Strategies
New Book On Target Date Funds Identifies Opportunities And Risks For Advisors
Monday, May 05, 2014 15:30

Tags: retirement income | retirement planning | retirement plans | target date funds

Target Date Funds (TDFs) offer exciting new opportunities for financial advisors, retirement plan sponsors and plan participants. TDFs, already a $1 trillion force in the market, will represent nearly half of the roughly $8 trillion in defined contribution assets by 2020, according to Casey Quirk and Associates.

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only


Taking on TDFs requires commitment and knowledge, because it comes with fiduciary responsibility. The new Target Date Fund Handbook is designed to help pension consultants and plan sponsors. A must-read for fiduciaries, this e-book covers all types of TDFs: custom, mutual funds, collective trusts, etc. (Note to Firefox users: The default PDF reader does not recognize our navigation buttons “previous” and “next” – please open the book in Adobe Reader or save to your computer.)
 
The Target Date Fund Handbook is a concise, easy-to-read e-book written by three industry authorities – attorney John Lohr, pension consultant Ronald Surz, and ethicist Mark Mensack. The e-book provides legal guidance, the facts about TDFs, and ethical guidance.
 
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding TDF fiduciary responsibilities that the Handbook puts to rest. Chapters include History, Duty of Care, Demographics, To and Through, Selection Criteria, Current Practices, Benchmarks, Statement of Investment Policy, and The Future.
 
A hardcopy version of the book will be available on Amazon.com soon, and you can e-mail me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  to receive notification of the date it becomes available.
Read more...
 
Stress Testing: The Coming Paradigm Shift
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 13:04

Tags: risk management | stress test | stress testing

The world is a tumultuous place. Interest rate squeeze, tech bubble 2.0, housing rebound, commodities deflation, Obamacare. Pick any world event and it’s on the brink of changing the market. This is not to say everything is doomsday, but that the market is driven by macro events. When a client calls panicked about something they hear on the news, how do you react? Do you have the tools to meaningfully discuss real world events with them?

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only


 

 

I.                    Stress Testing - Macro Scenarios

To effectively understand stress testing we need to look at macro risk scenarios like Obamacare, the end of QE, and many others. The events of the Great Recession have left the public deflated, skeptical, and clutching their dollars. Macro risk, especially policy risk, is here to stay as a major influence on any portfolio and a vocal concern of clients. Anticipating macro risks, taking hedged positions to counter downsides, and aptly answering client concerns are key to minimizing risk exposure and improving bottom lines for advisors. Fortunately, there is technology that can be leveraged to give even single-advisor offices the same edge a wirehouse has. 

HiddenLevers is a software provider with a stress testing toolkit of over 60 customizable scenarios to stress test out of the box. These comprise of historical, forward-looking, and Federal Reserve scenarios. Here, we see the Fed's adverse scenario, represented as movements in the primary economic levers.

 

And the corresponding impact this scenario has on a typical 70/30 portfolio:

 

 

First, the 70% equity position closely tracks the market. The bonds mitigated some of the loss and this portfolio was down almost 28% instead of the market’s 34%. If a client comes in with a simple allocation split like this, then there’s the beginning of a conversation for better investment strategy based on data. This sort of real exchange will go further in motivating action and fulfilling fiduciary duty. The other option - ignoring macro risk - leaves fiduciary duties unfulfilled.

 

 

In a bull market, stress testing can help locate the right vehicle to take advantage of positive economic trends, like a housing rebound. In the Fed’s baseline scenario, with the market up 10%, advisors need to ensure their equity positions, at a minimum, track the market. Stress testing can be used to see how much of that growth is captured. This is accomplished by determining an investment vehicle’s correlation with trending indicators.

 

II.                  Stress Testing – A Fiduciary Duty

The Dodd-Frank Act mandated banks begin stress testing their holdings, and the Fed implemented this with scenario-based stress tests simulating baseline, adverse, and severely adverse market environments. International regulations (Basel III) now require stress testing at all major global banks (See: Part 1, Paragraph 21 - http://bit.ly/1e1VwjY ). With financial institutions assessing the risk parity of the market, advisors should also consider stress testing portfolios. This complements both verifying risk tolerances and fulfilling fiduciary duty.

                Clients can rarely grasp the reality of an index’s shift during a market correction. According to an InvestmentNews article from December, 98% of U.S. equity fund inflows in 2013 went to Vanguard Group Inc. That’s $41.4 billion dollars (See: http://bit.ly/1g8kBx3 ).  If this doesn’t compel advisors to differentiate themselves and add value, then I don’t know what will. The argument that riding the index over a long period of time will mute any volatility and provide returns without high fees has found an audience. And it’s 98% of the money.

                However, we know from behavioral economics that losing one dollar is three times as painful as gaining a dollar. Riding the index still makes the stomach lurch with every correction. More importantly, many clients five years away from retirement don’t realize they’re in the most critical period for their portfolio. A market drop in this pre-retirement window is almost impossible to recover from and can diminish one’s quality of life permanently; this occurred too often during the Great Recession. The near-retirement population may have the greatest need for stress testing from a fiduciary standpoint. They’re most at risk to the repercussions of a market downturn. A 20% market correction occurs every 4 years. A 10% correction happens every 18 months (See: http://bit.ly/1dASYER ). Stress testing can help identify these risks so advisors can take action.

