This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Prep Your Portfolio for Disaster With a Stress Test

Stocks in this article: STI

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- In the aftermath of the financial crisis, banks had to perform "stress tests" of their viability and ability to withstand economic shocks.

The same concept has long been a part of professional portfolio reviews, but it's a process most people either don't fully understand or simply neglect.

Can your investment choices take a shock to the system? A stress test may help insulate you from shock, just as tests from a doctor can set you on the right path with medication, diet and exercise.

How would your portfolio of investments weather a shock? Is it structured to fend off the asset-eroding potential of triggers such as so-called Black Swan events, Black Monday-level market implosions, interest and inflation rate swings, war or an oil supply disruption? Unchecked, international matters -- sovereign debt, an Asian currency crisis or Russian devaluation -- can also take a toll.

"Unfortunately most people don't truly have a plan when they invest," says Mickey Cargile, CFP, managing partner of Cargile Investments. "The first thing they need to do is decide how much of their money they want in safe investments and how much they want in risk. Part of a stress test is to understand how both parts work together and to also monitor the performance and make sure you are getting at least a fair return for the risk you are taking."

Cargile says investors can start by looking at their "risk" assets, money invested in the stock market, and compare the return on that money to those of an index such as the S&P 500.

"If your portfolio is down because the market is down, usually that's OK," he says. "But if you are down and the market is higher, you know that you are taking more risk than you are compensated for and need to make adjustments."

Cargile says this knowledge, combined with a more holistic look at all assets, shouldn't be a daunting prospect.

"Setting up your asset allocation between risk and nonrisk investments -- in other words, fixed income and equities -- and then rebalancing back toward that target, is not something that is really turning your portfolio upside down. It is just a mechanical way you can take advantage of the swings in the markets and the different investment climates. There is a difference between sticking to a plan versus putting your head in the sand. I think a lot of investors have that 'head-in-the-sand' philosophy. When the prices go down, they just don't look at their statements -- rather capitalize on it, rebalance, buy stocks at lower prices and then when they run up, start taking profits. Rebalancing back to a target forces you to take profits when the market goes up and it frees you to buy when the market goes down. That's why it works."

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,030.21 +6.04 0.03%
S&P 500 2,081.88 -0.29 -0.01%
NASDAQ 4,773.4720 +8.0480 0.17%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs