Build organizations from the top down and keep an eye on manager-to-employee ratios.
As you move toward your goals, it's only a matter of time before problems arise. But there's no reason to panic or be deterred by these bumps in the road. Developing solutions for problems is how many companies improve. In other words, most problems will end up providing fuel for your machine.
However, if you hope to turn problems into advantages, you need to design your business so that problems get noticed and solutions get implemented as quickly as possible.
One of the best ways to build your organization is from the top down.
You can think of a good business structure as being the opposite of a building – your foundation is located at the top, which means that, first and foremost, you need to make sure you have great managers.
Every manager should be trustworthy and have high standards. If this isn't the case, their weaknesses and poor performance will eventually spread to their staff. On the other hand, managers who show their appreciation for excellent work, and have strong oversight and strict quality control, will lead teams of employees who rise to their level of great performance.
So that problems can be dealt with swiftly, each department should be given a certain amount of self-sufficiency and control over the resources they require. If bureaucracy is keeping departments from acting fast, your teams simply won't be able to do their job.
Finally, it's also wise to keep a balanced ratio of managers to staff. A good rule of thumb is not to exceed a ratio of ten to one.
The ideal ratio is closer to five employees for every manager, as this will give your managers the best chance of having meaningful relationships and mutual understanding with each employee. But rather than setting strict rules on team sizes, you'll get the best results by assessing each manager's capabilities and proceeding accordingly.
So now you have a basic idea of the principles the author has used to find amazing success. It's up to you to start putting them to use and turning your organization into a constantly evolving and constantly winning enterprise.
Some of my friends invest in land-related structured products that lock up their money over a long time. Some others invest their money in alternative schemes. Always put your money in traditional instruments such as stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds and money market funds.
Investing in a long-term affair. Anyone that tells you otherwise isn’t a real adviser. Your returns are a function of cost and risk. The riskier your instrument, the lower your returns. The costlier your investments, the lower your returns. This is pretty straightforward.
There is no magic formula in investing. Diversification allows you to reap benefits of lower risk with the same expected return over time. The cheapest way to diversify is to put 2/3 of your money in stocks and 1/3 in bonds. Some recommend a 60/40 split. This is fine too, as long as you rebalance your portfolio annually. The proof of the benefits of diversification is mathematical. Giants in the financial industry have also urged individual investors to adopt such a simple investing rule. I recommend two books that you need to read; Common Sense on Mutual Funds and The Intelligent Investor.
My opinion is that you do not need a financial adviser. They increase your investing cost. The rules of investing are relatively simple. You do not need to outsource this responsibility. First, select low-cost funds. On average, managed funds charge at least 2% over passion exchange-traded funds. This reduces your overall returns in the long run by a gigantic amount. Beware of unique fee structures. Some fees can be hidden in sale charges, some in wrap accounts.
William F. Sharpe, a Nobel Laureate in Economics said: “The first thing to look at is the expense ratio”. You will definitely earn the highest returns in a low-cost index fund. An index fund that mirrors the market will also likely outperform any funds in the long term. In fact, more than 90% of funds fail to outperform the benchmark index. Funds with high expenses will underperform their benchmark. Funds performance typically exhibit mean reversion. In other words, the worst fund of the year will more likely outperform the best fund of the year in future. To me, past performance means nothing. I will always only look out for index funds with the lowest costs.
Within the equity portion of your portfolio, simply invest in low-cost index funds in the U.S and the U.K and in Asia. Avoid synthetic exchange-traded funds because there is an additional layer of counter-party risk. Actually, you only need to hold a couple of funds in your entire lifetime. If you hold too many funds, it can be difficult to manage the exposure. Many of your funds will overlap significantly.
Factors affecting commodities comprise weather, geopolitical developments, supply constraints in physical production, unanticipated increases in demand as a result of prosperity in emerging markets, and incidents that create political or economic turmoil.
Recent crisis have shaken investor’s confidence in equities. This motivate investors to explore alternative investments in commodities. What are some ways an investor can invest in commodities?
- Exchange Traded Funds provide the cheapest way to buy commodities exposure. These ETF track major commodities index
- Exchange Traded Notes track non interest paying debt and the credit risks of commodities contracts. Payoff to the ETN depends on the counterparty risk of the futures issuer
- Unit trusts have higher fees than ETFs as they typically employ discretionary management methods to invest in commodities or companies in the businesses related to commodities
Commodities have unique characteristics. Metals are seen as safe haven for investors and demand can be driven by the stability of the value of money. Soft commodities such as grain, crops and coffee generally react well to extraordinary detrimental events.
Agriculture sector is less dependent on economic conditions and more dependent on factors such as global weather. The low correlation (even lower than bonds) is an important tool for portfolio allocation. Commodity prices can also hedge inflation.
For long term investors, commodities will be a strategic allocation tool for the portfolio due to the low correlation with equities. For short term tactical allocations, commodities rise when inflationary pressures increase.
Why investors need to know about indices.
