryptocurrencies, Kubera gives you the information you need to determine whether your investment performance aligns with your personal finance goals. This is the kind of info you want before diving into rebalancing and investing in pre-recession times.
See Kubera’s IRR calculator in action.
For another perspective on performance, just hop over to Kubera’s Recap page for the most detailed view of net worth and asset performance you’re likely ever going to get. See net worth, asset value, and percent of allocation changes yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and even daily.
With this data-based viewpoint, you can be sure to make data-based decisions on which assets to continue to hold and which to diversify away from to protect and grow your wealth.
With Kubera, it’s finally possible to get the complete portfolio view you need to wisely shift asset allocation, make new investments, and take advantage of great money-making opportunities.
And, you can do it all globally via desktop, iOS, and Android devices.
Our pricing is as simple to understand as our platform is to use. And don’t worry, you can still use Kubera with the help of your financial advisor or wealth manager. When they sign up for our white-label solution, they’ll be ready to integrate Kubera into their client workflow and provide you and others with the modern experience you deserve.