Given increasing longevity, it's important that retirees not ignore strategies that can generate long-term capital growth. In short, retirees need to re-examine the role of equities in their portfolio.
When it comes to returns, it's true that there is no free lunch - for one person to win, another loses. But with risk, diversification offers "free drinks", albeit that the bar where these are served evolves over time because correlation is not static.
Another major licensee has reportedly fallen for the hybrid scare campaigns, insisting bank hybrids securities be treated as equities. The premise is hopelessly flawed.
A growing body of research on the actual spending habits of retirees finds spending declines over time, implying retirees may not need to be saving as much to retire.
I wonder whether this post-Trump market rally and associated bullish economic and market narrative will come to be seen as one of the more prominent historical examples of poorly timed and lazy market groupthink.
Trump offered entertainment, Clinton a documentary. Entertainment trumps facts every time. Now we need to re-calibrate portfolios to reflect the new fiscal and economic reality of a Trump Presidency.
Trump is unambiguously the pure American profit maximiser. This could be the most business and financial markets friendly regime in a long time.
Investors should make no mistake. The key pillars of Trump's campaign are de-globalisation, higher fiscal spending, and protecting entitlements at current levels. What are the investment implications?
Five years after the Euro crisis, it's not just Europe we’re concerned about from a populist perspective but also the US and UK. Why is this is a real risk for investors?
Variable withdrawal strategies for retirement spending are receiving more attention. Optimal asset allocations for such strategies are quite different to rules of thumb based on fixed withdrawal strategies.
Until recently, the expectation was that if professional economists achieved a technocratic consensus on a given policy approach, political leaders would listen.
The Australian sharemarket’s high weight to resource stocks is an accident of history and geography. A lower than market cap weight to resource stocks in portfolios seems much more sensible.
Perhaps the best way to manage sequence of return risk in the years leading up to retirement and thereafter is simply to build up and then use a reserve of bonds to weather the storm.
The gravest geopolitical challenge is not terrorism, or the Middle East, or Brexit, but a possible eruption between China and the US, the world's two largest economies and militaries. It is always when the most powerful countries clash that the world is altered fundamentally.
Predicting the future raises a significant number of issues when creating an investment plan. Monte Carlo simulations will illuminate the nature of that uncertainty, but only if those using them understand how it should be applied – and its limitations.
Conference 2016 delivered 50+ high conviction ideas on how to manage the friction between short-term and long-term investing imperatives. Here are the key takeouts.
Conference 2016 featured a stellar lineup of international and local experts offering their best high conviction idea/thesis around the the friction between short-term and long-term investing imperatives - and the portfolio construction decisions that must be made.
Individuals underestimate the degree to which their lives will change over the long-term, so how can practitioners build portfolios to meet clients' future needs?
Investing offshore requires currency exposure. Currency impacts can wash out over time, but its tidal forces are strong and independent of a client's retirement time frame. Currency is both a risk and an investment opportunity.
Investors can harness the long-run benefits of active satellites like global small caps to drive better portfolio outcomes despite volatile markets.
With most market participants distracted by short-term noise or focused on mean reversion of long-term valuations, the gap in the middle is an under-researched and fertile hunting ground.
For all the wisdom of four centuries of investing, not much has changed in financial markets. Boom and bust cycles still exist and speculation is higher than ever. But the Prudent Man Rule from 1830 can serve as a useful anchor for investors.
Longer-term assessments of risk and potential returns will always underpin the construction of multi-asset or diversified portfolios. However, context matters.
It seems sensible to make investment managers accountable by requiring them to perform relative to a benchmark. But this kind of motivation has a perverse effect.
The benefits of long-term investing extend beyond just being able to invest in illiquid assets. Patience can pay its own dividend. The challenge is holding at bay the relentless pressures to respond and deliver over the short term.
This panel debated the high conviction thesis that the key geopolitical risk of the times is tension between China, the US and South East Asian countries, as well as the impact of the US election on markets.
Geopolitical tensions between China, the US, and countries of South East Asia are growing. Most investors dismiss the region as a risk. But we are at a precipice of a left-tail risk event.
There has never been a more divisive US election season than the one we are witnessing right now. While the rhetoric and opinion polls are captivating on a weekly basis, the long game is what matters.
Markets are volatile and events are unprecedented – or at least that’s what we’re told and have been conditioned to believe. Times and markets are volatile, but they always have been and they always will be.
Australian banks face a number of headwinds - they are real, but could better be described as zephyrs. The market has overreacted. Buy the banks.
It is possible to generate high returns with low risk irrespective of where short-term cash rates or long-term government bond yields may be.
