The 7 Rules of Investing

From someone who is considered one of the greatest investors of all time

During the past century, many of the world’s leading economists have studied the science – or art – of investing. A large number of investing systems, models, and theories have been created, most of them requiring a PhD to understand. But when it comes to learning how to invest, sometimes it’s best to turn to the people who actually do it for a living.

Case in point, take Peter Lynch.

From 1977 through 1990, Lynch ran one of the most successful mutual funds ever, posting an average annual return of 29%. Over his career, Lynch espoused many investing principles, but there are seven in particular that I think all investors should keep in mind.1 So without further ado, here are:

Peter Lynch’s 7 Rules of Investing
1. KNOW WHAT YOU OWN. Invest in companies, industries, and funds you understand well. What do they do? Who uses their goods or services? Is it a company you would want to do business with yourself?
2. PREDICTION IS FUTILE. No one can predict where the markets will go or what the economy will do, so don’t even try. Instead, focus on what you can control, like the types of companies or funds you invest in, how much you save, etc.
3. BEFORE YOU BUY, BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN. Before investing, can you explain to a family member what you’re buying and why? Can you describe how that company or fund works? If not, take your time and do more research.
4. AVOID LONG SHOTS. Investing isn’t gambling, either. While we have no control over the markets, we do have control over how much risk we take on. Your portfolio isn’t the place for speculation or bets. For that, head to Vegas.
5. BUY GOOD COMPANIES. Invest in companies that have proven management, a strong business model, and that sell things people actually use. Otherwise, you’re investing in companies you guess might prove popular…and that’s just another form of gambling.
6. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. Even the greatest investors sometimes get things wrong. When that happens, accept it humbly and try to determine how you can improve.
7. TAKE YOUR TIME. Investing isn’t a race. You have plenty of time to do your research and find outstanding companies to invest in. Follow the tortoise’s example, not the hare’s.

Ultimately, all investing comes with risk, and there is no strategy or rule that guarantees success. But there are solid “rules of thumb” you can follow to make smart, simple investment decisions. And best of all, you don’t need a PhD to understand them!

1 “The Greatest Investors: Peter Lynch” https://www.investopedia.com/university/greatest/peterlynch.asp

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Market Commentary – March 11, 2019

Markets were rattled last week.
The market hates surprises, especially when the surprise comes from a central bank. Last week, the European Central Bank (ECB) unexpectedly reversed course and took a more accommodative stance on monetary policy in an effort to encourage stronger European economic growth. Tom Fairless of Barron’s explained:

“Officials are seeking to shore up an economy that has been rattled by shocks ranging from a slowdown in China to mass protests in France and bottlenecks in Germany’s crucial auto industry. They are threading a careful path between providing sufficient support for the region’s softening economy while avoiding any appearance of panic, which could ricochet through financial markets.”

The Eurozone isn’t the only region feeling the pinch of weaker economic growth. China’s exports were down more than 20 percent in February, reported Investing.com. Analysts had expected a decline of about 5 percent. Concerns about the health of China’s economy have been growing since the publication of ‘A Forensic Examination of China’s National Accounts’ by the Brookings Institute. The authors concluded:

“First, nominal GDP [gross domestic product*] growth after 2008 and particularly after 2013 is lower than suggested by the official statistics. Second, the savings rate has declined by 10 percentage points between 2008 and 2016. The official statistics suggest the savings rate only declined by 3 percentage points between these two years. Third, our statistics suggest that the investment rate has [fallen] by about 3 percent of GDP between 2008 and 2016. Official statistics suggest that the investment rate has increased over this period.”

*Gross domestic product is the monetary measure of the market value of all goods and services produced annually in the country.

As if that weren’t enough, the U.S. jobs report for February reported far fewer jobs had been created than was expected. It will come as little surprise to learn that major U.S. stock indices moved lower last week.

