Minimalism has become a pop-culture phenomenon for good reason: By whittling down your possessions, you free yourself from all that unnecessary chaos.
The same is true of your investment portfolio. Streamlining a cumbersome collection of duplicate holdings, impulse buys and investments that no longer fit your strategy can provide a clearer picture of your financial health.
Here are three ways you may be overcomplicating your portfolio—and what you can do about each.
Problem: Redundant accounts
It’s not uncommon to acquire multiple accounts over the years—401(k)s, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and multiple brokerage accounts, often spread across various firms. Keeping track of how your holdings work together can be difficult under such conditions. Worse, financial firms vary widely in what they charge to maintain each account, and all those fees can add up.
Ask yourself why you opened each account in the first place. Those with a unique goal—a 529 college savings plan, for example—are worth keeping. However, it might be time to consolidate accounts with similar purposes, particularly if they’re held at multiple firms. You might be better served by paring down providers to those with lower costs or better investment options.
Problem: Overlapping funds
Some people invest in multiple mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in order to diversify. However, the number of funds you own is less relevant than how they work together to manage your overall risk. If you own multiple funds with overlapping holdings, you could be less diversified than if you owned a single fund with broad market exposure.
If you're a Schwab client, use Schwab’s comparison tools for mutual funds and ETFs to help identify funds in your portfolio that are redundant in their holdings and/or investment styles. Investigate, too, whether you’re overpaying for actively managed funds that mirror, rather than outperform, their benchmark indexes.
Problem: Competing advice
Two heads may be better than one, but not if they’re taking different approaches to the same goal and canceling each other out in the process. Different advisors may not always align their strategies for the greater good of your portfolio—leaving you to coordinate and guard against unnecessary fees and taxes.
Settle on one comprehensive advisor, or assign advisors discrete tasks. One might manage your short-term investments or philanthropic endeavors, for example, while another administers your retirement funds.
Just remember: Less can add up to more when it comes to managing your financial future.