Many SMSF portfolios are inefficient - creating an opportunity to either increase returns for the current level of risk or reduce risk to achieve existing returns over the shorter term.
Listed and unlisted infrastructure investment are complimentary ways to access the same underlying cash flows. But varying investor time horizons impact the investment returns both targeted and achieved.
Increasing equity exposure for retirees does not have to be a daunting move. Breaking down the index shows that income and not capital has been doing the heavy lifting over the longer term.
As an investor, allowing yourself to be distracted by quick interpretation of market dynamics will lead to poor allocation decisions. Ultimately, fundamentals will win out for long-term investors.
Finance principles tell investors to buy good companies at attractive prices and they should perform over the long term. But what worked last century won't necessarily stand true this century.
Rapid technological innovation, affordable communication, and demographic shifts are reshaping the world. The traditional country/regional approach to asset allocation is not optimal for capturing these new opportunities.
Client solutions will require the use of both smarter passive and high conviction active strategies, allocated in a way to meet the needs of individuals.
The long-term ambitions of investors and politicians are often thwarted by short-term pressures. The solution may comprise a combination of passive and high conviction alpha strategies.
Many assume there is a trade-off between investing for financial returns and social impact. This is false and misleading. There is a synergy between profit and purpose.
It remains possible to generate alpha from liquid strategies but investors must shift their focus away from short-term performance, and towards longer-term measurements of success.
Investing is supposed to be about the incremental replacement of human capital with financial capital over the long term. But today's environment and our behavioural biases conspire against such a pure case.
Rising liabilities and low expected returns are driving a greater focus on outcome-based strategies and factor investing.
Managing the fundamental friction between short-term and long-term investing imperatives is a key challenge when building portfolios. This Backgrounder explores some of the key concepts and debates.
SMSF portfolios appear inefficient – creating an opportunity to either increase returns for the current level of risk or reduce risk for the existing return.
Maintaining a solid level of income for the retiree must remain at the forefront of thinking and a move up the risk spectrum into equities provides a solution.
In portfolios with international exposure, there are times when currency returns dominate overall performance. This paper analyses the currency hedge decision from the perspective of an Australian investor with international exposure.
The world of investing and business has seen a great deal of change in the past 30 years. Investors face a slew of psychological challenges. Here are the 10 attributes I believe to be the hallmark of a great investor.
It has become accepted, conventional wisdom that investors underperform their investments by timing those investments badly. But this new conventional wisdom must be debunked.
Research suggests that we have remarkably little insight into our future preferences. So a challenge of goals-based investing is that we save towards a goal that isn't what we want when the time comes.
Considering structural and cyclical drivers can help reveal investment opportunities, if an appropriate timeframe is defined. A two- to three-year period is an under researched view.
What are the investment implications of a potential Trump presidency? In the short term, we think it could be positive for equities and negative for bonds, but negative for US equities in the medium term.
Decumulation requires a tradeoff between preserving capital and obtaining income. A very simple "inverted withdraw rate" approach may be a better approach than the traditional 4% rule.
The reality is that Brexit will hurt everyone involved more than was admitted during the campaign. Investors should expect heightened volatility, not only of stocks, but even of government bonds.
The "best" retirement income strategy may be very different depending on whether you measure based on wealth, spending, probabilities of success, magnitudes of failure, or utility functions that weigh both the upside and downside risks.
The Brexit referendum is a major break in the 70 years of European integration. What's next for the UK? Who is next to exit? What does this mean for broader global stability? And - most importantly - what are investment implications?
Everybody is an Australian equities expert, understandably so for those who live in Australia. But the X factor in Australian equities portfolios is concentration risk.
The current investment environment is arguably one of the toughest ever in which to build portfolios that deliver return and are robust into the future. There are a range of approaches that can be taken.
Setting an appropriate spending level is one of the most crucial tasks for retirees. Spend too much and risk utter penury down the track. Be too conservative and the client spends their remaining years in unnecessary hardship.
By definition, Black Swans are unknowable - they should surprise us. But here are 10 "gray swans" complicating the outlook for markets and portfolio construction.
Symposium facilitates featured a stellar line up of 20 international and local experts - including special guest keynote, Professor Niall Ferguson, PhD, internationally renowned economic and financial historian - offering their expert, high conviction ideas to help build better quality investor portfolios.
One of the most important decisions facing retirees is working out how much can be “safely” spent without the risk of exhausting capital. This session reviewed the different approaches to create a formal, written spending policy.
Presented in a format that incorporates a game, this workshop explored the risk factors that drive retirement portfolio outcomes.
Risk profiling is entirely broken. The key to understanding clients is in analysing their actions, not their words, or answers to a risk questionnaire.
