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Invest Despite Volatility

As a noted behavioral economist and advisor to Wealthfront, Meir Statman tells us a lot about how investors react to risk and volatility. Many investors freeze up when they see headlines about market volatility. They fear they will lose money in unpredictable ups and downs. This is a mistaken assumption that stems from a classic cognitive error: extrapolating from past events. People are driven by fear of loss In this case, says Meir, people are extrapolating from their previous experiences of investment loss to the present day. A market drop, even a fairly small one, brings up investors’ memories of loss, probably from the 2008 financial crisis. Investors then conclude based on the emotional memory that their outcome will be […]

Should You Get An MBA?

If you’re considering an MBA, you face two separate but related questions: Is the degree worth it? And, How will I pay? They are important questions because so many people, including many of our clients, consider going back to school when they want to change careers. But an MBA isn’t an automatic ticket to success, and it carries a high price. A full-time MBA at a top-ranked school costs between $96,000 and $127,000 in 2011, according to Businessweek. The costs at second-tier institutions (many of them big state schools) are $30,000-$40,000 less, but that’s still hefty. The price of school is only the beginning. The opportunity costs of forgoing two years of salary and career advancement are likely to be […]

Why Your 401(k) Plan Sucks

A recent study found that the average fee on a 401(k) retirement plan was an appalling .93% of assets. The fees in the most expensive 10% of plans were even more shocking: 1.72% of assets.  That’s huge in an environment where most people hope to earn annual returns of 6% before fees. The average 401(k), meanwhile, offers 15-20 choices of funds, which have higher expense ratios than those you would find if you were buying through a brokerage for your IRA. A typical lineup: Many actively managed mutual funds, a handful of passively managed index funds, and very few ETFs. If you’re an educated investor, this sounds familiar. You always suspected you were paying a lot in fees, even though […]

Why Risk Tolerance Matters

Every year, a top-notch research firm called DALBAR releases a study that shows that the average mutual fund investor underperforms the market, often by a lot. Last year, the difference between the average mutual fund investor and the market was nearly 8 percentage points.[1] Why the difference? People are making the classic investing mistake of allowing their emotions to dictate when they buy and sell. When they open their portfolio statements to see that stocks are growing, they happily dump more money into stocks. When the market gets choppy or drops, they worry, and end up shifting money into other asset classes – like bonds or cash. “Investors succumbed to their fears (in 2011),” DALBAR reported, explaining why the markets […]