Brave Old World: Market Cycle Investment Management

The Market Cycle Investment Management (MCIM) methodology is the sum of all the strategies, procedures, controls, and guidelines explained and illustrated in the “The Brainwashing of the American Investor” — the Greatest Investment Story Never Told.

Most investors, and many investment professionals, choose their securities, run their portfolios, and base their decisions on the emotional energy they pick up on the Internet, in media sound bytes, and through the product offerings of Wall Street institutions. They move cyclically from fear to greed and back again, most often gyrating in precisely the wrong direction, at or near precisely the wrong time.

MCIM combines risk minimization, asset allocation, equity trading, investment grade value stock investing, and “base income” generation in an environment which recognizes and embraces the reality of cycles. It attempts to take advantage of both “fear and greed” decision-making by others, using a disciplined, patient, and common sense process.

This methodology thrives on the cyclical nature of markets, interest rates, and economies — and the political, social, and natural events that trigger changes in cyclical direction. Little weight is given to the short-term movement of market indices and averages, or to the idea that the calendar year is the playing field for the investment “game”.

Interestingly, the cycles themselves prove the irrelevance of calendar year analysis, and a little extra volatility throws Modern Portfolio Theory into a tailspin. No market index or average can reflect the content of YOUR unique portfolio of securities.

The MCIM methodology is not a market timing device, but its disciplines will force managers to add equities during corrections and to take profits enthusiastically during rallies. As a natural (and planned) affect, equity bucket “smart cash” levels will increase during upward cycles, and decrease as buying opportunities increase during downward cycles.

MCIM managers make no attempt to pick market bottoms or tops, and strict rules apply to both buying and selling disciplines.

NOTE: All of these rules are covered in detail in “The Brainwashing of the American Investor” .

Managing an MCIM portfolio requires disciplined attention to rules that minimize the risks of investing. Stocks are selected from a universe of Investment Grade Value Stocks… under 400 that are mostly large cap, multi-national, profitable, dividend paying, NYSE companies.

LIVE INTERVIEW – Investment Management expert Steve Selengut Discusses MCIM Strategies – LIVE INTERVIEW

Income securities (at least 30% of portfolios), include actively managed, closed-end funds (CEFs), investing in corporate, federal, and municipal fixed income securities, income paying real estate, energy royalties, tax exempt securities, etc. Multi level, and speculation heavy funds are avoided, and most have long term distribution histories.

No open end Mutual Funds, index derivatives, hedge funds, or futures betting mechanisms are allowed inside any MCIM portfolio.

All securities must generate regular income to qualify, and no security is ever permitted to become too large of a holding. Diversification is a major concern on an industry, or sector, level, but global diversification is a given with IGVSI companies.

Risk Minimization, The Essence of Market Cycle Investment Management

Risk is compounded by ignorance, multiplied by gimmickry, and exacerbated by emotion. It is halved with education, ameliorated with cost-based asset allocation, and managed with disciplined: selection quality, diversification, and income rules— The QDI. (Read that again… often.)

Risk minimization requires the identification of what’s inside a portfolio. Risk control requires daily decision-making. Risk management requires security selection from a universe of securities that meet a known set of qualitative standards.

The Market Cycle Investment Management methodology helps to minimize financial risk:

  • It creates an intellectual “fire wall” that precludes you from investing in excessively speculative products and processes.
  • It focuses your decision making with clear rules for security selection, purchase price criteria, and profit-taking guidelines.
  • Cost based asset allocation keeps you goal focused while constantly increasing your base income.
  • It keeps poor diversification from creeping into your portfolio and eliminates unproductive assets in a rational manner.

Pitfalls of Target Date Funds… and some proposed replacements

The LinkedIn Group Communities are abuzz with the idea that, even as popular as they have become, Target Date Funds (TDFs) are just not wonderful after all…

Several fixes have been proposed. I’ve done so myself. as you know. This one is from plansponsor.com “A Better Option than Target Date Funds” and needs some cautionary commentary.
——————————
What to say when you agree that Target Date Funds are a sham, and do little to prepare 401k plan participants for retirement?

