Quarterly Market Review: Q3-2018

By | October 8th, 2018|DFA, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Markets, Quarterly Market Review|

Click on the link below for a detailed analysis of quarterly performance of the global equity and fixed income markets.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE 3RD QUARTER 2018- QUARTERLY MARKET REVIEW

Total Cost of Ownership

By | October 3rd, 2018|Dimensional Fund Advisors, Markets|

Costs matter. Whether you’re buying a car or selecting an investment strategy, the costs you expect to pay are likely to be an important factor in making any major financial decision.

People rely on a lot of different information about costs to help inform these decisions. When you buy a car, for example, the sticker price indicates approximately how much you can expect to pay for the car itself. But the costs of car ownership do not end there. Taxes, insurance, fuel, routine maintenance, and unexpected repairs are also important considerations in the overall cost of a car. Some of these costs are easily observed, while others are more difficult to assess. Similarly, when investing in mutual funds, different variables need to be considered to evaluate how cost‑effective a strategy may be for a particular investor.

Expense ratios

Mutual funds have many costs, all of which affect the net return to investors. One easily observable cost is the expense ratio. Like the sticker price of a car, the expense ratio tells you a lot about what you can expect to pay for an investment strategy. Expense ratios strongly influence fund selection for many investors, and it’s easy to see why.

Exhibit 1 illustrates the outperformance rate, or the percentage of funds that beat their category index, for active equity mutual funds over the 15-year period ending December 31, 2017. To see the link between expense ratio and performance, outperformance rates are shown for quartiles of funds sorted by their expense ratio. As the chart shows, while active funds have mostly lagged indices across the board, the outperformance rate has been inversely related to expense ratio. Just 6% of funds in the highest expense ratio quartile beat their index, compared to 25% for the lowest expense ratio group.

This data indicates that a high expense ratio presents a challenging hurdle for funds to overcome, especially over longer time horizons. From the investor’s point of view, an expense ratio of 0.25% vs. 1.25% means savings of $10,000 per year on every $1 million invested. As Exhibit 2 helps to illustrate, those dollars can really add up over time.

Exhibit 1.       High Costs Can Reduce Performance, Equity Fund Winners and Losers Based on Expense Ratios (%)


Exhibit 2.      
Hypothetical Growth of $1 Million at 6%, Less Expenses

For illustrative purposes only and not representative of an actual investment. This hypothetical illustration is intended to show the potential impact of higher expense ratios and does not represent any investor’s actual experience. Assumes a starting account balance of $1 million and a 6% compound annual growth rate less expense ratios of 0.25%, 0.75%, and 1.25% applied over a 15-year time horizon. Performance of a hypothetical investment does not reflect transaction costs, taxes, other potential costs, or returns that any investor would have actually attained and may not reflect the true costs, including management fees of an actual portfolio. Actual results may vary significantly. Changing the assumptions would result in different outcomes. For example, the savings and difference between the ending account balances would be lower if the starting investment amount were lower.

Going beyond The expense ratio

The poor track record of mutual funds with high expense ratios has led many investors to select mutual funds based on expense ratio alone. However, as with a car’s sticker price, an expense ratio is not an all-encompassing measure of the cost of ownership. Take, for example, index funds, which often rank near the bottom of their peers on expense ratio.

Index funds are designed to track or match the components of an index formed by an index provider, such as Russell or MSCI. Important decisions in the investment process, such as which securities to include in the index, are outsourced to an index provider and are not within the fund manager’s discretion. For example, the prescribed reconstitution schedule for an index, which is the process of deleting or adding certain stocks to the index, may cause index funds to buy stocks when buy demand is high and sell stocks when buy demand is low. This price-insensitive buying and selling may be required so that the index fund can stay true to its investment mandate of tracking an underlying index. This can result in sub-optimal transaction prices for the index fund and diminished overall returns. In other words, for a given amount of trading (or turnover), the cost per unit of trading may be higher for such a strictly regimented approach to investing. Moreover, this cost will not appear explicitly to investors assessing such a fund on expense ratio alone. Further, because indices are reconstituted infrequently (typically once per year), funds seeking to track them may also be forced to buy and sell holdings based on stale eligibility criteria. For example, the characteristics of a stock considered value as of the last reconstitution date may change over time, but between reconstitution dates, those changes would not affect that stock’s inclusion or weighting in a value index. That means incoming cash flows to a value index fund could actually be used to purchase stocks that currently look more like growth stocks, and vice versa. Metaphorically, these managers’ attention may be more focused on the rear-view mirror than on the road ahead for investors.

