Ed Rempel Org

Ed Rempel – Not Sold on ETF’s and Index Funds

Why I Won’t Own an Index Fund or ETF

 Skilled Fund Managers

Many investors are skeptical that there exist fund managers who have skill and who can beat the index over the long-term. Other investors believe that there are fund managers who have skill, but that it’s impossible to identify them ahead of time.

There are skilled fund managers that can be identified ahead of time. I know quite a few of them. You just have to look using the right criteria.

Identifying Skill

When looking at funds, many investors take an objective approach and study recent returns, look at ratings or statistics, or try to forecast which sectors will perform well.

Other kinds of skill evaluations are more subjective and rely on insider judgments, e.g., doctors assessing other doctors, or even actors judging performances of their peers.

The evaluation of a fund manager falls somewhere in between those two approaches, the objective and the subjective. I believe that, to find the best fund managers, you have to study them, not the fund.

Start by finding fund managers that have beaten their index over their career or long periods of time. This could be in more than one fund. They do not need to beat the index every year – just over time. Then study them to find out how they do it. Is it because of stock-picking skill?

Outperforming the appropriate indexes is just one factor in the criteria. Top fund managers are usually not trying to secretly follow the index–they’re more likely to have an effective style (like value investing), and have high “active share,” which means that they’re investing in a way that differs from the index; they also often have great experience and have their own money invested in the funds that they manage, i.e. “skin in the game”.

My All-Star Fund Managers

One of my special skills is identifying all-star fund managers — it’s essentially my main focus related to investments. I’ve found around 50 fund managers over the years who I would characterize as having superior skill, and all of them have beaten their index over long periods of time.

Most of those 50 managers are on my “watch list”. I own only a handful of those funds. Although I’m resistant to the idea of sharing statistics about my own personal investments, mostly because my investment style may not be suitable for every investor, I want to emphasize that it’s possible to identify skilled fund managers early and ahead of time.

Why I Will Never Own an ETF or Index Fund

I won’t ever own an ETF or an index fund because I’m not happy with below-index returns. I choose investments based on the fund managers–I want to invest with the Albert Einstein of investors, the absolute best. ETFs and index funds don’t have fund managers, so I’m not interested. The goal of investing is to obtain the highest long-term return after fees, and a skilled fund manager provides enough value to pay for those fees and more.

Above-Index Returns

There are really two options when you’re pursuing above-index returns: one, you can find yourself an all-star fund manager, or, second, you can choose a portfolio manager who’s paid by performance fee. When portfolio managers are paid by performance fee, they’re motivated to beat their index. If they don’t beat the index, the fees are similar to ETFs. If they do beat the index, the fee pays for itself.

Getting above-index returns is all about finding skill.

Ed Rempel CFS

Ed Rempel Top Key Note Speaker at The Canadian Financial Summit

Ed Rempel is a well known Canadian “Financial” Keynote Speaker and shares his enthusiasm and many years of experience to primed financial audiences that want, need and deserve more and better insight and information. Join Ed Rempel a senior financial industry expert with a host of other top speakers at the Canadian Financial Summit. www.canadianfinancialsummit.com September 13-16 Online Event.

 

 

On Organizational Silos and How to Surmount Them

It’s been 25 years since Jack Welch, the iconic former leader of General Electric, encouraged a different way of looking at how businesses are organized and managed.

He advocated for the “boundary-less” organization, marked by faster decisions, greater employee engagement and stronger collaboration. He brought it to life as the “GE Work-Out Process,” and the underlying philosophy – the need to remove the hierarchies and silos and fragmented processes and cultures – has been popular among management gurus ever since.

Still, 25 years later, everyone seems to have a recipe for making the Kool-Aid. But why aren’t more organizations drinking?

From my perspective, Jack Welch is an excellent role model and this particular flavor of Kool-Aid is one that should go down well. In growing a 200-plus employee organization that’s a leader in construction and construction management, my firm, MBM Consulting, couldn’t have earned its reputation for innovation and quality had we been mired in a rigid and controlled environment with a trickle-through communications style.

