Low Cost Diversified Stock Portfolios perform better than individual Stocks. Again.

Dimensional Fund Advisors posted an article on May 11 that every investor should read: Singled Out: Historical Performance of Individual Stocks.

The authors,Bryan Ting, PhD, Researcher, and Wes Crill, PhD, Head of Investment Strategists and Vice President make a fact-based, if not frightening account of how diversification will beat the performance of many, many individual stocks over various time periods. They observe that, “Single stocks have a wide range of returns. Only about a fifth of stocks survive and outperform the market over 20-year periods.” The Exhibit 1 chart in the article tells the whole story.

That’s a stunner, and should cause you to evaluate what you want from your portfolios and how you are going to manage it based on your individual personal goals.

Stocks are the engines of personal wealth. No argument there, but the decision to own stocks brings up many more decisions that must be made before dropping your dollars into something you may not really understand. For instance: Which stocks? Which industries? What is the right time to buy? The right time to sell? Should it account for 1% of your portfolio or 100%? What research did you perform? Are you buying on a hunch? And so on, and so forth, and on and on and on.

Diversification is one of the best risk-management tools that an investor can use, that does not inhibit the ability to capture market returns over time. Its not a tool for those interested only in potentially outsized short-term gains; it is, however, THE tool for patient, thoughtful and serious investors.

And one of the simplest and most efficient ways to be the market and achieve proper diversification is to use low-cost exchange traded funds to build an effective long-term portfolio.

Read the full article here.

PS-WealthKeep is not affiliated with Dimensional Fund Advisors or the authors, and receives no affiliate fees for our readers accessing the article through the links provided.

It’s a stock picker’s market. Is it?

On March 11 2022, Bloomberg.com ran this headline: Passive likely overtakes active by 2026, earlier if bear market

The article by Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Seyffart, observes the steady growth of passive investing, and sees a time when passive investing overtakes active. That time is 2026, four years from now. In fact, “passive vehicles’ lead in the $11.6 trillion U.S. domestic equity-fund market will likely expand.”  Read the whole article here.

And from Morningstar, “just 49% of the nearly 3,500 active funds we cover survived and outperformed their average passive counterpart in 2020.” So, a simple coin flip could have determined investment success or failure.

But that’s actually an improvement from 2001-2016, a fifteen year period when more than 90% of active managers did not outperform their benchmarks. 

That’s just ugly.

We can continue to site numbers that validate the massive inflows of money to passive funds and the massive outflows from actively managed funds, but no matter which way activists try to spin it, that giant sucking sound they hear is money in motion. Can you say, “bye-bye”?

You have to be very smart or very lucky to be a consistently good stock picker, but apparently the vast majority of managers are neither, which makes this final statistic all the more revealing: 100% of active managers make exorbitant wages. Sure, there are some standout active managers. Managers of distinction, you might say. Managers who earn every cent they’re paid. They bring home the alpha. But even they stumble. There is no surefire guaranteed way to make money every year in the markets. If there were, we would all be fabulously wealthy. Like those active managers.

But there is absolutely a surefire guaranteed way to not make less than the market every year. 

What is this wonderful strategy called? 

Go to the head of the class if you said “passive investing.”

Passive investing is a long term strategy to build personal wealth. It is the antithesis of stock picking. It’s more about “being the market” than beating the market. The emphasis is on employing the major themes of successful investing–asset allocation, diversification, asset location, reducing costs, low turnover, tax efficiency and so forth–rather than trying to do the seemingly impossible: consistently picking winners. The proverbial stopped clock may be right twice a day, but personal investors? Not so much. 

With the surge in low cost options, particularly exchange traded funds, ETFs, index investing can help investors put more of their energy into working on building intelligent investor traits like self control and stripping their emotions out of their trades. Check out just some of the reasons why the passive approach using exchange traded funds is the superior way: 

1-SAVE BIG

Active mutual funds and separately managed accounts are expensive, yet they often fail to deliver the goods. With costs ranging from 1.5% to 3% annually, often in addition to front end sales loads of up to 5% or more, managers simply fail to deliver returns on their “excess alpha” promises. This active option can be ten to more than thirty times more expensive than using simple market-tracking ETFs. Active funds are a very expensive way to lose money!