How do you reconcile the beige book and the labor report?
If you have never heard of the Beige Book, it’s a scintillating tale of business and economics published by the Federal Reserve. Okay, maybe it’s not scintillating, but it has some pretty interesting stories.

The March 2019 installation – it’s published eight times a year – includes real world stories about businesses and workers gathered by Federal Reserve Banks across the nation. For instance, the St. Louis Federal Reserve reported their contacts in higher education reported falling enrollment. It seems more potential college and post-graduate students have been choosing to go straight into the workforce.

The Beige Book reported, across the nation, “Labor markets remained tight for all skill levels, including notable worker shortages for positions relating to information technology, manufacturing, trucking, restaurants, and construction. Contacts reported labor shortages were restricting employment growth in some areas.”

Of course, labor is easier to come by in some districts than in others. The Boston Federal Reserve reported contacts in its district have a hard time finding skilled workers in fields like information technology, but retail businesses are having no trouble filling jobs.

Wages have been going up in the Cleveland Federal Reserve’s district. “Bankers raised wages both for low-wage and for high-wage positions, citing competitive labor markets. A couple of construction companies granted large retention-focused merit increases to office staff, but other companies mentioned that they tended to grant raises during busier seasons.”

Hiring was up in the San Francisco Federal Reserve’s territory. “Employment at a large San Francisco software and consulting company grew notably as demand for its services increased. A cattle ranching company in Arizona also increased employment to meet growing demand. In the Mountain West, a regional bank noted that its hiring was limited only by a shortage of qualified labor.”

In light of last week’s incredibly weak jobs report, the Beige Book’s findings seem odd that companies are having trouble hiring enough workers and are raising wages to attract them. How can so few jobs have been created when there is high demand for labor? (Economists’ rule of thumb is 100,000 jobs are needed to accommodate people entering the labor force each month, according to MarketWatch.)

An economist cited by MarketWatch commented, “One poor report should not set off alarm bells, but given that the labor market is the linchpin for the entire economy, it does add to existing concerns and raises the stakes for next month’s report.”

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”
–Sam Ewing, Professional baseball player

Best regards,

John F. Reutemann, Jr., CLU, CFP®

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this email with their email address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

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* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

 

Sources:
https://www.barrons.com/articles/european-central-bank-stimulus-51551967979 (or go to https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jDwICeYbsalcb3ZVb5CKf7mVjlvC-N97/view?usp=sharing)
https://www.investing.com/news/economic-indicators/china-exports-tumble-in-february-1801611
https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/BPEA-2019-Forensic-Analysis-China.pdf (Page 25)
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stock-futures-drop-as-gloomy-china-trade-report-adds-to-global-growth-fears-2019-03-08
https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/beige-book-default.htm
https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/beigebook201903.htm
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-adds-meager-20000-jobs-in-february-to-mark-smallest-increase-in-17-months-2019-03-08
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/sam_ewing_104937

Advised Brokerage Accounts Are Better Diversified, Reports Schwab

Charles Schwab’s has published its’ latest SDBA Indicators Report, a highly regarded, industry-leading benchmark on retirement plan participant investment activity within approximately 137,000 self-directed brokerage accounts (SDBAs).  The report stated that participants who worked with an advisor had a more diversified asset allocation mix, higher balances, and less exposure to individual stocks compared to non-advised participants.

While only 19 percent of SBDA participants chose to use an advisor, they reported an average balance of $449,552 – nearly twice as much as the $234,643 reported by non-advised participants.  SDBAs are brokerage accounts within retirement plans. These include 401Ks and other types of retirement plans, which participants can use to invest in exchange-traded funds, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other securities that are not part of their retirement plan’s core investment offerings. 

“The report highlights the benefits of working with an advisor. In general, participants who had professional help were more diversified across all of their holdings. In addition, advisors typically rebalance a portfolio more often and keep their clients invested”
-Schwab

Allocation Trends
In advised accounts, mutual funds continued to hold the highest percentage of participant assets at approximately 50 percent. ETFs were the second-largest allocation, followed by equities, cash and fixed income.