That isn’t to say that organizational silos don’t have their place. Especially in larger organizations, they offer structure. They provide a place for specific areas of expertise to flourish. And they allow some measure of control to be exerted over the flow of information up and down the organization.

But, when the walls are too high, there’s a price to be paid. Alignment of priorities goes off-kilter. Bottlenecks occur and stifle the information flow. And decision-making in a vacuum occurs, with long-term negative implications for the business.

So, how can organizations do a better job of, if not dismantling their silos, at least reducing the height of the dividers between them?

Here are three suggestions that I’ve adapted to my own organization’s purposes.

1.     Establish a top-down culture of communication and collaboration. It takes leadership commitment, people at the top who walk the talk. I try to personify the behaviors that I want to see in my teams. It takes time and commitment to grow a culture where opinions and input from across the aisle are solicited and valued. To a significant extent, that also takes articulating that commitment in meaningful vision and mission statements that everyone trusts.

2.     Borrow from Jack Welch’s “work-out” process. The bigger the organization, the more difficult it is, of course, to coordinate across a fragmented and geographically dispersed structure and functions. A fairly simple solution is to fashion your initiatives as regular forums designed to improve cross-functional and hierarchical communications and, ultimately, push for faster decision-making. Team leaders for a tech company, for example, successfully brought together its R&D and business areas, whose combined input led to a faster process for product commercialization.

3.     Share the successes. When you’ve surmounted the barriers and joined disparate teams and disciplines together to tackle the big challenges that can affect your productivity, growth and financial performance, give credit where it’s due. You’ll strengthen the bonds of your organizational fabric and also motivate others to want to play a role in this collaborative environment.

The fact is that whether you’re the chief executive or project manager or IT troubleshooter or marketing specialist, everyone has shared goals in pushing for the future success of your organization. The more effectively you can remove the barriers from collaboration and communication, the greater your measure of success will be.   

Is Your Leadership Training Working? Here’s How to Look at It

What many organizations fail to come to grips with is the fact that “leadership” is more than just the here-and-now team that currently occupies the executive suite.

Studies by Deloitte, in fact, speak to the problem. While 86 percent of business leaders understand an effective leadership pipeline is critical to their organizations’ future, 87 percent lack confidence in their succession plans. In fact, more than half say a shortage of future leaders has hurt their business. When businesses spend over $15 billion on leadership training, something is clearly out of kilter.

A leader has more than a fancy title and a corner office. A leader is someone who can inspire and motivate others and make them eager to follow, who actively seeks advice and perspective in order to make the hard decisions, is authentic and trustworthy, thoughtful and empathetic and communicates well. A “leader” can just as easily be found on the factory floor as that corner office.

The challenge is to recognize those who have the potential and help them develop it. And then make sure that the training is working.

The problem lies in several areas.

One problem comes in the form of training initiatives styled in the one-size-fits-all manner. Further, required competencies are typically neither specific, nor necessarily aligned with what the business needs. Do you really need innovators – whatever those are – when your organization is so siloed that its future lies instead with skilled bridge builders who can bring people together?

Your culture and long-term strategy are among the most important indicators of the types of skills, capabilities and mindsets that need to be fostered in your leaders. As a result, leadership training should be grounded in the specific competencies your particular organization needs to ensure it moves forward. That way a culture of leadership can embed in your organization and ;any the foundation for success.

From there, another issue needs to be tackled: that of ensuring your program is mindful of the time-honored axiom: What isn’t measured isn’t managed. And so it goes with your leadership training. How effective is yours?

Ideally, you should use two approaches to evaluate your progress: one qualitative, the other quantitative. These approaches should tie back to your results-oriented, leadership training goals, and they should be evaluated against solid benchmarks.

Qualitative, of course, has to do with non-numeric outcomes, or impressions and feelings. To that end, feedback is key. How do your developing leaders feel they are doing? Can they identify areas where they’re falling short or exceeding expectations? And how do others who work with them feel? Are they seen as authentic leaders? This is how – through quizzes and surveys – you monitor behaviorial change so you know what skills are taking and where reinforcement might be needed.

