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Beware Your Broker

Most brokers or financial management firms will advise you to be fully invested "year in, year out." 

Even my own broker, Schwab, recommends this. In a recent article, they recommend:

  • Is market volatility keeping you on the sidelines? History and context make a strong case for investing in stocks, provided you maintain a long-term perspective.
  • Equities have historically outperformed other asset classes and also provided the best defense against inflation.
  • Diversifying your investments and staying invested long-term are essential for minimizing stock market risk.

The article goes on to explain that long-term, the market has out-performed cash investments, such as savings and money market accounts, as well as bonds. What is long term. 91 years! 

There are many studies that show even for 20 or 30 year periods, this is true. The stock market is the way to go. But there is a problem with this advice.

I've had two full-blown analysis of my financial and portfolio. The first analysis, done by Personal Capital, indicated that I didn't have enough money in equities (stocks). The adviser recommended about 80 percent in stocks, with some gold and bonds thrown in. "You can plan on 4 percent a year," he says. 

The problem with this "you can't time the market" advice is that, while no one has a crystal ball, you can get in and out during trends. 

The other adviser took a different approach. Using a 200-day moving average, the firm uses a 3 percent rule to be in or out of the market. Run by Ken Moraiff, the author of Buy, Hold and Sell, he had clients out of the market during the 2008 to 2009 bear market, and is currently out of equities. While I liked his approach, his target earnings for my account was also 4 percent. 

The problem is my self-managed portfolio returned about 9 percent a year, and I'm pretty conservative. So why should I pay someone else 1.25 percent a year when I can do better?

The problem with riding bear markets: You need to ask yourself if you can handle a 50 percent decline in the value of your portfolio. I'll bet the answer is no. But if you miss most of it, you'll do better long-term. 

There are many different strategies for investing. From dollar cost average to diversification models, there are a lot to choose from. 

My point is that being fully invested, even with proper diversification, is dangerous. Learn how to identify trends and feel good about being in a money market fund. Schwab currently pays 2.3 percent on its fund. 

Here's a couple of videos to help you along:


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