2-MANY EGGS, MANY BASKETS

Diversification at many levels can be easily achieved with ETFs. Asset class level (stocks, bonds, alternatives); sub-asset class level (large cap, mid cap, small cap, domestic bonds, global bonds); geographic level (US, foreign, single country, regional), specific industry or broad sectors level (regional banks or finance, social media or tech, cyclical or non), and even alternative asset classes (gold and silver, real estate,  agriculture and timber). There are virtually limitless ways to construct your highly personalized portfolio.

3-RISKY BUSINESS 

Stock picking is risky business. This is where ego and overconfidence often team up to give you a real good ass whooping! Instead, let the indices do the work for you. Decide which ETFs and allocation model will work for you and allow you to attain your money goals, while reducing overall portfolio risk. 

Remember, bad things happen when you think you’re smarter than the stock market.

4-EASY TO SWITCH GEARS

Unlike mutual funds, ETF investing allows you to make changes to your portfolio intraday, meaning you can buy and sell in the open markets just like you would an individual stock. Selling a mutual fund is like blindly pulling the trigger, having to wait until after the market closes to see what price you got. While we are not advocating frequent trading, there are those times you need to reduce or increase a position and lock in the price you want without having to trade blindly.


But there is absolutely a surefire guaranteed way to not make less than the market every year. 


5-CONSISTENTLY GENERATE MARKET RETURNS

The markets are efficient, meaning that by the time you see a stock price, just about all known information has been priced into it. It is nearly impossible for you to be more informed than the market at any given point in time. So, BE the market, and never make less than the market. Efficient. Cheap. Good!

6-FIND YOUR ZEN and NEVER EARN LESS THAN THE MARKETS

Find your zen and BE the market. Zen is about dropping illusion and seeing things as they are, without the distortion created by your own thoughts. Or worse, your emotions.

7-CHEAT THE TAXMAN (legally…of course)

In taxable accounts, you want your earnings to be treated as long term capital gains. Period. You want to be the person who decides when you want to pay them. Period. Mutual Funds (you remember, that expensive, overactive, under-performing group of investments) have a very nasty habit of sending you an income tax bill, even when your fund is in the red. In other words, they pass the cap gains (even the more expensive short term ones) on to you, the shareholder, because they realized a gain in a given security, even though the entire portfolio is down. Unless the account is an IRA or ROTH, or some other tax-qualified account, I think this really sucks, but let me know if you think that’s a good idea.

8-TRADE LIKE A PRO 

Institutions love ETFs. Pension funds,insurance companies, endowments, hedge funds, money managers…all use ETFs in a greater and greater proportion every year, for all the reasons above, and more!

Finally, from a behavioral standpoint, if you adopt a passive mindset, meaning, you will set your ego aside, stay invested and take what the market gives you, and avoid the many temptations to try and beat the market (good luck) with constant buying and selling, your nest egg is more likely to become much larger and more stable over the long haul.

And that’s what really counts.

Money is deeply personal.

Money is deeply personal. 

An individual’s unique emotional connections, experiences and values all help to shape their own personal relationship with money.

Financial coaches have the opportunity and responsibility to understand their client’s values, biases and behaviors, and make personal finance truly personal by encouraging clients to share their experiences and deepest concerns, especially when they relate to their financial circumstances.

It is these priorities that make it incumbent on the coach to connect with clients emotionally, and earn genuine trust to be able to identify, understand and collaborate on achieving their client’s goals, in other words, the things that matter most in life.

Coaching models, coaching methods, coaching skills and coaching experience all vary from coach to coach, however every coach must endeavor to help their client contemplate how reaching their financial goals will improve their lives. Coaches must help clients believe that a more financially rewarding life is not beyond their grasp.

