In the traditional investment world, it is considered crucial for an active investment manager to stick to their style box. After all, if the manager "drifts" from small cap to large cap, the investor may suddenly find themselves with an under-allocation to small cap, and an excess of large cap, violating their goal of maintaining a well diversified portfolio. Yet there is a growing recognition that for many mutual funds, constraint to a style box may be eliminating the very value that active management was intended to achieve!
Most planners have struggled at times to deal with “difficult” clients. Sometimes it’s the client who says he’s really tolerant of risk and wants 30% returns… until the decline comes. Other times it’s the client who refuses to tolerate any risk whatsoever… yet laments the low returns that entails. Accordingly, most planners try to avoid working with clients at the extremes of risk tolerance (or lack thereof). But the truth is, these challenging clients usually do not really have extreme levels of risk (in-)tolerance… instead, the problem is actually with their risk perceptions, and it requires a different solution.
Most planners doing financial planning reviews with clients have witnessed the phenomenon: when markets go up, clients look at their growth rates; when markets go down, clients look at the dollars they have lost. What can behavioral finance tell us about why we have such an asymmetric view of the market’s ups and downs?
Recent research on the reaction of investors to the 2008-2009 market downturn has confirmed an interesting tendency of investors that I have long believed – the better our returns, the more we’re willing to save. Yet the irony is that theoretically, the better our returns, the LESS we need to save, because we’ll have more growth from our investments. Nonetheless, if we don’t account for this very human behavior about saving, we can end out with some disastrous financial planning advice.
The news this week has been abuzz with Monday’s Federal government auction of Treasury Inflation-protected Securities (TIPS) that resulted in a yield of -0.55%. Surely, an investor willingness to accept a negative return in exchange for inflation-protection means investors are panicked about an impending surge of inflation, right? Actually, no, in this case, it doesn’t.
Today is October 19, 2011. It is the 23rd anniversary of the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987, and in a few months we will "celebrate" the 6-month anniversary of the May 6, 2010 Flash Crash. With our recent obsession about crashes, I’ve begun to wonder: what is it about market crashes that scares us so much?
For much of the past decade or two, one of the most important qualifications for a "good" mutual fund manager was that he/she keep the fund squarely within the constraints of its Morningstar style box, while hopefully generating some positive alpha. Now, however, an emerging group of managers are overtly bucking the trend, with a new approach of "free range" investing.
In this new column I’m calling “On the nighttable…” I will be highlighting some of the books that I’m reading. Right now, I’m just finishing up a book called “Stabilizing an Unstable Economy” by Hyman Minsky. But the interesting thing is not just that it’s another book on stabilizing the economy… it’s that Minsky wrote it several decades ago, yet it is nonetheless remarkably prescient about the events of the recent years!
As financial planners, we’ve all heard the old saw “never put a tax shelter inside of a tax shelter” – in other words, don’t buy tax-exempt municipal bonds inside of a tax deferred retirement account like an IRA or Roth IRA.
Well, it seems that “never” may have just arrived. Because in an environment where the outright yield on municipal bonds is better than taxable bonds, it really can be appropriate to own a muni bond inside of an IRA!
The rising price of various commodities, linked in part to the falling dollar, have begun to impact the cost of a broad array of goods in the U.S., from the cost of building construction to gasoline at the pump to food at the grocery store. Now, the decline of the dollar is being felt directly by the U.S. government, with a painful rise in the cost of the penny!