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How Trading Your Own Retirement Can Fleece Your Financial Future - October 17, 2019

You have a significant retirement portfolio. You're an experienced investor. You've done pretty well at picking stocks. You probably even own a few of Zacks Top Retirement stock picks like:

EQT Midstream Partners, LP (EQM), Brinker International (EAT) and Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte (OMAB).

If this sounds like you, then here's a question: With your background and skills, should you manage your own retirement investments?

It could be a good idea - that is, if you are one of the very few investors who understands your own risk tolerance and can keep your emotions in check during chaotic market swings. However, if you're like the rest of us, there are likely more prudent ways to reach your retirement investing goals.

Active stock trading requires an altogether different investing philosophy and risk - reward understanding than building wealth for retirement.

How Diversification Differs from Stock Picking

Picking individual stocks has the potential for huge returns - but also carries a lot of risk, which is particularly hazardous when investing for retirement.

In fact, a study done by Hendrik Bessembinder revealed that only 4% of equities produced all of the stock market's gains over the last 90 years. All other stocks "broke even" with the increases of 38% canceled out by the losses of the bottom 58%.

For even the most expert stock pickers, the chances for long-term achievement are thin.

Is Investing Success All In Your Mind?

Investors feel they can make sensible choices, however research demonstrates that the opposite is what often happens. A DALBAR study analyzed investors from 1986 to 2015 and found that the average investor significantly underperformed compared to the S&P 500. Over 30 years, the S&P 500 produced a return of 10.35%, while the average investor return was only 3.66%.

It is interesting to note that the period covered by this study includes the 1987 crash, the 2000 bear market, and the Great Recession of 2008, as well as the bull market of the 1990s.

This study suggests that one key reason for investor underperformance is trying to time volatile markets - and that irrational behavior biases tend to compound investor mistakes.

Curiously, even experienced traders tend to underperform since they can't resist the emotional urge to make impulsive investment choices. They might be overly self-assured and miscalculate risk, get attached to a price target, or perceive a pattern that does not exist. This behavioral fallacy, over the long-term, can be disastrous with potential underperformance of a huge number of dollars disrupting your retirement.

The Bottom Line for Retirement Investors

When it comes to managing your assets for retirement, you must look at performance over the course of years and decades - not weeks or months. Because most traders generally tend to focus on the short term, they may not have the right mindset to achieve successful long-term outcomes.

We're not saying you should not trade at all - far from it. If you enjoy trading, perhaps you should put 10% of your investable assets to work in short-term investments to seek alpha and outsized returns.

But the bulk of your wealth - those assets earmarked for retirement - should be invested using a more measured, conservative, risk management approach to generate steady, compounded returns so you can safely reach your retirement goals.

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EQT Midstream Partners, LP (EQM): Free Stock Analysis Report

Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte S.A.B. de C.V. (OMAB): Free Stock Analysis Report

Brinker International, Inc. (EAT): Free Stock Analysis Report

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Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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