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Podcast Episode – Meir Statman
With the Recent Events in Ukraine, Should I Make Changes to My Portfolio?
Embracing the Evidence at Anheuser-Busch – Mid 1980s
529 Best Practices
Tag: Larry Swedroe
Index Funds: 40+ Years and Counting
“Recency” is one of the most insidious behavioral biases that can impact an investor’s ability to Take the Long View® with their investments. The name alone suggests it’s the opposite of what we’re about here at Hill Investment Group.
Those ruled by recency will disregard decades of data, and instead allow only the latest, relatively random data points to skew their view. A prime example occurs whenever purveyors of traditional active investing revisit a perennially misleading script that goes something like this: “If too many investors invest in index funds (i.e., if the market is left to run on auto-pilot), there will be nobody left to set proper pricing. Investors should revert to an active investment strategy, before it’s too late.”
Again, the argument is nothing new; if index funds were the only investment available, markets would indeed stop functioning. But with every new season, the traditional active camp seems to come up with a fresh batch of stats that supposedly signal that the end of index investing is nigh.
Recently, the focus has been on index investing inflows – or, more accurately, their reduced volume. So far this year, the deluge of dollars mostly heading out of active investing and into index/passive funds has decreased to a more orderly flow compared to 2017.
Is index investing on the wane? In this related piece, we share a quibble we do have with index investing, and why we typically favor a similar, but more direct approach for capturing scientific sources of expected return. But before anyone concludes it’s time to get more active at timing and selecting specific stock picks, here are three, recency-dispelling reads we suggest:
“Index Funds Are Going to Be Just Fine,” Barry Ritholtz, ThinkAdvisor
Our favorite excerpt: “Why must we complicate what is otherwise a simple explanation? Investors have become a little more financially literate; indexing is maturing as an investment style. Those who are hoping for a major reversal of a trend that has been 40 years in the making are very likely to be disappointed.”
“Indexing Fuss Unwarranted,” Larry Swedroe, ETF.com
Our favorite excerpt: “While it’s certainly possible that, at some point, passive investing could reach such a dominant share that price discovery would be limited, clearly, we are nowhere near that level, and almost certainly won’t be there for a very long time.”
“The growth of index investing has not made the markets less efficient,” The Economist
Our favorite excerpt: “Perhaps the growth of indexing has robbed the world of outstanding stockpickers. But it seems more likely that it has put a lot of bad managers out of business … And it is not as if the buying and selling of stocks by informed investors with opinions has ceased. The turnover of stocks has actually increased over time. Active investors are more active than ever.”
Illustration of the Month: How To Play the Winner’s Game
I’m obsessed with tennis. It’s mostly a healthy obsession, but this time of year, I start to slip. Why? Wimbledon, the finest tennis tournament in the world, is about to begin. It’s steeped in tradition, and yet its host, the All England Lawn and Tennis Club, isn’t afraid of innovation and science.
Whenever there’s a way to combine statistical analysis, tennis, and investing, I’m all over it. That’s why my life was transformed nearly 20 years ago, when Larry Swedroe did exactly that in the brilliant introduction to his first book (emphasis mine):
“After making what I thought was a great shot, a forehand that landed right in the backhand corner of my opponent, my teaching pro said, ‘That shot will be your worst enemy.’ While it was an exceptional shot, he explained, it was not a high percentage shot for a good ‘weekend player.’ Remembering how good that shot felt, I would try to repeat it. Unfortunately, I would be successful on a very infrequent basis. The pro asked me if I wanted to make great shots or would I rather win matches? (I thought that one was the cause of the other.)”
Playing the winner’s game is what the pro was getting at as he cautioned Larry about falling in love with his special and rare shot. Winning calls for consistent and disciplined play. When players go for shots beyond their skills, they’re playing a loser’s game. This decades-old analogy goes back to a book by Dr. Simon Ramo, Extraordinary Tennis for the Ordinary Player.
With this background, you’ll know why the following ad is so meaningful to our firm. As a minor sponsor for the April 2018 Men’s Clay Court Championship, Hill Investment Group was proud to support an event that has been in play for more than a century – and held near our Houston office since 2001. As our sponsorship ad expressed, we enjoy helping investors play a winning game, by embracing a “long view” game plan.
Video: Larry Swedroe and Matt Hall
Larry Swedroe, author and Director of Research for The BAM ALLIANCE, and Matt Hall, President of Hill Investment Group, discuss Larry’s latest book: Think, Act, and Invest Like Warren Buffett on February 5th, 2014 at the Saint Louis Club in St. Louis, MO. Nearly 70 guests had the opportunity to learn about why Larry wrote the book, hear some key lessons of investing, and ask questions.