Research by London’s Cass Business School shows that randomly chosen portfolios — that might as well have been picked by monkeys — are overwhelmingly likely to beat market-cap-weighted indices. But most monkeys failed to match equal-weighted indices, or indices based on most sophisticated measures to limit risk.
So the hierarchy is that simple equal weighting indices beat monkeys, who beat value-weighted indices like the S&P, which beats the average active manager (who nonetheless complains that the S&P benchmark is unfair).
Yet our money is still mostly run by active managers, while none that I am aware of is run by monkeys. For these reasons and much more, we need to know more about indices.
Mr. Markowitz’s comment on this: “One lesson from 2008 is that if it’s very complicated and you don’t understand it, maybe you shouldn’t buy it.”
Anyone with a simple rule that required them to keep 40 percent in bonds and 60 percent in stocks would have “rebalanced” — bought stocks — near the market’s nadir five years ago, he points out. “Those who were too clever by half suffered tragic
Investors commit money and get exposed to risk. If the market moves in your direction, the hedge fund manager takes a large chunk of your wins. If the market moves against your direction, the manager is insulated from losses. He still takes a fee from you.
Benjamin Graham said that anyone can design a strong portfolio with just stocks and bonds that are representative of the market.
A doing nothing policy is always better than an active strategy. As long as you make a decision to move money, someone charges a fee. If I may summarize, always invest with the lowest cost instrument - index funds.
First, invest in an index fund. Never ever buy any collective instruments if possible. Any active managed fund will cost you an arm and a leg compared to a passive index fund. Run from anyone who tells you you can beat the market. No one can. If there is actually a fund with a superior strategy, it’s never going to last long before the market neutralizes it. Most likely you earn normal returns after cost.
Do not fall for simulated results. Be aware that most fund houses present results from a pool of funds they select – we call it survivorship biases. No one ever beats the market. There are great investors who existed in the past. But after taking their returns, adjusted by risk, the risk adjusted return also cannot beat the market over the long term.
Just buy the index fund. Please do not fall for tricks and sweet talkings.
How do I shop for insurance by myself? I don’t even know what is needed?
There are just a few categories of insurance.
- Health insurance mitigates the risk of falling sick – I recommend to upgrade to cover private hospital expenses
- Life insurance – I recommend to cover your projected income until the age of retirement. By retirement you won’t need insurance because your savings is supposed to take over. Frankly, if your family is wealthy enough to survive should you pass on, forget about this.
- Critical illness – I like this. Buy this because you don’t want to be a drag to your family when you are critically sick. Note that both euthanasia and suicide is illegal in Singapore
Honestly, the products that an adviser sells you won’t be able to help you retire well. You need to seek higher income and, perhaps, work harder.
I get it that many professionals tell you they have insights. They print beautiful brochures. Anyone can report good results. Think about it this way, you came in 20th in a class of 40th. How do you show you did well? Well, you can say you were top 5 of those who went to the same club as you did. You could also say you were first in the entire neighborhood you stay in. These could be facts. But it does not take away the fact that you only came in 20th.
- Fund performance is hypothesized to be random
- Cost and fees are everything. Buy the cheapest that gives you the broadest diversification
- Please buy funds yourself, direct, not through advisors. They take a big cut
Rule 1: Fees should be kept minimal. Free is better than 0.1%. 0.1% is better than 0.5% and in turn, 0.5% is better than 1%. In this light, buying from exchanges make more sense than from anyone else. Period.
Rule 2: Run away from ongoing charges. Sales platforms like charge you a fee on AUM (asset under management) is simply disgusting. They will all be disrupted by Fintech soon. The only persons that deserve a fee is the manager.
Rule 3: Diversify. Diversification is scientific. Read this set of slides. Buy into an index fund. A non-traded index fund is better than an ETF. A physical ETF is better than a synthetic ETF.
Rule 4: Re-balance annually. Not anymore or less. Stop reading substandard blogs and start taking the CFA curriculum if you are genuinely interested in finance. You won't get a job in the financial industry because you passed all 3 levels, but at least you won't get cheated.
The MAS money sense website has one of the best and most updated information on investments. Please read it.
My personal advice:
A. Spend money on Uber. Save time. Don't spend money on expensive investment intermediaries
B. Spend money outsourcing work. Don't do administrative work yourself and waste all the time and effort learning nothing. Rest more often. Think deeper. Read FT.com, take the CFA curriculum.
C. Enjoy life. Eat better. Do not take anything to sales platforms. At best, pay a small commission to the exchange and an electronic broker.
Nevada’s pension fund is invested in stocks and bonds that are all in low-cost funds that mimic indexes
Nevada’s pension fund is invested in stocks and bonds that are all in low-cost funds that mimic indexes. Mr. Edmundson rarely makes more than one change to his portfolio every year. News headlines don’t matter much to him, whether it’s local or global.
Mr. Edmundson’s secret isn’t a complex formula or inside information on the markets, instead his strategy is not to outperform the market, but instead keep expenses low. He’s stated numerous times that his firm is “bare bones”, when it comes to expenses.