India’s demographic dividend creates a significant market opportunity for corporates operating within the ecosystem. But size really does matter, leading to the potential for unparalleled revenue growth.
Central bankers successfully tamed inflation in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Persistently low inflation is the new problem. With markets complacent about the inflation outlook, signs of inflation could create a scare.
Investors are slowly awakening to the threat that negative interest rates globally pose to their goals. Diversified funds need a higher mix of growth assets, and TAA should be applied.
The currency exposure embedded in foreign equity portfolios exposes portfolios to a great deal of noise. Used productively, the opportunity it represents can be captured as the ultimate "alternative asset".
US private market home loans – income producing, low credit risk, low volatility assets that can generate a stable flow of monthly income - are one of many opportunities to consider for portfolios.
Each panelist outlined the high conviction idea they agreed with most from the prior day, and the portfolio construction implications. Then delegates worked in tables to determine the same.
Our Symposium 2016 Faculty debated two high conviction ideas from the first day's program - firstly, the idea that delegates agreed with most and then, the idea delegates disagreed with most.
While record low interest rates worldwide (negative in many countries) mean low returns on government bonds, it doesn't necessarily mean low returns across the board. This is not a time to be fearful.
China's growth has become reliant on credit stimulus and a related property bubble. This is coming unstuck. The risks to the global economy and markets are significant.
The tepid recovery from 2008's GFC has surprised almost everyone. Investing in this low growth world requires a very selective stock picking approach, and suggests focusing on value and quality.
Quality is a critical factor in constructing portfolios. The use of a modified Piotroski indicator as an indicator or screen for equities can significantly add to investment performance in NZ and Australia.
If you see one cockroach, you haven't seen them all. That's a very important concept today for managing diversified portfolios. We see one cockroach – low interest rates, but what we don't see is the hidden consequences throughout portfolios.
Nearly every investor is confronting the challenge of how to invest in a low growth, low return environment. Investors must rethink portfolio construction.
The extreme thirst for yield has pushed the US high yield debt cycle into unchartered territory. It is approaching shakeout - with long/short opportunities amongst the beneficiaries of the current cycle.
Investors need to be wary that without much needed reform, structural weaknesses in many advanced and developing economies will be the ultimate determinant of longer-term returns.
Monte Carlo analysis is the most common tool used to project portfolio values - yet it has an optimistic bias that sizeably underestimate required retirement savings.
Retirement income planning is a relatively new field that differs from traditional wealth accumulation. Eight key ideas serve as a manifesto for my approach to retirement income planning.
Retirees and their pensions are being sacrificed for what now passes as "the greater good." ZIRP has created a massive problem for retirement savers and pension fund managers. NIRP will make their problem worse.
Even multi-asset-class portfolios aren't always really diversified. Being properly diversified means always having to say you're sorry about some investment that's not moving in the same direction as the rest.
One might argue that Australia's high dividend yield, currently lower PE Ratio and generally smaller companies means the Australian equity market behaves like a global small cap with a value style tilt. Is that true?
Sequencing risk is just as relevant for accumulators as it is retirees. Decreasing growth asset exposures in the lead up to retirement may be a very appealing risk management strategy.
We're often told that the answer to managing sequencing risk lies in locking into low volatility, low return strategies. It’s nuts and you can clearly see it’s nuts!
Delegates determined their key takeouts from the day's program, and actions to take to further improve the way they relate with individual investors - and/or help others who must do so.
The conventional tactics of asking questions to gain trust during client meetings are based on faulty and outdated assumptions. Five conversational recipes are needed to achieve a trust trifecta.
Use clients' choices to recover both their true preferences and their financial sophistication and the impact of complexity on client decision-making.
State Street's 2015 Retirement Survey interviewed 1200 Australians, to understand the psychology of Australian retirees and the opportunity to engage and boost confidence.
It's a sad fact that not everyone adjusts well to retirement. It's estimated that about one third of retirees have problems adapting after leaving full time work. So why do some people fail to adapt? A Dynamic Resource Model provides a potential solution.
Research in finology, neurology and psychology consistently reveal that our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities. Merely being aware of these shortcomings doesn’t fix the problem. The real question is ‘how can we do better?’
The three motions put by our independent economists for Markets Summit 2016 were 1. Capitalism and globalisation will not survive the next GFC; 2. The markets are overreacting in particular to the outlook for China’s economy and currency, and the prospects for financials; 3. You should protect your positions this year by buying risk overlays.
This is not deja-vu all over again. This recovery is still middle aged and has years to go. Equity markets continue to be attractive on their own merits and especially relative to fixed income.