For active approaches like stock picking, both the total amount of trading and the cost per trade may be high. If a manager trades excessively or inefficiently, costs like commissions and price impact from trading can eat away at returns. Viewed through the lens of our car analogy, this impact is like the toll on your vehicle from incessantly jamming the brakes or accelerating quickly. Subjecting the car to such treatment may result in added wear and tear and greater fuel consumption, increasing your total cost of ownership. Similarly, excessive trading can lead to negative tax consequences for a fund, which can increase the cost of ownership for investors holding funds in taxable accounts. Such trading costs can be reduced by avoiding unnecessary turnover and seeking to minimize the cost per trade.

In contrast to both highly regimented indexing and high-turnover active strategies, employing a flexible investment approach that reduces the need for immediacy, and thus enables opportunistic execution, is one way to potentially reduce implicit costs. Keeping turnover low, remaining flexible, and transacting only when the potential benefits of a trade outweigh the costs can help keep overall trading costs down and help reduce the total cost of ownership.

conclusion

The total cost of ownership of a mutual fund can be difficult to assess and requires a thorough understanding of costs beyond what an expense ratio can tell investors on its own. We believe investors should look beyond any one cost metric and instead evaluate the total cost of ownership of an investment solution.

Park + Elm Investing Principle #7: Avoid Market Timing

By | September 24th, 2018|Markets|

PRINCIPLE #7 IS HERE!

AVOID MARKET TIMING!

Download the rest of our Ebook Here to get all 10 principles!!

You never know which market segments will outperform from year to year. By holding a globally diversified portfolio, investors are well positioned to seek returns wherever they occur. Trying to correctly time your entry point to the market is difficult, and unfortunately humans have an instinctive desire to take control and make a change when things aren’t moving in the direction we want.

The problem is that what appears to be an intelligent alternative may actually be a distraction. Remember, hindsight is twenty-twenty. There are always short-term investments that do better than a balanced portfolio, but chasing returns is dangerous. What works is having a successful investment strategy and the discipline to stick with it.

Market timing is a seductive strategy. If we could sell stocks prior to a substantial decline and hold cash instead, our long-run returns could be exponentially higher. But successful market timing is a two-step process: determining when to sell stocks and when to buy them back. I can think of a couple of examples where getting these two key things correct would have been extremely difficult and maybe even impossible.

First, leading up to the presidential election in 2016, everyone predicted that a victory for Donald Trump would send the stock market into a tailspin. Nearly every media outlet predicted a market crash if Trump won, and many investors took the advice and withdrew. Yet after some brief jitters following Trump’s win, the stock market kept marching skyward. By the time Trump clinched the presidency, the market rallied and closed the trading day 256 points higher.

And let’s not forget the Brexit news of a couple of summers ago. Wasn’t Britain’s exit from the European Union finally the trigger of the next Stock Market crash? If you read the headlines and listened to the noise, you may have sold your stocks that June when the DJIA was just over 18,000. Four days after Brexit, the market stabilized and began its steady incline.

So how do we get our egos and emotions out of the investment process? One answer is to distance ourselves from the daily noise by appointing a financial advisor to help stop us from doing things against our own long-term interests. Investment advice is not about making predictions about the market. It’s about education and diversification and designing strategies that meet the specific needs of each individual. Ultimately it’s about saving investors from their own, very human, mistakes. What often stops investors from getting returns that are there for the taking are their very own actions—lack of diversification, compulsive trading, buying high, selling low, going by hunches and responding to media and market noise.

