Most financial planners and investment advisors focus on your investment portfolio and its performance against various indexes. While your investment portfolio is important, it’s only part of the picture. Your overall net worth is a much better measure of your financial well being and your ability to achieve your goals.
Functional Asset Allocation is a holistic approach to net worth management and growth. Its most basic premise is that there are three major categories of assets – interest-earning, real estate, and equities – and that each category has a fundamental function or purpose.
The purpose of the interest-earning category, which includes cash and bonds, is capital preservation. These investments protect against deflation and ensure that you will have a reliable cash flow while keeping this part of your portfolio safe.
The real estate category includes your personal residence, real estate that produces income (rental property, for example), and nonproductive real estate (including vacant land and second homes). The purpose of real estate is to protect against inflation through the opportunity to leverage your investment by mortgaging the property. It also fulfills the function of personal use and enjoyment.
Equities produce profits during times of prosperity. They are the growth engine of your net worth.
Once you understand the function of each asset category you see how questions like “Should I invest in stocks or bonds now?” are fundamentally flawed. Under Functional Asset Allocation, the three asset categories don’t compete against each other on performance or yield. The better question is “Do I have the right investments in each asset category, and am I properly balanced across all three categories so that I can achieve my goals and worry less about my finances?”