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Friday, May 24, 2024

Have a large amount of cash to invest? Here’s how deploying it all at once compares with doing so over time

  • Assuming a 100% stock portfolio, the return on lump-sum investing outperformed dollar-cost averaging 75% of the time, according to research.
  • For portfolios with 100% bonds, the rate of outperformance was 90%.

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If you have a big wad of cash to invest, you may wonder whether you should put all of it to work immediately or spread out over time.

Regardless of what the markets are doing, you're more likely to end up with a higher balance down the road by making a lump-sum investment instead of deploying the money at set intervals (known as dollar-cost averaging), a study from Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management shows.

That outperformance holds true regardless of the mix of stocks and bonds you invest in.

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"If you look at the probability that you'll end up with a higher cumulative value, the study shows it's overwhelmingly when you use a lump-sum investment [approach] versus dollar-cost averaging," said Matt Stucky, senior portfolio manager of equities at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management.

The study looked at rolling 10-year returns on $1 million starting in 1950, comparing results between an immediate lump-sum investment and dollar-cost averaging (which, in the study, assumes that $1 million is invested evenly over 12 months and then held for the remaining nine years).

Assuming a 100% stock portfolio, the return on lump-sum investing outperformed dollar-cost averaging 75% of the time, the study shows. For a portfolio composed of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, the outperformance rate was 80%. And a 100% fixed income portfolio outperformed dollar-cost averaging 90% of the time.

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