ONE IMPORTANT message that came across at the recent Wealth Management Conference hosted by the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong and Courses & Seminars Limited was the importance for investors to have a balanced portfolio. In other words, investors should not put all their money in a single asset. 'Putting your money in one asset is like putting all your money on the No5 horse at Sha Tin. If it comes in last, you lose everything,' said Stewart Aldcroft, regional director (Asia) for Noble Investments (Hong Kong). Speaking at the conference, Mr Aldcroft said that just because a fund had performed well in the past was no guarantee that it would do so in the future. 'When fund advertisements state a fund returned 50 per cent last year, it does not mean the same fund will make 50 per cent this year,' he said. 'Private investors are very good at timing the market but in the wrong way - they often buy at the top and sell at the bottom.' Investment advisers see managed funds as a better alternative to buying shares in individual companies. At one level this is understandable because they often receive commission, whether the fund gains or loses. It is clearly in their interest to make this recommendation. However, there are practical reasons for investors to choose managed funds over individual shares. Researching individual companies can be time-consuming and risky. Philip Neilson, chief executive of the Henley Group, said most people did not have the time to trade and, therefore, funds were a better option compared to individual shares. 'Managed funds help spread the risk across a number of firms, sectors and countries,' he said.