Are Alternative Investments Right For Your Portfolio?
In recent years it would be difficult to read any financial newspaper or website without seeing headlines about “alternative investments”. This term is rarely defined by media accounts but seems to encompass hedge funds, private equity, infrastructure investments, as well as real estate.
Making investment decisions has never been an exact science, nor is the process the same from one individual to the next. There are many variables that need to be factored, both from the standpoint of your individual situation and in the consideration of specific investments.
Unquestionably there is an excitement that emanates from the world of stock picking, where fortunes are won and lost on trading floor arenas, and stock sleuths frantically search for the next Apple or Google. A billion-dollar industry has grown up around the allure of stock-picking as 24/7 cable channels and guru newsletters offer their hot tips of the week to investors who cling to their every word.
If you listen to any of the world’s leading investors they will tell you that nothing is more important to long-term investment success than a clear investment philosophy. More important than a sound investment strategy? Yes, they will tell you, because strategy, while important, is nothing more than a manifestation of an investment philosophy. Strategy can evolve as circumstances might warrant; however, an investment philosophy is based on the intractable belief you have in the principles and practices that guide your decision-making.
The need for retirement planning didn’t really exist until well into the 1970s. Up to that point, people worked until age 65, spent a few years in leisure through their life expectancy which was about 69. Many retirees of that era were able to coast into retirement with a cushy pension plan. Over the next few decades, as life expectancy continued to expand, as did the number of years in retirement, financial planners came up with simple rules of thumb for determining how much a person would need at retirement in order to maintain his or her lifestyle.
Perhaps the most important factor in formulating your investment plan is your risk tolerance; that is, the amount of risk you’re willing to assume in order to achieve your most important objectives. More precisely, your risk tolerance is based on the your financial and emotional ability to withstand negative returns on your investment portfolio. Before embarking on any investment strategy it is important to know your risk tolerance to ensure that you select the right kind of investments and you are able to set clear objectives.
It’s tax season again, and a question we get from a number of clients after receiving their yearend statements is, “Are my investment advisory fees tax deductible?” And the answer is an equivocal, “It depends.”
Congress did grant a tax deduction for certain investment expenses, but with anything to do with the tax code, the devil’s is in the details. Not to worry though, we’ll use this opportunity to settle the issue no matter your situation.
The current economic environment has caused most everyone to reconsider their personal finances with many people having to drastically change their spending and savings habits. Out of this economic malaise may come an opportunity to finally instill the right habits in your teens that can carry them into adulthood on the right financial footing. Just as our parents and grandparents of the Great Depression era developed deeply ingrained attitudes about finances from their experience, our teens can share in the lessons of today’s “great recession” generation.
As anyone would have expected, the extraordinary convergence of extreme stock market volatility, low interest rates, declining home values, diminished retirement savings accounts, and chronic economic sluggishness has taken a severe toll on the American psyche. For many investors, it may have forever altered the way in which risk is perceived and managed.
Understanding your risk tolerance is one of the most important elements of investing; knowing how your risk tolerance effects your investment decisions is vital to the health of your portfolio.
If you have read any literature on retirement planning or have received advice from a financial professional, chances are you were presented with the 70% rule, the one that suggests that retirees will need between 70 and 80% of their pre-retirement income in order to maintain their standard of living. There are several flaws with this formula, the least of which is that it doesn’t consider your actual income and expenses at the time of retirement.