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There’s a tug of war between our hearts and minds in making investment decisions. When emotions win—as they often do—we become our own worst enemies and underperform the broader market. According to DALBAR research, one of the single biggest variables in investment performance is investor behavior. It’s primarily responsible for the continual underperformance of the average mutual fund equity investor versus the U.S. equity market.
These findings don’t surprise me. I’ve seen firsthand that emotional and behavioral biases can lead to poor decisions and ultimately, disappointed performance. The biases I witness most often are loss aversion, herding, media response, overconfidence, and familiarity. Perhaps you’ll recognize one or more of these from your own decision-making experiences.
Many clients who seek my firm’s advice mistakenly believe they can consistently earn high returns with little to no risk. They’ve made some poor financial decisions in an attempt to avoid loss, often with the belief that what goes down must always go up. They’ve sold the investments that have gone up in price and are waiting for the “losers” to climb. In many cases, they’re retaining a less valuable business and sold one that was more profitable. Think about that in terms of real estate: Would you hang on to a house in a declining neighborhood or would you sell it?
People tend to feel safer when they follow the crowd. This inclination to follow the actions of others is known as herding behavior. Investors engage in herding when they sell because other people are selling and buy because others are jumping into the market. As a result, they tend to sell low and buy high, which is contrary to common sense and detrimental to investment performance. Warren Buffett has profited from bucking the crowd. He’s built tremendous wealth as a contrarian investor and is quoted as saying “You pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus.” I share the same opinion.
The media’s job is to maximize readership and viewership and they’ve found the best way to accomplish this is by focusing on crises and negative news. Checking the day’s financial news can lead investors to narrow their focus and lose sight of the big picture. The heated discussions about market events and the opinions of “experts” fuel emotions and lead to snap decisions based on fear and greed. Using your head, not your heart, and taking a long-term view of the market can result in far better performance with much less angst.
Some investors believe they’re smart enough to time the market and no one can tell them otherwise. Others have unbounded optimism, with a “It can’t happen to me” attitude.
Overconfident investors like these have a tough time listening to objective investment advice. Usually, they come down to earth only after they’ve had a bad experience in the market, and rebuild their portfolios to include more downside protection. Of course, the consequences of overconfidence can be worse for older individuals who have less time to recoup their losses.
Status Quo Bias
We tend to feel more comfortable maintaining things as they are and can be reluctant to make changes even when we know we should. This is called status quo bias and it’s responsible for many poor financial decisions, including failing to adopt a more conservative asset allocation as time passes. Some individuals who’ve invested aggressively for decades are very uncomfortable taking less risk and don’t change their asset allocation to reflect their time horizon or they make changes too late.
One of the biggest benefits of working with a financial advisor is having access to their objectivity and rationality with respect to investment decisions. In fact, one of the primary reasons most wealthy individuals and families don’t manage their own money is because they want unbiased advice.
Emotional and behavioral biases are largely automatic and reflexive, which makes them difficult to control. At the very least, learn what triggers an emotional reaction in you. And don’t be afraid to turn to a financial professional to help you remain cool-headed and avoid impulsive decisions you’d live to regret.
Jan 20 (Reuters) – Property and casualty insurer Travelers Cos Inc reported a record quarterly profit on Thursday as higher returns from its investments cushioned the hit from a rise in catastrophe-related claims.
The New York-based company, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index (.DJI), is seen as a bellwether for the insurance sector as it typically reports before its peers.
The insurer said it earned a core income of $1.29 billion, or $5.20 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $1.26 billion, or $4.91 per share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of $3.86 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Travelers’ pre-tax net investment income jumped 10% to $743 million, driven by higher returns on its private equity and real estate partnership.
Its net written premiums rose 10% to $7.9 billion.
Travelers said the catastrophe losses it incurred in the quarter mainly stemmed from tornado activity in Kentucky, windstorms in multiple U.S. states and a wildfire in Colorado.
Devastation from tornadoes that slammed parts of the United States in December are expected to push the insurance industry’s 2021 bill for weather-related claims well above the predicted $105 billion, industry experts have said. read more
Travelers reported a combined ratio of 88%, compared with 86.7% a year earlier. A ratio below 100% means the insurer earned more in premiums than it paid out in claims.
Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Exchange traded funds (ETF) are securities that track a sector, commodity, or an index. Unlike mutual funds that can only be traded once a day, Exchange traded funds (ETF) prices fluctuate all day, much like specific stocks being exchanged on the stock market.
According to veteran investor Darren Herft, ETFs have opened a new vista for investors as they can be traded on most stock exchanges in the same way as regular stocks.
“Exchange traded funds (ETF) can be organised to track a diverse array of investments, ranging from individual commodity prices to any number of securities,” says the Australian entrepreneur.
“They can be designed to track investment strategies!” he adds.
Darren Herft believes that the lower expense ratios coupled with lower brokerage fees makes them a lucrative option for investors looking to diversify their holdings.
“For investors looking for more liquidity, Exchange traded funds (ETF) provide a better avenue than mutual funds,” says Darren Herft.
He believes that in many ways, Exchange traded funds (ETF) hold an edge above stocks.
