Why tech shares are the worst investment today

Tech shares
 
One of the worrying trends we’ve seen lately is an unhealthy obsession with tech shares. Sure, their performance has been fabulous over the past decade and they’re accomplished and well known businesses, but that does not guarantee their success in the future.

Most people have already heard the reasons tech companies are hot right now. What you probably don’t hear are the arguments for why to avoid them. That in itself should be a red flag.

To play devil’s advocate these are 9 reasons to avoid over-investing in tech.
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What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies - taking photo of a bitcoin
 
We recently wrote about why we think blockchain has the potential to transform all sorts of industries including our own but also why bitcoin may not be a great investment right now.

Markets have a tendency to get ahead of themselves when it comes to valuing new technologies. Sometimes it’s not the early bird who gets the worm, but the second mouse that gets the cheese.

This leads us into a related topic – cryptocurrency!

We have been asked by quite a few clients what they are, how they differ and how an initial coin offering (ICO) works?
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How to invest in Bitcoin (if you insist!)

Bitcoin
 
Following on from our discussion on whether you should invest in Bitcoin and the difference between investing and speculation, we share our tips on how to be a smarter speculator.

We know Bitcoin probably got mentioned at least once at your office Christmas party this year. It did at ours.

You might be feeling down that you missed out or envious others around you have hit the jackpot. That’s a normal feeling. Those types of emotions are the fuel that drives speculation.

Our advice on speculating in Bitcoin (if you can’t resist the temptation) is the same as the advice we would give on investing in any other undiversified risky asset like individual shares, equity crowdfunding or art. You should still follow a sensible investment process to give you the best chance of success.
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The role of shares, bonds and gold in your portfolio

Coming together
 
Different asset classes have different jobs to do in your portfolio. Understanding what those jobs are will help you make sense of why all assets don’t rise at the same rate or the same time.

The 3 broad assets in Stockspot’s portfolios are shares, bond and gold. We explain the role of each in your portfolio and how they can balance each other at different times of the market cycle to smooth your returns and keep you invested to help reach your goals.
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How to safeguard your investments

Protecting your investment portfolio
 
This year market volatility has been almost non existent. Share markets have risen with little sign of worry.

The US share market has only moved by 1% or more 8 times this year, the fewest since 1964. It has also gone more than a full year without a 3% move, which is the longest stretch on record.

Calm markets means 2017 may go down in history as the most boring year in market history.

Number of S&P 500 Index moves per year

This is of course fantastic news for investors who have enjoyed great returns and very few hiccups along the way. However, history suggests the current period of market calm won’t last forever. Chances are we are getting closer to the next period of volatility, even if we don’t know exactly when it will take place.
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Should I borrow to invest?

Should I borrow to invest
 

Whether you’re borrowing to invest in property, shares or a diversified portfolio of ETFs, the principles of borrowing to invest (also known as leverage or gearing) are similar.

Why would I borrow to invest?

Borrowing gives you the ability to invest more money than you currently have saved.

The basic idea is you can benefit if the value of what you’ve invested in rises more than the the interest you pay on the borrowed money.

People usually consider borrowing to invest for a couple of reasons:

  • To access the increase in the value of an investment over time without needing to pay for it entirely upfront, ie a house.

  • To access tax benefits – sometimes you can get a tax deduction for interest payments on the loaned amount when the interest is larger than any income earned. This is known as negative gearing.

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Investment update and portfolio changes: November 2017

Performance update - Nov 17
 

For the latest performance update – Stockspot: 4 years since our launch

We’re pleased to provide our 3½ year performance update and explain some portfolio changes we’re making to reduce risk and keep the Stockspot portfolios in line with client goals.

This update will cover:

  • Portfolio performance

  • Our approach to reviewing the asset allocations

  • Changes to the portfolios and why we’re making them

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Property investment falls out of favour

Property - Melbourne
 
We launched Stockspot Themes in April 2016 and became the first digital investment adviser in the world to offer a range of curated investment options that clients could use to personalise their portfolio. We’ve developed sophisticated portfolio tracking and risk management software to enable us to manage this.

Stockspot Themes have given our clients access to 1,000 different portfolio combinations and allowed them to include a range of different markets and assets.

We’ve carefully selected 14 theme options from over 150 different ETFs available on the ASX. These ETFs complement our model portfolios and offer additional diversification benefits across markets, assets, sectors and personal preferences (like socially responsible investing). You can see our methodology for selecting the best ETFs in our annual ETF report.

