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Preventing Investment Mistakes: Ten Risk Minimizers
Most investment mistakes are caused by basic misunderstandings of the securities markets and invalid performance expectations. The markets move in unpredictable cyclical patterns of varying duration and amplitude. Evaluating the performance of the two major classes of investment securities needs to be done separately because they are owned for differing purposes. Stock market investments are expected to produce realized capital gains; income-producing investments are expected to generate cash flow.
Losing money on an investment may not be the result of an investment mistake, and not all mistakes result in monetary losses. But errors occur most frequently when judgment is influenced by emotions such as fear or greed, hindsightful observations, and short-term market value comparisons with unrelated numbers.
Your own misconceptions about how securities react to varying economic, political, and hysterical circumstances are your most vicious enemy.
Master these ten risk-minimizers to improve your long-term investment performance:
1. Develop an investment plan. Identify realistic goals that include considerations of time, risk-tolerance, and future income requirements--- think about where you are going before you start moving in the wrong direction. A well thought out plan will not need frequent adjustments. A well-managed plan will not be susceptible to the addition of trendy speculations.
2. Learn to distinguish between asset allocation and diversification. Asset allocation divides the portfolio between growth and income purpose securities. Diversification limits the size of individual portfolio holdings in several ways. Neither activity is a hedge or market timing devices. Neither can be done precisely with mutual funds, and both are handled most efficiently using a cost based approach like the Working Capital Model.
3. Be patient with your plan. Although investing is always referred to as long- term, it is rarely dealt with as such by investors, the media, or financial advisors. Never change direction frequently, and always make gradual rather than drastic adjustments. Short-term market value movements must not be compared with un-portfolio related indices and averages. There is no index that compares with your portfolio, and calendar sub-divisions have no relationship whatever to market, interest rate, or economic cycles.
4. Never fall in love with a security, particularly if the company was your employer. It's alarming how often accounting and other professionals refuse to fix the resultant single-issue portfolios. Aside from the love issue, this becomes an unwilling-to-pay-the-taxes problem that often brings the unrealized gain to the Schedule D as a realized loss.
No reasonable profit, in any security, should ever go unrealized... establish target profits for all.
5. Prevent "analysis paralysis" from short-circuiting your decision-making powers. An overdose of information causes confusion, hindsight, and an inability to distinguish between research reports and sales materials. A somewhat narrow focus on information that supports a logical and well-documented investment strategy will be more productive, and avoid all future predictors.
6. Burn, delete, toss out the window any short cuts or gimmicks designed to provide instant stock picking success. Don't allow your portfolio to become a hodgepodge of mutual funds, index ETFs, partnerships, pennies, hedges, shorts, strips, metals, grains, options, currencies, etc. Consumers' obsession with products underlines how Wall Street has made it impossible for financial professionals to survive without them.
Remember: consumers buy products; investors select securities.
7. Attend a workshop on interest rate expectation (IRE) sensitive securities and learn how to deal appropriately with changes in their market value--- in either direction. The income portion of your portfolio must be looked at separately from the growth portion. Bottom line market value changes must be expected and understood, not reacted to with either fear or greed. Fixed income does not mean fixed price. Few investors ever realize (in either sense) the full power of this portion of their portfolio.
8. Ignore Mother Nature's evil twin daughters, speculation and pessimism. They'll con you into buying at market peaks and panicking when prices fall, ignoring the cyclical opportunities provided by Momma. Never buy at all time high prices or overload the portfolio with current story stocks. Buy good companies, little by little, at lower prices and avoid the typical investor's buy high, sell low frustration.
9. Step away from calendar year, total return, and market value only thinking. Most investment errors involve unrealistic time horizon, and/or "apples to oranges" performance comparisons. The get rich slowly path is a more reliable investment road that Wall Street has allowed to become overgrown, if not abandoned. Portfolio growth is rarely a straight-up arrow and short-term comparisons with unrelated indices, averages or strategies simply produce detours that speed progress away from original portfolio goals.
10. Avoid the cheap, the easy, the confusing, the most popular, the future knowing, and the one-size-fits-all. There are no freebies on Wall Street, and the further you stray from conventional stocks and bonds, the more risk you are adding to your portfolio. When cheap is your primary concern (or the regulatory requirement), what you get will generally be worth the price.
Compounding the problems that investors face managing their investment portfolios is the sensationalism that the media brings to the process. Investing is a personal project where individual/family goals and objectives must dictate portfolio structure, management strategy, and performance evaluation techniques.
Do most individual investors have difficulty in an environment that encourages instant gratification, supports all forms of speculation, and gets off on shortsighted reports, reactions, and achievements? Yup.
Retirement Ready Income Programs
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|Please read this disclaimer:|
Steve Selengut is registered as an investment adviser representative. His assessments and opinions are purely his own. None of the information presented here should be construed as an endorsement of any business entity; the information is only intended to be educational and thought provoking.
Risk Management: Income, 401k, and IRA Programs
Take a free tour of a professional investment managers' private SEP IRA program during ten years surrounding the financial crisis:
In developing the investment plan, personal financial goals, objectives, time frames, and future income requirements should all be considered. A first step would be to assure that small portfolios (under $50,000) are at least 50% income focused.
At the $100,000 level, between 30% and 40% income focused is fine, but above age 50, the income focus allocation needs to be no less than 40%... and it could increase in 10% increments every five years.
The "Income Bucket" of the Asset Allocation is itself a portfolio risk minimization tool, and when combined with an "Equity Bucket" that includes only Investment Grade Value Stocks, it becomes a very powerful risk regulator over the life of the portfolio.
Other Risk Minimizers include: "Working Capital Model" based Asset Allocation, fundamental quality based selection criteria, diversification and income production rules, and profit taking guidelines for all securities,
Dealing with changes in the Investment Environment productively involves a market/interest rate/economic cycle appreciation, as has evolved in the Market Cycle Investment Management (MCIM) methodology. Investors must formulate realistic expectations about investment securities--- by class and by type. This will help them deal more effectively with short term events, disruptions and dislocations.
Over the past twenty years, the market has transitioned into a "passive", more products than ever before, environment on the equity side... while income purpose investing has actually become much easier in the right vehicles. MCIM relies on income closed end funds to power our programs.
To illustrate just how powerful the combination of highest quality equities plus long term closed end funds has been during this time... we have provided an audio PowerPoint that illustrates the development of a Self Directed IRA portfolio from 2004 through 2014.
Throughout the years surrounding the "Financial Crisis", Annual income nearly tripled from $8,400 to $23,400 and Working Capital grew 80% $198,000 to $356,000.
Total income is 6.5% of capital and more than covers the RMD.
Managing income purpose securities requires price volatility understanding and disciplined income reinvestment protocals. "Total realized return" (emphasis on the realized) and compound earnings growth are the key elements. All forms of income secuities are liquid when dealt with in Closed End Funds.
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|Please read this disclaimer:|
Steve Selengut is registered as an investment advisor representative. His assessments and opinions are purely his own and do not represent the views of any other entity. None of his commentary is or should be considered either investment advice or a solicitation of business. Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be or should be construed as an endorsement of any entity or organization. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or investments mentioned are any more than illustrations --- they are never recommendations, and others will most certainly disagree with the thoughts presented in the article.