Portfolio diversification should include a higher international-stock weighting, maintains an article in Morningstar. Most Americans have a home bias, weighting their portfolios heavily towards U.S. stocks. But foreign stocks can add diversifications and are less risky than previously thought, studies suggest.
Earlier this fall, the FTSE All-World Index showed a 59% weighting in domestic stocks, and Morningstar data showed a 75% home to 25% international split. It’s true that a home bias in the U.S. isn’t as much of a problem as it is in other countries, because U.S. stocks make up over half the market, the article maintains. But overseas it’s a different story. In Australia, for example, pensions are weighted 52% to Austrialian equities—even though they only have a 2% weighting globally. And with financial services and basic materials taking up half the Aussie equity market, that creates major sector risk.
For American investors, there’s a tendency to lean toward U.S.-dollar-dominated securities, particularly as they approach retirement, given the risks of currency fluctuations, international politics, and higher investing costs abroad. But it’s often patriotism and familiarity that gives an investor a home bias. That’s a nice sentiment, but not necessarily a solid foundation for investing success, unlike diversification, which has a proven track record of improving investment returns and reducing risk.
Morningstar recently upgraded the Fidelity Multi-Asset Index (formerly Fidelity Four-in-One Index) based on the firm’s decision to shift from a 70% weighting in U.S. stocks to a more diversified 60%. But home bias isn’t going away any time soon: as of last month, the average split between domestic equities and foreign equities was 76% to 24%. The article’s takeaway advice? “Allocate like the market.”