What is Your Risk #?

By | March 20th, 2017|General|



Have you ever been asked about your investing risk preference? Or have you been investing based upon gut instincts, hunches or emotions? Maybe you’ve discussed risk in a subjective way based upon your age. What if I asked you:

“How far can your portfolio fall, within a certain period of time, before you make a poor investing decision?”

4 out of 5 people have more risk in their portfolios than they realize. But it can be as simple as 5 minutes to determine an acceptable amount of risk your family is willing to take, for an acceptable return.

Park + Elm Investment Advisers has invested in award winning technology from our partners at Riskalyze, that defines an individual’s risk tolerance through the patented “RISK NUMBER”. We invite you to take 5 minutes to identify YOUR risk number. It’s simple, quick, free and crucial to your investment experience.

My risk number is a 67! Click on the button above to find out yours!

Going Global: A Look at Public Company Listings

By | March 7th, 2017|General|

Trivia time: how many stocks make up the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index (a widely used benchmark for the US equity market)?

While the logical guess might be 5,000, as of December 31, 2016, the index actually contained around 3,600 names. In fact, the last time this index contained 5,000 or more companies was at the end of 2005. This mirrors the overall trend in the US stock market. In the past two decades there has been a decline in the number of US-listed, publicly traded companies. Should investors in public markets be worried about this change? Does this mean there is a material risk of being unable to achieve an adequate level of diversification for stock investors? We believe the answer to both is no. When viewed through a global lens, a different story begins to emerge—one with important implications for how to structure a well-diversified investment portfolio.

U.S. Against the world

When looked at globally, the number of publicly listed companies has not declined. In fact, the number of firms listed on US, non-US developed, and emerging markets exchanges has increased from about 23,000 in 1995 to 33,000 at the end of 2016. (See Exhibit 1.)

It should be noted, however, that this number is substantially larger than what many investors consider to be an investable universe of stocks. For example, one well-known global benchmark, the MSCI All Country World Index Investable Market Index (MSCI ACWI IMI) contains between 8,000 and 9,000 stocks. This index applies restrictions for inclusion such as minimum market capitalization, volume, and price. For comparison, the Dimensional investable universe, at around 13,000 stocks, is broader than the MSCI ACWI IMI.

Exhibit 1. Number of Publicly Listed Companies


Source: Bloomberg

While it is true that in the US there are fewer publicly listed firms today than there were in the mid-1990s (a decrease of about 2,500), it is clear that the increase in listings both in developed markets outside the US and in emerging markets has more than offset the decline in US listings. Although there is no consensus about why US listings have decreased over this period of time, a number of academic studies have explored possible reasons for this change. One line of investigation considered if changes in the regulatory environment for listed companies in the US relative to other countries may explain why there are fewer listed firms. Another considered if, since the 2000s, private companies have had a greater propensity to sell themselves to larger companies rather than list themselves. In either case, the implication for investors based on the numbers alone is clear—the number of publicly listed companies around the world has increased, not decreased.

a global approach

In the US, with thousands of stocks available for investment today, it is unlikely that this change will meaningfully impact an investor’s ability to efficiently pursue equity market returns in broadly diversified portfolios. It is also important to note that a significant fraction of the publicly available global market cap remains listed on US exchanges. As noted in Exhibit 2, the weight of the US in the global market is approximately 50–55%. For comparison, it was approximately 40% in 1995.

For investors looking to build diversified portfolios, the implications of the trend in listings are also clear. The global equity market is large and represents a world of investment opportunities, nearly half of which are outside of the US. While diversifying globally implies an investor’s portfolio is unlikely to be the best performing relative to any one domestic stock market, it also means it is unlikely to be the worst performing. Diversification provides the means to achieve a more consistent outcome and can help reduce the risks associated with overconcentration in any one country. By having a truly global investment approach, investors have the opportunity to capture returns wherever they occur.

Exhibit 2. Percent of World Market Capitalizations as of December 31, 2016


Data provided by Bloomberg. Market ap data is free-­ oat adjusted and meets minimum liquidity and listing requirements. Many nations not displayed. Totals may not equal 100% due to rounding. China market capitalization excludes A-shares, which are generally only available to mainland China investors.


While there has been a decline in the number of US-listed, publicly traded companies, this decline has been more than offset by an increase in listings in non-US markets. While the reasons behind this trend are not clear, the implications for investors today are clearer—to build a well-diversified portfolio, an investor has to look beyond any single country’s stock market and take a global approach.

Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. There is no guarantee an investing strategy will be successful. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss. Investing risks include loss of principal and fluctuating value. International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This article is distributed for informational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services.

Indices, such as the MSCI All Country World Index Investable Market Index (MSCI ACWI IMI) are not available for direct investment.

Pursuing a Better Investment Experience #8: Do Emotions Affect Investment Returns?

By | March 2nd, 2017|General|


Many people struggle to separate their emotions from investing. The chart above shows the correlation between emotional cycles and market returns. Investors typically buy at “Elation” and sell at “Fear”, inherently creating a dreaded “selling low, buying high” strategy.

A philosopher once said that nothing is as difficult for people as not deceiving themselves. But while most self-delusions are relatively costless, those relating to investment can come with a hefty price tag.

Market volatility in 2008 and 2009 took investors on a bumpy, emotional ride. Despite the market’s strong performance after March of 2009, many investors were too exhausted to endure the ongoing stress of an uncertain economy and market. By making an emotional decision to avoid the stress, there are millions of investors who never recovered their losses and sacrificed the enormous gains that would follow.

On the contrary – prior to the tech bubble of the early 2000’s, investors were pumping money into the dot coms because they saw their neighbor or co-worker getting rich. Driven by media and emotional investing, American’s poured their savings into tech stocks, only to endure the bubble bursting in 2000.

Some media outlets claim a similar bubble for tech stocks in ‘15 and ‘16. A Bing search on this claim literally pulled up the following article titles, one after another on page 1:

“Why this Tech Bubble is Worse than the Tech Bubble of 2000”

“Why this Tech Bubble is Less Scary than the Tech Bubble of 2000”

Magazines sell by appealing to the emotions of a reader. When it comes to investments, reacting to what you read or see on TV can be detrimental to your long-term retirement plan. Keep these tips in mind before making an emotional investment decision:

  1. Market timing is hard.
  2. Never forget the power of diversification.
  3. Markets and economies are different things.
  4. Discipline is rewarded.

Overcoming self-deception is not impossible. It just starts with recognizing that, as humans, we are not wired for disciplined investing. We will always find one way or another of rationalizing an emotional reaction to market events. But that’s why even experienced investors engage advisors who know them, and who understand their circumstances, risk appetites, and long-term goals. The role of your advisor is to listen to and acknowledge your very human fears, while keeping us in the plans we committed to at our most lucid and logical moments. Can you say with confidence that your investment decisions are based on a long-term strategy, or are your current emotions playing a role?

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