Take a Look Around - Who Are You Surrounding Yourself With?
We hear some version of it all the time, “you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.” You want to surround yourself with people who have achieved the things you want to achieve, or at least have the same aspirations that you do. We pick up on their behaviors and habits. We get to opportunity to connect with others in their network. And, they help us see things from a whole new perspective. So, when you take a look around, who are you surrounding yourself with?
Smarter than you
Russell Simmons advised us, “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.” You’ve heard the saying that if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. You need to surround yourself with people who are smart enough to challenge you. You want to be around people who you can learn from, people who have had experiences that are fascinating and backgrounds that are full of lessons learned.
Believe in you
Brian Koslow told us, “Surround yourself with people who believe in you.” While you don’t want to be the smartest person in the room, you do want to surround yourself with those who believe in you and can see what you are truly capable of. When people believe in you, they want the best for you. You never want to surround yourself with those who are only looking out for their own best interests. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to become better and ignite a fire in you to achieve your loftiest dreams.
Sarah Gavron stated, “Surround yourself with people who support you. Find champions.” To go along with believing in you, you want to surround yourself with those who are supportive of you. You need to find cheerleaders who are on your side. You do not, however, need to surround yourself with ‘yes men’. You need people who will be honest with you; the good; the bad; and the ugly, but will be there standing by your side just the same.
Take a Look Around
Who are you surrounding yourself with? Are they smarter than you? Do they believe in you? Do they support you? Find people who will challenge you but who also have your best interests at heart and believe in you. And, at the end of the day, remember that it is a two-way street. We benefit as much from sharing our knowledge with and challenging others, believing in them and encouraging them to chase their dreams, and standing by their side supporting them just as much, if not more than, them being there for us.
What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?
We’re in an era of extremes. It seems a day doesn’t go by without the word “historical” popping up in the financial news.
The equities market and consumer debt are at historical highs. Interest rates and high-yield credit spreads are at historical lows. We haven’t seen even a 5% pull-back in the market this year—for the first time since 1995—and the DJIA is exhibiting its narrowest trading range in history. These are indeed historical times. And whether this fact has you filled with extreme optimism or extreme pessimism, you have some important decisions to make going forward.
There are theories about how we landed in this particular era of extremes, and most are rooted in the significant changes that have impacted both how we live and how we invest. At the top of the list are globalization, automation, and the largest aging population in history (yet another “historical” to add to the list). It’s said that the most dangerous words in investing are, “it’s different this time,” yet one has to wonder if, in fact, it really is different this time. Not just because of the historical market highs. After all, there always has been and always will be a new market high waiting around the corner. What’s different today is the sheer number and confluence of these extreme highs and lows—and their duration. It’s a situation no investor has experienced before, which can make these waters feel pretty daunting. History repeats itself, and investment strategies are largely built on that conviction. But what do we do when it doesn’t? When history fails to repeat itself, how can investors plan for tomorrow with confidence that they are positioned to protect their assets and gain a reasonable level of yield?
The first step is to recognize that, at least in many ways, the investment landscape really is different this time around. All you have to do is look at the numbers to be sure of that fact. And the catalysts I mentioned before—globalization, automation, and the aging population—aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the impact of each will only grow as time moves on. What that means is that there’s no way to predict what’s coming next. The only thing we know for certain is that predictability is a thing of the past (if it ever really existed at all). The result: you need to approach your portfolio differently than you ever have before.
Your goal, of course, is to find return given a risk tolerance. Current yield is an important part of total return and getting it is an elusive proposition in today’s market. If, like many people, you’re less than confident that the four major sectors that currently drive the equities market—healthcare, discretionary, tech, and financial—are poised to continue to rise at even close to recent rates, it may be wise to seek out alternatives to help drive yield without adding more risk to the equation.
But if alternatives are the wise path forward, which alternatives are the best options?
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Business Development Companies (BDCs), and energy stocks, traditionally the favored “non-correlated alternatives,” defied expectations when the stock market crashed in 2008, inconveniently revealing high correlations just as the equities market began its freefall. Anyone who was invested in these alternatives at the time knows all too well the devastating impact “non-correlated investments” can have on a portfolio, especially when they fail to do their job when it matters most.
Luckily, there is one alternative that can be counted on to remain uncorrelated to the traditional financial markets and, ultimately, deliver that precious yield: life insurance-based investments. And because this asset is literally built on one of the irreversible catalysts of change, the aging Baby Boomer population, owning life insurance may in fact be the ideal alternative to help investors generate non-correlated returns, regardless of where the market turns next. Even better, these investments typically deliver those returns with very low volatility.
What makes life insurance different is that, unlike typical alternative vehicles, secondary life insurance returns aren’t based on the economy. Instead, they are inherently non-correlated because returns are based solely on the longevity of the individual insureds.
As much as we would all love for the bull market to continue on its merry way, one thing history does tell us even today is that a bear market will come. It’s only a matter of when. As you strive to hedge your portfolios and prepare for the inevitable, life insurance-based investments are one tool that can help you achieve the three things you need most: diversification, low volatility, and yield.
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