It's true that the past few years have been challenging for emerging markets as a whole. But not all emerging economies are equal, and uneven prospects are driving compelling return differences. Investors should have them back on their radars.
The EU has been in crisis for many years. You ain't seen nothing yet! 2016 will change the nature of the EU – and it might well signify deja-vu, the end of Europe's process of political and economic integration.
Today, there are no clearly diversifying mainstream assets. All assets are expensive and what seems safe may hold the greatest risk. We need to set realistic expectations and invest only of the basis of genuine insight.
In a cyclical sector like commodity, deja-vu abounds for those with a long memory. As the outlook improves, equities usually rally before commodity prices, responding to improved demand forecasts.
Australian equity investors should look beyond the largest blue chip stocks in the financial, resources and telecommunications sectors – to industrial companies that are better positioned for growth.
Investment in "peripheral" Europe is a high-risk proposition. Much has changed, but nothing has changed! Yes, the eurozone is an economic calamity.
The market continues to misprice the risk of large scale defaults and debt restructures. Now is the time to sell high yield and EM bonds exposure, while you still can.
Growing wealth and managing risk is a considerably more complex challenge than it was a decade ago. Excellence in asset allocation and implementation are more important than ever before.
The Australian equity market will continue to underwhelm going forward. Investors need an equally-weighted approach to returns that places far less emphasis on commodities and banking.
We are at an inflection point where the global dependency ratio is becoming adverse. This will lead to profound changes to the composition of the population around the world, polarising investment opportunities.
The extreme thirst for yield has pushed the US high yield cycle into unchartered territory. In a clear case of déjà vu (replace "subprime" for "high yield"), the cycle has reached the shakeout phase.
It's possible to have your cake and eat it too. Global investment grade credit has not been this attractive in spread terms for the past six years.
Often in markets, you do get the feeling that somehow we've been here before. But things are never quite the same. Looking at some examples from the past, particularly Japan, we can see what can we learn and apply to our investment decisions going forward.
As China's economy slows and policymakers struggle, economic friction is mounting. Without drastic reforms, China will find it difficult to avoid the middle income trap.
China's Black Monday renewed investor concerns about a hard landing. It is critical to assess the macroeconomic and market scenarios of a China hard landing and the impact on investors' portfolios.
Debt levels are too high (deja-vu!). Until now, QE has softened the impact. With consensus perceiving the Fed to return to normal (?), markets are entering unchartered waters - 2016 is set to be a volatile year.
For all its ups and down, 2015 ended up being a year to forget for Australian investors, with little variation in the performance of major asset classes. The coming year will be a rerun of this theme. Dynamic allocation within portfolios and additional levels of diversification will be critical for 2016 to avoid the feeling of deja-vu.
The Fed has begun its interest rate tightening, and deja-vu - there continues to be a great disagreement about the quantum of the rises. Rates will go higher than most expect and QT will impact on financial asset volatility.
A 50-year era of inflation is ending and we are left no inflation, little growth and too much debt. China's slowdown and the current oil glut are early signs that this debt bubble may end badly.
Does it feel like we've been here before? The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same! Does that mean that, going forward, markets and asset classes will behave as in the past? Is it deja-vu (all over again)?
Many people have written to me in recent months and asked whether I believe this is yet another 2008. In my view, there are many significant differences. But I'm afraid we're set for some extreme volatility in the months, if not the years, ahead.
For a number of years, many fund managers have maintained that country and regional analysis are no basis for making asset allocation decisions. It's nuts and you can clearly see it's nuts.
When central banks are taking to extreme policies, and Donald Trump has a decent chance of being US President, we need to be prepared for anything. Gold may not be the perfect hedge, but what is?
It seems that the markets are indicating that we have entered a period in which jewels (gold) will outperform tools (stocks). Try as we may (we are no gold-bugs), we struggle to find reasons to discard the market's message.
For all its ups and down, 2015 ended up being a year to forget for Australian investors, with little variation in the performance of major asset classes. Dynamic allocation within portfolios and additional levels of diversification will be critical for 2016 to avoid the feeling of deja-vu.
Core assets - Australian equities, global equities, and fixed income - are going to generate pretty lacklustre returns this year. Having as efficient a portfolio as possible is going to be really key to your return success.
As global economic uncertainty persists in the markets, a coherent and structured approach to assess macroeconomic and market scenarios and their impact on investors’ portfolios becomes critical.
For the last few months, I've been concerned that a bear market was likely to unfold. We are now on such a trajectory. History suggests that such episodes come in two distinct extremes.
2016 has started poorly for the global economy - and horribly for markets. A number of negative themes are ascendant, whereas the positive ones are either pausing or petering out.