Feb 062017
 

Index investing is a great way to build long term wealth. It’s simple to implement, convenient, and you are guaranteed to make the same returns as the market, minus any fees. But is it right for everyone?

Taking a closer look at Index Investing

How Indexes Are Managed

There’s a common theory that retail investors shouldn’t try to beat the market since it’s almost impossible to do over time. But I’m not sure this is true. The “index” isn’t the holy grail of stock selection. Some folks from the S&P Index Committee sit in a room and decide which stocks to include in their index based on a set of criteria with arbitrary measurements. It would be preferable if prominent investors such as Ray Dalio or Warren Buffett were on this committee, but they aren’t. Lol.

The S&P/TSX Composite index is made up of 250 stocks, chosen by the committee. It’s intriguing how only 250 stocks are selected out of the possible 1500+ on the entire Canadian stock market. The methodology for selecting stocks to be included in an index contains guidelines for minimum weight in the market, price per share, market cap, and sufficient liquidity requirements. The index is reviewed quarterly and all Index Securities that, in the opinion of the Index Committee, do not meet certain requirements are removed. And for the S&P 500 stock market index in the United States, anywhere from 25 to 50 changes are made every year. It’s basically a handful of people getting paid to actively manage a list of stocks that they believe represents the overall equity market.

The Paradox of Index Investing

From what I’ve heard, the whole idea of index investing is to match the market’s performance using a passive methodology. But if picking individual stocks will underperform the market most of the time, according to the mainstream, then how can index investing work if it’s based on a managed list of stocks that is updated every quarter based on the decisions of some individuals on Wall Street? Why are they more qualified to pick stocks for the index than let’s say, personal finance bloggers? 😀

I don’t think it would be hard for a handful of competent value and dividend investors to get together, create their own list of 250 stocks, and then beat the S&P/TSX Composite index. Last year Nelson from Financial Uproar hosted a stock picking contest for personal finance bloggers. There were 14 participants, including myself. Our average investment return for 2016 was 30%. We beat all the major indexes in both Canada and the U.S. Since an index is meant to represent the average of the stock market, then all we had to do to beat the market was to just be better than average. 😉 Easy peasy.

Continue reading »

Nov 062014
 

How Midterm Elections Affect the Stock Market

Imagine if you knew an investment strategy where the historical odds are almost 100% in your favor! 😀 Well here’s how. 🙂 Since 1942 there has been 18 midterm elections, not counting the one that just happened earlier this week. Every single time the S&P 500 has gone up after one year following each of those elections. The average stock market gain over the 12 month period following all 18 elections was 16%. 🙂 If we only look at what happened after just 6 months following the midterm elections, once again 18 out of 18 times the S&P 500 rallied, and on average by 15%. Chart below for details. (source)

14-11-midterm-election-stock-performance

As we can see, the chart shows the percentage change of the stock market index after 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months following each midterm election. The only negative change is after the 3 month period following the 2002 midterm when the S&P 500 dropped 8.7% as shown in brackets. Every other time the stock market has gone up. 🙂 This indicator has been very consistent because regardless of which party wins in the house or the senate the results of a midterm election adds certainty to the political landscape. And certainty gives confidence to the financial markets. 🙂

Continue reading »

May 242014
 

To become successful investors we have to think like marathon runners, because we have to stay committed to the long run 😀 So when it comes to the stock market the short term fluctuations are not important. Our perception of risk and performance should be placed on looking further down the road.

14-05-funny-Netflix-Marathon-TV-running

Below are two made up scenarios for the stock market. Let’s pretend they are index funds that track the overall market performance. Both indexes start at $100 per share and play out for five years. If we were to consistently invest $10,000 every year into one of these funds, which of the two scenarios would likely make us more money by the end? Take a guess 🙂

14-05-stockscenarios stock market perspective performance

If you picked the bottom red chart then congrats! Because you will probably learn something new today and become a smarter investor 😉

Continue reading »