The Forum team recently said a sad goodbye to our beloved sausage dog, Schnitzel von Krumm. He was well known to those who attended our live programs or visited our office over the past decade. The team has put together this montage of a few memories...

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.

I think of two winds of change. The first is a fundamental change in the direction of global monetary policy. The second is technology. For now, though, we really need to think about the first.

In the years since the Global Financial Crisis, Central Banks have taken a Mae West approach to monetary accommodation. If a little is good, and more is better, then too much is just right. What happens when it ends?

Growing US scepticism on international free-trade and defence agreements is rational in an unstable world, according to US geopolitical forecaster and author, George Friedman.

Does our character manifest itself in our investing decisions? This Resources Kit presents 10 key research papers, presentations and opinion pieces around what determines values, how values impact ethics and behaviour, and the relationship to trust.

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?

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.

Short-term thinking in finance is nothing new. New paradigms may emerge slowly and without much publicity. Listen for weak signals - ideas may emerge in some unconventional ways.

Andrew's story epitomises how disadvantaged people may, can and do re-engage with society and contribute positively, when given a hand up by the rest of us.

While parts of the asset management industry appear to be dumbing down, we must continue to educate individuals on the differences between investment and speculation.

Most investors don't experience the same returns of the portfolio or fund they are invested in. Investment discipline is the key - not emotion, not market noise - to ensuring you arrive at your planned investment destination.

Too often when analysing investments, the focus is on pure performance over too short a timeframe. We must lengthen the timeframe and adjust for risks, before we can begin to know whether value has truly been added.

A clear investment philosophy will be your rock in times when short-term noise plays havoc with your portfolios.

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?

Practitioners need to move away from a focus on simple performance towards holistic client management. The industry needs to change, rebuilding trust with better diversity and transparency.

People vary tremendously in their impatience. For many, it is a real struggle to take the long view. New research shows how to identify and manage financial impatience.

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.

While not traditionally known for income, there are thousands of dividend income opportunities among global companies which can provide income similar to Australian shares.

Real assets including real estate have overinflated valuations. Investors need to understand the frame work necessary to manage the trade-off between shorter term returns and longer term risks.

With global yields at record lows, bond market Cassandras proclaim the formation of a supernova, warning of the investment perils. It's time to spurn that talk, and stick with the core, defensive anchor provided by global fixed income.

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.

Liquid alternatives have the potential to provide significant short- and long-term benefits for investors. It is important to not let common misconceptions about liquid alternatives undermine their potential benefits.

Provided investors define infrastructure in a disciplined manner, investment in infrastructure will continue to deliver investors reliable earnings over time.

Tracking error constraints on active management focus on short-term outcomes and don’t align with most investor goals, which are longer term. So how else can portfolios be designed?

Olivia Engel | 0.50 CE

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.

Ron Bird | 0.50 CE

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.

Geoff Warren | 0.50 CE

Greater self-determination and social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offers a path to progress.

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.

Panel | 0.25 CE

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.

It is easy to assume that leadership (or a lack thereof) only occurs in upper level, high status positions. The long and short of this premise needs to be scrutinised. We must recalibrate our thinking.

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.

Client needs are changing. And these changes will challenge asset managers, especially as the industry goes through consolidation.

Cost structures will continue to evolve rapidly, as more firms and individuals realise that cost is the one component than investors can control, to improve their outcomes.

Australian banks face a number of headwinds - they are real, but could better be described as zephyrs. The market has overreacted. Buy the banks.

Tim Farrelly | 0.50 CE

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.

Finding patterns in data to make money in falling or rising markets relies on an empirical, skeptical, scientific mindset to identify signals.

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.

Nick Langley | 0.50 CE

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.

The active versus passive debate is being displaced by active versus smart beta. Active managers need to demonstrate that their investment philosophy is designed to exploit inefficiencies that are sustainable over time.

