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Blog | The Portfolio Doctor

The Portfolio Doctor

My blog provides valuable insights into Nobel Prize winning financial strategies for investors. By utilizing decades of worldwide peer-reviewed capital markets research and analysis, I demonstrate how to build better investment portfolios with lower risks. I also examine common financial media misinformation and how investors can make better financial decisions.

Lessons for the Next Crisis

It will soon be the 10-year anniversary of when, in early October 2007, the S&P 500 Index hit what was its highest point before losing more than half its value over the next year and a half during the global financial crisis.

Over the coming weeks and months, as other anniversaries of major crisis-related events pass (for example, 10 years since the bank run on Northern Rock or 10 years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers), there will likely be a steady stream of retrospectives on what happened as well as opinions on how the environment today may be similar or different from the period leading up to the crisis. It is difficult to draw useful conclusions based on such observations; financial markets have a habit of behaving unpredictably in the short run. There are, however, important lessons that investors might be well-served to remember: Capital markets have rewarded investors over the long term, and having an investment approach you can stick with—especially during tough times—may better prepare you for the next crisis and its aftermath.

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Away From the Numbers: Keeping Money and Goals in Perspective

away from the numbers

Numbers guide much of our daily lives. From the price of a gallon of gas to the cost of our morning coffee, numbers are solidly submerged in our collective consciousness. Numbers are absolute. Even though the cost of a gallon of milk may go up or go down, what the numbers involved mean stay static and absolute. Prices may fluctuate, but a dollar is still four quarters, ten dimes, twenty nickels or one hundred pennies (as unwieldy and impractical counting all of them out at the coffee shop cash register might be). Numbers are logical and predictable. Three times seven will always add up to twenty-one (a number that has much significance at the blackjack table and equal importance for college students looking to embrace their new-found adulthood with a pint or two at the local watering hole). Numbers are practical and unemotional. Numbers know no sympathy - just ask anyone who has ever gotten a costly ticket for exceeding a posted speed limit. Numbers are a lot of things but one thing they are certainly not: numbers are not people.

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Quit Monkeying Around

monkey

In the world of investment management, there is an oft-discussed idea that blindfolded monkeys throwing darts at pages of stock listings can select portfolios that will do just as well, if not better, than both the market and the average portfolio constructed by professional money managers. If this is true, why might it be the case?

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Teaching Financial Literacy from Grade School to Grad School

monkey
As a parent and a financial advisor it has always been important to instill the value of financial knowledge and to encourage other parents to teach their children to understand the fundamentals of good financial decision making.

Unfortunately, lessons in money management can fall by the wayside and by the time kids are starting to make their own money choices they do not have the tools to avoid costly mistakes.

I think it is an enormous oversight that schools don’t even teach the basics such as how to pay bills or why interest rates matter. Sadly, we will not likely see a shift in the education system anytime soon so, it must be left up to parents and guardians to teach financial literacy to their children. Ultimately, it is you who will benefit from having a responsible grown up who doesn’t need to borrow money from you or live over the garage due to poor money choices.

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Peace of Mind in Retirement Planning

Planning for retirement is a source of anxiety for many people. From the intricacies of the planning process to concerns about results, this time can be fraught with uncertainty. While many parts need to come together to make a cohesive and sustainable plan, the biggest fear most face is the fear of making mistakes.

Mistakes in a retirement plan can be costly in both time and money. While the monetary cost is the most easily visible, the cost in time – if retirement is close and there is scant time to make up lost ground – can also cause a fair amount of unease.

Although there is no absolute guarantee for a perfect, mistake free retirement plan, these mistakes – and their unintended consequences – can be minimized and managed--and, hopefully, bring about peace-of-mind during the retirement planning process. Here are some ideas for increasing inner harmony on the road to sound retirement planning.

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Taking the Road Less Traveled

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

--Robert Frost, excerpt from the Road Not Taken

In a recent article from Financial Advisor Magazine that identified the regrets many people have for not taking more risks in life. “Among the top regrets were: not following their dreams, not taking risks with their careers, not taking risks with their lives in general, and not being gutsy enough in the choices they made.”

What was reassuring about these findings is that many people vowed to fix these regrets by taking more risks with the time they have left. There is an optimism there that is unique to our time. People are living longer, way longer than we were even a few decades ago and with that comes opportunities to evolve and edit things about our lives that don’t make sense or don’t satisfy us regardless of our age or stage in life.

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Investing versus Gambling | The Problem with Commodities

Gambling is speculation. One cannot assume any expectations based on the amount of risk one takes. You could win $50 million from a $5 lottery ticket or you could bet $50,000 and win nothing. Investing is quite different. Investing in capital markets has a positive expected return for risk taken.

Stock markets worldwide have reliably rewarded long-term investors. For example, over the past eighty years, investors who held the S&P 500 (including dividends) for at least 12 years would always have had positive returns.

Commodities, like many things that come out of Wall Street are easy to sell and hard to trust. Though the Commodities market is sometimes in vogue, they are too volatile to be held for the long-term. According to a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. study from 2016, a portfolio of stocks, bonds and commodities showed a worse return in the period from 1987 to 2015 than a portfolio of just equities and debt. They also may not be a good hedge during stock market declines: Commodities fell more than U.S. equities during the recent stock market declines in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2015.

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