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How Crowdfunding Can Boost Your Investment Diversity

posted Dec 30, 2013, 4:07 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 30, 2013, 4:08 PM ]
Remember the adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? This old saying certainly holds when making investing decisions; in fact, diversification—both between asset classes and within individual asset classes—ranks among the most powerful tools in your arsenal when it comes to reducing avoidable risk. As I've talked about before in this column, diversification is critical for any type of investing, in particular alternative investing. Equity crowdfunding is simply a mechanism to facilitate investments into private companies.

Here’s why diversification is so important.

Importance of Diversification

In a nutshell, investment diversification simply means allocating your financial resources across multiple instruments and areas in order to reduce risk. Because these different instruments and areas react differently to events that affect the economy and the market, diversified asset allocation may help protect your portfolio against suffering loss across the board.

Think of it this way: Consider a store that sells both rain boots and flip-flops. Would the shopkeeper expect to sell both of these items at the same time? Probably not—but that’s the point. On sunny days, customers will purchase flip-flops, and on rainy days, there’ll be a run on rain boots. No matter what the weather, the shopkeeper is making money.

This concept applies to investing as well. When implemented effectively within a well-designed portfolio, this risk management technique balances investments across a range of industries and asset classes, including, for example, public equity, debt and private equity

But it doesn’t stop there. A well-balanced portfolio also includes investments across a range of instruments within an asset class—in other words, more than the five to 10 investments that many financial advisors recommend.

These two facets of diversification mitigate the effects of volatility on a portfolio by spreading risk across a wider field. For instance, if you load your portfolio with stocks from one industry, such as banking or technology, an event that tanks those stocks—such as the bursting bubbles we saw over the past decade—will lead to a drop in your portfolio’s value. In contrast, only portions of a portfolio that contain instruments from many classes—stocks, bonds and funds, for example—and across many industries will be affected.


Diversification is based on the principle of correlation, or connections between assets. Correlated assets move together—They’re affected in similar ways by the same market forces—while uncorrelated assets move in different directions.

Correlation is determined using historical return data. It’s expressed as a number from -1 to +1. The higher the correlation, the closer the movements, and vice versa. For instance, stocks with a 0.6 correlation moved in the same direction 60 percent of the time, while stocks with a -0.6 correction moved in opposite directions 60 percent of the time.

As a general rule, lower correlations lead to greater diversification. In theory, this means that combining assets with low correlations in a portfolio tends to lead to greater efficiency—or the same returns with less risk.


While the theory behind diversification isn’t difficult to understand, applying it is a bit more involved. Asset allocation is a personal process that depends on your unique financial situation. Generally, the amount of assets you allocate across categories depends on three factors:
Your time horizon
Your tolerance for risk
Your overall financial goals

Diversification requires investment across asset classes, which include public equity, debt and private equity.

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