Tag: Investment strategy

Successful and investing and emotional control

One of the big benefits of professional money management is “emotional control.”

Emotional control is the ability to control one’s emotions in times of stress. Napoleon once said that “The greatest general is he who makes the fewest mistakes.” There is a similarity between war and successful investing. Both require the ability to keep a cool head at times of high stress.

There is another old saying in the investment world: “Don’t confuse brains with a Bull Market.” When the market is going up, it’s easy to assume that you are making smart investment decisions. But your decisions may have nothing to do with your success; you may simply by riding the crest of a wave.

That’s when people become overconfident.

When the market stops going up, or the next Bear Market begins, the amateur investor allows fear to dominate his thinking. The typical investor tend to sell as the stock market reached its bottom. In fact, following the market bottom in early 2009, even as the stock market began to recover, investors continued to sell stock funds.  Since then the market has doubled.

Professional investors are not immune to emotion, but the good ones have developed investment models that allow them to ride through Bear Markets with moderate losses and ride the rebound up as the market recovers. It is that discipline that allows them to make fewer mistakes and, like Napoleon’s general, come out ahead.

The right time to invest?

time to invest

Is this the right time to invest?  Good question.

Here’s another good question:  when is the best time to plant a tree?
The answer:  “Now.”
Here’s a better answer:  “When you were a child.”

Time is our most precious resource.  A wasted moment is lost forever.  Trees take time to grow.  The same is true for wealth.

We are often asked “is this a good time to get into the market?”  The answer is that there is no better time.

Here’s why.

If you put your money in a savings account you might get about 1{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}.

At that interest rate it takes 70 years to turn $100 into $200.

If you could grow your money an average of 5{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} per year, that $100 would grow to $200 in 15 years.
If you can get 6{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}, it would take 12 years to grow to $200.
If you can get 7{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}, 11 years would get you to $200.
If you can get 8{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93}, 10 years would get you to $200.

At 15{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} your money doubles every 5 years.

We are big advocates of people working hard for their money.  But we are just as insistent that money should work hard for them.  Why be a hard worker with lazy money?

Investing is one of those things that people put off.  But doing so wastes their most valuable resource:  time.

If you’re not happy with the way your money’s working for you, check out our website or give us a call.

No sales pitch, no pressure. Just good advice. That’s the reason we won the 2015 Suffolk Small Business of the Year award from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Are You an "Affluent Worker?"

Forbes magazine recently had an article about some of our favorite clients. They call them the “High Net Worker.” These are people who are successful mid-level executives in major businesses. They range in age from 40 to the early 60s. They earn from $200,000 per year and often more than $500,000. They work long hours and are good at their jobs.

According to the Forbes article, many have no plans to retire. Our experience is different; retirement is definitely an objective. But many have valuable skills and plan to begin a second career or consult after retiring from their current company.

At this time in their lives they have accumulated a fair amount of wealth, own a nice home in a good neighborhood, and may be getting stock options or deferred bonuses. That means that at this critical time in their lives, when they are focused on career and have little time for anything else, they have not done much in the way of financial planning.

When it comes to investing, most view themselves as conservative. But because of their compensation their investments are actually much riskier than they think. It is not unusual for executives of large corporations to have well over 50% of their net worth tied to their company’s stock. Few people realize the risks they are taking until something bad happens. For example, the industrial giant General Electric’s stock lost over 90% of its value over a nine year period ending in 2009. The stock of financial giant UBS dropped nearly 90% between May 2007 and February 2009. These companies survived. There are many household names, like General Motors and K-Mart whose shareholders lost everything.

The affluent worker’s family usually includes one or more children who are expected to go to college. Many of these families have a 529 college savings plan for their children. Most have IRAs and contribute to their company’s 401k plan, but because many don’t have a financial planner they do not have a well thought out strategy for this part of their portfolio.

At a time when many less affluent families are downsizing, many families in this category are either looking to upgrade their homes, buy a bigger home, or buy a second – vacation – home. They may even help their adult children with down-payments.

If you are an Affluent Worker, give us a call and see what we can do for you. If you already have a financial advisor, it may be time to get a second opinion.

Business Owners Often Neglect Their Own Finances

Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time figuring out how to succeed in business. But when it comes to their own personal financial situations, they tend to let things go.

… a new survey of business owners … concludes. Nearly half of poll respondents — 667 owners of firms with revenue of $5 million or less — say they lack a personal financial plan. Furthermore, about a quarter of participants who built a company from the ground up plan to fund their retirement by closing their business.