An advisor begins with the understanding that there are things we can’t control (like the ups and downs in the markets), and things we can (like proper diversification, rebalancing, minimizing fees, and being mindful of tax consequences). Most of all, an advisor helps us all by encouraging the exercise of discipline—the secret weapon in building long-term wealth.

Working with markets, understanding risk and return, diversifying and portfolio structure—we’ve heard the lessons of sound investing over and over. But so often the most important factor between success and failure is ourselves. Do you have a plan for navigating the “media noise”, and avoiding the temptation to time the market?

Park + Elm Investing Principle #6: Practice Smart Diversification

By | August 28th, 2018|Markets|

PRINCIPLE #6 IS HERE!

PRACTICE SMART DIVERSIFICATION!

Download the rest of our Ebook Here to get all 10 principles!!

It’s not enough to diversify by security. Deeper diversification involves geographic and asset class diversity. Holding a global portfolio helps to lower concentration in individual securities and increase diversification.

Over long periods of time, investors can benefit from consistent exposure in their portfolios to both US and non-US equities. While both asset classes offer the potential to earn positive expected returns in the long term, they may perform quite differently over shorter cycles. The performance of different countries and asset classes will vary over time, and there is no reliable evidence that performance can be predicted in advance. An approach to equity investing that uses the global opportunity set available to investors can provide both diversification benefits as well as potentially higher expected returns.

The global equity market is large and represents a world of investment opportunities. Nearly half of the investment opportunities in global equity markets lie outside the United States. Non US stocks including developed and emerging markets, account for 47% of world market cap and represent more than 10,000 companies in over 40 countries. A portfolio investing solely within the US would not be exposed to the performance of those markets.

However, when Americans talk about the stock market, they’re generally referring to the Standard & Poor’s 500 index or the Dow Jones industrial average. But these indices represent only one part of the available investing universe. The total U.S. stock market makes up only about 53% of global market capitalization. Yet, on average, U.S. mutual fund investors possess a home bias, with a disproportionate amount of their portfolio invested in the United States. If their portfolios were balanced according to world market capitalization, about half of their assets would reside in non-U.S. stocks. This “home bias” leads to less diversification, and as a result, greater volatility with lower returns.

It’s well know that concentrating in one stock exposes you to unnecessary risks, and diversifying can reduce the impact of any one company’s performance on your wealth. From year to year, you never know which markets will outperform, and attempting to identify future winners is a guessing game. Diversification improves the odds of holding the best performers, and by holding a globally diversified portfolio, investors are positioned to capture returns wherever they occur.

Put very simply, DIVERSIFICATION:

· Helps you capture what global markets offer

· Reduces risks that have no expected return

· May prevent you from missing opportunity

· Smooths out some of the bumps

· Helps take the guesswork out of investing

There is no single perfect portfolio. There are an infinite number of possibilities for allocation based on the needs and risk profile of each individual. The most important question investors should ask… “IS MY PORTFOLIO GLOBALLY DIVERSIFIED?”

Today’s Video: How Much Should You Save For Retirement?

By | August 17th, 2018|Markets|

So many investors search for the answer to this question! This video discusses important factors that can help you meet your goals – like determining your savings rate, monitoring your progress, and making adjustments over time.

CHECK IT OUT!!

Park + Elm Investing Principle #5: Consider the Drivers of Returns

By | August 8th, 2018|Markets|

dimensions

Principle #5 is HERE!

Consider the Drivers of Returns!

Download the rest of our Ebook Here to get all 10 principles!!