But what to shout out loud, when the fix for a low income, inappropriate asset allocation, is a “half-gainer” into a river of high risk speculations being promoted as “alternative investment” asset classes!

Note that “alternative investment” is a euphemism for those high risk mechanisms described in Investments 101 textbooks as “speculations”.

No matter how they are sliced, diced, sauteed, or seasoned, no recipe for speculations will ever produce the taste of a fundamentally sound investment.

Similarly, when considering ETF derivatives, the risk increases exponentially with each level, so a fund of funds is likely to be riskier than the funds it contains.

The article mistakenly merges all “Life Cycle” programs and products into the TDF category. There are at least three that are retirement income focused, and asset allocated to accommodate several different risk tolerances at retirement.

They are constructed with Investment Grade Value Stocks and Income ETFs. Not sexy at all, but they should provide lower drawdowns and higher income… and they can be converted security-for-security into a rollover retirement portfolio at any time.

Target date funds do not prepare us for retirement, though they may shield us a bit from maximum correction drawdowns.

My concern with them is that the inappropriate DOL/SEC focus on fund expenses and market value is (all good intentions aside) producing a low income retirement scenario that will only generate enough income if the market never, ever, goes down.

The popular Vanguard Target 2015, for example, is more than 50% in the stock market (with no signs of reducing exposure) and generating much less than 2% in spending money.

The fund holds positions in more than 5,000 different stocks (there are less than 500 Investment Grade Value Stocks)… clearly not a retirement fund in any sense of the word. The ideal “retirement fund” never invades principal, thus allowing for growth in the annual income provided.

But the portfolio alternative being proposed in the PlanSponsor.com article is absurd, or should be to any plan sponsor or fiduciary.

Commodities, private real estate, private equity speculations, and hedge funds may well be alternative asset classes BUT they are absolutely not investments. These are textbook speculations, nothing more, and certainly nothing that should ever be considered  suitable for a retirement program.

What Must Be True For A Plan To Work?

In developing a plan to attach financial parameters to your life plan, at some point you must begin a success algorithm.  

A process that studies your wishes and resources and then asks a simple question. What must be true for this to play out as I wish?  How long must I live?  How long must I work?  How much must I save?  What yield must I have?

Fair answers to this question will lead to a better process.   Find conflicts,  discover tactics, assess risks, learn about yourself,  learn about your family.   Maybe even find the must “must have.”   Like staying alive and well for x years.

All assumptions are just that.  Assumptions.  Just because they fit does not mean they will occur.  Assessing which of them “must” happen if the plan is to happen, is a crucial step.

Once the must happen parts are organized, insured, eliminated from the list or accepted as risk, move to the next step of dealing with them and the other conditions.

Introduce reality.  Find some tactics that can address the plan.  If there are many choices for a particular step, then choose.  If no tactic appears or the ones there are unavailable to you, then refine and revise that aspect of the plan to eliminate the need to deal with it.

Put the first iteration of the plan into action.  Notice areas that are not smooth or when exposed to reality, behave differently. Modify a little and let it run for long enough to learn from its shortcomings.  This observe – reassess – perfect process, will remain for all time.  Be sure it is built in.

The observe – reassess – perfect process is the “I have seen this happen, what now?” part.  You must pay attention or you may miss it.

As you go along you will find that there are parts of you that heretofore have been obscure.  How much risk is okay for me?  How much margin for error do I need?  How much time can I spend on this?  Does my spouse have the same guidelines?  Do I change as I grow older?  Am I able to adapt easily?

Find the tools that can overcome some of your shortcomings and find some that can productively assist you in reaching your goals.  Personal attributes that make plans work in the long run are objectivity, time, liquidity, support, optimism, options and decisiveness.

Planning is not especially difficult, but it is detailed for a while.  Sometimes people find it works best if they think of it as a giant experiment to learn about themselves, their world and the financial part of it.  The experiment approach works because people in this mode do not get the idea that their work here is done.

No plan, regardless of its beauty and elegance will work and so no plan is ever finished.  Success is evolutionary and follows the questioning of two aspect.  What must work? and after something does not work, What now?

