Mistakes to Avoid When Investing Through a Financial Advisor

Mistakes to Avoid When Investing Through a Financial Advisor

The financial futures of many Americans are being fretted away by brokers and banks.
 

A recent article by author Dan Solin titled The Average Returns Myth describes the hysteria of active mutual fund managers as they continue their mission of selling investors what might be called “The Black Box Hoax”. That is, brokers and banks want you to believe that they have” special knowledge”, i.e. a “black box”, and they are willing to let you in on this knowledge via their expensive packaged investment products.

The premise is that through superior financial analysis, their firm can identify which asset categories, (and fund managers), will provide stellar returns in the future and which won’t. It’s a huge fairytale with disastrous long-term consequences for many investors.

Indeed, even with the weight of evidence strongly favoring passively managed funds, majority of investors still allow themselves to be victimized by what Solin calls “a desperate lie”. The cost of these errant choices to the investing public is almost unfathomable.

Just last year, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that conflicted advice (the kind brokers and banks provide), cost retirement account investors $17 billion per year! Brokers and banks push their “black box” actively managed mutual funds despite scant evidence that this works. Sure, it works for them through excess fees and commissions, but not for investors.

Losing both time and investment returns are core reasons for the growing percentage of Americans who are poorly prepared for retirement.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College publishes the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI). The NRRI measures the percentage of households at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement, (what we call “shortfall risk”). Their most recent study states that 52% of households are “at risk”. Sure, lack of savings, behavioral mistakes and other issues contribute to this equation, but falling prey to “The Black Box Hoax” is a big part as well. “Shortfall risk” is arguably the most daunting financial issue facing Boomers and those on the shoulder of the Boomer cohort.

There is a better way. Don’t follow the crowd, but instead follow the long-term evidence and invest that way. Instead of relying on “sales advice”, seek out and establish a long-term relationship with a fiduciary advisor. 

James E. Wilson
Advisor
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James founded South Carolina’s first fee-only financial planning firm in 1982 and is a pioneer in the financial planning field. He has advised hundreds of successful individ ... Click for full bio

Top Picks in Asset Allocation

Top Picks in Asset Allocation

Written b: John Bilton, Head of Global Multi-Asset Strategy, Multi-Asset Solutions

As global growth broadens out and the reflation theme gains traction, the outlook brightens for risky assets


Four times a year, our Multi-Asset Solutions team holds a two-day-long Strategy Summit where senior portfolio managers and strategists discuss the economic and market outlook. After a rigorous examination of a wide range of quantitative and qualitative measures and some spirited debate, the team establishes key themes and determines its current views on asset allocation. Those views will be reflected across multi-asset portfolios managed by the team.

From our most recent summit, held in early March, here are key themes and their macro and asset class implications:

Key themes and their implications
 

Asset allocation views


For the first time in seven years, we see growing evidence that we may get a more familiar end to this business cycle. After feeling our way through a brave new world of negative rates and “lower for longer,” we’re dusting off the late-cycle playbook and familiarizing ourselves once again with the old normal. That is not to say that we see an imminent lurch toward the tail end of the cycle and the inevitable events that follow. Crucially, with growth broadening out and policy tightening only glacially, we see a gradual transition to late cycle and a steady rise in yields that, recent price action suggests, should not scare the horses in the equity markets.

If it all sounds a bit too Goldilocks, it’s worth reflecting that, in the end, this is what policymakers are paid to deliver. While there are persistent event risks in Europe and the policies of the Trump administration remain rather fluid, the underlying pace of economic growth is reassuring and the trajectory of U.S. rate hikes is relatively accommodative by any reasonable measure. So even if stock markets, which have performed robustly so far this year, are perhaps due a pause, our conviction is firming that risk asset markets can continue to deliver throughout 2017.

Economic data so far this year have surprised to the upside in both their level and their breadth. Forward-looking indicators suggest that this period of trend-like global growth can persist through 2017, and risks are more skewed to the upside. The U.S. economy’s mid-cycle phase will likely morph toward late cycle during the year, but there are few signs yet of the late-cycle exuberance that tends to precede a recession. This is keeping the Federal Reserve (Fed) rather restrained, and with three rate hikes on the cards for this year and three more in 2018, it remains plausible that this cycle could set records for its length.

Investment implications


Our asset allocation reflects a growing confidence that economic momentum will broaden out further over the year. We increase conviction in our equity overweight (OW), and while equities may be due a period of consolidation, we see stock markets performing well over 2017. We remain OW U.S. and emerging market equity, and increase our OW to Japanese stocks, which have attractive earnings momentum; we also upgrade Asia Pacific ex-Japan equity to OW given the better data from China. European equity, while cheap, is exposed to risks around the French election, so for now we keep our neutral stance. UK stocks are our sole underweight (UW), as we expect support from the weak pound to be increasingly dominated by the economic challenges of Brexit. On balance, diversification broadly across regions is our favored way to reflect an equity OW in today’s more upbeat global environment.

With Fed hikes on the horizon, we are hardening our UW stance on duration, but, to be clear, we think that fears of a sharp rise in yields are wide of the mark. Instead, a grind higher in global yields, roughly in line with forwards, reasonably reflects the gradually shifting policy environment. In these circumstances, we expect credit to outperform duration, and although high valuations across credit markets are prompting a greater tone of caution, we maintain our OW to credit.

For the U.S. dollar, the offsetting forces of rising U.S. rates and better global growth probably leave the greenback range-bound. Event risks in Europe could see the dollar rise modestly in the short term, but repeating the sharp and broad-based rally of 2014-15 looks unlikely. A more stable dollar and trend-like global growth create a benign backdrop for emerging markets and commodities alike, leading us to close our EM debt UW and maintain a neutral on the commodity complex.

Our portfolio reflects a world of better growth that is progressing toward later cycle. The biggest threats to this would be a sharp rise in the dollar or a political crisis in Europe, while a further increase in corporate confidence or bigger-than-expected fiscal stimulus are upside risks. As we move toward a more “normal” late-cycle phase than we dared hope for a year back, fears over excessive policy tightening snuffing out the cycle will grow. But after several years of coaxing the economy back to health, the Fed, in its current form, will be nothing if not measured..

Learn how to effectively allocate your client’s portfolio here.

DISCLOSURE:

This document is a general communication being provided for informational purposes only.  It is educational in nature and not designed to be a recommendation for any specific investment product, strategy, plan feature or other purpose. Any examples used are generic, hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. Prior to making any investment or financial decisions, an investor should seek individualized advice from a personal financial, legal, tax and other professional advisors that take into account all of the particular facts and circumstances of an investor’s own situation. 

J.P. Morgan Asset Management is the marketing name for the asset  management business of JPMorgan Chase & Co and its affiliates worldwide. Copyright 2017 JPMorgan Chase & Co. All rights reserved.
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