Portfolio Update – July 2021 – The Two Most Important Risks For Retail Investors And How To Avoid Them

With the recent strong positive trend in stocks and risk assets since April 2020, I have been thinking quite a bit about a couple risks that face retail investors and which have become more and more relevant now that I get a bit of vertigo from the S&P 500.

These risks are 1) the risk of us not reaching our financial goals by not managing our investment risk properly and 2) abandoning a safer strategy when we see others making more money with high-risk strategies.

I will discuss these risks more in details below and why they matter, and in particular why it is more urgent for retail investors to have understood these risks.

Namely, apart from institutions with more or less infinite investment horizons, we as retail investors are only active on the financial markets for a quite brief moment when you zoom out and consider all the history of investing.

And as we only get one shot at it (no do-overs), it is important that we get it right from the start. It is crucial to avoid making a mess of our investing careers that we cannot repair later.

I hope you find this text useful, and please share your thoughts in the comments or directly by email to nicholas@allseasonsportfolio.eu.

And as usual, the regular update of my All Seasons Portfolio(s) follows right after the month's special topic. July was a quite good month for me, and I have made a slight alteration of my portfolio, switching the TIPS ETF from a global one to one with longer-term US inflation-linked bonds.

But more of that to come. Now, let's have a look at a different way of defining "risk".

Continue Reading Portfolio Update – July 2021 – The Two Most Important Risks For Retail Investors And How To Avoid Them

Portfolio Update – June 2021 – A study of risk parity portfolios against S&P 500 since 1927

Earlier this week, I received a very good comment to the monthly portfolio update article which I published last month. In that article, I discussed how the stock market seems greatly overvalued based on several widely different indicators, measuring both listed stock’s earnings and assets, as well as market cap in relation to GDP.

Based on the indicators CAPE (Shiller's PE), Q Ratio, and the Buffett Indicator (market cap to GDP), future potential returns of the stock market over the next decade appear limited.

In the light of this, the question arises whether the All Seasons Portfolio would be a better choice, and how it has performed under similar conditions in the past when compared with the S&P 500. The comment reads as quoted here below and this is what I have set out to answer in this month's article.

We can anticipate that future returns of the stock market will be below what we have become used to in recent years based on these metrics, and the fact that returns 1) usually are clustered in a way that good years are followed by further good years and bad years are followed by further bad years, and 2) always regress to the mean (between 7-10% annually) and that the last decade has seen annual returns far above this level.

When acknowledging the current worrying state of the equity markets, it becomes relevant to further understand how the All Seasons Portfolio has performed versus the stock market under similar market conditions.

Instead, it is relevant to compare against 1) long-term performance over several decades, and 2) periods with similar conditions as where we are currently. To me, these are two extremely central questions to clarify, and that I wanted to have answers to as well.

Continue Reading Portfolio Update – June 2021 – A study of risk parity portfolios against S&P 500 since 1927

Portfolio Update – May 2021 – Indicators of an Overvalued Stock Market and What You Can Do About It

  • Has the stock market reached a permanently high plateau, or can we expect lower return the coming decade?
  • Monthly Update for May 2021 with a fresh set of charts

I hope you are sitting comfortably and have fetched a nice cup of coffee or something more refreshing, because before we get into the monthly development for May 2021 of my portfolio, we have an elaborate analysis of the value of the stock market in front of us.

There has been a couple of things that have been bugging med lately. That is the current high valuation of the stock market regardless of metric used, and the fact that many non-professional investors' inability to understand that an average annual return of 7-8% on the stock market is just an average rather than something you can expect every year to come.

I think that many have been trapped in a recency bias that will catch up with them eventually, unless retail investors choose to diversify from an all-stock portfolio to something more similar to an All Seasons Portfolio.

I will explain why I think so in detail in this article, so let's just dive into it.

I recently bought the book Adaptive Asset Allocation by the team at ReSolve Asset Management. While the main focus of the book was risk parity and a different view thereto than what the more static All Seasons Portfolio strategy offers, there was one part in the background section that really resonated with me, and which I perceive that many investors, and especially non-professional savers, miss.

Continue Reading Portfolio Update – May 2021 – Indicators of an Overvalued Stock Market and What You Can Do About It

Portfolio Update – April 2021 – What a Game of Chess Can Teach You About Your Instincts as an Investor

Are you sure if your instincts align with your intended way of investing?

