Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Burton Malkiel: Timeless Lessons for Investors

1.  Buy and Hold.  Don't time the market

He started his talk by tackling the issue :  "In the light of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis when the market dropped almost 50%, is buy and hold is now dead?"
The best days in the market that gave the best returns were usually the few days that leaped from the bottom of the market.
Don't try to time the market.  It is dangerous.  You can't do it and you will make mistakes.

2.  Dollar Cost Averaging

You make more likely to make more money in a volatile time than a steadily rising market, but this is not always the case.  Of course, if you know the market is going to be steadily rising, you will make more money if you invest a lump sum at the beginning..

3.  Rebalance your portfolio.

He advises rebalancing your portfolio once yearly, example, 60% stock and 40% bond target and rebalancing in January every year.  In a volatile market, rebalancing reduces the volatility and may also increase the return of your portfolio.  In a rising market, rebalancing will reduce the volatiltiy and may reduce the return of your portfolio slightly.

4.  Diversification

In 2008 and early 2009, there were few places to hide.  Many people opined that diversification doesn't work anymore.
Diversification works when the asset classes are not correlated.  Though many asset classes are now more correlated, you can still diversify, example, buying emerging markets and bonds.  How do you access China?  Why not through index funds? (@39 min)

5.  Costs matter

The lower the costs charged by the purveyor of the investment service, the better and the more is left for you.  "You get what you don't pay for!"  Cost you pay is the one thing you can control and you may increase your return by up to 2% per year just by ensuing the cost is low.  He advocates index funds.  Stock market is a zero sum game and costs of mutual funds of >1% shift the distribution of the stock market to that of a negative sum game.  90% of professional managed mutual funds are beaten by the index benchmark.  In his study of mutual funds over many years, less than 5 mutual funds have beaten the market by 2% or more ( @ 29 min).  Buy the index funds.  "It is like searching for the needle in the haystack.  Buy the haystack instead.".
Two-third of bond active managers are beaten by bond-index funds.  His advice is that the core of your portfolio should be in low cost index funds. (You can have more leeway in a satellite portfolio too.)

@ 43 min   Lump sum investing early or Dollar Cost Averaging when you have a big sum of money to invest.
Potential regret of getting into the high of the market.  Reduction in volatility.  Might not always be optimal.  At least some of this big sum of money should still put into the market in dollar cost averaging manner. Can you advise how long to spread this dollar cost averaging?  Depends on the returns from the alternative investments.  Spread your investing over a shorter period now, since the alternative investment return (interest rate)  is low.

@ 48 min.  Missing the 10 best days or missing the 10 worst days.  Some bias in presentation.

@50.30 min.  Corporate governance.

@53 min.  Dividend yield stocks of Warren Buffett.  Buffett is really the needle in the haystack.  Vanguard REIT - a good diversifier.

@1.04.50 min.  How would you invest $1 million?

@1.08.30 min.  What are the target percentages people of various ages should save?  Answer:  MORE.  If you start early, you may have to save a lot due to the compounding effect.  Those who did not save early, probably need to save a lot more to catch up (20% or more).  The opportunity cost of not saving $1 in your 20s might be $10 or $15 when you are in your 50s.

Uploaded on 1 Jun 2010
Dr. Burton G. Malkiel, the Chemical Bank Chairman's Professor of Economics at Princeton University, is the author of the widely read investment book, A Random Walk Down Wall Street. He has also authored several other books, including the recently published The Elements of Investing.

Dr. Malkiel has long held professorships in economics at Princeton, where he was also chairman of the Economics Department. He also served as the dean of the Yale School of Management and William S. Beinecke Professor of Management Studies. Dr. Malkiel is a past president of the American Finance Association and the International Atlantic Economic Association, and a past appointee to the President's Council of Economic Advisors. He continues to serve on several corporate and investment management boards.

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