The “Last Post”
The “Last Post” is a bugle call played in the British Army to mark the end of the day’s labours at the close of a day of battle.
This is my last blog post. For a while at least. And for a ‘couple reasons.
First, I think some (not all) blogs have a life-span – a best-before date. Since 2007 I’ve posted about 200 blog posts and published nearly 30 articles. Maybe I’ve said what I have to say. And frankly I’m running out of ways to say the same things. So unless or until I find a new or better way to say what I’ve already said or have something different to say, it’s time to take a step back.
Second, I’ve taken on new career responsibilities. I now work for Her Majesty’s Government. Moving from the private sector to the public sector means different standards regarding social media policy. I’d rather not make a claim here that differs from house views or say something here that has potential to be misconstrued.
Having said that, I intend to update the Pension Investment Association of Canada (PIAC) composite asset mix. It’s the thesis for this blog. If an Individual Investor doesn’t have a personal investments plan, then they can piggy-back off of the work that Institutional Investors do by mimicking the composite asset mix of PIAC members. If an Individual Investors portfolio asset allocation is significantly different from the PIAC mix, then a good question to ask oneself would be … Why?
A Few Recommendations
Use Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Mutual funds did a great job in their time but they are yesterday’s news. ETFs are a better way. With a hand full of ETFs the Individual Investor can build a diversified portfolio across asset classes, regions and currencies. (Again, see the Model portfolios above).
Do you have a plan? Planning is easier than you think. See here and here. Some planning tools are available here and here. Once you develop overall Financial Plan then use the CFA Institute Investment Policy as a guide to the planning and implementation of your investment program and as an objective barometer during market disruption that can help avoid knee-jerk trading.
Do you know your asset allocation? If you do nothing else, get your asset allocation right. Approximately. At least in the ball-park. As a start, mimic PIAC’s asset allocation. It is widely accepted that asset mix is the major contributor to both portfolio return and risk. Asset mix gets the Individual Investor in the ballpark. It’s really tough to screw up from there.
Do you Dollar-cost-average? It’s forced savings and it turns market volatility into an advantage.
Do you Re-invest income and dividends? Make math and time work for you. Compounding is King.
Do you Re-balance? Make volatility work for you. Buy low and sell high before regression to the mean.
Do you Embrace Market volatility?
Everything moves relative to Treasury rates – Scott Richard, Wharton practice professor of finance.
Surely after declining for 32 years, interest rates are headed higher. Even the suspicion of higher rates is causing volatility. Expect it. Plan for it. Embrace it. But recall the words of Douglas Coupland in The Gum Thief … “If you don’t have a spiritual practice in place when times are good, you can’t expect to suddenly develop one during a moment of crisis.” Similiarly, you can’t expect to build or adjust an investment game plan during a time of market volatility (You can’t buy fire insurance during the fire). It simply won’t work.
During market disruption is the time for implementation.
When opportunity presents itself, the Individual Investor must be prepared. See here and here. It works. We won’t know how well it works for some time (years) but buying on sale seems to work for Charlie Munger – I think it will work for you and I too.
So, build a plan. Know what you want to buy (in my case, I built an ETF wish list), determine the price you are willing to pay (like after a 10% correction, say), keep cash or short-term bonds (dry powder) available and then … then you wait. The waiting part can take months, maybe years. (The folks at GMO are willing to wait years). Place a price alert with your discount broker so you don’t have to watch the market daily. When the market comes to your target, your discount broker notifies you and you pull the trigger.
“Then you live with it.” – Clint Eastwood as The Stranger – High Plains Drifter.
Thanks for your support these many years.
Doug Cronk CFA PRM is a Pension Investment & Risk Management Officer