Building trust, sharing values, making an emotional connection, enjoying the benefits of collaboration are all keys to a successful coaching relationship, however, none of it matters unless and until the client takes action.

Action is make or break.

Helping clients attain their desired quality of life through helping them understand their behaviors, overcome inertia and hurdle their roadblocks is the coach’s highest and best value.

When the elements of empathy, understanding, curiosity, and open communication are combined with the coach’s technical financial expertise and ability to motivate the client to take action are all present, then the client should feel they are in the ideal environment to confidently take the required steps toward meaningful, life-changing action.  

The Secret Language of Money

Book Report: Charles Payne’s Unstoppable Prosperity

This man is on a mission to help everyday investors build unstoppable wealth and prosperity.

I’ve been watching Charles Payne on the Fox Business channel for many years, and to say that I trust the things he says is an understatement. Charles is high knowledge, high credibility, and no BS.  And for bonus points, he’s a snappy dresser.

So when he announced the release of his book, Unstoppable Prosperity (Paradigm Direct LLC, 2019), I knew it was just a matter of time until a copy would be on my shelves. Well, I got the book, and Mr. Payne has lived up to everything I believe about him, and then some.

The book is organized into ten tight chapters, high on stuff, light on fluff. Its written in direct and clear language so that novice and veteran investors, and even professional money people will learn from it.

The subtitle nails the premise: Learn the strategy I’ve used for years to beat the market. Full disclosure, if you search the term “beat the market” in this website, you find an abundance of reasons that most people will be better off in the long run if they index their portfolio, and do not attempt to beat the market.

So, do I disagree that individual investors can beat the market? No, I do believe most people will not beat the market because of their own biases and behaviors. The operative word is “most.”

So who beats the market? Usually people that have gotten their biases and behaviors under control, and do not approach the markets, or run from them, emotionally.

In fact, in chapter four, Behaviorals: Managing the Moods of the Market, Charles addresses that very subject head on. “It’s one thing to be the master of your own emotions and avoid self-sabotage in your investing efforts,” he writes, “but its something entirely different to weather the storm when everyone else seems to be losing their collective minds.”

I believe that Behaviorals is the foundation that the rest of his work is built upon, and the rest of his work is as robust as the big man himself: Fundamental analysis, technical analysis, building and managing portfolios, a rather detailed section on classic mistakes that investors make, and finally a capstone chapter about putting it all together and into action.

And to close this brief report, allow me to close with a smart money tip: Go to this link and get the book and additional goodies for free (pay shipping cost only).

(Note #1: its February 18, 2022 and I don’t know how long this offer will be available)

(Note #2: I receive absolutely no referral fees or affiliate income from recommending this book…I like it that much!)


 

 

 

Your Average Joe Economics: Inflation will ruin your plans. Plan ahead for rising interest rates.

The Federal Reserve is about to raise interests rates in a very meaningful way. They are a bit late to the party, in my humble opinion. Finally, 2022 will be the year of fighting back on inflation by using a more aggressive monetary policy, that is, raising interest rates.

So what now? Don’t panic. Prepare.

  1. Tune up your financial plan to anticipate and prepare for all phases of the business cycle. Financial planning is an all weather process, and must include both short- and long-term solutions, including how to deal with eventual economic downturns, market volatility and federal monetary policy. You should always have a plan, but if you don’t, getting your plan together right now is the smart move.
  2. Reduce risk in your portfolio. No, you are not a market timer, so don’t dump everything. Look at your holdings and see where you can take some long-held profits and trim off some market risk. For instance, allocating away from growth stocks and toward defensive physical assets may be a relevant protective approach for you. Remember, you don’t go broke taking profits, so when markets are at or near historic highs, take some profits! And what if the market goes higher after you sell? Who cares? We aren’t fortune tellers. Take the profit, and live to reinvest another day.
  3. Be realistic about your return expectations. Interest rates are going to go up, but with inflation at a forty-year high, fixed rates will still put you underwater. If you earn a fixed 2%, but inflation is at 7.5%, then you have lost 5.5% of your principal.  Get it?
  4. Cash in the bank. Cash means covering emergencies. Cash means capitalizing on opportunities that will appear as the markets decline. Be in a good cash position. Sure, the rates will suck, but cash is queen as interest rates rise.
  5. Short term treasury bond rates will still suck, even after rate increases, but they are safe. Consider short maturities if you don’t need all that cash laying around.