Quantitative measures are more-by-the-numbers, hard-and-fast indicators that your program is working…or not. These can include tracking retention rates or engagement levels. Specific achievements can be monitored, as well.

Talent is a terrible thing to waste. The way to keep that from happening is to apply more rigor to your leadership training program and how you measure its outcomes. Remember that an investment in leadership training is not simply taking a product out of the box, but rather thinking about who you are as an organization and what you need. Only then can you thoughtfully program and deliver the kind of training that will impact your culture and your success for years to come.

5 Tips For AWS Savings

Many companies struggle with the cost of websites and cloud storage in this technological era, but businesses can still find many ways to save money and lower their costs. Using Amazon Web Services (AWS) can offer several cost savings and a great return on investment if you use AWS correctly.

Image via Flickr by Bruce Clay, Inc

Automate Processes

Whether autoscaling groups, automatically terminating resources, or using spot pricing, you can usually automate certain business processes. Autoscale groups by tagging resources by role or environment and setting a scheduled job to turn off and on all development and staging environments at a specified time.

By tagging resources correctly, a scheduled job can stop resources without the required tags. Spot pricing can allow a customer to use on-demand pricing for better savings.

Use Continual Optimization

In order to optimize costs in the AWS cloud, take only what you need and use automated processes to turn off what you don’t.

Scale up at the end of each month by deleting unused, unassociated, expired, and old content. Verify that you are using the instance type that best matches resources required by the application to leverage services. Try to avoid interruption by web crawling and bidding above the on-demand price. Don’t forget to add caching to optimize performance.

Understand the Economics of IT Infrastructure

AWS is constantly lowering prices for computing, storage, caching, and database services for all customers. These adjustments alone can help make AWS a more cost-effective investment. You can calculate your savings using an AWS Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator.

If you understand the economics, you can use systems such as automatic backups and easy restoration to extend site capabilities, increase the capacity for hosting in the cloud, and improve internal process while still lowering costs. The value of saved time cannot be overstated and can lead to significant savings.

Avoid Mismanagement of AWS Costs

Whether you choose the wrong pricing option, neglect to play the market, or don’t keep up with frequent changes on AWS, costs can easily be mismanaged. Using too many instances or choosing the wrong instance model can also lead to cost mismanagement. Although having automatic backups is critical, too many can increase storage costs. Evaluate your needs to make sure you’re always keeping costs down.

Properly Configure Identity and Access Management to Meet Security and Compliance Requirements

Although Amazon provides access control services to AWS customers, customers must take responsibility to properly configure identity and access management (IAM) to manage users, groups, roles, and permissions.

You can do this configuration by restricting the root account to certain tasks and creating an IAM account for day-to-day tasks. Avoid sharing account credentials and use AWS policies to assign permissions instead of creating your own. To avoid data breaches and compromised accounts, only grant the minimum required privileges. Finally, regularly review privileges to promote compliance with security measures.

By implementing any of the five tactics above, you could save money on your website and allow your company to gain its greatest return on investment possible.

Stock Market Corrections Are Beautiful… When

A correction is a beautiful thing, simply the flip side of a rally, big or small. Theoretically, even technically I’m told, corrections adjust equity prices to their actual value or “support levels”. In reality, it’s much easier than that.

Prices go down because of speculator reactions to expectations of news, speculator reactions to actual news, and investor profit taking. The two former “becauses” are more potent than ever before because there is more self-directed money out there than ever before. And therein lies the core of correctional beauty!

Mutual Fund unit holders rarely take profits but often take losses. Additionally, the new breed of Index Fund Speculators over-react to news of any kind because that’s what speculators do. Thus, if any brief little market hiccup becomes considerably more serious, new investment opportunities will become abundant!

Here’s a list of ten things to think about doing, or to avoid doing, during corrections of any magnitude:

1. Your present Asset Allocation should be tuned in to your long-term goals and objectives. Resist the urge to decrease your Equity allocation because you expect a further fall in stock prices. That would be an attempt to time the market, which is (rather obviously) impossible. Asset Allocation decisions should have nothing to do with stock market expectations.

