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With investing apps, it’s easier than ever to get instant information on the status of your portfolio. In fact, a new survey by Select and Dynata found that almost half (49%) of investors are checking their investments’ performance once a day or more.
While it’s certainly easy to get caught up in the excitement of the stock market, being highly engaged can backfire. In many cases, frequently checking your portfolio can actually be a detriment to your performance. Dan Egan, managing director of behavioral finance and investing at Betterment, calls this habit “high-frequency monitoring.”
“Looking at your portfolio frequently can make you feel like it’s performing worse than it actually is, and the less likely you’ll invest correctly for long-term success,” Egan says. Excessive monitoring of short-term returns can lead to knee-jerk reactions and impulsive decision-making that doesn’t lend itself to letting your money grow over time.
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Research shows that the more frequently investors monitor their portfolio, the riskier they perceive investing to be, says Egan. This is also known as myopic loss aversion: When investors constantly check their investments, they become more sensitive to losses than to gains.
“The more frequently you monitor your portfolio, the more likely you are to see a loss since you last looked,” Egan adds.
Investors are more willing to accept risks if they evaluate their investments less often. Research on myopic loss aversion and stock performance shows that an investor who checks his or her portfolio quarterly instead of daily reduces the chance of seeing a moderate loss (of -2% or more) from 25% to 12%. “And that means he or she is less likely to feel emotional stress and/or change allocation,” Egan says.
In short: as little as possible, advises Tony Molina, a CPA and senior product specialist at Wealthfront.
“I know from experience how hard it can be to avoid looking completely,” Molina says. “But the more you can avoid it, the better off your investments will be in the long term.”
It’s easy to leave your investments alone if you’re using an automated investment service that monitors your portfolio for you. Robo-advisors are software platforms that use algorithms to create your investment portfolio, aiming to maximize your return potential according to your individual risk tolerance and risk capacity.
The best robo-advisors offer low-cost diversification and will automatically adjust your investments regularly, also known as rebalancing, so you don’t have to. We reviewed 22 different platforms and narrowed down our top five picks:
You can read our methodology below for more information on how we chose the best robo-advisors.
If you’re investing on your own, or if you have a robo-advisor but still feel the need to check on it regularly, Molina suggests looking once a month.
Ivory Johnson, a CFP and founder of Delancey Wealth Management, recommends you wait a even longer. He suggests investors take a cursory look every two or three months to make sure there are no dramatic changes in either direction. “A portfolio that doubles the return of the market in a short period of time may have more embedded risk than you originally thought,” he adds.
At the minimum, Johnson suggests reviewing your investments annually to ensure your portfolio is performing and is still suitable for what you’re trying to accomplish.
It can be tempting to look at your investments especially when there are big fluctuations happening in the market. Research, however, shows us that looking every day can make us more susceptible to rash decision-making and ultimately risk losing money.
Investing is more accessible than ever, but the old rules are still worth following: “As long as you set your long-term strategy when getting started investing, you need to trust the process and take a bird’s-eye view approach with your investments,” Molina says.
To determine which robo-advisors offer the best services for investors, Select reviewed 22 different platforms. We then narrowed down our top picks by considering the following factors:
- Account minimums
- Account, advisory, trading and fund fees
- Investment vehicles offered
- Selection of investments
- Educational tools and resources
- Customer support
- Sign-up bonuses
After reviewing the above features, we based our recommendations on platforms offering the lowest fees, the widest range of investment options, usability and any unique features like access to a human advisor. We also looked into each company’s customer support structure and app reviews.
Your investment earnings through a robo-advisor are subject to fluctuations of the market. Your earnings also depends on any associated fees and the contributions you make to your account. There are no guarantees you’ll earn a certain rate of return or current investment options will always be available. To determine the best approach for your specific investment goals, speaking with a reputable fiduciary investment advisor is recommended.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.