By encouraging investors to control their emotions and by choosing the right funds, we can help them meet their long-term needs.

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.

Demographic trends give a solid basis from which to forecast beyond the usual two-year time horizon. Demographic layering of equity investment decisions can be a powerful structural growth tool as well as a strong risk mitigator.

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.

Australia’s bond market has evolved over time. As it grows and sub-sectors emerge, investor must ask – is my defensive allocation true-to-label?

Active fund groups with the right combination of culture, technology and philosophy enable investors to protect and grow their capital in a complex world.

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.

This panel debated the high conviction thesis that global policy rates will stay low for the rest of the decade and what forces that could change that outlook.

Panel | 0.50 CE

Yellen and the market (EDZ8) agree – there is a New Neutral. The result? Global policy rates will stay low for the rest of the decade. Only a handful of major forces that could change this outlook.

Tony Crescenzi | 0.50 CE

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.

Passive investment has flourished since the GFC but we are entering a new environment where active management will thrive. The opportunity for practitioners to add value has gone up significantly.

The financial system we bequeath is unstable, un-trusted and built on inappropriate theory with mis-aligned incentives.

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.

Rather than adopting a set-and-forget approach, long-term investors should be engaged asset owners and take a broader perspective on risk, in order to achieve sustainable investment returns.

It's 10 years since the Forum's publisher, Graham Rich, interviewed Hamish Douglass and Chris Mackay as the firm launched the now behemoth Magellan Global Fund.

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.

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.

Tim Farrelly | 3 comments | 0.75 CE

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.

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.

Joanne Earl | 2 comments | 1.00 CE

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.

Tim Farrelly | 0.50 CE

The EU has been in crisis for many years. But if you thought it could not get worse for Europe, you ain't seen nothing yet! 2016 might well signify the end of Europe's process of integration.

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.

With a growing number of central banks resorting to negative interest rates and the IMF acknowledging the risk of secular stagnation, investors could be forgiven for feeling nervous. Yet there is some evidence that the global economy may be at an inflection point.

With a growing number of central banks resorting to negative interest rates and the IMF acknowledging the risk of secular stagnation, investors could be forgiven for feeling nervous. Yet there is some evidence that the global economy may be at an inflection point.

Niall Ferguson | 1.25 CE

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.

The world seems an increasingly dangerous place, driven by uncertainty and conflict. Yet on many measures, the world is becoming safer. More than ever, investors need to filter out the noise and consider emerging geo-political developments shaping the world.

Gold stocks have become a great addition to portfolios - based on expected returns as well as their strong diversification benefits given a beta of almost nothing.

Markets Summit 2016 featured a stellar lineup of international and local experts offering their best high conviction idea/thesis around the Markets Summit theme - is it deja vu (all over again)? - and the resulting portfolio construction decision(s) that must be made.

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.

Joanne Earl | 1.00 CE

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?’

In our society, it’s critical that every individual has a clear perspective about money, and the role that it plays in their present and future well-being. But money means different things to different people.

Like 2014 and 2015, Australian resources stocks in 2016 may look cheap but it is not an attractive trade. More reliable returns will be delivered by high quality companies well beyond the familiar territory of the 20 Leaders.

Olivia Engel | 0.50 CE

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.

For six years, the Fed operated a 'cheap money' policy. As a result, we had a 'cheap money' recovery. With the Fed now two years into tightening, the chickens are coming home to roost. The equity bear market is underway.

Chris Watling | 0.50 CE

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.

Vimal Gor | 0.50 CE

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.

Jacob Mitchell | 0.50 CE

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.

Alex Wolf | 4 comments | 0.50 CE

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.

Oleg Ruban, MSCI | 0.50 CE

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.

Robert Gay | 4 comments | 0.50 CE

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.

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.

Finology explores the relationship between human beings and money in our society. It is the emerging (and converging) research field covering the study of minds, customs and behaviours with respect to money. It incorporates behaviour finance and much, much more.