Déjà Vu All Over Again
Investment fads are nothing new, we have seen many in our over twenty year history. When selecting strategies for their portfolios, investors are often tempted to seek out the latest and greatest investment opportunities. Over the years, these approaches have sought to capitalize on developments such as the perceived relative strength of particular geographic regions, technological changes in the economy, or the popularity of different natural resources. But long-term investors should be aware that letting short term trends influence their investment approach may be counterproductive. As Nobel laureate Eugene Fama said, “There’s one robust new idea in finance that has investment implications maybe every 10 or 15 years, but there’s a marketing idea every week.”
WHAT’S HOT BECOMES WHAT’S NOT
Looking back at some investment fads over recent decades can illustrate how often trendy investment themes come and go. In the early 1990s, attention turned to the rising “Asian Tigers” of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. A decade later, much was written about the emergence of the “BRIC” countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China and their new place in global markets. Similarly, funds targeting hot industries or trends have come into and fallen out of vogue. In the 1950s, the “Nifty Fifty” were all the rage. In the 1960s, “go go” stocks and funds piqued investor interest. Later in the 20th century, growing belief in the emergence of a “new economy” led to the creation of funds poised to make the most of the rising importance of information technology and telecommunication services. During the 2000s, 130/30 funds, which used leverage to sell short certain stocks while going long others, became increasingly popular. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, “Black Swan” funds and “tail-risk-hedging” strategies abounded. As investors reached for yield in a low interest rate environment in the following years, other funds sprang up that claimed to offer increased income generation. More recently, strategies focused on peer-to-peer lending, cryptocurrencies, and even cannabis cultivation and private space exploration have become more fashionable. In this environment, so-called “FAANG” stocks and exchange-traded funds with catchy ticker symbols have also garnered attention among investors.
WHAT AM I REALLY GETTING?
When confronted with choices about whether to add additional types of assets or strategies to a portfolio, it may be helpful to ask the following questions:
1. What is this strategy claiming to provide that is not already in my portfolio?
2. If it is not in my portfolio, can I reasonably expect that including it or focusing on it will increase expected returns, reduce expected volatility, or help me achieve my investment goal?
3. Am I comfortable with the range of potential outcomes?
If investors are left with doubts after asking any of these questions, it may be wise to use caution before proceeding. Within equities, for example, a global market portfolio offers the benefit of exposure to companies doing business around the world while providing diversification across industries, sectors, and countries. In addition, there is no shortage of things investors can do to help contribute to a better investment experience. Working closely with an independent, fee only, financial advisor like River Capital Advisors can help individual investors create a plan that fits their needs and risk tolerance. Pursuing a globally diversified approach; managing expenses, turnover, and taxes; and staying disciplined through market volatility can help improve investors’ chances of achieving their long-term financial goals.
Fashionable investment approaches will come and go, but investors should remember that a long-term, disciplined investment approach based on robust research and implementation may be the most reliable path to success in the global capital markets.