Conversely, non-advised participants allocated nearly 35 percent of their portfolio to individual equities. This was followed by mutual funds, cash, ETFs and fixed income.

When comparing equity holdings, both advised and non-advised participants held Apple, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway as their top three holdings; however, non-advised participants’ positions in Apple and Amazon were nearly double compared to participants who used an advisor. Additionally, advised participants invested in more blue-chip, value companies, whereas self-directed investors allocated to more growth stocks.

“The report highlights the benefits of working with an advisor. In general, participants who had professional help were more diversified across all of their holdings. In addition, advisors typically rebalance a portfolio more often and keep their clients invested,” said Larry Bohrer, vice president, Corporate Brokerage Retirement Services at Charles Schwab. Generally, payroll contributions into SDBAs are allocated to cash. From there, it is up to the participant or advisor to invest. As the report shows, advisors kept clients’ cash allocations low, while individual investors left more of their SDBA in cash pending investment decisions.

Other Highlights

  • The average SDBA account balance for all participants in the third quarter of 2018 was $265,902, up 3.5 percent from the second quarter of 2018 and up 24 percent from the third quarter of 2017;
  • Advised accounts averaged 9.5 trades in the third quarter compared to 5.5 trades by non-advised participants;
  • Baby Boomers represented the majority of advised accounts (45.4%), followed by Gen X (42.2%) and Millennials (8.5%).

About the SDBA Indicators Report

The SDBA Indicators Report includes data collected from approximately 137,000 retirement plan participants who currently have balances between $5,000 and $10 million in their Schwab Personal Choice Retirement Account. Data is extracted quarterly on all accounts that are open as of quarter-end and meet the balance criteria.

Active Portfolio Management – How We Do It!

Active Portfolio Management – How We Do It!

Research Financial Strategies specializes in providing financial advice using a proprietary investment methodology that leverages technical analysis to identify and protect our clients against stock market risk.

Our Approach to Investing

Research Financial Strategies provides our clients with a reproducible, non-emotional investment process using technical analysis to monitor market risk within the industries, sectors, and our actual investment decisions. It starts first with understanding our client’s financial goals & needs and helping them plan for the future. Below is an overview of RFS’s investment process.

Technical analysis is an emotionless investment decision making process that does not allow for getting caught up in the company or industry story. Investments are made through a series of technical factors. The most notable factor is one called “relative strength.” When a security price shows a recognizable pattern of higher highs and higher lows it demonstrates that there is higher demand than supply for that security. This means that the “buyers” are in control and not the “sellers.” While we cannot guarantee investment performance, securities that demonstrate this technical behavior have a higher probably increasing in value.

Determining Investor Suitability

As investment advisors it is our fiduciary responsibility to make sure we understand each of our client’s investment tolerance and risk profile. Research Financial Strategies has the unique capability to create unlimited customized asset allocation blends for our diverse client base. 

Determining When to Invest

The oldest law of economics is supply and demand. At Research Financial Strategies, we place a premium on when to make an investment decision based on price movements using technical analysis. Technical analysis is an emotionless investment decision making process that does not allow for getting caught up in the company or industry story. Investments are made through a series of technical factors. The most notable factor is one called relative strength. When a security price shows a recognizable pattern of higher highs and higher lows it demonstrates that there is higher demand than supply for that security. This means that the buyers are in control and not the sellers.

Determining When to Exit an Investment

Our ability to minimize portfolio risk for our client is a result of having a Sell-Side Discipline. Prior to investing in a security we establish an exit point based on the % of loss or price our investment advisors determine is acceptable. If the security price is violated then it is sold. This ensures that profits are protected for our clients, or worst case, risk to principle is minimized. Only through having an investment approach that has a pre-determined exit strategy for each investment position, can you mitigate portfolio risk during market corrections.

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