Darren Herft says, “Rather than holding only one asset like a stock, Exchange traded funds (ETF) hold multiple assets and that has helped their popularity.”
A single Exchange traded fund (ETF) could have numerous stocks under its umbrella. While some are nationally focused, others are global.
Darren Herft says that even within the Exchange traded fund (ETF) world, there are various options for investors to consider.
“Their utility can range from income generation to hedging or partly offsetting risks in an investor’s arsenal,” says Herft.
He thinks that more fiscally conservative investors might find Bond Exchange traded funds (ETF) to be suited to their needs and temperament. Bond Exchange traded funds (ETF) provide regular income to their holders depending upon the performance of the bonds under their umbrella.
“Bond ETFs could have government bonds, corporate bonds or municipal bonds in their ambit and unlike bonds, they don’t have a maturity date,” says Herft.
Herft says that more risk-tolerant investors might find their match in Stock Exchange traded funds (ETF). Consisting of a basket of stocks that track a whole sector or industry, they provide an investor with a uniquely diverse portfolio with established high performers coupled with newer stocks with growth potential.
“It’s a good collection of stocks and investors don’t have to worry about high fees associated with stock mutual funds,” adds Herft.
Other types of Exchange traded funds (ETF) include Industry ETFs, Commodity ETFs, Currency ETFs, and Inverse ETFs. Herft thinks that the most attractive quality of this investment vehicle is its ability to be diverse and specialized at the same time.
While the AFL aficionado believes that Exchange traded funds (ETF) can be a useful vehicle for many investors, he is of the opinion that they should not be put on a pedestal.
“As with any investment, there are pros and cons and I would recommend anyone looking to invest in anything to do their own independent research and consult experts if they can, before making a decision,” he adds.
As Calgary attempts to become a centre for a transitioning energy industry, a new hub that focuses on clean energy in the city’s downtown core has received a major boost.
Federal ministers, along with Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, were on hand Wednesday to announce a federal investment of more than $3 million towards the clean technology sector in Alberta, including more than $2.1 million to help fund the Energy Transition Centre.
Another $900,000 is earmarked for the Foresight clean technology accelerator, to provide training and investment attraction for Alberta clean technology companies.
“We are moving in the direction of seriously harnessing the potential of Calgary’s energy sector — the technology that we have resident in this sector for the future of the energy second,” University of Calgary chancellor Deborah Yedlin said. “This is our Wayne Gretzky moment, we’re asking towards where the puck is going.”
The Energy Transition Centre will take up an entire vacant floor at the Ampersand building in Calgary’s downtown core.
Barring any issues with COVID-19, officials said the plan is for the centre to open on March 1.
“This innovation hub will help small- and medium-sized businesses develop clean energy technologies that will help meet a growing global demand for environmentally-friendly products and processes,” said Daniel Vandal, federal minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada.
According to officials, the Energy Transition Centre is set to be a space to connect Canadian energy companies with clean energy start-ups, innovators and investors with access resources and experts in the field.
Federal officials hope the centre helps to create 25 new businesses in the clean energy sector over the next three years.
Calgary’s mayor said the investment provides both a boost to the city’s efforts to become an energy transition hub as well as its work to revitalize the downtown core.
“We are seeing bold, innovative and collaborative ideas coming forward that are inspired by entrepreneurial Calgarians,” Gondek said. “This will be a catalyst for success in terms of Calgary’s leadership in climate protection and energy transformation, as well as our downtown revitalization.”
According to a study on energy transition released in December, a clean energy sector could create 170,000 jobs and contribute up to $61 billion to the province’s GDP by 2050. However, the study also estimates a path to net zero would need $2.1 billion in annual investments by 2030, increasing to $5.5 billion by 2040.
Although Wednesday’s announcement was encouraging for some experts, there is some belief that policy changes and not just funding will be key to a successful clean energy sector in the province.
“There are ways that governments can use financial tools to provide guarantees that can stimulate a lot more investment to prove out new technologies, and also to make sure that support is structured fairly,” University of Calgary sustainable energy development masters director Sara Hastings-Simon said.
“We’re going to be in a world that looks very different from an energy perspective in just a couple years from now, and so we don’t have a lot of time really left to wait — we really need to be preparing now for that future.”
The investment was also welcomed by Alberta’s opposition NDP, who were also critical of the notable absence of the provincial government during the announcement.
“There is zero investment from the province in this initiative. Why is the UCP ghosting Alberta’s efforts to diversify the economy and promote clean energy?” NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Jobs, Economy & Innovation said the province wasn’t involved in the announcement because there was no provincial funding for the initiative.
“We remain committed to responsible energy development, reducing emissions and supporting jobs,” Alberta government spokesperson Tricia Velthuizen said in a statement to Global News. “Through innovation and technology, industry can continue to reduce emissions, even with increased oil and gas production.”
According to Vandal, the federal government is looking at projects with Alberta’s provincial government and that both are “aligned on job creation and diversifying the economy.”
“Those consultations and communications are occuring,” Vandal said. “All levels of government need to be on the same page.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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