‘Investing’ Category

Are shares headed for a crash this year?

Are shares headed for a crash this year?

…not likely

After a strong period of growth its natural to wonder whether the share market is headed for a crash at some point in the near future. This article examines the potential going forward. Read more here If you have any questions about the structure of your own superannuation or investment portfolio, please don’t hesitate to call us.  Rick Maggi, Westmount. Financial Solutions.

Are we in a property bubble?

Are we in a property bubble?

A commentary from Dr Shane Oliver…

As the China driven mining boom fades, the Australian housing recovery couldn’t come at a better time. But with interest rates poised go up over the next six-twelve months, what does this mean for property investors and borrowers? Read more here  (Rick Maggi, Westmount. Financial Solutions.)

Connecting the dots

Connecting the dots

‘Outside the Flags’ with Jim Parker

Human beings love stories. But this innate tendency can lead us to imagine connections between events where none really exist. For financial journalists, this is a virtual job requirement. For investors, it can be a disaster. Read on here   (Rick Maggi, Westmount. Financial Solutions.)

…More on the Ukraine

…More on the Ukraine

Worse for Russia, less so for the rest of us

A well balanced update on the subject. Read here (Rick Maggi, Westmount. Financial Solutions)

Why asset allocation is so important

Why asset allocation is so important

…making a comeback

If we’ve learned anything since the GFC, it’s that a well diversified portfolio of assets, including local and overseas shares, property, cash, bonds etc., is the smartest (and easiest) way to preserve and grow your capital, whether you are retired or accumulating assets. Even as the global economy recovers, thanks to the pain experienced by most of us during the GFC, its unlikely that a new found respect for asset allocation will fade anytime soon.

In this article, Dr Shane Oliver explains what asset allocation is, why it’s important to you and how to manage the economic cycles. It should be liberating to know that about 90% of the gains (or losses) investors experience in a lifetime have to do with the amount of exposure they have to various sectors like shares, property, cash etc., and much less to do with micro-decisions such as stock selection or the specific managed fund they purchase.

In other words, managing your portfolio of assets can be much less time consuming, less stressful and less expensive, if structured and maintained properly, regardless of your personal objectives and style. (Rick Maggi, Westmount. Financial Solutions)

Read here

Australia: Looking beyond the gloom

Australia: Looking beyond the gloom

Cheer-up, it’s much better than you think!

In this article, AMP’s Shane Oliver focuses on the Australian economy, which has been getting some depressing press lately. Read more here  (Rick Maggi, Westmount. Financial Solutions.)

Ukraine: Relief rally (and then some)

Ukraine: Relief rally (and then some)

A more conciliatory tone

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw no immediate need to invade Ukraine while leaving open the possibility of using force, as the U.S. weighed sanctions on Russia and offered aid to the Ukrainian government.

In his first public remarks since Ukraine said its Crimean peninsula was seized by Russian forces, Putin said yesterday he has a duty to defend ethnic Russians in the region and reserved the right to military action. U.S. President Barack Obama challenged Putin’s rationale for intervening, as Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine’s cash-strapped government during a visit to Kiev.

As a result stocks rebounded worldwide yesterday after Putin’s remarks stirred optimism that the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War is cooling.  Putin said troops stationed in Crimea, where Russia keeps its Black Sea fleet, have only been securing their bases. Gunmen who’ve seized crucial infrastructure and surrounded military installations are acting independently, he said. At the time of writing, the US Dow Jones Index had rallied 227 points to 16,395 overnight while Australia’s All Ordinaries Index is up 0.60% to 5,444.

And locally…

Perhaps more importantly, today, Australia’s quarterly GDP surprised on the upside posting an annualised rate of 2.8% – higher than the 2.5% GDP rate economists were expecting. When coupled with the announcement today, from Chinese authorities, that their growth rate ‘goal’ for 2014 will remain at 7.5%, this should add more fuel to the overall optimism currently taking hold of financial markets – great news for Westmount clients. (Rick Maggi. Westmount. Financial Solutions.)

Warren Buffett on keeping investing simple

Warren Buffett on keeping investing simple

It doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive

Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders is almost always a treat to read, even if you don’t own any shares of Berkshire Hathaway. It’s eminently readable, and he usually throws in some evergreen personal advice that anyone can use. This year is no exception, based on an exclusive excerpt just published by Forbes magazine.

In the letter, Buffett tells the story of two investments made more than two decades ago: a 400-acre farm outside Omaha and a commercial building in Manhattan. The farm is now worth more than five times what he paid. And he says the Manhattan investment produces annual income equal to more than a third of the initial investment.

His secret? He focused on the fundamentals of what the investments would produce, not on their fluctuating value. The real estate property, for instance, was adjacent to New York University, which he notes “wasn’t going anywhere.”

“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field — not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard,” writes Buffett. “If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays.”

Buffett says that for “the nonprofessional” (that’s the rest of us), there’s no need to be picking winners in the stock market, or hiring someone else to do it either. And you should definitely ignore people on TV who try to predict broader market conditions. A low-cost index fund, which captures a wide enough cross section of businesses, should be plenty. And he reveals that he’s following his own advice in his will (emphasis added):

My money, I should add, is where my mouth is: What I advise here is essentially identical to certain instructions I’ve laid out in my will. One bequest provides that cash will be delivered to a trustee for my wife’s benefit. (I have to use cash for individual bequests, because all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares will be fully distributed to certain philanthropic organisations over the 10 years following the closing of my estate.) My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s.) I believe the trust’s long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors — whether pension funds, institutions, or individuals.

So there it is. You don’t need much more than a portfolio of well diversified index funds (like Vanguard’s) along with the right exposure to various assets, which depends on your personal attitude towards risk, volatility and reward. Of course, the lesson from Buffett and others is that ordinary investing doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, if it’s not simple, you’re doing it wrong.

As most Westmount clients are already taking advantage of ‘indexing’ and have seen the results first hand, Buffett’s comments should come as no surprise, but it’s reassuring to know that you’re in good company! Rick Maggi (Westmount. Financial Solutions.)