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Diversifying your investment strategy for changing times

With cash looking set to deliver negative real returns in the years to come, savvy investors are seeking alternative opportunities to achieve diversification and growth within their portfolios...

4 April, 2022
Strategic Planning, Article
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With cash looking set to deliver negative real returns in the years to come, savvy investors are seeking alternative opportunities to achieve diversification and growth within their portfolios. 

Following the Australian government’s massive stimulus initiatives to keep the economy afloat during COVID-19, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has pledged to keep interest rates low for the next few years.

What’s more, with inflation generally tracking higher than interest rates, holding your money in cash and low-risk options will likely create a deflationary effect on the real value of your existing cash investments. As a result, Australian investors will likely need to move further up the risk curve to earn the same level of returns they were receiving before the pandemic.  

So, what does this mean for your investment strategy overall? And how can you capitalise on the current economic environment to build more wealth? 

Why your current strategy mightn’t be as effective any more 
Savvy investors are aware of the need to consider the risk in their portfolios, as well as which markets they want to invest in, the liquidity of their investments, and how long they want to invest for.  

With this in mind, many investors previously used what’s known as the ‘barbell strategy’, as a way to diversify a portfolio against risk while seeking higher returns. Such a portfolio combines a higher proportion of low growth but typically safe assets (such as cash, term deposits and bonds) with a smaller number of riskier but high-growth assets (such as equities). It also tends to shun other investments with risk profiles that are considered ‘middle of the road’. 

While this strategy may have worked in the past, it’s no longer providing the same secure level of diversification.  

Instead, some investment experts believe that the current environment requires a more nuanced approach. According to ANZ Private’s Head of Research and Governance, Ben McBride, the strategy that investors take will likely vary depending on their individual needs and risk profile.  

“I think it’s important for investors not to go from one extreme to the other – that they continue to take a balanced approach” he says, “There’s a vast array of investment opportunities out there to explore.” 

Alternative strategies for better returns 
The good news is there are investment alternatives to cash and shares that may be able to help investors achieve better returns than cash. However, these investments are less well known and understood in the Australian market. 

Due to their unfamiliarity, McBride notes that Australian investors have previously stuck with traditional investments such as cash and home equity. “The fact we’ve had historically higher interest rates compared to the rest of the world has meant that Australian investors haven't had to be as adventurous,” he says. “We're now in a position where we may be compelled to look at the other investment options out there.” 

McBride says high-yield debt is one part of the market that’s has historically offered quite strong risk-adjusted returns for investors. They have higher interest rates but lower credit ratings, and they’re often seen as riskier than some other assets.  

“High yield debt would not typically be a large allocation in your portfolio, but it’s an area where you could consider having exposure in terms of broadening the diversification of your overall fixed income portfolio,” McBride says.  

Seeking high-yield debt for your portfolio 
Unfortunately for Australian investors, there isn’t a big local market for high-yield debt assets. McBride says investors interested in exploring these investments need to search abroad - adding a layer of complexity to investing.  

“Because many Australian investors are less familiar with international markets, they are hesitant to look to the US or Europe for exposures to high-yield debt,” he says. “On top of that, investors must deal with some added currency risk as well.” 

Therefore, investors need to understand what role these riskier debt assets could play in their portfolios, and make sure they understand what they’re investing in.  

With this in mind, McBride says that it’s important to seek advice from an adviser experienced in these types of assets. They can help you identify investment opportunities and provide tailored advice and education. 

Discover how ANZ Private can help you diversify your portfolio for changing times
At ANZ Private, we work with high-net-worth investors to identify the best strategies and investments for building wealth and helping you achieve your life goals. We can provide advice tailored to your individual needs, giving you access to more opportunities without taking on excessive risk. To discuss a personalised solution, get in touch today.  

Written by Dan Murphy

Dan Murphy | Director of ANZ Private Office

Dan is the Director of the ANZ Private Office team in Melbourne. He leads a specialised team of Private Bankers and Investment Advisors who provide wealth and banking solutions to high net worth business owners and their families.

Dan has been with ANZ for over 20 years, including as National Head of Small Business Managers, Area Manager of Small Business for the St Kilda Rd district and Marketing Manager for Business Banking in New Zealand.

Prior to joining ANZ, Dan spent several years working in the funds management and insurance industries in London, Edinburgh and New Zealand. 


The views expressed in this content are those of the author, who is also responsible for any errors and omissions. Family Business Australia and New Zealand provides this article for your information only. The content of the article should not be taken as advice. If you wish to explore this topic, please consult an advisor who you consider to have the expertise to provide specific advice in relation to your family business.