Take Emotions out of the Investment Equation

Investing involves risk. But a well-constructed financial security plan contains structural elements specifically designed to address potential risks while focusing on long-term growth. This approach relies on formulas, not emotions.

The foundation for creating a sound financial security plan is determining your risk tolerance. Financial security advisors and investment representatives require you to fill out questionnaires that estimate willingness to accept risk while exploring your financial objectives. The key is finding the right balance – and understanding this process is vital. That’s why emotions need to be taken out of the investment equation.

Why it’s important to start investing at a young age

Time is a powerful tool in reducing risk and an important reason to start investing early in life. Generally, the younger you are, the more aggressive you can be. As you get older, your portfolio should steadily shift to more conservative investing. This is a mathematical process.

Financial markets, especially stock (or equity) markets, can bounce around from day to day and sometimes they take sharp drops. Historically, markets recover over time, albeit with some short-term volatility.

  • The foundation for creating a sound financial security plan is determining your risk tolerance.

The value of mixing it up

Diversification is a bedrock technique for mitigating risk. Holding a large number of investments and types of investments can help lower the overall impact if a particular investment gets into trouble.

Take stocks: Owning shares in several companies spreads out risk. Moreover, you can offset the stocks of newer companies with those of more established companies. Low-risk investors may be willing to invest in a couple of higher risk technology start-ups with growth potential if the rest of their equity portfolio contains larger, more established companies.

Size isn’t the only factor. Investing in different industries adds another layer of diversification. If energy companies are facing short-term problems because a warmer winter is causing natural gas prices to fall, companies in other sectors may benefit from the drop. Investing in different countries is another way to diversify your portfolio.

Mutual funds and segregated funds are common solutions for diversification. They contain shares from a large number of publicly traded companies and may specialize in specific industries or countries. Funds available cover the gamut of risk, from high-risk emerging markets growth funds to conservative funds.

Investment Emotions

Using diversification to your advantage

Asset allocation is another powerful diversification technique. Financial portfolios are divided into three main categories: equities, fixed income (which includes bonds) and cash. Fixed income investments offer less upside but they are generally more stable; this is especially the case when it comes to government or high-quality corporate bonds. Many people invest in bonds indirectly through mutual funds.

Cash is the third category. Cash or cash-like instruments, such as term deposits, offer limited but guaranteed growth. Individuals with a very low risk tolerance – such as people nearing retirement – may hold a significant amount of their portfolio in cash. Cash also offers a safe way to park money for shorter-term goals, such as saving to buy a house.

The financial challenges of getting older

As you age, your investment horizon shortens. At age 25, you have the ability to assume more risk in your portfolio. You can’t rely on time to smooth out bumps once you approach retirement. As a result, your portfolio should gradually become more focused on conserving capital and generating income. That means moving to less aggressive investments and eventually increasing your holdings of fixed income investments and cash.

Why it’s important to ignore irrational urges

Even if you have the best-laid plans in place, investors can find themselves tempted to try something new. Common missteps include:

  • Trying to time the market: Professionals can’t know when prices will go up and down and neither can you.
  • Selling when an investment falls in value: In actual fact, this could be the time to buy.
  • Chasing hot rumours. Best tip ever? Develop a solid financial security plan and stick to it.

Going on autopilot with the right investment plan

If your investment portfolio is set up properly, it should almost take care of itself over the long term. Contributions can be transferred automatically and proceeds, such as dividends, are reinvested.

Thoroughly examine your overall investments once or twice a year to make sure asset allocations remain at desired levels. A jump in stock prices can be good for the portfolio but you may find yourself overly invested in equities and needing to move some of the money into more conservative investment options.

Spending time working with me to customize – and fully understand – a sound financial security plan allows you to spend less time thinking about money. It’s a big part of enjoying financial independence.

Asset Allocation the Key Investment Strategy

Landing on the right investment strategy boils down to balancing your expectations for growth with your tolerance for taking risks. But even the most aggressive portfolio should gradually take on a more conservative approach as retirement age approaches.

An investment portfolio may contain many types of investments, all of which fall into three main categories.

