Investing Portfolio Management
By Justin Cook | Updated: September 12, 2019
What is an Investment Portfolio?
When we talk about managing an investment portfolio, it’s important to first understand what a portfolio is. Like a physical portfolio, an investment portfolio is used to store valuables, but the similarities end there. So, exactly what is an investment portfolio? An investment portfolio is a collection of assets held by an individual or an institution. These assets can include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and so on. Also contained under the portfolio umbrella are investments in retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs. As investors, we mix and match these different assets into a portfolio according to our risk management strategy and financial goals in order to generate a return.
Whether you work with a broker or adviser or you trade on your own, you should always monitor your investments. Keeping an eye on investing portfolio management could help you prevent minor mistakes from turning into big problems. The following portfolio management steps should help you stay in tune with your investments and how they are being managed.
10 Tips for Investment Portfolio Management
Read and keep all documents. Documents that you receive from your broker, mutual fund or investment adviser are important to keep for your records. Check to make sure your confirmations and account statements are accurate. Double check all dates and dollar amounts. If something is incorrect, promptly notify the broker or adviser and have the matter corrected. Otherwise, you may encounter problems down the road, such as being placed in riskier assets than you are comfortable with.
Keep good notes of communications with your broker or adviser. Taking notes when you're talking to your broker or adviser will help if there is a problem. As you learn how to manage a portfolio, the amount of moving parts associated with trading and investing may seem overwhelming. Keeping detailed notes helps keep you organized and provides a record of your interactions with your broker or adviser should a question arise.
Get all confirmations and account statements sent directly to you. Receiving all confirmations and account statements directly is a great way to keep tabs on your account, while ensuring that the broker/advisor has your proper contact information. If you can't look after your own investments, get copies of these documents sent to someone you trust, such as a family member, lawyer or accountant so that there is always a pair of independent eyes looking after you. Having a second set of eyes reviewing your documents could help you spot potential red flags or even opportunities you might not have considered on your own. This could prove to be invaluable as you grow as an investor.
If you don't get account statements or confirmations, follow up. You have a right to this information, and it’s difficult to practice sound investment portfolio management without it. If you are not receiving these documents on a regular basis, that could be a sign of trouble. The broker or advisor may have your address incorrect, and as a result, you may not be receiving important timely information. You might miss an important announcement, or incorrectly calculate your position size based on changes to your account to which you may not have been made privy. So, always follow up if you feel that such an error has been made.
Ask questions about any information you receive about your investments. If you don't understand something, ask questions. The sooner you request clarification, the sooner you’ll have the answers you need to properly manage your risk and take the trades you want. If investments that you did not authorize appear on your confirmations or account statements, contact your broker or adviser at once. This would be cause for serious concern, as it could indicate a legitimate breach of security in your account. Though it may seem tempting to do so, don't wait to see how the investments perform. The longer you wait to speak up, the more difficult the issue may be to correct.
Even if you don't trade online, consider getting online access to your account. Most investing portfolio management takes place over the internet. Online access to your account allows you to review your account whenever you want. You can verify information that you received from your broker or adviser or in your confirmations or account statements. If you don’t have online access to your account, then you may not be able to reference the most up-to-date information, which could wreak havoc on your risk management and, ultimately, your return on investment. You also may be able to request that your confirmations and account statements be sent to you via email. In this event, make sure to save those emails!
Do not make checks or other payments payable to your broker, adviser or another individual for an investment. In most cases, money should only be sent to your brokerage firm, its clearing firm, or another financial institution. Making a check payable to any other party or individual could prove problematic, especially if the check gets deposited into the wrong account—or worse, into the wrong person’s account. It’s best to err on the side of caution and limit your exposure to such scenarios altogether, by only sending checks payable to your brokerage firm, its clearing firm, or another financial institution.
Meet with your broker and visit the firm, if possible. Investments are a major financial undertaking and should be afforded the same degree of investigation and caution as any other major purchase you might make. Therefore, it is simply not sensible to invest with just anyone. Visit the firm, ensure the operations are legitimate, and use the opportunity to put a face to the name of your broker. This will create help create a level of personal understanding only attainable via face-to-face meetings.
Conduct independent research on your investments. Ideally, you should independently verify information by thoroughly reading prospectuses, research reports, offering materials, annual reports (Form 10-K), quarterly reports (Form 10-Q), and other filings that a company makes with the SEC. SEC filings, such as Forms 10-K and 10-Q, can be accessed on the SEC Web site. Another excellent source of research information is the website for the exchange on which the products are traded, specifically the Contract Specifications page. Familiarizing yourself with the particulars around your investments helps you get to know the products better and assists you in measuring risk and constructing your overall investing or trading plan.
Periodically review your portfolio management strategy. Make sure the securities in your account still meet your investment objectives. If they do not, then research what kinds of investments might better suit your specific situation, based on your investing portfolio management plan. Also, make sure you understand and are comfortable with the risks, costs, and liquidity of your investments. If you aren’t, then be sure to notify your broker/adviser and discuss additional opportunities. As part of this review, you may want to check the information that is on file at your brokerage firm regarding your accounts, such as new account agreements, margin account agreements, option account agreements, discretionary account agreements, and any correspondence to you. You have a right to know what is on file about you and the firm's records must accurately reflect important information about you such as your age, income, net worth, financial status, long-term goals and investment objectives so it’s important to make sure all of the information is is correct and error-free. Again, keep all the documents your broker/advisor provides to you, and always remember to store them in a safe place.
How to Manage a Portfolio Problem
If you believe you have been wronged or see a mistake in your account, act quickly. Immediately question any transaction or entry that you do not understand or did not authorize. Don't be timid or ashamed to complain. The securities industry needs your help so it can operate successfully. Here are the steps you should take:
- If you think it's a minor mistake, talk to your portfolio management broker. This may be the fastest way to resolve the problem.
- If you can't resolve the problem with your broker or you believe your broker engaged in unauthorized transactions or other serious misconduct, report the matter to the firm's management or compliance department in writing.
- If you and your firm still can't resolve the problem, contact FINRA. You can file a complaint using FINRA's complaint form. If you are seeking to recover money, you may want to consider arbitration or mediation.
About the Author
As Author and Content Editor at Online Trading Academy, Justin composes scripts and articles for the Content Development Department.
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