Instead of racking up expenses Mr. Edmundson prefers to save every penny his fund has. This is why he doesn’t have expensive office furniture, or high end perks, nor does he even buy lunch. He has stated that he doesn’t want to spend $10 every day in order to have lunch.
Despite his frugalness Mr. Edmundson’s funds over 1 year to 10 year periods ending on June 30, have shown greater returns than many of America’s largest public pensions, such as the New York Public Employees’ Retirement system, or The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).
Is doing nothing, really better than doing something?
In light of Nevada’s high returns, other state pension funds have taken note of Mr. Edmundson’s strategy, and the spokeswomen for CalPERS, which is valued at $300 billion compared to Nevada’s $35 billion, said that Nevada reduces the complexity, costs and risks in a portfolio.
For that reason, a big number of famous public pension funds have now taken up Nevada’s strategy, as numerous pension funds are dealing with low cash reserves and reduced interest rates. Even California’s $300 billion public pension fund has decided it would cut ties with 50% of firms that are handling its money.
Accordingly, compared to a decade ago nearly half of US public pensions are now in low-cost index funds. Many investors are now “migrating towards Nevada”, states says Stephen McCourt, who is the co-CEO at pension investments consultant Meketa Investment Group Inc.
However, other investors disapprove of Nevada’s do nothing approach. Mr. Chattergy is the pension chief investment officer for Hawaii and a friend of Mr. Edmundson’s, who disagrees with Mr. Edmundson’s approach. Unlike Mr. Edmundson’s approach, Mr. Chattergy relies on a myriad of investment market strategies, which have thus far been successful in getting him returns comparable to Nevada.
Should you turn funds passive?
In 2005, when Mr. Edmundson was brought onto the Nevada pension plan as an analyst, almost 60% of the funds stocks were in indexes. After becoming Chief investment officer in 2012, Mr. Edmundson did something unprecedented, by turning the fund more passive. By 2015, Mr. Edmundson had fired ten external managers, and put all of Nevada’s bonds and stocks into passively managed funds.
unprecedented, by turning the fund more passive. By 2015, Mr. Edmundson had fired ten external managers, and put all of Nevada’s bonds and stocks into passively managed funds.
unprecedented, by turning the fund more passive. By 2015, Mr. Edmundson had fired ten external managers, and put all of Nevada’s bonds and stocks into passively managed funds.
Subsequently, Mr. Edmundson saved the Nevada fund a fortune, as its outside management bill was nearly 1/7th of the other public pension’s, according to Callan Associates, which tracks retirement-plan expenses.
If Mr. Edmundson relied on outside management like other public pensions, he would have racked up $120 million annually in fees; however in 2016 the Nevada fund only paid $18 million.
Despite the success of Mr. Edmunson’s cost cutting, he still does day to day work, like any other average office employee. He prepares material for board meetings, drafts proposals and does administrative tasks, as he believes taking on extra employees would cut into costs.
Nonetheless, Mr. Edmunson still has some way to go if he truly wants his fund to succeed, as Nevada’s current assets would only fund 73% of what is needed to meet future retirement obligations to workers.
Unlike other investment firms that woo and buy the attention of their clients, through expensive lunches or grandiose presentations, Mr. Edmunson often councils Nevada’s top pension officials on interest-rate risk, as well as investment targets in his small boardroom, through uninspiring Powerpoint presentations. Additionally, he avoids taking his clients out for expensive dinners, as he sees it as an unnecessary expense.
Moreover, Mr. Edmunson generally doesn’t work overtime, outside his normal 8-5 hours, drives to work every day in his 2005 Honda Element, which has over 280,000 kilometers on it, and in 2015 his salary was $127,121.75, according to a Nevada Policy Research Institute database.
The key take away from Mr. Edmunson’s success is not necessarily hard work, instead it’s the opposite. By doing the least work possible, Mr. Edmunson has cut huge risks and expense for his fund, and instead provided huge returns.
The truth is simpler. People simply want to earn commissions on your investment. The more you trade, the more they earn. The more you buy into mutual funds, the more fees you pay to agents. Investments should be boring. Put your money in a globally diversified fund and leave it there. Do not move money. Companies layer fees when you try to move money.
Start young, have a long investment horizon. Go for globally diversified passive funds. I like ETFs in Singapore because we cannot buy Vanguard funds direct yet.
Avoid actively managed funds. I wrote a few articles consolidating evidences on why active managed funds don’t work.
Also, read vanguard’s studies. See the truth about active funds here. Don’t trade actively. Don’t invest in active funds. You are simply funding the high salaries of managers. More than 80% don’t even beat the benchmark market returns.
There are only 3 simple steps to investing:
1.Save monthly, 20 to 30% is a good figure.
2.Invest the money in index passive funds.
3.Leave it. Don’t touch the pot of gold.
Run away from people who are trying to sell you active investments. Don’t even talk to people who want you to believe trading leisurely will make you rich. Let your money work for you. Leave your money in a passive fund.