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Diversification is a portfolio management technique used to lower the risk of an investment portfolio.

2 types of investing risk

As defined by academic theory, there are two types of risk:

  • Specific risk (also called diversifiable risk)
  • Market risk (also called undiversifiable risk)

Company specific risk can be reduced by diversification. These are risks specific to a company or industry.

For example, let’s say an investor holds shares in 10 gold companies. Tomorrow, the price of gold falls, so the entire portfolio will be adversely affected. If, however, the investor held 1 gold company and 9 other diverse companies, the specific risk (i.e. a falling gold price) can be reduced.

Market risk cannot be completely reduced. An example of the market risk is the general ups and downs of share prices. This is the risk of the market

Diversification narrows the range of return outcomes. However, it doesn’t necessarily reduce the expected return.

Consider This: 

In a diversified portfolio, the overall portfolio cannot perform better than the best-performing investment. However, it cannot perform worse than the worst-performing investment.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”

Evans and Archer (1968) found that 10 diversified investments were enough to remove 70% of the diversifiable risk, while Statman (1987) found that 30 to 40 stocks are required to be well diversified.

How to diversify my investments

An investor can diversify a portfolio by holding investments across different asset classes, including:

  • Shares
  • International shares
  • Bonds
  • Cash
  • Property; and
  • Alternative investments

For example, consider an investor who owns their family home and their only investment is another property. That would be an example of poor diversification.

An investor can also diversify within an asset class (see the gold investor above example, above). 

Podcast: How do I diversify quickly and easily?

In the following Australian Finance Podcast episode, Kate and Owen explain in simple terms how to diversify your portfolio across shares, bonds, ETFs, gold, cash and more.

See: How to diversify ALL of your finances

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Owen Raszkiewicz

Owen Raszkiewicz

Owen is the Chief Investment Officer of Rask Invest and Founder of Rask. Since founding The Rask Group in 2017 in the hillside suburb of Upwey, Victoria, Owen has overseen the growth of the Rask platform to over 200,000 investor followers. Today, Owen oversees the Rask Analyst team, which helps more than 4,000 Aussies build core portfolios from ETFs and shares, he hosts Australia's biggest investing podcast, The Australian Investors Podcast, appears on Rask's other channels, covering Property, Business and Finance; and leads Rask Education - our education platform which has enrolled over 25,000 Australians into free finance courses. Prior to founding Rask, Owen was an investment analyst at the highly regarded managed funds research business and a writer/analyst for one of the most well-known share market publications. Owen’s formal qualifications include a Master of Applied Finance and Master of Financial Planning from Kaplan Professional, Bachelor of Technology (Information Systems) from Swinburne University of Technology, Advanced Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning) and Diploma of Mortgage Broking Management. He's also completed level 1 of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program.

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