 

III.           Stress Testing - The Need for a Tech Solution

                A paradigm shift is coming. Most advisors want to be proactive and forward thinking, it’s necessary for long-term success. Dodd-Frank and Basel III have changed the national and international banking system. Ultimately, this same scenario-based stress testing done at the bank level will be part of the fiduciary duty of financial advisors and planners. There is a gap between what is expected of fiduciaries and what they are capable of as non-quants. HiddenLevers founders asked the age old question - Can a tech solution bridge this gap? Four years later, we have a technology toolkit that is both effective and easy to use, to make portfolio stress testing a reality for financial advisors everywhere.

 

Tech Development Benchmarks

Effective

Easy to Use

·         Automate the regression modeling done by the quants at big banks.

·         Create a library of possible macro events, including the Fed stress tests.

·         Make the stress testing results client friendly and easily digestible.

·         Have a cloud-based solution accessible from anywhere and on any platform.

·         Make it pretty and interactive so it has built-in marketing.

·         Create alerts and a portfolio monitoring system so advisors can focus on what matters.

 

IV.          Stress Testing - Everybody’s Doin’ it

                Although stress testing is a new focus of the Federal Reserve, private Wall Street banks, Black Rock, and other high-end institutions have been stress testing holdings for years. It used to take a dozen quants crunching equations in excel sheets to produce results. They laid the groundwork for what can now be done automatically, thanks to the growth of technology. It’s only recently that this analysis has been made available to advisors and in a client-friendly way.

                Other risk monitoring tools like Monte Carlo simulations and VAR have been around for a longer time, but haven’t held muster in events like the Great Recession. Unfortunately, Monte Carlo simulations are not designed to model the rarer tail risk that can detriment a pre-retirement portfolio. Stress testing is how fiduciaries account for tail risk, make downside risk resonate with clients, and map potential upside opportunities. Macro impacts are how clients see the world and how the markets are behaving.

That’s right. The ups and downs of the market demand stress testing. High-end firms have been doing it for years, the Federal Reserve now has banks doing it. Stress testing may soon become an integral aspect of fiduciary duty. Be ahead of the curve, not behind it.

######

By Joonas Niiholm, HiddenLevers

 

Read more...
 
10 Minutes With Independent Economist Fritz Meyer On Whether The Bull Market Is Ending; Fritz Gets A 4.8 Rating From Attendees
Monday, March 17, 2014 18:39

Tags: Fritz Meyer | investing

How does a speaker on investments go before an audience of independent practitioners month after month and consistently earn a 4.8 star-rating from attendees?

 
There’s only one explanation. The guy is that good. Fritz Meyer is that good.
 
Here’s a sample of just how good.
 
At the 75-minute monthly update webinar, Fritz spent 22 minutes on whether the bull market is losing steam. Below is a 10-minute version of what he said. I inserted visual cues, disclosures, transitions, and commentary to make the content easy to understand. (In addition to sharing it here on A4A, this video also serves as my latest content marketing campaign for advisor websites using The Financial Advisor Content Marketing System.)

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only


 
In a 10-minute tour-de-force, Fritz concisely explains fundamentals driving investment markets, including:
  • the fallacy of market timing
  • the distorted readings of the Shiller PE
  • key valuations in this bull market versus the tech bubble
  • recent consumer confidence ratings versus the tech bubble
  • the current and forward-looking p-e ratio versus historical p-e ratios
  • why CBO’s 10-year GDP forecast could be a really big deal 
Comments from attendees:
  • Wouldn't miss a presentation
  • Ran a little long but good as usual.
  • Thank you for another great webinar Fritz! Some of the new charts were very interesting and useful in understanding your position on the economy and markets. Please keep up the good work.
  • Always great!
  • Please do make these 2 hours in length .... this is great info ... too much for an hour and we always go over anyway
  • The information provided and the balance in the discussion is very helpful to discern between fact and fiction; and provide the insights, along with the data points, as to the whys and wherefores that mainstream media and talking heads express the views they do.
  • Longer session in April would be good.
  • Great information as always.
  • Always fantastic - combined with JP Morgan Guide to the Market series I get a comprehensive view of our economic trends
  • Outstanding!
  • Fritz was brilliant, as usual.
  • Very good. did a good job answering questions
  • Great job as usual
  • Excellent as always.
  • Great as always
  • Excellent as always. Perhaps it should be billed as a 75 minute presentation as Fritz seems to continually run out of time..
  • Outstanding as always - i would like to have the slides for $25/month - please contact me to arrange 
  • Look forward to it each month
  • Great!
  • Fritz is great!
  • First time I attended this session. I will make it a regularly attended event on my calendar. Great job.
  • Fritz always does an excellent job of keeping us focused on the important information and a reasonable reading of it.
  • Great info, a little long.
  • Excellent. As usual, Fritz does a tremendous job with a tsunami of economic data

 

Read more...
 
