Behavioural Finance

Warren Buffett’s Investing Lessons from the 2014 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report

A distinction must be made between volatility and risk. Volatility and risk are very different things, but when stock prices exhibit volatility, investors (long and short-term) tend to perceive risk. What is often overlooked by long-term investors is that avoiding volatility over long periods of time can be the biggest risk of all.

Principal Protected Notes vs. a Balanced Portfolio

Principal Protected Notes are investment vehicles governed by complex contracts that are not regulated or reviewed by any securities commission. In most cases, the contract offers investors the opportunity to participate in a percentage of the price increase of an underlying group of assets (stocks, bonds, an index) over a set period of time while being guaranteed to receive their initial investment back at the maturity date. The pitch is that this is an opportunity for investors to participate in the potential upside of some assets, with none of the downside. This is a great story. It’s so good, in fact, that Tony Robbins advised his millions of readers around the world to take advantage of this type of investment vehicle.

Structured Notes are Behaviourally Satisfying and Rationally Harmful

A structured note/structured product/equity-linked note is a financial derivative with a return at maturity that is linked to some underlying asset or group of assets. The linked asset tends to be some stocks or a stock market index. Structured products are popular because they play to investors’ behavioural biases, and they are profitable for financial institutions. These products are notoriously complex.

What Investors Need to Know About Managing Risk

“Investors love risk when stocks skyrocket, and hate it when they tank.” It is commonly accepted that there is risk involved in investing, but investors do not always know how to define it. In a recent white paper, PWL’s Raymond Kerzerho and Dan Bortolotti set out to help investors understand what risk is, and how it can be managed through a disciplined approach. In reality, the vast majority of investors choose to take risk management shortcuts like principal protected notes, hedge funds and guaranteed income products. These products “are often guilty of implying that you can achieve equity-like returns with bond or GIC-like risk,” which can be harmful to the long-term success of an investor.

The Next Big Call

Kyle Bass became instantly finance famous when he called the sub-prime mortgage crisis and made a handsome profit for the clients of Hayman Capital Management […]

Some perspective on market volatility

Markets, especially Canadian markets, took a tumble through September. The S&P/TSX was down 11.2% from September 3rd to October 15th, prompting Canadian news headlines like Forty-Day Freefall, and Market mayhem: what’s driving the global economic breakdown.

Sorry, we aren’t selling

Jason Zweig once wrote that “good advice rarely changes, while markets change constantly. The temptation to pander is almost irresistible. And while people need good advice, what they want is advice that sounds good.” This statement is true in practice.

The hunt for returns

Buy low, sell high; it would be an easy path to investing success if people knew how to control their own behaviour. Investors may know that they want to buy low, but there is no way to determine when low has happened.

Advanced Investing

Looking for yield in all the wrong places

The current low-yield environment has made it very easy for investors to question the value of holding bonds in their portfolios.  With interest rates staying low as long as they have, concerns have surfaced around frustratingly low yields, and the fear of rising interest rates decimating the value of bonds.