Asset allocation: Why less is sometimes more

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The image above shows a grid of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines with 12 black dots at various intersections. Most people are only able to see one or two of the black dots at any one time. Named Ninio’s Extinction Illusion after Jacques Ninio, the French scientist who first published it in 2000 – it speaks to the weakness of peripheral vision in humans but also to the brain’s tendency to fabricate patterns when confronted with uncertainty.

In our view, this optical illusion serves to illustrate another point. It demonstrates a wider truth in investing: that the more expansive a portfolio is, the harder it is to maintain oversight of all the underlying holdings. Far better, we believe, to define your universe, allocate capital with conviction and zone in on what’s important to you as an investor.

Nick Clay – Newton, a BNY Mellon company

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