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More Evidence of Poor Investor Performance July 24, 2018

Posted by shaferfinancial in Finance, mutual funds, Uncategorized.
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Usually, at least once a year, I post recent Dalbar, Inc. results for investor mutual fund performance.  It does get redundant to keep posting the same underperformance for investors.  The vast majority of folks will continue to ignore these results in some sort of “not me” denial of the obvious.

To break things up, here is a bar chart from JP Morgan. They include in their average investor bar the latest Dalbar results [2.6%].  Note which is the second lowest!!

What this chart is pointing out is that the average American who invests in mutual funds inside their 401K/403B/IRA and their home [80% of average American wealth resides in their home] have barely gotten over 3% returns over the last 20 years.  And they have the majority of their wealth in places that are hard to get to without penalties.  There are substantial tax penalties when drawing from a 401K even if you are over 59 1/2,  You have to pay income tax [both federal and state] on those withdrawals. [Roth’s you do not.] And real estate you either have to sell your home and pay a realtor or you have to mortgage your home and pay interest to access your money.

So, not only are Americans getting a very small return, but they have to pay for the right to access their money from these places. And when the average American really needs to get at these funds, like after being laid off or getting sick, the penalties are high and you probably won’t get a mortgage without a job.

Does this really make financial sense?

Feeling more secure now?

 

 

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More and more large corporations using annuities for their pension benefits! February 27, 2018

Posted by shaferfinancial in Uncategorized.
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Just a quick note. CBS bought a group annuity to offset its pension plan risk. The amount of the offset was $800MM representing 20% of its pension obligations. This is not an isolated case as more and more large corporations are turning to insurance products to manage their obligations. I have written before about the use of Life Insurance [COLI] for asset protection by large corporations a practice that goes back 100 years.

So why do financial planners not encourage their clients to offset risk by doing the same? After all large corporations have much less sequence of return risk than do individuals.

More and more people are now realizing that the financial planning industry is in bed with Wall Street.

Interesting read on the stock market and Berkshire Hathaway February 27, 2018

Posted by shaferfinancial in Uncategorized.
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This is a long, but interesting read centered on Berkshire Hathaway. It mimic’s some of my issues with passively managed mutual funds: Berkshire

On the stock market movement February 13, 2018

Posted by shaferfinancial in Uncategorized.
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Some big movements down and then some up leaves the market down over the last couple weeks. Probably just a correction, but corporate earnings are still strong so don’t expect a full out panic. My dividends are still strong and Berkshire holding strong at this point. Clients are all protected from huge downdrafts inside their EIULs. So, no problem sleeping here!

Efficient Market Hypothesis and its Discontents II October 7, 2017

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In October of 2009 I wrote a post titled Efficient Market Theory and its Discontents.

Here is a sample:

Regular readers know that I am not a believer in the efficient market theory.  Facts are, I am a social scientist and understand the huge amount of data that tells us we generally act upon our emotions and are not rational, especially in times of stress.  The percentage of folks that can remain completely rational at all times is extremely small.

For me it all started with reading Warren Buffett, but he is far from the only EMT discontent.  Unfortunately, the media, the financial planning world, and most of the internet media are big  fans of EMT and its associated strategies.  What that has led to is the vast majority of folks losing out on a once in an investors lifetime opportunity.  Because so many people were either panicking or convinced that their asset allocation, mutual fund, strategy was solid the vast amount of people missed it.  What is it?  If you had been paying attention you could have bought solid companies at rock bottom prices back in March and April.  Want examples?  General Electric went below $7 [currently at $16.16].  Wells Fargo below $9 [currently $29.26].   Goldman Sacks below $60 [currently at $190.48] and Berkshire Hathaway went down below $73,000 [currently at $100,400].  Apple below $80 [currently $190.25].

Now my point isn’t to play Monday Morning Quarterback with stock picking.  Only to point out that if you had followed Warren Buffett’s investing theories instead of some academic’s or what Wall Street wants you to believe in, there really were “once in a investing lifetime” opportunities.  And if you were following those bobble heads or mutual fund sales folks or financial planners or any of the other so called experts you missed it.

