Two engines of growth power an investment portfolio-contributions from the investor and asset growth produced by the performance of the investment portfolio. Contributions are largely controllable by the investor, while performance (particularly in the short run) is not. As a result, investors who rely on the portfolio performance to do the heavy lifting (that is, to make up for insufficient contributions during their working years) will usually fall into the trap of having too much equity exposure and therefore be exposed to too much risk.

The performance or return of an investment portfolio should accomplish two primary goals-preserve and protect the contributions of the investor and provide a modest rate of return. Understandably, in an era of supersize meals, drinks, vehicles, houses and egos, the notion of a modest rate of return may sound rather unsophisticated. Nevertheless I'm suggesting that portfolio performance should never be expected to make up for under-saving on the part of the investor.

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