    …inflation is literally stealing money from you with every transaction you make…


  6. Consider hard assets. Precious metals like gold and silver tend to do well in recessionary times. They can provide a good hedge to the rest of your financial assets in declining markets. Gold and silver coins, rounds and bars are easy to buy, easy to store, and easy to sell. And commodities, like timber, agriculture, copper, oil, and so forth, will prove good stores of value and offer profit potential.
  7. Count your pennies and cut dumb spending. You will live without Starbucks. As God as my witness, you will live! A better choice: McDonald’s, any size for a buck. Best choice: travel mug filled with home brew. Get it? Every dumb spend has a series of smart alternative solutions. Cut dumb spending habits in all phases of the business cycle, especially as prices jump and wages fall.
  8. Cut dumb debt. That means credit cards. Revolving credit is dumb. Khakis on credit is a dumb idea. Starbucks on a credit card is a super dumb idea (I admit it, I’ve done it, we’ve all done it :)).
  9. Reduce or eliminate leveraged debt like a mortgage which helps you finance an appreciating asset, like your home. Khakis don’t appreciate in value. Aggressively search for opportunities to refinance old leveraged debt (mortgages and credit lines) to historically low rates before they rise.
  10. Work more hours, save more money. Get some differential OT coming your way, or start a side hustle. Unless you are continually “employee of the month,” or playing squash with the boss, watch your backside. Trade your TV time for a side hustle, and be your own boss.

So, in summary, while it is always good to plan ahead with your money, it especially important when rates are rising and inflation is literally stealing money from you with every transaction you make. Start today and build solid habits that will prepare you for every phase of the business cycle.


-Another bite-sized economic lesson from Just Your Average Joe!

If my country were my client…

If my country were my client, I’d tell her its time to fix her family finances, before it’s too late.

I’d tell her it’s long past time to put together a serious budget.

I’d tell her to stop spending foolishly, as if she was able to print an unlimited supply of money down in the basement.

I’d tell her to stop borrowing, cut up her credit cards and pay back who she owes.

I’d tell her that throwing serious money at childish charades and flights of fancy is not “investing,” it’s dangerous.

I’d tell her it was time to play the long game with financial determination so fierce it would ensure the future of her grandchildren’s grandchildren.

And finally, I would advise her to stop hiring dishonest and unskilled employees who will deliberately destroy her standing in the world economy.

She has problems beyond money, but she’s strong, and brave, and good, so I give her my best advice with due respect, loyalty and love for her and her whole family, because they deserve better.

I can dream, can’t I?


Fix the money. Fix the future.

13 WARNING SIGNS YOU SHOULD HIRE A MONEY COACH

We are taught from an early age that money doesn’t equal happiness, and that’s generally true.

But when we think about money, we generally want to know a few things: How can I make more? How can I keep from losing it?  How can I be a better investor? How can I best manage my life, financial and otherwise, so that my family and I can live a healthy, worry-free life?

These are big questions, often uncomfortable questions, but they must be asked. And answered.

We’re fortunate to be a highly educated and informed society, but regardless of what we know, or what your education prepares you to do, most Americans need help with money. Why? Because our educational system has failed to realize that “money skills” are something every student from K to 12, and the graduates of higher education, should possess.

