The last few years in the market have been as good as it gets with strong economic growth, increasing profitability, low volatility and surging markets. Everyone wants to know how long will the party last and what will the market do next? As the table below shows, there is little mystery regarding the new year’s expected return.
Many advisors use risk tolerance to determine how to allocate client assets, putting clients in buckets of conservative, moderate or aggressive based on the question “How scared are you?” This approach can result in poor risk management, significant misallocation of resources and a high degree of anxiety. A better approach is to use a needs-based planning process to match resources to client goals.
When the equity market sets a new all-time high, many people become anxious about what will happen next. It turns out that new market peaks are common, occurring 1,144 times from January 3, 1928 through May 31, 2017, or once a month on average.
Since the 2009 financial crisis, value investing has struggled to keep up with the broad market and had an even tougher time keeping pace with high-flying growth stocks. This long stretch has led investors to consider dumping their value investments for passive indexing or growth strategies. We think a little long-term perspective is needed and dumping value for growth now could be a costly mistake.
Focus on low-cost equity mutual funds has increased dramatically in the past decade. While cost matters, mutual funds, much like other goods and services, should be evaluated based on what investors get for the price they pay. Indeed, few people start shopping for a car by asking, “What’s the cheapest car I can get?”
The last eight years have been a good period for equity investing. But can it last? As the old saying goes, “Markets climb a wall of worry.” There is certainly plenty to worry about: looming market corrections, elections in Europe, and political uncertainty.