Archive for the ‘Asset Classes & Allocation’ Category
Recently, I visited a prospective client in New Jersey. He is currently a client with Fisher Investments, and his advisor told him never to rebalance since that involves market timing.
I have to hand it to this financial advisor for recognizing that market timing is an unproductive endeavor, but he is so wrong about rebalancing that I am compelled to write this article.
Rebalancing is not a market timing activity, it is calendar-driven or condition-driven. For instance, you may decide that you will rebalance your portfolio on January 1st of each year or whenever an asset class allocation is off by 20%.
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White supports a new rule that would allow hedge funds to market directly to the public. I think that’s a fantastic idea. Let me explain why.
Between 1998 and 2010, hedge fund managers earned “only” $379 billion in fees. Do you know how much they made for investors?
Before you answer that question, you should be aware that one-third of hedge fund money is channeled through funds of funds. Their managers need their cut too. Between 1998 and 2010, their take was about $61 billion.
The S&P 500 closed the first quarter at a record high. Should that worry investors? The short answer is, No.
When the market was 30% below the high three years ago, I did some research. I categorized all market conditions into:
1. Breaking a new high.
2. Less than 10% below historical high.
3. Between 10% and 20% below historical high.
4. Between 20% and 30% below historical high.
5. Between 30% and 40% below historical high.
6. More than 40% below historical high.
Then I calculated the one year forward returns of the six conditions.
In the last month alone, I’ve gotten calls from two clients asking me if they should invest in tax advantaged oil and gas investments being pitched to them? Both of these clients are physicians.
The pitch is that oil and gas investments are like IRA accounts, but without the contribution limit. Whatever amount you invest can be written off right away.
The pitch is quite alluring to high-income professionals like physicians who are facing higher taxation. But it sounds too good to be true, so I did a study.
It turns out what is being pitched as “tax advantaged” is in fact the riskiest part of an oil and gas investment.
We call it stupid if someone takes a $55k job, even if he is offered the same job at $100k.
We call it market-timing when the same thing happens in the stock market. The long-term average annual market return is 10%, but the long-term average annual investor return is only about 5.5%. This is documented both by Dalbar’s study titled “Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior” and Morningstar’s research on fund returns and investor returns.
How could this possibly happen?
Here is a selection of the best wealth management articles around the web for September:
5 reasons your portfolio is too complicated, by Kyle Bumpus
Why analysts are scratching their heads over QE3, by Robert Wasilewski
Is rebalancing market timing?, by Mike Piper
Choosing a mutual fund – Avoid these 6 mistakes, by Roger Wohlner
Fidelity’s new retirement saving guidelines, by Barbara Friedberg
Can I consistently outperform the market? by Ken Faulkenberry
Dividend reinvestment plans (RIPS) and their benefits, by Dave Scott
Questions to ask when picking a financial advisor, by Carl Richards
Get my white paper: The Informed Investor: 5 Key Concepts for Financial Success.
There is a new book about the hedge fund “industry” by former insider Simon Lack. Its title says it all – The Hedge Fund Mirage – The Lesson of Big Money and Why It’s Too Good To Be True.
Not everybody has time to read books like this, but if you are ever approached by a hedge fund peddler – I get calls every week about an amazing alternative investment opportunity – at least look at the table below before you part with your money.
Between 1998 and 2000, hedge fund fees totaled $440 billion versus $9 billion total profits for investors.
Value investing as an investment discipline was pioneered by Ben Graham and is practiced by Warren Buffett. It has a long history of data collection and many rigorous studies done in the most prestigious research universities.
The idea of value investing is that undervalued stocks will ultimately outperform overvalued stocks in aggregate.
There are four simple measures one can use to determine if a stock is relatively undervalued or overvalued….
In one of my previous posts, I showed how diversification across asset classes is superior to momentum and contrarian strategies. Today, I am going to show how disciplined rebalancing adds to returns. I will first demonstrate this using a stylized example and then through historical returns.
An example of two asset classes
This report shows the construct and performance of a 40/60 model portfolio.
Asset Classes and Fund Selection
There are six asset classes in this portfolio model. The asset allocation is implemented using DFA funds, as shown in the table 1. I explained why DFA funds are better than Vanguard funds here.
|Table 1: Asset Class Funds|
|US Equity||10%||DFFVX – US Targeted Value Fund|
|International Equity||10%||DISVX – International Small Cap Value Fund|
|Emerging Markets||10%||DFEVX – Emerging Market Value Fund|
|REIT||10%||DFREX – Real Estate Securities Fund|
|TIPS||20%||DIPSX – Inflation-Protected Securities Fund|
|Treasuries||20%||DFIHX – Short-Term Treasuries Fund|
|Muni Bonds||20%||DFSMX – Short-Term Muni-Bond Fund|
Recently, I came across a 20 Year Periodic Return Table prepared by Black Rock. I want to share this with you since this table illustrates the investment principles I have been emphasizing: 1) asset class diversification; 2) disciplined rebalancing; and 3) small value tilt. Today’s focus is on 1); the other two points will be discussed in future articles.
This report shows the construct and performance of a 60/40 model portfolio.
Asset Classes and Fund Selection
There are six asset classes in this portfolio model. The asset allocation is implemented using DFA funds, as shown in the table 1. I explained why DFA funds are superior here. Read the rest of this entry »
(Performance stats last updated on 8/16/2011) I have maintained 4 model portfolios since the beginning of 2007 to show that successful investing can be extremely simple: one only needs to do 1)prudent allocation, 2)disciplined rebalancing. One does not need Harry Dent’s prescience nor Jim Cramer’s encyclopedic knowledge to be successful in investing.
This report shows the construct and performance of the 70/30 model portfolio, the most aggressive of the four. The chart on the right shows the portfolio value of $100 invested on the first day of 2007, relative to the S&P 500.
Asset Classes and Fund Selection
If you invested $1 in the small cap value index at the beginning of 1927, you would have had $52,892 by the end of 2010. This is according to the recently published Dimensional Fund Advisors’ annual Matrix Book. Included in the book are historical risk and returns of various indices based on capitalization and book-to-market valuation.
Table 1 presents a summary of historical returns. The best returns are marked in green; the worst, marked in red. As one can see, the small cap value index is the best for all the periods considered. And it is the best by a huge margin.
Apparently, Harvard Endowment’s year-end position in 2010 had changed significantly from that of 2009. The way I see it, there are three significant changes:
1. At the end of 2009, Harvard Endowment was extremely bullish on emerging markets; the top 10 positions were emerging market positions. That number was reduced to 5 at the end of 2010. On top of that, the size of each emerging market position has been reduced. Take China for example; the value of shares of FXI was reduced from 365k to 203k.
Inflation is the silent killer of wealth. It does not have the “bark” of a full-blown financial crisis, but it certainly has the “bite.” Just imagine if the inflation rate is 4% over the next 10 years; within a decade you would lose nearly 40% of your wealth if you didn’t do anything about it.
Inflation over the next decade is highly probably because of two simple macro realities:
- America – from the federal government to the states down to individual households – is heavily in debt. The easiest way to get out of debt is to print money. There is a tremendous political incentive to do so.
- China, which has been the low-price setter for the past two decades, has seen labor costs galloping at a 20% to 30% annual clip lately (thanks to the one-child policy). Before long, that will translate into higher prices at your local Walmart.