However, the survey also found that some of the business owners would not have enough to cover their retirement needs.

Owning a small business involves much more risk than business owners often realize. It’s like planning for your retirement by owning a single stock. What happens to the retirement plan if the stock drops?  The same thing happens if a small business falls on hard times.  It’s called putting all your eggs in one basket.  Unfortunately lots of things can go wrong, and many of them are outside of the business owner’s control.

Small business owners need to realize that depending on the business to provide for their retirement income needs is too uncertain.  They should think of themselves as employees who need to plan for their eventual retirement independent of their business. That way, if the business succeeds they can walk away with even more money.   And if it does not, their basic retirement plans are secure.

What to look for when getting financial help

What should you look for when you are searching to financial guidance? Finding the financial advisor that is right for you can be difficult. You want someone you can trust; a fiduciary, someone who will put your interests ahead of his own. In some respects, it’s like getting married because a good relationship is open and long-lasting.
To help you in your search, here are a few things to look for.

  • Compatibility: like a spouse, you want someone you can talk to and who shares your view of life. If you are not compatible, you will always be on the lookout for someone else.
  • Philosophy: what is your advisor’s investment philosophy? Is it capital preservation, beating the market, getting a fair return? Is that compatible with what you’re looking for?
  • Strategy: how does your advisor go about achieving your objectives? Do you understand it? If not, ask more questions.
  • Experience: how many years has he been in business? Try to avoid having a rookie learn on the job with your money.
  • Certifications: does your financial advisor have a certificate from the International Board of Standards and Practices for Certified Financial Planners? The CFP™ designation means that he has completed the coursework and passed the test to become a Certified Financial Planner™ certificant.
  • Affiliation: is your advisor an employee of a large financial firm or is he Independent RIA (Registered Investment Advisor). Employees of large financial firms work for their company, an RIA works for you.
  • Compensation: how is your advisor paid? Fees, commissions, a combination of fees and commissions? It’s important for you to know this ahead of time.
  • Reputation: does your advisor have a good reputation in the community? You can also check to see if he has any mark on his record by checking with FINRA.
  • People like you: does your advisor deal with other people like you? This can make a difference in his understanding of the issues you are dealing with.

Finding a good advisor can make the difference between your financial success and failure. He can keep you from making major investment errors and bring you peace of mind. Twice as many people who get professional advice feel very secure about their financial future as opposed to those who do it on their own.   Korving & Company is an RIA whose principals are Certified Financial Planners™ (CFP™).  We are fiduciaries who put our clients’ interests first.  Our objective is to get a fair return.  We have decades of experience. We are fee-only.  We are proud of our reputation in the community.  Are we right for you?  Find out.

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The lure and risks of “alternative investments.”

The financial world has been deluged marketing offers from investment firms offering “alternative investments.” “Alts” are non-traditional investments.  They include non-traded REITs, hedge funds and private equity.

The lure of “alts” is summarized in a quote from Financial IQ:

“The 2008 financial crisis scarred investors enough that they’re still seeking new ways to diversify out of stocks and bonds. Meanwhile, investors also are hungry for yield amid persistently low interest rates.”

The problem with “alts” is that they are not well understood.

Many are not liquid – in other words they cannot be sold at a moment’s notice.

In addition, most are not transparent – you can’t always tell what you own because the “alts” managers are secretive, unwilling to reveal their strategy in detail.

Third, the fees charged by “alts” managers are often much higher than those charged by traditional managers.

Many of the “alts” use derivatives which are difficult to understand and can lead to risks that are not obvious. An example are the “guaranteed” structured notes created prior to 2008. When Lehman Brothers collapsed it was revealed that the “guaranteed” notes issued by Lehman were backed by the claims paying ability of a bankrupt company.  People lost millions and learned a painful lesson.

Our philosophy is to invest our money in securities we understand. We always want to know: what’s the worst thing that can happen? If we don’t understand the risk, we don’t invest.  It’s a lesson learned over the years as we keep in mind the first rule of making money:  don’t lose it.

How do you get income with interest rates as low as they are?

I was reminded recently how low interest rates were when I downloaded my investment account activity into Quicken. Each account with a money market balance received a few pennies worth of interest, not enough to buy a cup of coffee. Certainly not enough to buy a Happy Meal. The average money market fund yields 0.02%. Every $1,000 investment will give you 20 cents in a year. And that’s before taxes. You could make more money collecting bottles at the side of the road.