Practitioners Should Alter Their Approach To Clients Based On A Simple Behavioral Finance Profiling System
Monday, February 24, 2014 16:45

Are you altering your approach to investors based on the type of behavioral investor they are? Prof. Victor Ricciardi, who will be speaking about behavioral finance at this Friday's A4A webinar, says advisors should be doing just that.

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only


I asked Ricciardi to send me a note about one aspect of what he will cover during his session on Friday, and he sent me a few sentences pointing out the difference between the two types of behavioral investors, "overconfident" versus "status quo" investors. 

 

Riccardi's suggestion that advisors alter their approach to investors based on their behavioral investing profile, shows how behavioral finance -- ivory tower research -- can be so very important in how a practitioner deals with different types of investors.

 

"Investment advisors should implement a balanced approach to find the correct middle ground in providing advice to these two groups of investors," says Ricciardi. 

 

The field of behavioral finance is of huge importance and is attracting a lot of attention in academia. But connecting it to how practitioners treat different clients brings the research down to a new practical level. It can help advisors communicate better with clients and behave more rationally. So I am pretty excited about bringing Ricciardi to the Advisors4Advisors webinar series. 

 

Ricciardi is a Finance Professor at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland and co-editor of the new book Investor Behavior: The Psychology of Financial Planning and Investing with Kent Baker.

 

In asserting that practitioner's should treat some clients one way and other clients another way based on the investor's behavioral investing profile,  Ricciardi cited a recent article he co-authored with Kent Baker entitled, “How Biases Affect Investor Behaviour,” which was published in The European Financial Review, and that included this description of the two types of behavioral investors:

   

Overconfident investors have a tendency to overestimate their skills and ability to make predictions. A 2001 study by Barber and Odean sampled 35,000 client accounts over a six-year investment horizon examined trading behavior based on the notion of gender bias. The findings suggest that males are more overconfident than females in terms of their investing abilities and males trade on a more frequent basis. An extensive number of research literature within behavioral finance reveals people have a tendency to be overconfident regarding their financial and investment decisions.
 
Status quo investors. This group of investors has an inclination to suffer from inertia, procrastination or inattention towards their financial judgments and decisions. In a study by Mitchell, Mottola, Utkus and Yamaguchi (2006) examines the trading behavior of employees invested in 401(k) plans. The study utilizes a sample of 1.2 million workers enrolled in 1,500 different retirement plans, a very strong majority of the 401(k) plan investors are categorized by “intense inactivity.” Nearly 80% of the retirement savers made no trades in their accounts over a two-year period.
 

 

 

 

Read more...
 
Fritz Meyer Gets A 4.7-Star Rating From Advisors Attending His January 2014 Economic Update, But There’s Always One Scathing Review For Even The Best Presentations
Thursday, February 13, 2014 15:29

Tags: Fritz Meyer

 

Fritz Meyer gave a brilliant update on the economy Tuesday, and he received a 4.7 rating from the 71 advisors who took the time after the Webinar to score his presentation on A4A’s five-star rating system. Fritz, month after month, has received incredibly high ratings from attendees. But I want to focus on a single negative comment left by an attendee.
 
While 71 advisors who attended the session gave a 4.7 average rating to Fritz and 31 of them wrote short review of the session, one attendee lambasted Fritz.
"It's hilarious that Fritz thinks he provides his information in an unbiased manner for the viewer to draw their own conclusions. It would also be nice if his support for a raft of Republican policies and agendas didn't shine through like a beacon too. It feels like you are moving from presenting to an audience a mile wide and an inch deep to an inch wide and a mile deep. Shame."
With 31 positive comments versus one negative comment, it's fair to say that Fritz’s message was valued by almost everyone who attended. Even though he is a gifted speaker, Fritz somehow rubbed this one person the wrong way.
 
I'm not singling out this commenter for ridicule. I actually appreciate the attendee for taking the time to write a review. But he is off base.
 
Fritz has done something like 42 monthly presentations on A4A and look at the comments every month from attendees, and I do not recall any commenter before accusing Fritz of allowing a political bias that frames his analysis. Fritz avoids partisan commentary by sticking with facts and quoting nonpartisan research like the Congressional Budget Office. Perhaps the commenter is reading a political plot-line into Fritz’s presentation because of his strong political leanings.  
 
Point is, whenever vendors provide solutions to a group of investment advisors, there’s always one who sees things much differently from the others. I love the diversity of opinions among advisors, and that’s one of the reasons I am drawn to working with independent advisors. But I just want you to understand how difficult it can be to work with a large group of strong-willed entrepreneurs who are almost always convinced their opinions are right. You guys are tough!

 

 

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only


 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 2 of 436

Login

Banner
Banner

Hot Topics

    Banner
    Banner

    Comments

    Banner
    Banner
    Banner
    Banner
    Banner

    Reviews

    Banner