My only regret was that I was not more liquid in order to buy more than I did.

So I thought an update would be interesting.  Note I didn’t pick obscure, small growth companies, but big, well known mature companies that most people were talking about at that time.

 

General Electric currently sits at $24.39 a total return of 348% plus 8 years of dividends

Apple currently sits at $155.30 a split adjusted return of 634% plus 8 years of dividends

Wells Fargo sits at $55.58, a total return of 615% plus 8 years of dividends

Goldman Sacks sits at $246.10, a total return of 410%, plus 8 years of dividends

Berkshire Hathaway sits at $281,000 a total return of 385%.

Now here is the kicker.  I didn’t completely follow my own advice.  Yes, I bought more Berkshire Hathaway and some Goldman Sacks.  But, I failed to buy Apple, even thought I loved the company and had money and even came within seconds of clicking on a buy bottom for my brokerage [My biggest regret yet].   Now I bought several other stocks that did really well, and 2 that didn’t.  But, I knew they were more risky than the ones listed above.

So here is the bottom line.  The market wasn’t rationally evaluating those companies in 2007.  It was reacting to the fear of the day.  It might not be rationally evaluating the companies now.  Most people can’t emotionally look at the market and not act in the face of fear or excitement [of major movements up].  So, the result is fear pushes people to sell when stocks are dropping and excitement causes people to buy when the market is seemingly going endlessly up causing these large movements up and down.  This happens to professionals and amateurs alike.  It happens to me, even though I am conscious of it.  It happens to folks that invest in mutual funds the same way as if they were in individual stocks.  Right now, people are buying into funds at record pace.  This probably means we are at the end of a bull market.

Meanwhile, myself and others who have bought Equity Index life insurance have had solid returns over the last 10 years [around 8%] and since we aren’t relegated to the whims of the market sleep well and don’t react to fear or excitement in the ways others with full market exposure do. EIULs is an effective strategy for us because it keeps us from reacting the way our brain insists we do in the face of fear or excitement.

 

 

 

 

 

Record retail buying of stocks September 7, 2017

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2017 has seen impressive retail [mostly through mutual funds] buying of equities. 2017 has also seen significant insider selling of stocks. Want to bet how this comes out?

Energy stocks are actually the opposite with retail selling and insider buying.

Distrust; It’s the way of the world now. January 24, 2017

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My previous post on designers of the 401K that now regret them is a primer into what is going through the minds of many people today.  The recent election surprised many [myself included], but it is really a continuation of what I have noted is the unconscious emotions being manifested by Americans.

The overriding emotion now is distrust of the ideas that are championed by people in power.  These feelings have been a long time coming, mostly hidden from sight, but increasingly breaking to the surface in dramatic fashion.  Why are we seeing this now?

Since WWII we have seen a mostly stable society where the elites espoused mostly believable versions of our society.  Sure, you had an outbreak in the 1960s of doubt coming from society due to Vietnam and Civil Rights, but our politicians still held together society with their views and policies [whether from the right or the left].  Any discontent was funneled into the left/right argument with each side appearing to have the answers to its adherents.

But something funny started happening about a decade or so ago.  More and more people began to doubt what the elites were telling them.  The accepted ideas of society started to be not only questioned, but to be completely rejected.  Our ideas of work, for example, were being rejected with more and more people searching for alternative types of arrangements.  Families were being reconstituted. Borders were being ignored.  Scientist questioned by laymen.

Funny, talking to other parents on my son’s soccer parents I literally couldn’t figure out who were the biological parents, who was with who, what work the parents did, and even whose house the soccer player was sleeping at.  Something that would have been unheard of a generation ago when you knew exactly who the parents were, where they lived, what they did for a living, etc.  All the old markers of society now seem to be lost.

All that is obvious and many people have noted it.  But what is just coming into view is that by untethering us from the old markers, we are free to question everything.  And with that questioning comes the understanding that we are being lied to on a regular basis by the folks in charge.  When someone in charge says things are getting better for the country and things are getting worse for you, what do you think happens?  When someone pledges “for better or worse” and then that isn’t true what do you think happens? When you are told that if you do your job well, give the company your all, you will be rewarded and it doesn’t happen, what then do you trust?  When the school system tells you they will educate your child, help your child succeed in our world, and it doesn’t happen, what then?

