Imagine that the best funds for 2011 might not be the best bond funds or stock funds from 2010, but rather funds that you might not even be aware of. Now imagine taking control of your investment portfolio so that you can relax in retirement. Times are changing and it's time to think outside the box and diversify like never before.
Don't expect to find the best funds for 2011 if you are looking in the wrong places. Bond funds have been good investments in recent times, but even the best bond funds could be running out of gas soon. Interest rates have fallen like a rock and can't get much lower. When rates head back up virtually all traditional bond funds will be losers. Higher interest rates means lower bond prices or values. That's the way it works.
General diversified stock funds are at the mercy of a stock market that can't seem to get traction in a sluggish economy with high unemployment. But some of the best funds for 2011 could be stock funds that specialize in specific sectors. For example: mutual funds in the gold mining, energy, or commercial real estate sectors. Other opportunities could take the form of exchange traded funds (ETFs) rather than mutual funds. The big advantage here is the wide variety of investment options to help you diversify your investment portfolio even further.
Diversification is the key to investing in uncertain times. Think: How might I get hurt in the future with my investment portfolio, and how can I diversify to protect myself and profit at the same time. For example, inflation and interest rates and/or energy prices could go higher. Inflation-protected bond funds, gold, energy (natural resources), and real estate funds might be good investment options to add to your portfolio. All four of these come in the form of both mutual funds and exchange traded funds.
To fine tune or diversify your investment portfolio even further the best funds for 2011 are exchange traded funds. There are over a thousand to choose from and they trade as stocks on the major exchanges. Open an account with a major discount broker and you're in business. Plus, you will have access to investment tools; and information on these funds will be at your fingertips. Now you can bet that interest rates will go up by simply buying shares in stock symbol TBT, or that natural gas prices will rise by buying UNG. You can buy or sell on any business day in a matter of seconds for a commission of $10.
Average investors today have all of the investment options they will ever need to succeed in the form of funds. Traditional bond funds and general diversified stock funds should remain as major components of the average investment portfolio, but in times of high uncertainty greater diversification is called for. Your best funds to accomplish this are those that invest in areas that can buck the trend when the going gets tough.
A retired financial planner, James Leitz has an MBA (finance) and 35 years of investing experience. For 20 years he advised individual investors, working directly with them helping them to reach their financial goals.
Jim is the author of a complete investor guide, Invest Informed, designed for average investors or would-be investors of all levels of financial background and experience. To learn more about investments and investing and his new financial guide go to http://www.investinformed.com.
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