Exceptional Investing in Volatile Markets

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Exceptional Investing in Volatile Markets
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Exceptional Investing in Volatile Markets

16 Jan 2019 By There are no tags

Stock market volatility recently returned to normal levels after a few years of abnormally low volatility. It’s a good time to remind ourselves how to take advantage of this very natural dynamic of investing rather than be deceived by it.

Here are five important reminders:

1.   Volatility is your friend.

Exhibit 1: Long-term View by Asset Class

The very reason equity markets offer the possibility of higher returns than saving or investment vehicles with less perceived risk, such as U.S. Treasury Bonds or Certificates of Deposits (CDs), is the higher risk and greater volatility associated with such holdings.

This is called the risk premium, something investors as a whole build into liquid, open, transparent financial markets every business day of the year around the world.

For instance, the S&P 500, over the last 90 years returned about 10% per year.* However, there were very few individual years it actually returned that amount. The reality is that in 40 of the 90 years, the index was up more than 20% or down more than 20%.

So, remember, the premium (return over less risky assets) you are seeking to receive in risk assets is precisely for accepting the bumpy ride associated with the investment vehicle.

So long as you genuinely are a long-term investor who can ride out the bumps to the level you have accepted, history demonstrates you can be fine. Exhibit 1 illustrates the long-term historic view of what broad asset classes look like: **

2.   Diversification is your friend.

Because investing in one company, industry, class or even geography can be too bumpy a ride for one’s stomach (risk temperament), one historically sound way to reduce and customize the risk/reward tradeoff and mitigate risks that do not have an expected rate of return is to diversify a portfolio across individual holdings, industries, asset classes (large cap, small cap, value, growth, etc.) and geographies (U.S., Developed Non-U.S., Emerging Markets, etc.).

While you give up the chance of benefiting by a concentration in the hottest company, industry, class or geography, you exert a level of control on the volatility that seeks to be more in line with your needs and temperament.

Once you decide diversification is the way to go, DO NOT second guess this decision and DO NOT seriously compare your diversified portfolio to a less diversified index/benchmark (such as the S&P 500, which is just U.S. Large Cap stocks). Doing so will only provide a false reading

Exhibit 2: Global Index Returns January 2000–December 2009

High net worth investors typically created wealth in some concentrated Aspirational form (business, real estate or stock option ownership) or via the good ole annual saving habit.

Either way, the aim to protect and grow wealth in the face of uncertainty leads one properly funding three buckets:

Safety bucket–highly liquid holdings that tend to retain their value, even in extreme economic conditions;

Market bucket–a globally diversified portfolio of semi-liquid securities that seeks to participate in capitalism worldwide (what this article is mainly about);


Aspirational bucket–a concentrated, leveraged and/or illiquid position in private business(es), real estate holding(s), fund(s), option)s) or semi-liquid security(ies) that seek to participate in accelerated wealth creation and wealth multiplication opportunities at higher risk/reward ratios.

The Aspirational bucket portion typically increases as one moves into the ultra-high net worth ($20 million+ portfolio) range and may not be pursued, for risk mitigation, simplicity and liquidity purposes, by high net worth investors with portfolios under $10 million. For more on the difference between Safety, Market and Aspirational asset investing, click here.

While investors typically understand why they diversify across individual holdings, they sometimes forget why asset class and geographic diversification can be their friend.

Exhibit 2 illustrates a perfect example. From 2000 to 2009, the S&P 500 had a cumulative return of -9.1%, a period known as the lost decade. During the same period, global index returns fared much better.

The big question is, are there systematic ways of identifying which countries will outperform others in advance? Exhibit 3 illustrates the randomness in country equity market returns in 22 developed countries (from highest to lowest). It conveys the difficulty and complexity involved. Frankly, no reliable evidence exists that such performance can be predicted in advance. Diversification remains the historically reliable way to engineer a portfolio for risk/reward and return variability mitigation.

