Friday, September 13, 2013

The Broccoli and Pizza Portfolio

Jim Parker
Outside the Flags
Vice President

For some of us, it’s hard to give up on the idea that investing should be exciting. Picking stocks can be fun, after all, and there’s nothing like getting your timing right and bragging about it later with friends. But it’s important to separate the concepts of speculation and investing.

For all the accumulated wisdom about asset allocation, risk, diversification, and discipline, some people seem bound to see investing as an end in itself rather than a means to an end.

For these folks, picking stocks is a hobby. They follow the gurus and soak up the financial media. Despite evidence to the contrary, they’re convinced they can build a consistently winning strategy by exploiting perceived mistakes in market prices.

Part of the reason is the human tendency toward overconfidence. For instance, we all like to think of ourselves as above-average drivers, when that’s simply not possible. Likewise in investing, many of us believe we have powers of foresight not evident in the wider population.

A Duke University study of corporate executives published in 2010 found a dismal record of prediction among a group you might think would do well. Indeed, of 11,600 forecasts for the S&P 500 over nine years, the survey found executives’ estimates of future returns and actual outcomes were negatively correlated. (This is a technical way of saying the executives were hopeless forecasters).

Research also suggests the tendency to trade a lot and make confident forecasts about stocks has a gender bias. Whether it’s a testosterone-driven instinct among men to boast or something else, study after study shows men find it harder to accept that they are unlikely to “beat” the market.

For these red-meat eaters, an investment approach that advocates working with the market, diversifying around risks related to an expected return, trading efficiently, exercising discipline, and watching fees and taxes is going to sound like the financial equivalent of a broccoli and walnut salad: healthy but boring.

Surely the point of investing is to try hard and, Don Quixote-like, to charge at those market windmills? Are
we not men?

There are a couple of ways of confronting this mindset. One is to hope for a change in human nature and persuade each would-be master of the universe to separate his urge for ego gratification from his need to build wealth patiently and efficiently.

This is not impossible, of course. But one suspects it would take some time and would require a lot of face saving.

A second approach is to separate the investment nest egg from the play money. If someone really wants to speculate, he can be allowed to do that with the proviso that long-term retirement money be invested the boring way.

This way, the investor can buy some (expensive) entertainment and accumulate a few war stories to share
at his next golf game without compromising the asset allocation painstakingly designed for him and his family.

It’s understandable that investing is a kind of a hobby for some people. After all, this is what keeps much of the financial services industry and media in business.

But in separating the concepts of speculation and investing, you can still enjoy the occasional treat while maintaining a balanced diet.

Call it the broccoli and pizza portfolio.

S&P data are provided by Standard & Poor’s Index Services Group.

MSCI data copyright MSCI 2013, all rights reserved.

Indices are not available for direct investment; therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.


Dimensional Fund Advisors LP ("Dimensional") is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. This article is provided for informational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. 
©2013 Dimensional Fund Advisors LP. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying, reproducing, duplicating, or transmitting of this material is prohibited.

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's a girl!

Pathways Advisory Group, Inc.
Katie Nelson

We are proud to announce the birth of Paige Brooklyn Nelson, born to Katie and Kyle Nelson. She was born on September 6, 2013 at 10:33 PM; she weighed in at 7 lbs 1 oz and was 20.25 inches long. She and her proud parents are doing well. Congratulations to them on the birth of their baby girl!