Throughout history, many of the greatest advancements in finance have come from Academia. Our investment philosophy has been shaped by decades of research by leading academics. We structure portfolios on the principles that markets are efficient; that returns are determined by asset allocation decisions, and that portfolios can be structured around dimensions of expected returns identified through academic research. It is through our strategic partnership with Dimensional Fund Advisors, a leading global investment firm that has been translating academic research into practical investment solutions since 1981, that we can pursue dimensions of higher expected returns through advanced portfolio design, management, and trading.
Much of what we have learned about expected returns in the equity and fixed income markets can be summarized in these dimensions.

  • Stocks have higher expected returns than bonds – it has been well documented over time that stocks outperform bonds, and that risk = reward
  • Among stocks, expected return differences are largely driven by company size – small companies have higher expected returns than large companies.

 

chart1

  • Relative price – low relative price “value” companies have higher expected returns than high relative price “growth companies.

chart2

  • Profitability – companies with high profitability have higher expected returns than companies with low profitability.

chart3

Since 1981, Dimensional has incorporated rigorous academic research on the capital markets into the design, management, and trading of clients’ portfolios. Some of the major milestones in academic research shown in the chart below have had a profound effect on our investment philosophy.

picture7

 

Our enduring philosophy and deep working relationships with Dimensional and the academic community underpin our approach to investing. Over a long period of time, Academics have been able to identify dimensions of higher expected returns, and with Dimensional, we can structure portfolios around these dimensions in a very cost-effective manner.

What You Pay, What You Get: Connecting Price and Expected Returns

By | June 19th, 2018|DFA, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Markets|

STOCK PRICES ARE CHANGING EVERY DAY – AND AS PRICES CHANGE, SO DO EXPECTED RETURNS.

It has been more than 50 years since the idea of stock prices containing all relevant information was put forth. Information might come in the form of data from a company’s financial statements, news about a new product, a change in the regulatory environment, or simply a shift of investors’ tastes and preferences toward owning different investments.

 

Information is incorporated into security prices through the buying and selling process. While fair prices may
not depend on a certain level of trading, over $400 billion of stocks traded on average each day in the world equity
markets suggests that a great deal of information is incorporated into stock prices.

As investors, we should consider whether we want to use the price we observe or look for a better price. A recent
study from Dimensional Fund Advisors shows that over the 15-year period ending December 2017, only 14%
of investment managers that attempted to outguess the market survived and beat benchmarks.

This study is just one of many conducted over the past 50 years that have documented similar results. With investing, many things are out of our control, but we can make decisions that improve our odds of having a positive investment experience. Looking at these results, attempting to identify a better price than the one we observe in the market may not be accomplishing this objective.

What-You-Pay_-What-You-Get_-CoPrice-and-Expected-Returns-625-1

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE PRICE

Beyond the challenge of trying to outguess the market, why is price so important? We should first understand
the connection between the price you pay and the return you expect to receive.

Let’s consider an example: Imagine that you want to buy a house and you know for certain the house will be worth $2 million 10 years from now. If you pay $1 million for the house today or you pay $500,000, in which case would you earn a higher return? Obviously paying less, $500,000, would earn you a higher return.

Of course, investing offers few, if any, guarantees, and we can’t know for certain what something will be worth in the future. Given this, investors should think in terms of expected returns and what decisions will lead to an investment with higher expected returns. Holding other factors constant, the lower the price you pay, the higher the expected return, which is why it’s so important to consider a stock’s observed market price. The price paid has a direct connection to the return we expect to receive.

AS PRICES CHANGE, SO DO EXPECTED RETURNS

We also know that, in a changing world, new information becomes available on a regular basis and that new information can affect the price of stocks. Let’s imagine a pharmaceutical company announces a new drug that investors believe will generate substantial revenues for the company. If this news was previously unknown, once it becomes available, it will likely influence the price of the stock. The price will adjust based on new information, and as the price changes, so will the expected return. Changes in stock prices are taking place every day, and as prices change, so do expected returns.