Exhibit 3: Asset Class Performance 1998–2017 Best to Worst

3.  Doing what is in your control is your friend.

Exhibit 4: Five Long-term Investment Strategies

While market gyrations are out of any investors control, two things in your control that you can focus on, with our help, are:

  1. Be a Penalty-Resistant Investor
  2. Be a Depletion-Resistant Wealth Steward

A penalty-resistant investor remembers volatility and diversification are their friend and mindfully controls their thoughts and actions for success.

In addition to diversifying your portfolio in a thoughtful traditional way tailored to your needs, objectives and risk temperament, we’ve helped (or can help) you incorporate five key strategies (also known as exposures) into your portfolio:

  • Conventional Indexing (Lean Exposure)
  • Factor Indexing (Smart Exposure)
  • Select Active Management (Advantageous Exposure)
  • Strategic Rebalancing (Disciplined Exposure)
  • Strength Based Wealth Management (Prudent Exposure)

Click on Exhibit 4 for a brief explanation of these exposures. We believe you can confidently rely on them as a handful of solid long-term investment strategies. We have solid academic research, some authored by Nobel Laureates, supporting each technique.

Please Note: Every technique that does not exactly match conventional indexing introduces a variance that could underperform a related benchmark for a period. This is natural and to be expected. However, credible research shows the possibility of a higher expected return over a long period of time utilizing these strategies, so in our best judgment, we engineer these exposures into our portfolios.

4.   Investing from a Position of Strength is your friend.

Exhibit 5: Wealth Optimization Dashboard examples

Clients of ours taking advantage of our patented Strength Based Wealth Management® (SBWM) services know we highly recommend all investors measure and build 35 Essential Strengths®. Nine of these strengths are portfolio related and 26 are related to other important aspects of your wealth including building and maintaining a strong balance sheet and cash flow. Having these strengths can make you a more confident and capable investor.

The Elastic Limit Threshold™ is a concept within SBWM that we created to assist you in thinking about and building and measuring financial strength, agility, flexibility and endurance. Utilize it to invest from a position of strength.

And finally…

5. Trust and confidence are your friends; fear and greed are your enemies.

Exhibit 6: The Cost of the Investor Behavior Penalty

When it comes down to it, we believe a large penalty is paid when investors fall victim to fear during real or perceived dark times and greed during real or perceived booms.

Seven studies illustrate the hefty cost of the Investor Behavior Penalty.

The antidote, we believe, is levering Evidence-Based Investing and Strength-Based Wealth Management.


This is how to build and maintain trust and confidence and practice the virtues of discipline and prudence.

This is the essence of exceptional investing in volatile times.


Related Links

2019 Outlook (Assessment of 2019 Investment Climate)

Top Takeaways (2018 in Review)

Market Review Video (2018 in Review Voice-over Video format)

Investing From a Position of Strength (Free Digital Book Copy)

Joseph Janiczek, ChFC, MSFS

Joseph J. Janiczek, ChFC, MSFS is Founder and CEO of Janiczek® Wealth Management, which exclusively serves high net worth investors (individuals with $2 to $20 million portfolios) and ultra-high net worth investors (individuals with $20 million+ portfolios) across the country. After founding and serving as the president of an oil company, Mr. Janiczek recognized that financially successful individuals were greatly underserved by the investment and wealth management industries.

Mr. Janiczek spent decades in the trenches with those experiencing life-changing liquidity events and ultimately developed and patented Systems and Methods of Optimizing Wealth. He is a pioneer in the disciplines of Evidence Based Investing (EBI) and Strength Based Wealth Management™ (SBWM), award-winning author of Absolute Financial Freedom (Prosperity Press) and Investing from a Position of Strength. Mr. Janiczek’s education includes Master of Science Degree in Financial Services (MSFS) and Graduate Certificates of Specialty in Asset Management and Income and Estate Taxation from the American College. He also has his Chartered Financial Consultant designation. Mr. Janiczek has served as a Board of Governor of Legatus International, President of Rotary International Club and Foundation and Board of Director of Spitzer Center for Ethical Leadership. Mr. Janiczek is the majority shareholder of Janiczek® and leads its executive Leadership Team.

(303) 339-4460

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