WITH THE ELECTION just a month away, many investors are worried about what lies ahead. Does it make sense to lighten up on stocks now, in advance of the election? I see at least four reasons not to sell:
Despite the polls, we can’t be sure what the result will be.
As we saw in 2016, nobody knows how the market will react to that result.
Even if the market reacts negatively, the effect may be temporary.
THERE ARE FINANCIAL issues on which reasonable people can disagree. This article is not about those issues. Instead, it’s about issues where people disagree—because one side has a fundamental misunderstanding.
These misunderstandings, I fear, are leading folks to shortchange themselves financially—and we’re talking here about some of the most important money decisions we make. Examples? Based on the comments I’ve received, here are three widespread misconceptions:
1. Commissions equal trading costs. If you think it’s free to trade stocks because you aren’t paying a brokerage commission,
I BEGAN MY CAREER in investments as a junior analyst at a public endowment fund. It was 1980 and I’d just finished my last investment class at college, where I learned about Modern Portfolio Theory. Why, decades later, is it still called “Modern”?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was below 1000, versus today’s 27000. Men wore suits in 100-degree Texas heat. We had individual offices. We researched companies by reading brokerage reports, talking to brokers and requesting annual reports from companies.
THIS IS THE STORY of a bitter life lesson that taught me two things: the desirability of managing my own investments and the perils of putting almost all my eggs in one basket.
In the late 1980s—and early in our marriage—my wife and I were busy raising four kids, while also managing two demanding careers. Our dream was to build a beautiful house on a large wooded lot that we owned in the hills west of Austin,
INVESTING IS ALL about picking the “best” investments—or so I thought. It took a lot of years to realize that this was the wrong focus. Instead, selecting a portfolio of good, reliable investments and sticking with them is what really worked for me and for my clients.
Sound simple? It can be—but the maintenance is surprisingly hard. We’re talking here about periodic rebalancing. That involves setting target percentages for a portfolio’s various investments and then occasionally buying and selling,
IN THE BOOK OF JOAN, a tribute to the comedian Joan Rivers, her daughter Melissa shares some of her late mother’s quirks. Among them: Her mother always drove 40 miles per hour. Regardless of where she was—on the highway, in a school zone, in the driveway—she always drove 40 miles per hour. Melissa’s conclusion: For passengers, this could be hair-raising, but at least her mother was consistent.
When it comes to investing,
MY FINANCIAL advisor has been on a mission to reduce my investment costs. He’s been replacing my low-cost, broad-based index mutual funds with the exchange-traded fund (ETF) version. He believes this will improve my investment returns over the long run.
For instance, if you own Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund—a mutual fund—you’re currently paying 0.11% in annual expenses. But Vanguard’s ETF alternative charges just 0.08%, equal to a savings of three cents a year for every $100 invested.
DOES WEALTH bring advantages? Yes—but it can also invite some unique challenges. Consider country music singer Kane Brown.
Shortly after moving into a new home, he went for a walk. He told his wife he’d be back in half an hour. But seven hours later, after getting lost, he ended up calling for help. What was unique about this episode is that, the entire time he was lost, Brown was on his own property.
YESTERDAY, I MADE the case for investing heavily in foreign stocks. Were you convinced? Many investors aren’t. They feel there’s no need to venture abroad. Here are three key arguments for keeping your stock portfolio close to home:
No. 1: The U.S. market provides adequate diversification.
Proponents cotend that, on their own, U.S. stocks offer all the diversification that an investor needs. U.S. shares represent a majority of global stock market capitalization,
STOCKS WORLDWIDE have a total market value of some $85 trillion, with the U.S. accounting for 54%, developed foreign markets 35% and emerging markets 11%. Should your stock portfolio have similar weightings, as some experts suggest?
Tomorrow, I’ll look at the argument for keeping your stock market money close to home. But today’s article presents the case for venturing abroad—by focusing on three key arguments:
No. 1: A global stock portfolio is less risky than a U.S.-only portfolio.
TWO WEEKS AGO, I described how to scour your portfolio for holdings that no longer fit your financial plan. At a high level, these investments fail at least one of two tests:
Risk. Some investments are just inherently unsuitable or excessively risky. Alternatively, an investment might be perfectly fine, but it represents a big risk simply because you own so much of it.
Return. You might have an investment that has chronically underperformed,
TARGET-DATE FUNDS offer one-stop investment shopping. But what exactly are you buying?
These funds are intended to offer a diversified portfolio that’ll carry you through to retirement and beyond. Each follows a “glide path,” reducing its stock exposure over time. But the substantial differences among the funds means that some roads will be rockier than others, so it’s important to understand what you’re getting.
For instance, young investors in 2060 target-date funds—like my children—will have 90% or more in stocks.
THE STOCK MARKET hit a milestone last week, surpassing its pre-coronavirus all-time high. There’s a lot of debate about whether this is justified or sustainable. But the bottom line is, your portfolio today probably looks very different from the way it looked six months or a year ago. This may be a good time to take stock of what you own and to consider whether changes are warranted.
Back in February, I talked about the importance of asset allocation—and that’s a critical first step.
FOR THOSE WHO know their A.A. Milne, they’ll recall Eeyore as Winnie the Pooh’s perennially gloomy donkey friend. Which brings me to my inner Eeyore—and a thought provoked by the stock market’s astonishing recovery.
Now that the S&P 500 is once again hitting new highs, it’s time to prepare for the next bear market. No, I haven’t reduced my stock holdings as share prices have bounced back and, no, I’m not predicting that another crash is imminent.
WHEN I BEGAN investing in 1987 at age 33, I knew very little about the financial markets. As a new University of North Carolina employee, I just started having money taken from my paycheck each month and put in North Carolina’s 457 plan for state employees. A 457 plan is a deferred compensation plan, similar to a 401(k) plan, but the plans are offered by state and local governments, and they’re subject to somewhat different rules.