Teachers complain that parents don’t discipline their kids.  Physicians complain that people don’t behave as they should to have good health.  Financial advisors complain because people don’t save like they should or sell their mutual funds when they need the money.  These folks don’t trust their customers and their customers don’t really trust their advise because they see adverse results all the time.

The price of oil goes up because oil is now dear, then it goes down because there is plenty of it.  How we are suppose to eat for good health changes all the time. Educatiopn fads change the curriculum, but the kids don’t respond any differently.  Homework is piled on, yet the kids test scores are going down [and what are they doing all day in school?]. All people are supposed to be treated equally, but we don’t.

I could go on and on, but the end result is we now live in a mistrustful society.  Spend a few minutes on the internet and you realize this.  Nobody trusts anymore; not the politicians, the elites, the school systems, the financial industry, each other.  Look at gun sales for an example.

Its hard for me to point this out.  But the truth is needed to go forward.

 

Are people waking up to the issues of mutual funds as retirement vehicles? October 17, 2016

Posted by shaferfinancial in Finance, mutual funds, Retirement Income, Uncategorized.
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An interesting trend is occurring with the people who are contacting me about EIULs. I am getting a lot of calls from folks in their early to mid thirties who start the conversation off with something like this: My 401K is going nowhere, I know there must be a better way to save for retirement. Now I find this very interesting because most of these folks weren’t in the market in 2008, the last time we saw a significant negative year.

I had this conversation recently with a 35 year old.

DS: What are you trying to accomplish?
Client: Well, my 401K is going nowhere, so I am looking for something that will do better and work for me.
DS: When did you start your 401K?
Client: Well, I don’t really remember, but it was somewhere around 2008 or 2009. Before that, I really didn’t have a great job and I wasn’t married so I was spending everything I made.
DS: Do you own a home?
Client: Yes, after getting married, my wife and I were able to buy a home with assistance from our families.
DS: How much are you able to save now?
Client: Well, between my wife and myself we are saving around $1200 month including what we put into our 401Ks. Before our 1st child was born, it was a little more.
DS: Do you remember the stock market dropping significantly?
Client: Well, I do remember it, but it did’t really affect me, so my memory of it is vague. Around 2007 or so right? But we do remember the housing prices dropping, because we were able to pick up a nice house for a decent price in 2010.
DS: Yes, 2008 was the last time we saw a big drop in the stock market.

What is surprising to me, is that this 35 year old recognizes the issues with mutual funds even though he hasn’t had a truly big negative year. People tend to forget the fear of big drops in ones finances, but the scars remain long after the memory fades. But, this person was able to recognize the issue without the scars or the memory. And he isn’t alone. I have been getting increasing amounts of calls from folks in this same situation and similar age group.

That is progress.

On Being a Contrarian September 4, 2016

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Not a day goes by when I don’t speak to a very intelligent person who simply accepts the common wisdom about life.  Mostly, this doesn’t cause problems for folks.  Unfortunately, there are some area’s of life where just going along with the herd will lead to unfortunate circumstances.

My wife and I aren’t like that.  We are contrarians. My wife after watching a ton of TV shows about tiny house living convinced me that we were wasting time and money living in a 2000 square foot abode with just 3 people.  So, when we wanted to move she convinced me to move into a smaller place; 750 sq. feet.  Frankly, I had my doubts, but guess what?  It is working well. Before we had large chunks of our home that we never used other than to throw junk into and collect spider webs.  No longer.  Cleaning…..is swift and easy  and because we use most of our space we keep it more tidy than before. Now when our son disappears into his room [ok his room isn’t tidy] he is simply a few steps away to call for meals. We got rid of lots of stuff we hadn’t used in years.  We really do feel lighter.  Hard to explain but it works.  Who knew spending less money on living expenses, getting rid of excess things, and being physically closer to your family would make you feel so much better?