I am asking this because if there is a mismatch between what kind of person you are when it comes to your decision making and acting on new information on the one hand and your investment goals on the other hand, you will not reach your financial goals if you do not know yourself.

How your mind works and how you behave matters more than you think when it comes to investing, as it will impact firstly the investment strategy you chose, and secondly, how you implement and deviate from the strategy in new situations and changed market conditions.

But regardless how good an investor you are or what instincts come naturally to you, if you know who you are as a person and how your mind works, you could prepare your strategy already in advance to be better equipped to face the challenges that financial markets can throw at you. Even an investor with less experience and bad instincts can succeed in tough times by setting up clear and good rules for how to behave and then rigorously stick to those rules, cutting out all emotion.

Rule-based investing with a well-diversified portfolio is an extremely easy way to continuously hit good results without great losses. And if you diversify also between asset classes, choppy markets can even be your friend when you rebalance the portfolio from well-performing assets to assets that are at their relative lows.

But how do you know what mind you posses and what instincts you have?

Continue Reading Portfolio Update – April 2021 – What a Game of Chess Can Teach You About Your Instincts as an Investor

Portfolio Update – March 2021 – The Madness Is Not Over

Now that we have put the month of March behind us, it marks the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic and societal restrictions. Hardly, this is something to celebrate, as it has been one of the worst 12-month periods for a very long time, and all we want now is for the madness to end and for us to be able to go back to normality.

We have reached a few months into the vaccination process and hopefully the worst parts of the pandemic should be behinds us. But, it seems like we are not yet over crazy events to surprise us in the markets. Two such impactful evens in March alone were the blockage of the Suez Canal and the blow-up of Archegos Capital Management, both of which were significant events to occur in March. We will look more closely into these events in this article and their potential impact on the economy in the near term.

My point is, that while stock markets are regularly posting ATH marks, there is quite a lot of uncertainty left in the economy, that can be a surprise on the downside for equities. The $1.9tn American stimulus package may help to keep up stock valuations for a little bit longer, but voices are raised that we are witnessing the final exuberant stages of a bubble.

Before we dive into a dissection of three most impactful events of March 2021, I received fantastic feedback on my last post with book recommendations for reading material on risk parity investing, which was published a few weeks ago. I was recommended the book Adaptive Asset Allcation, written by the team behind ReSolve Asset Management, and while I am only half-way through it yet, I think this is a recommendation worth sharing to a broader audience. Check out the description and the bottom of this article for more details of what to expect.

But let us now head straight to a catch-up of what exciting events March 2021 had to offer us.

Continue Reading Portfolio Update – March 2021 – The Madness Is Not Over

3 must-read books for better understanding Risk Parity Investing and the All Seasons Portfolio Strategy

  • Recommendations for the 3 best books to start with for better understanding risk parity investing
    • The Permanent Portfolio by Craig Rowland and J.M. Lawson
    • Balanced Asset Allocation by Alex Shahidi
    • Risk Parity Fundamentals by Edward Qian
  • Reviews of each book below and suggested reading order
  • Which to pick if you are only going to read one

The isolation and restrictions of movement during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns and curfews have been challenging to say the least. How can you spend your time, in an effort trying to stay sane, when you no longer can travel, barely go to the office, and perhaps not even physically meet friends and family.

Now in March, it becomes one full year of the exceptional circumstances and measures to limit spreading of the virus. It has been a difficult year for all, but even worse for some directly affected by the worst thinkable consequences of the pandemic.

Risk parity investing is an established discipline among institutional investors and family offices. Of these, the most famous are Bridgewater Associates' All Weather fund was a pioneer of the field, and is only accessible to pension funds and high net worth individuals.

But the benefits of risk parity investing reach also retail investors - people who do not get access to Bridgewater's products - as most investors are easily swayed by the most recent developments on the stock markets not to be sufficiently protected against the effects of what changes in expectations of economic growth and inflation can do to a portfolio.

Reading is a pastime of successful investors, not only in quarantine, and if you are keen on setting up your own risk parity portfolio (it is very easy to do with widely available ETFs), you should begin by seeking information on this investment discipline in the form of literature.

To make the getting started phase a bit easier for you, in this article, I highlight three great books about setting up a balanced portfolio. They all describe asset classes included (mainly stocks, bonds, gold, and commodities), and, more importantly, the reason behind why each asset class is needed in a portfolio to protect against the changing seasons of the economy.

Continue Reading 3 must-read books for better understanding Risk Parity Investing and the All Seasons Portfolio Strategy