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It’s Playoff Time Again
Why We Should Bench Our Losers, Not Our Winners

Whether or not we are fans, everyone in our culture has used sports analogies to describe smart decision making. So why, then, do we draw the line when it comes to making smart retirement investment decisions?

Consider the playoff picture—whether you’re a hockey fan, a basketball fan, or something else—all season your team has a player who has been huge—a top scorer, tremendous on defense—someone who dominates the game. Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretsky. Lou Gehrig. Call them what you will—“game changers,” “difference makers.” These are the players who start every game.

So when the playoffs roll around—the most meaningful games of the season—the coach would never decide to bench these guys and go with the scrubs, right? Of course not.

And yet, that’s what many of us do with our investments. After a few months of a major stock market rally, that automatic email arrives telling you “it’s time to rebalance.” Or your broker calls to advise you that now you’re “over-weighted” in the funds that are performing so well, and strongly advises you to sell those "winners" and buy some bonds, which, during a sustained surge in the stock market, are sure to be, well, losers—the second or third string of investment options.

In the same way no sane coach would bench his best players, investors should show the same attitude toward their best-performing funds. Granted, investors are still wary of a repeat of the summers of 2008 or 2011, but allowing your winners to play does not mean you stop paying attention to them. In fact, it’s because you were paying attention that you’ve found a good investment in the first place.

Now, even star players get old, or could get hurt, so sometimes we need to make a trade. But like a good coach who adapts to what’s happening on the field, we too need to apply discipline and attention to keeping our investment stars in the game.

Kevin L. Coppola, President, Compass Investors, LLC

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