What-You-Pay_-What-You-Get_-CoPrice-and-Expected-Returns-625-2

 

 

 

 

 

INDEX MANAGEMENT AND MARKET PRICES

Each year on the last Friday in June, the Russell indices go through a process called reconstitution. In this process, certain stocks are added and deleted from the index. The goal of reconstitution is to periodically rebalance the index to account for historical changes in stocks during the prior period. Index providers, such as S&P, Russell, or CRSP, have different processes for adding and deleting stocks, and while each will have some variation, all will establish pre-set points in time to make their adjustments.

To decide which stocks will be added or deleted, the index provider may look at the market price of a stock to determine what is a small cap vs. large cap stock or what is a value vs. growth stock. It is only during these pre-set dates of reconstitution that index providers might consider market prices. On all other days between the reconstitution dates, changes in the prices of stocks are not being incorporated by the index. And since there is a direct relation between the price of a stock and expected return of a stock, indices are considering differences in expected returns only at infrequent intervals during the year. It not only seems logical that we may want to consider changes in market prices more frequently, the failure to do so can have a direct impact on the expected return of the index.

Again, this is why we believe using market prices is so important. The price we see gives us information about what we expect to receive. If you want to have an investment approach that targets higher expected returns every day, you need to ensure the approach incorporates changes in price every day. Otherwise, investors may not be getting what they think they are paying for.

Park + Elm Investing Principle #1: Embrace Market Pricing

By | May 25th, 2018|Markets, Uncategorized|

Allocation Image

 

 

This is just #1!

Download our Ebook Here to get all 10 principles!!


Many investors believe that there may be a way to predict when to buy and sell securities, and it’s possible that pricing errors occur in financial markets. But it’s clear that investors have a very difficult time consistently exploiting these errors. Over the last five years…

 

 

  1. About 60% of actively managed large cap US equity funds have failed to beat the S&P 500
  2. 77% of mid cap funds have failed to beat the S&P 400
  3. Two-thirds of the small cap manager universe have failed to outperform the S&P Small Cap 600 Index.
  4. Across the thirteen fixed income fund categories, all but one experienced at least a 70% rate of underperformance over five years.

…and the underperformance rate increases over longer periods of time. Most investors have investment time horizons much broader than 5 years, so trying to anticipate market movements over decades adds extreme anxiety and undue risk, while drastically increasing management expenses. Although the promise of above-market returns is alluring, investors must face the reality that as a group, US-based active managers do not consistently deliver on this promise, and they charge significantly higher fees for this underperformance.

Consider the assumption that the price of a security reflects all available information, and the intense competition among market participants drives prices to fair value. This type of strong belief in markets frees us to think and act differently about investing. When you try to outwit the market, you compete with the collective knowledge of millions of investors. By harnessing the Market’s power, you can put their knowledge to work in your portfolio.

Markets throughout the world have a history of rewarding investors for the capital they supply, and persistent differences in average portfolio returns are explained by differences in average risk. Attempting to time the market creates periods of time when investors are out of the market. This lack of participation can prove very costly to long-term returns. At Park and Elm, we embrace the market, and put investors in a position to capture returns from market growth over time, by pinpointing an acceptable level of risk, for an acceptable long-term return. There are periods of good and bad in the stock market, but it is by far the BEST investment option we have. Understanding that the price of a stock is driven to fair value by the intense competition of companies and investors, allows us to focus on controlling risk, lowering fees and diversifying into the broader markets.

INTERESTED IN THE REST OF THE INVESTING PRINCIPLES? DOWNLOAD OUR EBOOK HERE!

Video of the day: Tuning Out the Noise!

By | April 16th, 2018|DFA, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Markets, Video|

As an investor, it’s hard to stay focused on what really matters, and block out the constant noise. We believe the right financial advisor can get you closer to tuning it out! Check out the short video below to see why a more peaceful investment experience can be achieved!

Video of the day – Dimensional on Volatility

By | March 15th, 2018|DFA, Markets, Video|

Check out this short piece from Dimensional Fund Advisors explaining why investors should view market declines as part of the nature of investing.

 
 
 

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