There are some alternatives. One way is to invest for growth and forget about income. You can always spend some of the growth when you need the money.

But for those who want to see income flowing into their accounts, there’s always the “Dogs of the Dow.” The “Dogs” are members of the 30 Dow Jones industrial average with the highest dividend yields. This may be the result of a drop in prices, hence the name. For example, two of the highest yielding stocks in the DJIA are oil stocks which have declined in price even as they increased their dividends.

The current yield on the “Dogs” portfolio is over 3.5% and last year the total return (dividends plus capital appreciation) was over 10%. For more information on this strategy, contact us.

What Rich People Need to Know

I ran across an article at Market Watch titled “Ten things rich people know that you don’t.”  It listed the usual things:

  • Start saving early
  • Automate your savings
  • Maximize contributions to 401(k)s
  • Don’t carry credit card debt
  • Live below your means
  • Educate yourself about investing
  • Diversify
  • Hire a qualified financial advisor

All of that is something to take to heart when you’re young and just starting in life.  But what do people who are already rich need to know?

Lots of people get rich without following the rules.  They may start a successful business, enter a highly compensated profession, climb the corporate ladder, win the lottery, become a sports star or inherit a fortune.   Once you are rich, the number one objective for most people is to stay rich.  One very successful financial advisor with just 28 very wealthy clients said

“People don’t come to me to get rich, they come to me to stay rich.”

That’s the role of a good financial advisor.   Their job is to  do more than manage their client’s portfolios, it’s to take care that all of the other boxes are checked off:  to diversify the client portfolio, to educate the client about investing, to see to it that they live within their means.  In many cases they take care of family issues, lifestyle issues; the kinds of things that family offices do.

It’s what we do.  It’s what our clients expect.

Have a wealth maintenance question?   Contact us.

Are you flunking the retirement readiness test?

A recent article in Financial Advisor proposed an interesting analogy: “Imagine boarding a jet and heading for your seat, only to be told you’re needed in the cockpit to fly the plane.”

That’s the situation many people are finding themselves in today.  Once upon a time, employers set up pension plans managed by investment professionals.  You worked and when you retired the pension checks began coming for the rest of your life.

That ended when 401(k) plans began replacing defined benefit pension plans.

Once, employers made the contributions, investment pros handled the investments and the income part was simple: You retired, the checks started arriving and continued until you died. Now, you decide how much to invest, where to invest it and how to draw it down. In other words, you fuel the plane, you pilot the plane and you land it.
It’s no surprise that many people, especially middle- and lower-income households, crash. The Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, released in September, found that ownership of retirement plans has fallen sharply in recent years, and that low-income households have almost no savings.

But it’s not only the low-income workers who lack basic financial wisdom.

Eighty percent of Americans with nest eggs of at least $100,000 got an “F” on a test about managing retirement savings put together recently by the American College of Financial Services. The college, which trains financial planners, asked over 1,000 60- to 75-year-olds about topics like safe retirement withdrawal rates, investment and longevity risk.
Seven in 10 had never heard of the “4 percent rule,” which holds that you can safely withdraw that amount annually in retirement.
Very few understood the risk of investing in bonds. Only 39 percent knew that a bond’s value falls when interest rates rise – a key risk for bondholders in this ultra-low-rate environment.

If you fall into this category and want to find out what help is available, contact us.  We’ll be glad to chat; no sales pitch and no pressure.

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Financial tips for corporate executives

The December 2014 issue of Financial Planning magazine had an article about “Strategies for Wealthy Execs.” It begins:

Just because your clients are successful executives doesn’t mean they understand their own finances.

And that’s true. Successful executives are good at running businesses or giant corporations. But that does not make them experts in personal finance.

One of the ways executives are compensated is with stock options. But options must be exercised or they will expire. Yet 11% of in-the-money stock options are allowed to expire each year. That’s usually because they don’t pay attention to their stock option statements.

Executives usually end up with concentrated positions in their company’s stock. Prudence requires that everyone, especially including corporate executives, have to be properly diversified. Their shares may be restricted and can only be sold under the SEC’s Rule 144. To prevent charges of insider trading, many executives sell their company stock under Rule 10b5-1.

An additional consideration for executives is charitable giving. Higher income and capital gains tax rates make it beneficial for richer executives to set up donor-advised funds, charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts, or family foundations.

For more information on these strategies, consult a knowledgeable financial planner.

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