There is a popular child’s game called Chutes & Ladders you may have played with a child or grandchild. A key part of the strategy for the game is to climb ladders to the top and avoid going down a slide/chute that makes you lose ground. That could be an apt metaphor for the current interest rate environment. After a slow and steady rise in interest rates (i.e., climbing the ladder), the recent volatility resulted in a fairly quick drop in yields (i.e, down the chute).
It is very likely you have heard of the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or seen the recent Netflix series, Tidying Up. This popular system for organizing your house and office, the KonMari Method, was created by Marie Kondo. Kondo and her writings have become incredibly popular both through her engaging personality, practicality of advice, and her simple but deep message.
Topics: Financial Planning
The last few months have not been an easy ride for equity investors. The S&P 500, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 all went into bear markets, which is typically defined as a decline of 20% from their all-time high. Combing through some data, I thought I’d share some interesting anecdotes I learned and what it could mean moving forward.
Typically, when I’ve written blogs, they’ve focused on a specific topic, theme or issue. I thought it would be good to switch things up a little bit and share some interesting statistics and thoughts about the financial markets.
The case for active management
I recently came across the chart below which shows the total returns of the “buy and forget” stocks that in 2000, Fortune Magazine predicted would last a decade:
Source: Poor Investor’s Almanack November 2018
We tell ourselves that we will get to it, tomorrow. Just like our pledge to increase our time in the gym, those New Year’s resolutions we make about reviewing our financial plan disappear from our radar by Valentine’s Day. Then we push it out until we get our taxes done. Then we promise to look at it after our vacation to Myrtle Beach. Feeling guilty that we missed that self-imposed deadline, we start stressing about what we don’t know about the new tax laws and how it will affect us when we file in 2019.
Fortunately for anyone who has procrastinated, there is still time to evaluate three areas of your finances before the end of the year. Our advisors are meeting with clients to discuss three specific areas to make tax-smart moves before year end:
- Required Minimum Distributions
- Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
- Gift Planning
The last few weeks have been a little unnerving for those invested in the stock market. The media constantly bombards you with reasons (trade wars, higher interest rates, China) as to why the market is falling. Of course, it’s important to know why but understand that we have little control over the variables that make markets move.
This week in the financial media, there have been many articles and stories written about the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis of 2008. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, sale of Bear Sterns to JP Morgan and the near collapse of the U.S. financial system were all very scary and taught us a lot of lessons. I was just getting started “in the business” during this time and I remember watching on TV the House of Representatives voting down the initial $700 billion bailout bill (which would later be passed). I won’t forget seeing the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge hundreds of points in just a matter of minutes after the first failed vote. This was a very difficult time as many people lost their jobs, saw their retirement account values decline dramatically and most importantly, shook the confidence of many.
The after effects of the financial crisis are still felt today as people remain worried about when “the next shoe will drop” so to speak. I’ve had more conversations with clients and individuals about
While I was traveling last week on vacation, I read Michael Batnick’s latest book Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments. So often, when we think of great investors, athletes and leaders, we tend to define them by how successful they are. Many remember Michael Jordan’s game-winning shot to win the 1998 NBA Finals, but you don’t often hear that he lost to the Detroit Pistons 3 years in a row before winning his first NBA championship. Batnick’s book does a great job of highlighting the fact that not even the most intelligent and wealthiest investors come away with a perfect record. Often, when clients call to ask about the securities in their portfolios, they ask about the ones that are down (this is loss aversion at its finest). I try to focus on the fact that not every stock we buy is going to go up and
As many of you know, I am fascinated as to why people make the choices and decisions they make. Many people who work in our industry are focused on valuation ratios, dividends, profitability ratios, balance sheets and charts. With data becoming so easily and readily available these days, I think the extra “edge” these data points produce is becoming smaller and smaller. I believe one area of investing that remains important and useful is sentiment. Digging a little deeper, one can find some interesting cross-currents between expected returns and investor sentiment.
What exactly is investor sentiment? In the most basic sense, investor sentiment is how investors feel about the overall direction of the markets or a particular stock.
One way in which investor sentiment is measured is through the AAII Sentiment Survey. This is a widely cited survey and AAII stands for the American Association of Individual Investors. This association is made up of roughly 150,000 investors, with the average member being in their mid-60s with a median portfolio over $1M. Every week, the AAII surveys about 300 members asking them if they feel bullish, neutral or bearish about the direction of the stock market for the next 6 months.