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: don@moneyfyi.com

Mistakes Happen

“Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.”  — Pearl Buck

I think the quote is particularly revealing.  It certainly describes accurately what many of us know intuitively.  But not so many mistakes are recalled.  Why?

Recalling the mistake requires a course change.

Most people dislike change.  Changing a decision or action may involve admitting the early decision was flawed and for some, the ego cost is too high.  Ego and image are expensive luxuries.

I have, in the past, referred to a an Advanced Management Program study at Harvard that found that good managers do not make better decisions than weak managers except in one case.  Good managers stop flawed processes sooner.  Think back to the mid-80s and “New Coke.”  Did not work; killed quickly.

Many people do not change because they have not noticed the need.

Every decision or project must have a measurement system.  It does not need to be numbers but it must be there.  People must check and make new decisions.

Part of the reason for not noticing is not wanting to notice.  Data mining.  Emphasize the good, minimize the bad.  It is difficult to be objective with a pet project, but many pet projects have failed and at great cost.  Persistence is a value but it does not always solve the problem. Rethinking an opportunity sometimes prevents great loss.

Be objective.  The choice is to answer the question, “If I was not doing this already, knowing what I know, would I start?” You would be surprised how often the answer is “No!”  There are two “No” possibilities.  1) I would not start, and 2) I would start but with these variations.  If the second answer appears try the variations.  Evolve a right answer.

Sometimes a problem is so complex that there is no right answer, but someone has created one and sold it well.

It is like the economy or climate change or international relations.  The right answer will evolve over time.  Some blind alleys will be tried.  Some assumptions will be thrown aside.  Some new information will come available. But a better answer appears only if the problem or opportunity remains the central focus.  If proving or applying the “right” answer becomes the central focus, then much time and much observable and helpful information will be lost.

There is little value to spinning the facts to save a failing “right” answer. .

No one knows right answers to complex situations.  There are always more variables than their answer uses and some of the things that disappear matter.  Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan”  has built a fine and useful career on this point. Build solutions that are workable even when unforeseen events come to pass.  “Antifragile” in his terms.

In personal plans, the same rules apply.  Analyze – Decide – Implement – Review – Reanalyze – Decide again, and so on forever.  Do not expect perfection.  That is why we review and reanalyze.  We missed something the first time.  Learn from objective experience.

Success is not found in perfect answers. It is found in imperfect answers properly modified.

Many problems will tell you how they want to be solved, but they whisper at first.  Listen to them.

.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: don@moneyfyi.com

There Are Varieties of Unknown

“Fear the unknown” is not very good advice.

The unknown is just that, unknown.  Could be good, could be bad, could be boring.  You need to know how to make it become part of the known and how to retain the knowledge.  That will require an open mind, curiosity and some effort.

As with most exploration, there is a protocol.  One good one recognizes that information and your awareness of it falls into one of four categories.  Each has techniques for coping.

  1. The Known Known.  Things you know that you know you know.  Could be facts or details (like your wife’s birthday, the price you will pay for gold or the combination to the door at the office) or skills (all of that technical material, facts, formulae and methods) or people connections, or just useless information that you have not gotten around to forgetting yet (the backup shortstop for the 1957 Boston Red Sox.)  It will pay you to have a fairly clear idea of what fits here, because if you do not work at it, the material will fall into another category.
  2. The Unknown Known.   All the things you know but don’t know you know or have forgotten you know or that you can recall only after a trigger is pushed.  Like a joke.  If someone asks me to tell 20 jokes, I probably could not.  If we talk for a while, I can probably find 100 or more.  A lot of what we know we only know contextually.  If the context is not there, the knowledge is unavailable.
  3. The Know Unknown.  The things you don’t know and you know you don’t know them.  Many of these are things you don’t know because you don’t need to know.  Like how fuel-injection works.  There can be gradation here.  If you run a business, knowing at least something about marketing, finance, engineering, personnel management and the law will be useful.  Probably, managers know enough to recognize problems, opportunities and traps.  In most cases people can buy the required knowledge.  Just be sure you know enough to recognize when it is time to look for help.
  4. The unknown unknown.  This is why you need to stay curious and build a circle of friends and acquaintances with diverse knowledge, skills, and experience.  I learn interesting things from business owners and professionals, but I learn really interesting things from authors, artists, geologists, athletes and old people.  Stay awake.  Everyone knows something you don’t and given the opportunity, they will happily tell you.