Risk versus reward

Stocks, or equities, offer the biggest upside for increasing in value. However, it can be a bumpy ride. Short-term dips in the stock market can be steep. Over time, however, the long-term trend is up. Fast and scary price drops in share prices become mere blips over 20 or 30 years.

Risk varies greatly within this category. Some equity-based mutual funds clearly identify themselves as growth funds, taking on more risk in an attempt to find companies with the highest potential. At the other end, some mutual funds aren’t shy about calling themselves conservative. Their holdings focus on well-established companies with solid fundamentals. The potential isn’t as high but investors face lower risks.

Middle ground

Bonds, or bond-based mutual funds, find a home in most portfolios. They’re inherently less volatile – well suited for protecting principals – but offer limited rewards. They’re classified as fixed-income instruments because owners receive regular payouts, which can also be re-invested.

As with equities, growth potential and risk varies widely within this segment. Government bond funds offer quite low risks but returns are also limited. Corporate bonds have greater potential and more risk. Investors comfortable with risk may opt for high-yield, or “junk,” bonds issued by fledgling or distressed companies looking to raise capital by offering high but uncertain yields.

Cold cash

Cash, savings accounts, guaranteed investment certificates and money market funds are the safe haven in a portfolio. The risk of losing your principal is extremely low. Many of these investments are guaranteed and losses in the others are rare.

The biggest risk in parking money in cash is inflation. If the inflation rate is higher than your return, you’re losing money in real terms. However, for people already retired, cash is an important category.

asset-allocation-investment-strategy

Balancing act

My prime objective is to recommend an asset allocation that makes sense for your situation, including age, need for returns and tolerance for risk. Model investment strategies run the gamut of aggressive growth (all stocks) to ultraconservative (all fixed-income securities such as bonds, as well as cash vehicles).

Willingness to take on risk varies greatly. Some people are very comfortable with risk while others shy away from the stock market completely. This risk profile is a central element in designing the best asset allocation.

  • A 20 – something person may be more risk averse than a retiree but a longer horizon gives a young person the ability to take on more risk.

Beyond risk

Younger investors have a greater capacity to take on risk since their investment window can be 30 years or longer. Indeed, a 20-something person may be more risk averse than a retiree but a longer horizon gives a young person the ability to take on more risk. As a result, a large share of their holdings may be in equities.

Conversely, retirees who fly to Las Vegas twice a year may have little choice but to hold most of their investments in bonds and other fixed-income instruments to both generate income and preserve their capital.

Thus, for any given willingness to take on risk, a portfolio should start shifting to a more conservative approach as retirement approaches.

Needs-based decisions

Asset allocation is also a function of need. I can play a central role in helping determine the amount of savings you’ll need to support your lifestyle in retirement. Many factors may come into play, such as your willingness to downsize your home or expected inheritances.

First, the good news

Canadians, on average, are living longer. Statistics Canada reported in 2014 that a 65-year-old woman should expect to reach 87, up two years from 2001. A 65-year-old man today can expect to live to 85, also up two years.1

Longer retirements may require more savings. This increase in need could require that you incur more market risk.

Custom tailoring

Successful investing does involve some risk. I will assess your individual situation and help you design the optimal asset allocation to meet your goals, and help it evolve over time while staying in your comfort zone.

As you get closer to retirement, proper planning can help ensure the risk built into your portfolio will steadily diminish, leaving you free to start planning the next chapter in your life.

CRM 2: How Do Financial Advisors Get Paid?

Mutual fund investing. There’s a fee for that?

A management expense ratio (MER) is the total* fee you will pay to invest in a standard series mutual fund. It’s important to note that you do not pay the MER directly; rather it’s paid by the fund itself, which reduces the value of your investment accordingly.

How your money gets split out in an MER

You invest $10,000 in a standard series of a typical Canadian balanced fund with an MER of 2.5 per cent. Through the fund you pay a total of $250 in fees for the year, which may be broken out as follows.

  • $121 for the professional management of the fund and fund operating expenses
  • $29 for taxes
  • $100 for administration, compliance and oversight provided by the fund dealer, of which, on average in the industry, $80 goes towards investment representatives for the services provided to clients, including financial advice, and operating and overhead expenses incurred by the firms while providing those services

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*Additional sales charges may apply, as agreed upon between the client and the financial security advisor. Illustration assumes a front-end load structure, with a zero per cent sales charge and a blended tax rate of 13 per cent. A fund’s tax rate may vary as it is a blended tax rate calculated based on the mix of investors invested in that particular fund across all provinces. Additional fees and charges may apply depending on the series and options chosen.