We’ve seen great take-up of Stockspot Themes, particularly from our individual and SMSF clients that want to have more control over where they are invested.
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Over 4,000 funds analysed in our 5th Fat Cat Funds Report

2017 Fat Cat Funds Report

For the latest Fat Cat update – How to pick the best super fund

For the past 5 years, Stockspot has been campaigning to raise awareness of the impact of Fat Cat Fund fees on everyday Australians.

This year, our Fat Cat Funds Report looked at a record 4,102 funds to assess how they have performed after fees since 2012. By shining a light on the Fat Cat Funds our aim is cause some changes either by funds reducing their fees, by encouraging consumers to consider their options, or by Government intervening to improve education, awareness and transparency.
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Investing when you’re over 50

Investing in your 50's
 
It would be great if everyone started saving money early to take advantage of compound returns but it’s easy to see how people fall behind. The typical financial lifecycle involves saving up for a house deposit, having children, and all of the expenses that come along with raising a family.

Meanwhile for many people in their 50s and 60s, compulsory superannuation didn’t kick in until much later in life…

Plenty of parents reach the empty nest phase of their life once the kids are out of the house and slowly realise they are completely unready for retirement. The average superannuation balance for someone who is 50-54 in Australia is $142,644. That falls a long way short of the amount needed to generate a comfortable income in retirement.
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How to invest when markets go sideways

Sideways market
 
Sometimes markets don’t go up or down, they go sideways. Sideways markets can last weeks or even years. They can be particularly frustrating for a long-term investor.

As time passes and markets don’t go anywhere, it can be tempting to change your investment strategy or switch into cash. However like driving in heavy traffic, switching lanes is unlikely to get you there faster. The best investors resist the urge to change strategy during these times because they understand the secret to sideways markets.
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Why it pays to be a (lazy) investor

Better to be a relaxed lazy investor
 
In most of life’s pursuits, the harder you work the better your results. Work-out more and the fitter you become. Study harder and you can get better grades.

People apply the same logic to investing. If you watch and listen to as much market news as possible you can get ahead of everyone else. There is no shortage of share market newsletters, tipsters and TV commentators to help give you an ‘edge’ over the millions of other investors out there.

Since 1995 all the people reading, researching, charting, analysing, scouring the market for opportunities and actively trading have lost out to those investors who have done absolutely nothing. In fact those so called ‘lazy investors’ made triple the returns of their active counterparts.
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Blame it on the ETFs

ETFs - punching bag
 
They’ve been described as worse than communism, and more dangerous than the misuse of antibiotics. Some would have you believe that they cause trading glitches, are making the market dumb and dysfunctional and are leading the world toward imminent catastrophe.

It’s no coincidence that the groups most threatened by the groundswell of money into ETFs and index investing are also their staunchest and most vocal opponents. Any time there is hostile press on ETFs, you can be sure the author behind it is an active fund manager.

The irony is that the job of active fund managers is to identify and profit from market anomalies and trends. Yet they are ostriches in the sand when it comes to the colossal shift in their own industry.

The trend out of active management into indexing started gaining pace in the early 2000s. The pace has been accelerating since 2009. Regulatory change around best interests duty and growing awareness of the benefits of low-cost investing have both contributed to the success of indexing and ETFs.

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Our wealth management principles

Stockspot wealth management principles
 
Stockspot has a set of principles that guide how we advise clients and invest their savings. This is our DNA and what sets us apart from other products and investment managers.

The importance of compounding returns

Market timing or picking the right stocks is almost impossible to do consistently, even for experts. It is far more important to be invested for a sensible amount of time across a broad range of different investments.

The assets you’re invested in determines 89% of your returns. Therefore the investment strategies we recommend are designed to weather different market conditions by combining assets in the best possible combination based on your personal financial goals and situation.

We focus on helping clients achieve long term compounding returns without needing to time the market or pick individual stocks.
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The importance of Australian shares in your portfolio

Australian shares - ASX
 
Over the past 5 years US shares delivered a whopping 21% per year compared to a more modest 11% per year from Australian shares. This has led to a swarm of investors flocking into overseas shares and global ETFs.

With all of the talk about Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook you could be excused for thinking that investing in Australia was no longer the thing to do.

In spite of the excitement around overseas markets, Australian shares still form a key part of our portfolios. We believe they should remain the dominant growth asset for Australian based investors.

There are many reasons to continue owning Australian shares but here we’ll focus on two.
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Unpopular ETFs surge ahead

2017 Australian ETF Report
 
It’s that time of year when Stockspot releases its annual Australian Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) Report which analyses and compares over 150 ASX-listed ETFs.