For people in transition, like succession planning or estate planning, the unknown known area is the most productive to attack.  If you do not work hard at it, your intuitive knowledge and much of your business network will be lost and you cannot be sure that the loss will be unimportant.

I had a client write down who he knew, why he knew them, their contact information and how they connected to others.  For a year he added to it as he talked to someone or remembered a connection.  By the time he retired there were thousands of names.  His son claimed that he knew of barely half of them.  Same thing with customer or supplier foibles, or how the motor on machine 3 tends to overheat, or why we shut down in July because the heat affects our product, or which service technicians will do the best work or ………

Known and unknown unknowns are for the successors.  Parents need to make sure the Unknown knowns come to the surface and then store and communicate them.

 

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: don@moneyfyi.com

Planning Balances Life

“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.”   – Tim O’Reilly.

Road trips are not primarily about gasoline and life is not primarily about money.

There are some who find money a compelling subject and whose lives are devoted to its acquisition and retention.  Many self-made centi-millionaires had difficult childhoods and possibly the accumulation of vast wealth is in response to a deep security need.  Others play a game where money is how you keep score.  Still others are trying to become the richest person in the cemetery.

Planning improves with a complete answer to the question, “What are you trying to accomplish?”

The majority of people, the ones who hold money to be important but not the purpose of life, will be sufficiently wealthy when they have enough money to do the things they want, have enough to help others, have a margin of safety, and some left over at the end of their lives.

There are efficient ways to get “enough” money.  Vast sums normally involve greater risk, more time commitment, and lower amounts consumed in the enjoyment of the journey.  Most of us are not willing to tolerate the price to acquire great wealth.

Be careful in defining “Enough.”  Think about it in terms of the purpose of the money.  When that is clear, using only moderately complicated arithmetic you or a planner can calculate how much your “Enough number” is.  Then and only then will you choose a method to achieve it.

If you start with just a number, the problem of accumulating becomes a bit abstract and abstract is not very motivational.  When the “Enough number” means something, like live a certain way, take vacations, play golf, own a boat or cottage, educate grandchildren and provide healthcare as required, then people stick to it longer.

Plans like this take decades to accomplish.  Very few of them succeed without emotional motivation.

A more serious mistake that some people make is the mistake of choosing a method before they decide on what the method must achieve.  That tends to fail because it is even less motivating than a mere number.

A good plan deals with all aspects of life and its development.  It will provide balance among the past, the present and the future.  Some people emphasize the present at the expense of the future.  Still other emphasize the future at the expense of the present.  It is  important to know how much to save, but good objectives and methods will also tell you how much is okay to spend. The present is important, and guilt-free spending can only be accomplished when you know what is truly available.

Life planning can be smooth or bumpy, or it can fail to start entirely.  Which one is often the natural outcome of a poorly considered beginning..

 

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: don@moneyfyi.com

The Best Measure

I came upon a map of Europe recently that was organized to show how many beers you could buy in each country with one month of minimum wage.  It reminded me of my university days.

How is it possible that a calculus text book costs three cases of beer?  Madness!

The point is that if you are going to measure anything measure in terms of your most valuable or most scarce resource.  Sometimes money, sometimes time, sometimes beer.  You will manage more effectively if you are emotionally attached to the units.

I have believed former GE CEO, Jack Welsh and an idea that he had picked up in the ’60′s, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.”  I am beginning to see things differently.

The Welsh idea falls out of work done in the ’50s  by Peter Drucker and a little later by George Odiorne.  One of the early successes with it was Hewlett-Packard.  The adaptation of Management By Objectives (MBO) lasted well into the ’70s.  Marry the objectives of each individual to the objectives of the organization and goodness will follow.  Create a mission.  Set goals.  Set sub-goals that relate to overall goals.  Match people goals with the sub-goals.  Measure.  Adjust.  Measure again. Reset goals.  And so on.  The key was measure and adjust.