Realizing the value of the right advice

It shouldn’t be surprising that 81 per cent of fund investors have confidence in mutual funds as an investment solution.*

I can offer you choice, flexibility and the comfort of knowing you’re invested in a product that is aligned with your individual goals and aspirations.

Offering the right mix of strategically selected assets is at the centre of every strong portfolio.

Because your investment is managed by experts who follow this principle and manage costs and risks through me, you have access to strong products and solutions that you would otherwise not have access to on your own.

Contact me to review your investment needs or start your planning process.

*IFIC/Pollara, Canadian investors’ perceptions of mutual funds and the mutual fund industry 2013

Pints & Stocks London Ontario

Pints & Stocks London Ontario

Pints & Stocks London Ontario

NEW to London Ontario in 2015!

Pints & Stocks is a FREE Stock Market Simulation Challenge. We are a group interested in the stock market and looking for an excuse to meet up for a beer each month.

Whether you’re an experienced stock trader or looking to learn and have fun. Pints & Stocks is for you!

Join now! Challenge your friends and other Londoners.
Old South Village PubLocation: Old South Village Pub
Time: 8pm (February 23rd)

Stock Market Challenge registration by February 1st

Please leave your email below or email rob.t.anderson@f55f.com to be added to the game!!


 

How to Trade Stocks

This page will guide you the process of trading stocks on the Simulator.

If you’d like to learn more about what stocks are, check out our stocks basics tutorial.

1. First, you must know the stock symbol (sometimes called the ticker symbol) for the stock you’d like to trade. These symbols are used to identify the stock of a corporation. They range from one to five letters and are usually similar to the company’s name. For example, the ticker symbol of Microsoft is “MSFT” and the ticker symbol of General Electric is “GE”. We provide a Symbol Lookup tool where you can enter a company’s name and get the symbol.

2. After you know the ticker symbol, go to the order entry screen by clicking on “trade stocks” when on the portfolio page. You should get a page that looks like the following:

Transaction Types

  • Buy and sell is fairly self-explanatory.
  • “Sell short” and “buy to cover” are more advanced trading techniques. We’re not going to get into it here, but short selling is a way to profit when a stock goes down in value. For more info, go to our short selling help file (coming soon).

Order Types

  • A market order is the most common order type. This simply means that you’ll buy at whatever the price the stock is currently trading at. The advantage is that it’s easier and your order is guaranteed to be filled. For most investors a market order is all they need. The only problem with market orders is that in a volatile market the price an order is filled at can deviate significantly from the last-traded price.
  • A limit order sets the maximum or minimum price at which you are willing to buy or sell. For example, a buy limit order at $10 means that you will pay no more than $10 for the stock. Limit orders allow you to be more precise but this also means that you aren’t guaranteed to get your order filled.
  • A stop order trades a stock when the price passes through a particular point. The most common usage of this is a “stop-loss order.” For example, if you own a stock that is currently at $20 you could set a stop-loss order at $15 in order to limit your loss to around $5. If the stock fell below $15 the stop order is activated and the stock would be sold at market price.

More info on order types can by found in our article entitled:”the basics of order entry.”

Symbol, Shares, and Term
The rest of the columns on the order entry screen are easy to understand:

  • We’ve talked about what stocks symbols are, notice how in this example we’ve entered the ticker for Microsoft.
  • The number of shares must be a number greater than 0.
  • The term can be either “day order” or “good till cancelled (GTC)”. This is only valid for limit and stop orders as a market order is always filled right away. Day orders are valid until the end of the current trading day while GTC orders are valid until you cancel them.
  • The box for “confirmation email” is optional if you want to receive an email with details of the order.

3. After you are happy with your order press “preview order” and you’ll be taken to a screen that looks like the following:


This screen confirms all the details of your order including the actual price and commission. If everything looks OK, hit “submit order.”

Assuming there are no problems with the trade you’ll be able to see the stock in your portfolio..