The report is now in its third year and each time it grows as more ETFs are launched on the ASX. We think that’s a great thing as it means more people are embracing index investing for their portfolios and superannuation.

The ETFs we’ve carefully chosen for the Stockspot portfolios and themes continue to do well. We recently celebrated our third anniversary and you can read how our portfolios have performed here.

If you’re interested in reading about the different ETFs available we recommend you download the full report. Here are some of the main findings from this year’s report.
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Finding freedom from the Bank of Mum and Dad

Parent and child - Future Affordability Report
 
Financial freedom is the most important factor in our ability to achieve our lifestyle goals and lead our life the way we should reasonably expect to. Yet, this is no longer guaranteed for future generations.

According to the 2016 HILDA Report, future generations of young people in Australia are, for the first time, set to be worse off than their parents.

To help understand parents’ views on their children’s financial future, Stockspot has partnered with Galaxy Research to produce the Future Affordability Report. We looked into parents’ concerns about young people’s finances, the cost of housing and living, and what do they think the fallout will be in later life for their children and themselves.
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How reliable is past performance?

Rear view mirror
 
If you’ve ever read the fine print of a product disclosure statement (PDS) for a financial product, you’ve almost certainly seen ‘The past is not a reliable indicator of the future’. Admittedly, we even put it in the Stockspot documents because we’re obliged to do so.

But in fact past returns can give you a much better idea about future performance than almost anything else. Markets tend to move in cycles so when one asset does well for a while that’s almost always followed by a period of doing worse. It’s known as mean-reversion and it’s why we rebalance our client portfolios out of investments that are up, into ones that have lagged.
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Stockspot celebrates 3 years…

Stockspot celebrates 3 years
 
This month marks the third anniversary since we started investing for clients. We’re humbled to have the opportunity to help thousands of Australians grow their savings every day.

Today our clients range from 18 to 80. They come from Alice Springs in the centre to Kalgoorlie in the west, Swansea down south in Tasmania and Townsville in North Queensland.

As we promised on day one, our investment philosophy and strategy haven’t strayed. Rather than trying to time the market or pick stocks (an expensive and dangerous endeavour), we’ve generated our consistent returns with a strategy based on decades of evidence and by not changing course.
We strongly believe that the most sensible investment advice for most people is to avoid trying pick winners, invest in a broad mix of assets, keep your costs low, rebalance occasionally to reduce risk and don’t worry about what happens in the short term because it’s meaningless noise.

This is a philosophy I’ve learned from my own years of investing and it’s one echoed by industry veterans like Warren Buffett, Charles Ellis, Burt Malkiel, Daniel Kahneman and many others…
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What are the best dividend ETFs?

Dividend ETFs and Dividend Harvesting
 
A client recently asked us if Stockspot would consider adding a pure income producing ETF to our portfolios to take advantage of ‘dividend harvesting’. We thought it was a great question so decided to share the answer with everyone!

Dividend harvesting is a strategy that involves buying shares just before they pay dividends and selling them just after dividends have been paid. At face value this sounds like a very sensible way to collect dividends without having to hang onto shares for too long.

However, like any investment strategy that involves timing your entry and exit points, dividend harvesting has risks. The biggest risk with dividend harvesting is shares tend to fall in price on the day they pay their dividend. Therefore any amount you gain in the dividend is likely to be lost on capital returns.
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How portfolio rebalancing works

Rebalancing scales
 
Portfolio rebalancing is one of the most important jobs of an investment adviser. It involves selling investments that have grown faster than others in your portfolio and buying more of the investments that have fallen behind.

Portfolio rebalancing helps reduce the risk you need to take to earn a certain level of return. Portfolio rebalancing can be expensive, time consuming and emotionally exhausting to manage yourself. This is why rebalancing is hard to get right as a DIY investor.
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3 fintech ingredients to make 2017 great

Ingredients for Australian fintech
 
At the start of 2017 I was appointed to the ASIC Digital Advisory Committee which consists of members from the fintech ecosystem and government. I hold strong opinions on the topic on good financial advice so naturally I attended my first meeting eager to contribute!

The ‘Fintech in Australia’ report by Frost & Sullivan predicts revenue from the Australian fintech sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 76% and reach A$4.2 billion by 2020. The potential of fintech to create competition, innovation and jobs for a 21st century Australian economy is huge and worth campaigning for.

So after hearing the views of many fintechs, government and consumer advocacy groups, here’s my top 3 ingredients to drive Australian fintech forward in 2017.
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