Pay Dirt: A head-to-toe financial guide

  • Article by: KARA MCGUIRE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 16, 2008 - 1:28 AM

Need to breathe life into your investment portfolio? A local author turns to the human body for inspiration and explanation. Think of it as an annual physical in investing.

Dean Junkans barely passed high school biology, but that didn't stop the Wells Fargo executive from seeing many parallels between the human anatomy and investing.

"In the human body, a number of key organs and body parts must work together to sustain life. An individual investment portfolio, the various parts of it, and the individuals managing it, must also work together to have a sustainable and successful experience," Junkans, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank, writes in his new book "The Anatomy of Investing."

Junkans links several body parts to core financial planning and investment concepts. He also cleverly refers to common medical practices in chapters such as the ones about choosing your own "doctor," also known as an investment adviser, and conducting an "annual physical," or portfolio review. The result is a thorough and accessible head-to-toe financial guide.

In an interview last week, Junkans pointed out the key organs and body parts in our financial anatomy, focusing on the ones that investors should pay especially close attention to during this volatile bear market.

Brain The logical, analytical left brain is your investment plan, or road map to your goals. The right brain represents your emotional side. In investing, individuals shouldn't let the right brain get too involved, especially in uncertain times when fear and greed can easily take over. But you don't want to cut the right brain out completely. "Add some fun and creativity to the portfolio" by owning stocks in companies that you know, Junkans said.

Spine The backbone of your portfolio is asset allocation. This is your mix of investments such as stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities and cash. To have a healthy backbone, your investment mix must be well diversified. Being diversified is not going to mitigate all your downside risk ... in an environment such as the one we're in, ''but it will certainly help smooth the ride a little bit," Junkans said.

Eyes "The eyes were put in the front of the head, not the back of the head, for a reason," Junkans said. "And a lot of investors look backward ... investors tend to chase performance.'' Or in down markets, they tend to avoid recent bad performance. I guess that explains why billions of dollars were taken out of mutual funds in recent weeks. Investors should really be looking forward to determine how to position themselves for the future. Given this year's broad market declines, Junkans says he sees value in all corners of the market -- with the exception of pricey U.S. Treasuries -- although he favors domestic stocks to international developed market stocks.

Ears The ears have the big job of filtering out noise about the stock market and the economy, which can cause investors to think they need to make constant tweaks to their portfolio.

Nose Use the nose to sniff out whether an investment opportunity smells right. If the return is really high, check the risks. In a market such as the one we're in, bad actors tend to materialize, claiming that they can reverse your losses with their investment scheme. Be wary.

Mouth and stomach The mouth and stomach feed your portfolio. This market might have demonstrated to you how much risk you can stomach. Unless you need the cash right now, Junkans says "generally it's going to be a mistake to notch down the risk after a 40 percent drop in the market." Instead, make more conservative current contributions going forward.

Neck The neck is your portfolio's flexibility. Have cash on the sidelines so you can take advantage of opportunities that arise.

Heart A core portfolio of dividend and income-paying stocks is one strategy for heart health. And don't overlook putting the heart into your financial life. Consider socially responsible investing with mutual funds that screen stocks based on your values, or supporting charities that matter to you, which may also earn you a tax deduction.

Kidneys The kidneys get rid of toxins. Cleanse your portfolio from time to time to realize tax benefits.

Lungs Rebalance periodically to avoid shortness of breath. You'd be surprised what this market has done to your investment allocation pie.

Arms and legs Get moving and pick your investment vehicles, but not before you understand how the rest of your body works in concert to realize your investment goals.

Share your investment analogies with Kara McGuire • 612-673-7293 or kara@startribune.com.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close