MBO is not common any more.  To the point that MBO is now more commonly an acronym for Management BuyOut.  How strange.

Early strong criticism of MBO came in W. Edwards Deming’s book “Out of the Crisis.”  While being a strong advocate of checking or measuring as a way to acquire knowledge, he pointed out that it was impossible to know, in advance, what was most important.  So objectives were inherently flawed.

Old systems measure what happened and compare to some target.  Deming claims that cannot work.  “The most important things are unknown or unknowable.”  The risk is that people ended up measuring things just for the sake of measuring, or worse build objectives that are easy to measure and worst retained objectives that measured well but were not appropriate.

If your objectives are known in advance and are measurable and are never changing and the people who implement never change and the world remains the same and competitors remain predictable and there is no innovative disruption, possibly MBO would work.  But, to believe that is delusional.

In Deming’s view, managers should work at transforming systems.  Find ways to deliver quality at a lower cost.  But how?

Deming was a statistician and believed that experience was not valuable until it had been analyzed and connected to the aims of the organization.  Deming further pointed out that aims and the methods used to check are intertwined and you must address both.  An aim without a method is not helpful. A method without an aim is dangerous.  Sometimes perfectly right data is misleading.  If the limits of the measuring method are unknown, then emotionally sensitive observations will dominate.  You could, for example, pay too much attention to a customer compliant.

I think the message is that old measurement systems kept track of data, possibly information.  Deming seems to be aimed at keeping track of meaning, a much more challenging task.

Meaning Matters!

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: don@moneyfyi.com

Why?

I am a proponent of not asking “Why?” Based upon new information I am prepared to reconsider.

I believe that why is a bad question any time you are discussing someone’s actions or behavior.  People have automatic negative reactions.  Why did you not do your homework, will always get a defensive answer.  Why did you buy that stock will discover nothing.  How did you come to own that stock might.

I have recently learned of another viewpoint. Last week, Hamilton, Ontario based Gerry Visca sent me an email with a link to one of his YouTube videos.  You can connect to his material here.

Gerry’s point and as it turns out, his colleague Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup fame, is that “Why?” empowers you.  You won’t do much without passion, and why can help you understand and focus that passion.

My earlier view is that why is a question that people use to dominate and so should be used sparingly.  Why has positive aspects too.  Last week, I mentioned that you should encourage children to ask why.  Their why is a method to acquire dots that they can make into a picture of their own life.

After watching the video Gerry recommended, I had another thought.  .

Why? is a strategic question. Why clarifies the strategic matching of who, what, with what, when, and where.

Why can lead to better answers about tactics.  Once you know what you want to do, tactics will be next, the how you go about it. People have trouble dealing with tactics and strategy with the same thought process.  Why can provide the transition.  It is like turning a page.

In one form, why provides information.  In another, why focuses passion and provides focus and endurance.  In yet another, it connects strategy to tactic without overlapping thoughts.

Useful!   Thanks Gerry

 

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: don@moneyfyi.com

How Much Is A Pension Worth?

Somewhere between a little and a very large amount.  It depends.

There are reasons for the difference even when circumstances appear similar.

One reason is that pension plans come in several flavors.  An employer can define how much you put in and then they match it, or an employer can define how much they will pay you when you retire.  You put in some money and they put in whatever it takes to make the promise happen.  The technical terms if you want to search about these are  “defined contribution” and “defined benefit”

In a defined contribution plan you put in money, the employer does too and then the money is invested.  At retirement, you receive a pension of whatever the pot of money will buy.  Starting at 30 with deposits of  5% from you, 5% from your employer, salary inflating at the CPI and all invested at inflation plus 2.5%,  the final pot of money will be around 5.5 times your ending salary and about  18 times your beginning salary.  Start at 30 with a salary of $50,000 and own $900,000 of capital at retirement.

Your house is probably not your biggest investment.

At today’s interest rates, $900,000 would buy a pension of roughly $60,000 per year, $50,000 with inflation protection.  $60,000 is about 37% of your final salary.  I’ll bet you would have thought more.

To get to 70% of final salary as a payout, the deposit rate will be 9.5% or the investment rate will be 5 3/4% over inflation with deposits of 5% of salary.  If yield falls short, so does your pension.