2. Take a look at the past. There has never been a correction that has not proven to be a buying opportunity, so start collecting a diverse group of high quality, dividend paying, NYSE companies as they move lower in price— Investment Grade Value Stocks. I start shopping at 20% below the 52-week high water mark— the bargain bins are filling.

3. Don’t hoard that “smart cash” you accumulated during the last rally, and don’t look back and get yourself agitated because you might buy some issues too soon. There are no crystal balls, and no place for hindsight in an investment strategy. Buying too soon, in the right portfolio percentage, is nearly as important to long-term investment success as selling too soon is during rallies.

4. Take a look at the future. Nope, you can’t tell when the rally will resume or how long it will last. If you are buying quality equities now (as you certainly could be) you will be able to love the rally even more than you did the last time— as you take yet another round of profits. Smiles broaden with each new realized gain, especially when most Wall Streeters are still just scratchin’ their heads.

5. As (or if) the correction continues, buy more slowly as opposed to more quickly, and establish new positions incompletely. Hope for a short and steep decline, but prepare for a long one. There’s more to Shop at The Gap than meets the eye, and if you are doing it properly, you’ll run out of cash well before the new rally begins.

6. Your understanding and use of the Smart Cash concept has proven the wisdom of The Investor’s Creed (look it up). You should be out of cash while the market is still correcting— it gets less scary each time. As long your cash flow continues unabated, the change in market value is merely a perceptual issue.

7. Note that your Working Capital is still growing, in spite of falling prices, and examine your holdings for opportunities to average down on cost per share or to increase yield (on fixed income securities). Examine both fundamentals and price, lean hard on your experience, and don’t force the issue.

8. Identify new buying opportunities using a consistent set of rules, rally or correction. That way you will always know which of the two you are dealing with in spite of what the Wall Street propaganda mill spits out. Focus on Investment Grade Value Stocks; it’s just easier, as well as being less risky, and better for your peace of mind. Just think where you would be today had you heeded this advice years ago—

9. Examine your portfolio’s performance: with your asset allocation and investment objectives clearly in focus; in terms of market and interest rate cycles as opposed to calendar Quarters (never do that) and Years; and only with the use of the Working Capital Model (look this up also), because it is based upon your personal asset allocation. Remember, there is really no single index number to use for comparison purposes with a properly designed portfolio.

Unfortunately, only Self Directed 401k and IRA programs are able to use Market Cycle Investment Management.

10. So long as everything is down, there is nothing to worry about. Downgraded (or simply lazy) portfolio holdings should not be discarded during general or group specific weakness. Unless of course, you don’t have the courage to get rid of them during rallies— also general or sector specifical (sic).

Corrections (of all types) will vary in depth and duration, and both characteristics are clearly visible only in institutional grade rear view mirrors. The short and deep ones are most lovable (kind of like men, I’m told); the long and slow ones are more difficult to deal with. Short ones (those that last a few days, weeks, or months) are nearly impossible to deal with using Mutual Funds.

So if you overthink the environment or overcook the research, you’ll miss the party. Unlike many things in life, Stock Market realities need to be dealt with quickly, decisively, and with zero hindsight.

Because amid all of the uncertainty, there is one indisputable fact that reads equally well in either market direction: there has never been a correction/rally that has not succumbed to the next rally/correction—

Think cycle instead of year, and smile more often.

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Andex Chart – Free Canadian Andex Chart

The Andex Chart is probably the single most important investor – advisor learning tool and education wonder when first seen by anyone. The Canadian economy at a glance, what happened when and how things are related and can change often and without notice or comprehension.

One can analyze the information in hundreds of ways and enjoy seeing the big picture of Canada’s capital markets. There is no doubt the value of these important charts that explain a lot and allow the imagination to research and drill down from macro-economics to the local pocket book.