I do retirement income seminars with some folks.  We give information on several alternative strategies for retirement income including EIULs.  We took a year hiatus, but we have scheduled another one:

October 28-29 2016 San Diego California

If you have any doubts about what you are doing with your finances, you owe it to yourself to come and listen to our group of experts.  For a small amount of dollars you can at the very least understand alternative strategies and possibly put your financial future on stable ground.  Doesn’t matter where you live, get on a plane and come out to San Diego to meet us.  You can find the link on my retirement income page.

When I talk to folks who followed our advice, they all say they feel much better; happier, less stressed.  Becoming a contrarian has its benefits……..

 

Latest Dalbar Data June 15, 2016

Posted by shaferfinancial in Uncategorized.
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The latest Dalbar data is out, detailing the continue failure of the 401K/Mutual fund strategy for retirement saving.  This has been an ongoing series of datum, for over 30 years, that records what actual investors’ rate of return is over varying time periods [1,3,5,10,20 and 30 years].  The data has been recognized as similar to internal data produced by the largest mutual fund companies.

It is a really simple story.  Although this data is created for producers, and is slanted for them to not take responsibility for the results of their advice, this year there is a discussion on the “psychology” of investing, better  known as behavioral finance.  There is still a misunderstanding on what the behavioral finance scientist tell the industry.

They still call folks who react to market moves, up and down, irrational.  That is folks who sell when fear has pushed the market down or buy when the market is buoyed by exuberance are described as irrational.  The misunderstanding is in two points:

  1. Our brains are hardwired to react to fear in a “flee or fight” mode.  That is exactly what is rational to do when faced with a saber tooth tiger.  So what the mutual fund industry really wants you to do is irrational and goes against how our brains are hardwired.  This, of course, explains why people in general don’t follow the advice of these buy and hold mutual fund sales people.
  2. There is no evidence that the advisors themselves are able to overcome the way their brains are hardwired and not make the same mistakes in their own lives.   The industry does try to “encourage” advisors to convince people to buy and hold by tying their compensation into how much total money they are managing, but this has not proved to be capable of stopping people from their fear response.

So having pointed all this out [for the umpteen time in this blog] here are the results:

For the last 30 years the S&P 500 benchmark index has returned 10.35% while the individual investor in equity funds over those 30 years gained, on average, 3.66%. Investors stayed in their equity funds for an average of 4.1 years before selling out.

The numbers are a little better when you lower the time span down to 20 years with S&P 500 benchmark averaging 8.19% and the individual investor averaging 4.67%.  This better performance is easily understood because the most damage is done during years the index goes down significantly which hasn’t happened since 2008, a full 1/3rd of the 20 year time period.

For those investing in asset allocation funds and fixed income funds the returns are even worse at 1.65% and 0.59% 30 year returns respectively.

So what does this all mean? Again, this means that the strategy of investing in mutual funds within or outside of  a 401K wrapper is a strategy that is unlikely to create enough wealth to fund one’s retirement years, unless you are the lucky few that either has a large enough income to push large amounts into the mutual funds and/or you have “Buffett like” ability to ignore market movements.  And, of course, this also means that your interest in creating a well funded retirement goes against Wall Street’s interest in having you invest in stocks [mutual funds or individual stocks].  The individual is left to deal with either a failing Wall Street pushed strategy or figure out a different strategy in the face of massive amount of propaganda for the mutual fund industry.

The sad thing about this state of affairs is that the people who most need to find an alternate retirement strategy [the middle class], are so fully propagandized by the mutual fund industry that they almost never can see alternative strategies without reacting to the negative propaganda put out on EIULs and Investment Real Estate.  My clients tend to be up the ladder from the middle class is both income and education and especially adept at mathematical concepts.

My most common question?  Why don’t you hear about EIULs or Why isn’t this more commonly done?  The second most common comment?  There is a lot of negative comments on the internet about EIULs.  The next comment is usually, “this makes so much more sense.”

So to all those folks out there who haven’t been able to pull the chain on an EIUL yet, I say, put 3.66% into all those retirement calculators and see what the potential value is at retirement age and multiply that number by 4% [even that number is found to be to aggressive], the suggested amount you can take out yearly to make your retirement last until death.  Now that you have gotten off the floor, you might want to give me a call!