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Articles on Wealth Management Topics

Predicting Future Investment Returns: Implications for Retirement Planning

In the last installment of Articles on Wealth Management Topics, we discussed academic research on different ways to estimate the magnitude of future stock market returns. As a refresher, the worst of the ways studied was to extrapolate future returns from past returns. Nearly as ineffective is to base estimates of future returns on surveys of individual and institutional investors.

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Mean Reversion in Financial Markets: The Case for a Contrarian Approach to Investing

Returns in financial markets are often cyclical. That is, multi-year periods during which asset classes or investing styles or mutual fund sectors succeed in generating above-average returns are usually followed by multi-year periods of disappointing returns, and vice versa. Since this market behavior is a key tenet on which our contrarian investment philosophy rests, let's explore the academic research supporting it and the ramifications for successful long-term investing.

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Is Now the Time to Rollover a Retirement Plan Account to an IRA?

One of the major factors to consider when deciding whether to rollover a retirement plan account to an IRA is investment flexibility. An IRA typically allows its owner almost unlimited investment flexibility. In contrast, a 401k, 403b or 457 retirement plan account-holder is constrained to choose from among the menu of investment options made available by the plan's sponsor and service provider.

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DJIA vs. S&P 500: Which Should You Use As An Indicator of Stock Market Performance?

If you rely on the media, and particularly the local media, for your coverage of the stock market, you will find that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is the most oft-quoted measure of how the stock market performed on a given day. And yet most stock market professionals - portfolio managers, analysts, strategists and the like - will refer to the S&P 500 Index instead of the DJIA as their preferred yardstick of market performance. Why is this?

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Dollar-Cost Average or Invest In One Lump Sum (or Pay Down Debt)?

With the bond universe ranging from " ... obscenely overpriced to somewhere on the expensive side of fair value", and with most major U.S. stock indices within shouting distance of all-time highs, the current market environment is presenting a quandary not just to financial advisors but to investors as well. The investing public with cash on the sidelines seem torn between the fear of missing out on a further rally in stocks and the fear of committing capital at valuations that have often presaged middling returns, if not nasty bear markets. Consequently, a question clients have been posing recently is: Is it better to commit new money to the markets as fast as possible, or is it better to dollar-cost average our way into the markets over time?

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An Allocation to Investment-Grade Fixed-Income Securities in the Current Market Environment

If recent conversations with clients are any indication, a primary worry out there is how to plan for, or guard against, the "inevitability" of higher interest rates, a.k.a. falling bond prices. Most of these discussions arise from genuine concerns about the future performance of fixed-income investments given this backdrop. Some arise from a touch of performance-chasing, i.e. "Stocks have done so well in the last few years, so why not allocate more of our portfolio to them at the expense of our bond allocation, which has been languishing?".

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The Importance of Investment Time Horizon in Asset Allocation Decisions

Clients who've endured conversations with me about their recommended asset allocation know how much I stress the importance of their investment time horizon. During a recent discussion about investment ideas, my dad suggested "What's your time horizon?" be my epitaph. Maybe so, but considering in advance when you will need the money you're investing can keep you from making the worst kinds of financial mistakes. And keeping your investment horizon in mind during periods of market turbulence should help keep you on course for attaining your financial goals.

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The Role of Treasury Bonds in a Diversified Portfolio

If there is a Rodney Dangerfield of investments, it has to be Treasury Bonds. They always yield less than other taxable fixed-income investments with the same maturity, they don't get the airtime afforded stocks, and they don't have the mysterious allure of alternative investments. But in times of crisis, when other investments are withering under the pressure, Treasury Bonds usually step into the breach to provide a diversified portfolio with capital gains when they're needed most.

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