Advice:  Pay attention to how your plan is invested.  The accumulation rate matters. A lot.

The other alternative pension plan, and there are fewer of them every year, pays some percentage of your salary each year and the employer is responsible to make sure the money is there to support it.

In a “defined contribution” plan, you take the investment risk.  In a “defined benefit” plan, your employer does.  That is why most of these plans are going away.  Employers don’t like writing post-dated blank checks.

If you have a defined benefit plan, you can expect the employer will want to end your employment well before 65.  Their contributions are not exactly matched as they are in a defined contribution plan.  They are very curved to be higher at the end of the period.  Their solution, make the last part of that curve go away.  For a 64 year old, it is possible that the pension obligation for that year is close to being as much as the salary.  When they dismiss you at 57, don’t take it personally, it is just business.

Don’t ignore government benefits either.  $1,250 per month of these would cost nearly a quarter million dollars to replace.

Retirement planning should start much earlier than most people believe.  Time matters, small changes in yield matter, contribution rates matter, if you have a defined benefit plan, could the employer afford to fund any shortfalls and will they dismiss you in your 50′s?

You should have a decent awareness of how it all works.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

Change? What Change?

I have, for about 15 years, tried to understand why investment returns tend to be the way they are. I have noticed that over long periods the stock market moves in a very narrow growth trough. In my view there must be an attractor that makes the rate the one we see.

This is background.  It is insufficient to act upon as an investor.

I am reasonably convinced there is an attractor and for the Toronto Stock Exchange it is about 9 and 7/8%. This graphic shows how the total return index (Actual) has behaved from 1950 to now. Click for a larger image.

TSE attractor

The outside bands are the growth from 1920 at 9 7/8% plus or minus 3/8%. The graph is logarithmic.

There seems to be limits so that if the high band is exceeded, then the future actual return tends to be sharply lower and if outside or near the low band, it tends to bounce back. Something draws it back from excesses on either side.

It returns to some standard and that stand must make sense or it would not be so persistent. What makes it up?

I do not know with certainty but I have some candidate ideas.

  1. Since the stock index is in dollars, inflation will contribute some of the growth. Using the Bank of Canada records, that is 3.69% over the 1950 to 2013 period. Be careful with this one though, there are many ways to assess inflation and there is not a consistent set of principals used throughout the period.
  2. Productivity adds value. It is harder to know what that might be but it is likely about 2%.
  3. The size of the market matters. Population growth tends to create customers and thus business value. In 1950 there were 13.7 million of us and now there are 34.9 million. Average growth rate about 1.5%.
  4. Average wealth matters too because the stock market counts economic wealth alone. Real GDP per person has about tripled in the last 65 years. About 1.7% annually.

Total to here. 8.9%

The other could be things like:

  • Access to markets. The internet turns a local business into a global business for some products.
  • Cost reductions. Computers have replaced a lot of clerks. How many operators does Bell employ? Not many. What has happened to draftsmen? Some of these changes are picked up in productivity changes.
  • Competition because capital is not as crucial as it once was. It is possible to start a world class business and get it to the proof of concept level with much less capital than was needed to start old businesses like the car companies and the steel mills.
  • The rise of service industries is important too. Their margins per dollar sales is much higher than retail or manufacturing.
  • Better service and banking structures and better infrastructure
  • Longer lives.

Regardless of what makes it up, it seems to be a persistent number.

As an investor, it is not usually in your best interest to bet against the market long term without a very good reason. By that belief, it would be not so clever to expect yields over long times to be more than 10% less fees and costs to earn it. Call that 7% to 8%.

By the same token if you have a 40 year or longer time frame, then betting much lower may sound smarter, but you will shortchange the present. You cannot take the kids to DisneyWorld when they are 32.

There is always the systemic risk that some government or other will do something to make the attractor rate be much less. I suppose they could make it be much more but I will need to see evidence for that one. I already have evidence for the former.

Be wise. The world behaves in semi-predictable ways. Try to notice what drives it.  Notice the number, but pay attention to how that affects your meaning.

 

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.