Whether it’s your inability to balance your checking account, your feeling of helplessness when your credit score is plunging, the terror you experience as you watch your 401(k) balance plummet, or on the flip side, you believe you’re smarter than the market, even when your returns are regularly in the tank, these are signs that you may need a money coach. 

Many people don’t recognize the warning signs that they should seek help organizing and optimizing their financial life. Others may be so embarrassed by their financial situation that they avoid seeking the help that can get their life turned around.

If any of this strikes a chord with you, you may be a candidate for money coaching, so to get the juices flowing, here’s a short and incomplete list of warning signs that professional money coaching may be a solution for you.

  1. You’ve not set clearly defined and articulated goals. “I want to be rich,” is not a goal, it’s a wish. “I want to accumulate $1 million before I retire in 28 years.  I make $80,000 a year, so I will need to save $10,000 a year at a 7.5% desired rate of return.” Now, that’s a goal.
  2. You don’t know what you own, you don’t know what you spend. This is big. You need to know where you are so you can get where you want to go, right?  A Personal Income Statement (how much you earn minus how much you spend) and a Personal Balance Sheet (assets you own minus how much debt you have equals your net worth).

    You don’t know what you own, you don’t know what you spend.


    These two statements will give you an accurate snapshot of your current condition.

  3. You’re saving less than 10% of your earned income.
  4. You don’t follow a financial plan because you don’t have one. Savings, investing, emergency funds, insurance, reducing debt, raising your credit score, tax minimization, retirement preparedness, having a will…all part of a cohesive plan. Be honest: did you wince after reading one or more of these? Don’t worry, most people do. Time to get help.
  5. You skipped the free money window! In other words, you are not participating in your employer sponsored 401(k) that matches your contributions. This is a huge mistake, and one that can be rectified easily.
  6. You don’t know the best ways to have your money make you money for you. It’s not about the “best investments,” it’s about the “best investments for you.” Big difference.
  7. Once you’ve made money, you don’t know how to keep it. Making money is half the battle. Keeping it is key to your future financial health.
  8. You lose invested money. You continue to do the same things, and you lose money again. A qualified, credentialed coach can help you break this destructive cycle.
  9. Handling money can be scary and overwhelming. We all have biases and behaviors that determine how well we handle money. These inherent biases often allow us to succeed with money, but too often they manifest in potentially damaging behaviors.

    Handling money can be scary and overwhelming.


    An experienced, credentialed coach can plug that drain so you can make smarter, informed decisions about your overall financial wellness. When it comes to money, we all have the potential to be our own worst enemy. Low financial literacy, bad habits and wonky behavior will kill even the best laid plans.

  10. Your IQ is higher than your credit score. There are steps you can take to improve your credit score that will pay dividends in your overall financial health.
  11. You think CDs are a safe investment. If you are reading this the day of publication, CDs are paying less than 1%, but inflation is running at 7% (or more). This makes every dollar in your CD worth about 94 cents. CDs may be “secure,” but they’re not inherently “safe.”
  12. You keep making the same mistakes. You want a coach to help you avoid costly mistakes, and most experienced money coaches have made those same mistakes. It’s called “earning your stripes the hard way,” and hard knocks are the best teachers of all. If you work with an adviser, coach or planner that hasn’t made mistakes, fire them! 
  13. You have a difficult time visualizing and understanding the four necessary elements to a beneficial money coaching relationship, namely: Historical Context (the past), Daily Events (the present), Forecasts (the future), and most importantly, Your Personal Info (critical, first-hand life experiences, behaviors and biases). 

To enjoy a productive and collaborative coaching relationship, these four elements each require examination in the context of two worlds: the world at large and your world.

The signs that you may need a money coach are virtually unlimited, and the signs from your own life may surprise you, and this list of 13 (a really ominous number, I admit!), is simply a starter list; broad, general strokes to get you thinking.

Money coaching is a relatively new and unusual concept to many people, but don’t you owe it to yourself to take a look at the warning signs in your own life and seek the help you need?