MONEY.CA online – Money Magazine and Money Media are excited to offer Canadian’s who buy Money Membership at $30.00 which includes Money Magazine to the door step and the monthly Money Newsletter to the desktop. When you buy a Money Membership you will receive a 2014 Canadian Andex Chart Handout and you will have caused a 2013 Canadian Andex Chart to be given away free to a child, student or teenager for a first time, eye opening experience right in the palm of their hands; and because of you. Just to let you know one Andex Chart alone will cost over $16.00 + tax.

Let’s promote financial literacy with a buy one and give one Andex Chart that makes sense and pays dividends.

info@money.ca

416-360-0000

 

When Respect Matters.

Just as there is a growing lack of respect in society as a whole, respect plays an ever-increasing role in business. In a world of ever shrinking margins, gone are the days of the quick sale and one-time customer. Securing repeat business is your future. Lasting relationships are based on respect, and business relationships are no different. Some people will argue that you don’t have to respect someone do business with them. Perhaps. But the lack of respect will erode your relationship over time like rust biding its time on the underbelly of your car.

The kind of respect that will strengthen your relationships has to do with respecting your customers, their customers, and yourself. When you respect your customers you respect their time, and that respect is manifested by your actions: showing up on time, calling ahead if you are going to be a few minutes late, returning all messages (voice and e-mail) and in a prompt time frame. Yes I know this is simple stuff, but it is stuff that is lacking in business just the same, and demonstrating a lack of respect.

Respecting someone’s time also means giving him or her full value for his or her time. The more people value the time spent with you, the more time they will spend with you. Every conversation that provides value has the power to move the relationship forward. Respect for customers is also about respecting their needs, which requires that we take the time to listen to them before offering a solution to a problem we know nothing or little about. It also requires that the solution fit the needs and not the other way around. (Hard selling has no place in a respectful relationship.) Since customers need to understand and relate to what we are saying, the onus is on us to make sure our communication is crystal clear; when questions are asked, we need to have a good answer and verify that the answer actually put the question to rest. Customers also need to know details about our solutions, which mean that we need to know every last detail about them first. Product knowledge demonstrates respect for customers and for their customers who also benefit.

We demonstrate our respect for our customers’ customers by making sure that we stand behind everything we offer and provide excellent service, because our ability to make our customers more effective and efficient ultimately benefits their customers as well. Commitments on any level need to be honored without hesitation.

It is harder to keep such commitments to others when we don’t keep the commitments we make with ourselves. When each of us commits to doing something the act of following through shows respect for ourselves, and makes the ability to keep commitments to others a simple matter of routine.

Perhaps the easiest way to see the power of respect is to look at how you react when you do not get any respect.

When people are shown disrespect, it causes them to be defensive; your whole demeanor is guarded. When that happens the relationship is no longer as open and straightforward as it should be, and that can understandably lead to a holding back on the full level of service that is normally offered in a relationship where one’s own value is fully respected. A lack of respect can cause less dialogue to take place, since why would you want to spend any more time talking to a disrespectful person than you need to? With less dialogue to feed a healthy relationship, relationships starve. A lack of respect shuts down the very communication needed to build long-term relationships. Respect, on the other hand, creates open dialogue. Effective–Two-way communication builds trust, and the more trust you have, the easier it is to move any relationship forward. Simply put, respect is the seed of trust. I trust, with respect, that you will put it to practice.

By: Mark Borkowski is president of Toronto based Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile specializes in the sale of privately owned companies to large strategic and private equity buyers. He can be contacted at mark@mercantilema.com or www.mercantilemergersacquisitions.com

The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Effective Business Communication

These two little words can change the way you communicate to your clients and prospects.  Effective communication in business always leads to more success.    It is using the right words to  to help and to facilitate learning while building relationships with your clients.  It is all about trust and rapport.

What is don’t?  It is do not  disguised under the apostrophe banner.  It sneaks into our conversations under this mask.

Here are some Don’t phrases to ponder.

Don’t care!

Don’t think so!

Don’t want to!

Don’t have an interest!

