Before getting into the 10 Steps to Better Investment Experience, it is important that we understand market pricing. How do we understand it? Think about a pencil. In 1958, Leonard E. Reed published an essay about the combination of miracles just needed to create a pencil. We can relate that to the work of Eugene Fama called the Efficient Market Hypothesis. Fama wrote that professional investors trying to beat the market through stock picking always had a poor record. Why a pencil? This podcast teaches you the correlation between a pencil and the stock market, and how it helps us understand market pricing better.
One of the first things to consider when talking about retirement, is people’s goals and concerns. What idea do you have about retirement? Where do you want to go? How do you envision yourselves after retiring? There are a lot of things to consider and look at. In this Episode, we start with the questions you need to answer to uncover, all aimed at answerring the bigger question, "Can I retire?"
Successful people are usually successful because they are willing to do the things that other people are not willing to do. It’s not necessarily because they are smarter – but mostly because they have the discipline do the simple things really well. Building wealth is similar. You don’t have to be smarter. You just need to have a plan and stick to it. You need to learn to save and invest. You need to be disciplined.
Some of us can lose weight without consulting a nutritionist. Many of us can get into shape without the help of a fitness instructor. But most of us would lose more weight faster and get in better shape sooner if we had a team supporting us.
This team would consist of professionals who knew more than us about nutrition and exercise and were really good at teaching what they knew so that we could apply it to our lives.
Choosing the right team for you does matter so that you are on track, in control and achieving what matters.
One of the best tools available to help investors build their wealth is an Investment Policy Statement (IPS). Generally, an IPS is a written document that should articulate your goals, outline how you are going to attain your goals, identify your desired asset allocation and provide the information necessary for tracking and making sure you are on track to attain your goals. Your IPS should not be a cookie cutter template used for any investor with the same model portfolio.
Trying to make sense of the investment headlines we read in newspapers, magazines and various investment publications can confuse the best of investors. Our rule of thumb is if you can’t control it, then don’t worry about it. Understand that it is normal for the market to go down. What you don’t want to do is change your long-term course based upon fluctuating, short-term data.
This is why it is so important to identify your long-term goals and write them down. When people follow their natural instincts, they tend to apply faulty reasoning to investing. They tend to follow the crowd and more often than not, the crowd is wrong.
Every investment incurs a cost to be created, managed, distributed and regulated. Some of these are costs are transparent, easily identified and comparable. Others are not. I wish there was an easy way to make sure every investor knew the costs of their investment portfolio and whether it is below, at, or above average. One of the best questions you can ask any financial advisor, brokerage firm, custodian or financial representative is “How do you get paid?” Then probe further, “Is there any other way that you get paid?” Keep on asking that same question over and over until you understand how everyone gets paid.
In the long run, you want to align yourself and your portfolio with low-cost or cost-effective investments and advisors. You want to work with people and firms that have a clear fiduciary standard to put your financial interests ahead of their own. You want to find good coaches and teachers who can help you reach your goals and are willing to be transparent at every step of your journey about how they are compensated. Ultimately, you will need to decide if the investments they recommend and the services they provide are valuable to attaining your financial goals.
It’s hard to know when it is a good time to “sell” an investment. But most of us know when it is a good time to “buy” an investment. It is important to remember the market will decline three to nine percent around five or more times a year. A more closely watched decline is considered to be a correction, defined as 10% or more, and it happens on average, once per year. When the market declines more than 20%, it’s usually called a bear market and happens once every 3-4 years on average.
Warren Buffet has insightful advice regarding investing: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” When the market is down 10-20% or more, it is generally a good time to invest some extra cash for the long-term investor.
Academic research has identified specific characteristics or “dimensions” of risk that produce higher expected returns over the long run. Over the long run, stocks out-perform bonds, smaller companies out-perform larger companies, value companies out-perform growth companies, and higher profitable companies out-perform lower profitable companies.
Once you have established how much you should have in stocks, then “tilt” your stock portfolio to the areas that drive long-term returns. For your bond portfolio, there is no need to take on more risk than you carry in your stock portfolio, so stick to bond portfolios that are designed more for principal protection than the highest yield (income) possible.
Once you start saving, make sure you have the proper asset allocation. This starts with selecting the right amount of stocks and bonds that fit you and your goals. It’s more than just a risk tolerance questionnaire. It’s knowing how fast you want to get to your goals and what risks are acceptable to you along the way. Everything is a trade-off but asset allocation – the balance between riskier assets (stocks) and less risky assets (bonds or cash equivalents) is what matters most in determining the risk and return for your portfolio.
There are no shortcuts to building wealth. You never know what market segment will outperform or underperform from year to year, so don’t try to guess by timing the market. You are better served by setting up your balance to “fit” you and your goals and then rebalance regularly. Don’t fall in love with your company stock. Remember, in a well-diversified portfolio, there should always be something down or underperforming your other investments each year.
You can determine whether you are saving enough later, but in the short term, you need to start the discipline of saving and investing. Investing really is delaying a current “want” for a future “need” so just get it started and learn to increase your savings every year. While an advisor can help you make specific allocations for your saving priorities, you should generally be maxing out your 401k/403b/457 plans, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, regular investment accounts, etc.
If your company provides a match, make sure you are contributing at least the amount to get your full match. Participate in employee stock purchase plans if they provide a discounted purchase price. Take advantage of every beneficial saving opportunity provided to you because there are
no scholarships or student loans for retirement.