What are Investment Policy Statements?

Contributed by: Angela Palacios, CFP® Angela Palacios

Each investor is unique. You have your own attitudes, expectations, objectives, and guidelines for your investments. These factors are important to communicate to, not only your team of investment managers, but also to your family if needed (not to mention to remind yourself during turbulent times). An investment Policy Statement (IPS) that is revisited regularly can keep everyone on the same page.

We carefully craft a tailored Investment Policy Statement with you and review and update it each year or when something changes. We first define an asset allocation target (ratio of stocks and bonds) for your portfolio that is appropriate to help you achieve your goals while balancing your tolerance for risk. Also important is the amount of cash you need to hold within each account, carefully evaluating potential withdrawal needs coming in the next year. Lastly, we add your goals and unique preferences we should take into account while managing your investments. 

Unique preferences could include holding a position in a taxable account because selling would cause you to incur a large capital gain. Or, it could mean incorporating socially responsible (ESG) investment strategies into the portfolio. It could also mean excluding any investment strategies you prefer not to have included in your portfolio, like real estate, for example.

Laying out your goals and objectives is a great way to focus on and determine future success. Success in financial planning and investing goes far beyond beating a benchmark. Goals like making sure you can travel during the first 10 years of retirement or obtaining sufficient health coverage during the early years of retirement are things that cannot be measured by a stock index. These goals become personal benchmarks that you can track achievement of over the years.

It is not expected that the IPS will change frequently. In particular, short-term changes in the financial markets should not require adjustments to the IPS. Major life events, however, can prompt an update. For example, marriage or divorce, retirement or deciding to extend your working years, entering a nursing home or receiving an inheritance are examples of reasons that could prompt you to update your IPS.

Investors who fail to plan may then plan to fail! Developing an IPS is an important step to take in order to help you make rational decisions about your investments no matter what the markets may tempt you to do! If you have questions about or wish to update your Investment Policy Statement, please contact your planner!

Angela Palacios, CFP® is the Director of Investments at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Angela specializes in Investment and Macro economic research. She is a frequent contributor The Center blog.

The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Angela Palacios, CFP®, and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.