That should be enough, but I am sure you can think of hundreds, but what are these phrases?  You are right! They are negative statements and that lead to dead end streets with no way out. 

Here is the most intriguing concept. We as business  communicators will use the word Don’t  and it leads us nowhere.  I really believe that to be true.    A good example is “I don’t think you should go down that path.”  Now search how you felt or what you thought about when you read this phrase. What ever it was, it had a negative feel to it along with what ever action you would need to take to respond to it. Right!

Now think of the word DO

It is an action word to be taken very seriously. For example we seldom ask people what they don’t do but what they Do?

Do you care!

Do you think so!

Do you want to !

Do you have and interest!

Now look at the difference.  The  word Do is positive by its nature and it requires action or demands open response.   It begs the question “why” and a “because” response. 

Do you think you would learn more about your clients, staff, associates etc.  if you incorporated this word?  Why do you think so? What will it Do for you in your business communications.  Do you think it might help you make more money.

I trust you get the point. It is so easy to change this habit just say the word Do instead of don’t and let the flow of the conversation happen.  Just some fun thoughts for everyday business.  

Joe G. White is Owner of MFR Inc. “The Franchise Rainmaker”. He provides professional advice to people looking to engage in franchise ownership  He can be reached at 647-724-0742 or jwhite@franchiserainmaker.com.

success through knowledge”

Internet and E-mail Safety (and security)

In this blog, let’s look more closely at internet and e-mail scams and security.

Internet
Knowledge is power – and never truer than when surfing the net. The most common risks are viruses, key-stroke recordings, miscellaneous malware and Trojan horses.

Viruses do the same thing to your computer as they do to us – they make it sick; they can even kill it. Key-stroke recording software is installed by hackers and allows them to record all of your keystrokes with particular attention to usernames and passwords – they love banking, credit card and email access the most. Malware is also malicious as it can take many forms: from tracking your internet use patterns to copying files to a remote computer to erasing key pieces of software. Trojan horses get uploaded and then sit in wait – silently for a triggering date or event and then allow the hackers to take control of your computer and use it for attacking other computers.

The only 100% protection against these threats is don’t surf the net! Now let’s get into reality – hardware and/or software firewalls together with anti-virus and anti-malware software.

Hardware firewalls are called routers and they act as a first line of defence between the internet and your computer and are relatively inexpensive to acquire and are not very complicated to install. Software firewalls are generally a second layer of protection after the hardware firewall. Most reputable commercial ISPs (Internet Service Providers) provide this as part of their customer offering and may reside either on their servers or on your computer.

Anti-virus and anti-malware software is sold by several companies (Norton, AVG, Kasperski, F-secure and MalwareBytes to name but a few). Most suppliers offer free versions of their protection suites but remember if it is free, there is a reason! They are in business to make money and the free versions are teasers only. They do help of course, but don’t provide complete protection, so beware of freebies! Running “in the background” on your computer, they analyse every attempt at both inbound and outbound communication over the internet for suspicious software code and either block or delete access to outsiders. You can control all of these functions through a “control panel” that is installed with this software.

Be very selective on the websites that you visit. Some categories are higher risk for spreading these problems than others – dating sites, erotic picture and video sites together social media are the greatest sources of problems – avoid them!

E-mail
Rule No. 1 – if you don’t know the sender or you didn’t sign up for any e-mail notifications from stores or websites, DON’T OPEN IT! The “Nigeria” scams and grandchild scams are run constantly on e-mail as are Lottery scams of various types.
Rule No. 2 – see Rule No. 1.
Rule No. 3 – ensure you have a full-version of both anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your computer that gets automatic signature updates – preferably daily – to stop evolving threats. If you follow these 3 rules, you are going to be safe 98% of the time.

The final 2% is chain-mail – the electronic version of old chain-letters – if you get one, regardless of the identity of the sender, do not forward it – even if it is from a close relative or friend – don’t!

General
A great reference book on scams is from the Competition Bureau of Canada – The Little Black Book of Scams – click here to get there immediately. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has a website that is all about various scams and identity theft. Click here – Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Home Page.