Getting your investments up to bat

Williams 150x150Dan Williams, CFA, CFPInvestment Analyst

With spring comes my favorite time of the year. Yes, the weather improves and the days get longer. However, for me, it is baseball season and corresponding fantasy baseball season that excites me. Baseball more than the other major sports is a game of statistics. It is engineered to be a series of one on one duels between a hitter and a pitcher such that individual contributions can be isolated. However, much like investing, a focus on the short-term and randomness leads even the most astute into a false knowledge of skill, and it is only through long-term analysis can truer knowledge be gained.

Consider a single at-bat between a hitter and a pitcher. The outcome is going to be a hit, an out, or a walk. If a hit occurs, especially if a home run, it is assumed that at least at that moment the hitter is very good and the pitcher is very bad. If an out occurs it is assumed the reverse. If a walk occurs the hitter has managed the least favorable of the positive outcomes and the pitcher has let the least unfavorable of negative outcomes happen. There is additional analysis that can be taken into the semantics of these three outcomes but the point remains that we have a data point of an individual success or failure. Similarly, in investing over the course of a quarter or year of performance of an investment fund we have an outperformance, underperformance, or an approximate market return relative to the corresponding benchmark and again additional stats can be gleaned from the performance such as standard deviation, upside capture, or attribution by sector selection vs. security selection.

In both cases after a short time period, a game for a hitter/starting pitcher or a quarter of performance for an investment fund, the temptation is very strong to extrapolate the just observed outcomes into the future. A successful hitter could have been lucky or was going against a poor pitcher (or a good pitcher who was having an off day). Similarly, an investment fund could have made a few lucky stock picks or was in a market environment that simply worked well with the strategy’s style of investing.

getting your investments up to bat

So does this mean we ignore the statistics of the short-term? That is, of course, foolish as the short-term is what happens as we build the data for the long-term. We always want to know what happened as it helps guide us to what will happen. It is simply wise to temper the conclusions we can draw from data over short periods. It is also humbling to know that even with ample data that can provide very close to proof of past greatness, it can never be fully relied on to provide future insight. At this point, I would say we have enough data to say Babe Ruth was a very good baseball player. However, he has been dead for about 70 years (so he is in a bit of a slump) and even if we through the miracle of science could resurrect a 30-year-old Babe Ruth, it is not a certainty he would achieve the same greatness in today’s baseball landscape. Similarly, an investment fund or strategy type that achieved great success over the long-term in the past may not achieve it in the future.

So where does this leave us? The recognition of great skill recognized solely in the short-term is unreliable and the great confidence we can achieve through the very long-term analysis thereof is not very useful. This leaves us striving for the middle ground. We look at performance data of at least a few market cycles and we additionally gain extra insight through qualitative data by talking to our investment managers and understanding the how of what they do. Through this process, we strive to send the right people up to bat and hopefully, we deliver more winning than losing seasons.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

President Trump, trade & the markets…Is it time to hit the panic button?

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Tim Holland, CFASenior Vice President, Global Investment Strategist

On this week’s podcast (recorded March 23, 2018), Tim discusses the Trump Administration’s trade policies and its impact on Brinker Capital’s portfolio positioning.

Quick hits:

  • Investors have been fixated on the Trump Administration’s trade policy. First, the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and now talk of much broader based action directed at China.
  • After rallying strongly off its February lows, the S&P 500 has been correcting on increasing concerns protectionist trade policies will torpedo consumer and corporate sentiment and spending, and ultimately the stock market.
  • We remain bullish on the economy and risk assets, including US stocks. Why? Simply put, the hard and soft economic data – or maybe said another way, reality, not rhetoric – tells us we should.
  • 4 BIG BOXES that help drive our thinking: fiscal policy, monetary policy, economic fundamentals, and sentiment.

For the rest of Tim’s insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

 

Get more out of your charitable giving

Wilson-150-x-150Thomas K.R. Wilson, CFA, Managing Director, Wealth Advisory

Typically, when we think about giving to charity, we think of all the lives we enrich by our support. What we sometimes overlook is how great it feels to do good.

As Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton explain in their book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, “Giving and happiness are mutually reinforcing, creating a positive feedback loop.”

Covering a broad spectrum of research studies, Dunn and Norton demonstrate how those who enjoy the emotional benefits of giving feel good about themselves and tend to behave more generously in the future. They also explain that those who give to others feel wealthier than those who do not make donations, and when prosocial spending is done right, even small gifts can increase happiness.

The best way to make sure you get the most emotional benefit out of your charitable giving is simple: make your gifts about you.

YOUR choice

Reaching into your pocket when you feel backed into a corner does not strike the pleasure centers in the brain as much as when you open your wallet because you felt compelled out of a sense of purpose to do so.

Part of YOUR big picture

Next to saving for retirement and college, charitable giving is one of the top financial priorities for many American families. It has earned a seat at the financial and estate planning table along with other financial goals, yet many people overlook philanthropy when setting and prioritizing financial goals.

When you make charitable giving part of your larger financial and estate plan, you can be assured that your generosity does not negatively impact any of your other financial goals and that you gain all applicable tax benefits.

Speak to who YOU are as a person

The charitable contributions you make should reflect your most deeply held values and beliefs. Before you write your next check to charity, stop to clarify your beliefs and preferences. Do you want to end hunger, fight domestic abuse, spur economic development in your community, or eradicate cancer? Think about where you want to make an impact globally, nationally, or locally. Do you want to give to many or few? Make a list of the top three to five causes that speak to your soul. The smaller the list, the more focused your giving, and the better you will feel.

Parameters set by YOU

If you are like many other givers, you don’t know how much you’ve given to charity until tax time. By establishing a charitable budget each year, you can make better decisions about funding levels for individual causes and initiatives. With the changes brought about by the Tax Cuts and Job Act, you should speak to your accountant about having your charitable donations distributed via RMDs or see if bundling your donations are right for you.

Organizations YOU trust

Whenever you make a donation,  it is a good idea to verify that the charity is legitimate and is capable of making an impact and fulfilling its mission. You can find information about a not-for-profit’s tax-exempt status, mission, and finances at Charity Navigator, Wise Giving Alliance, or Guidestar.

Make the impact YOU want

If you don’t specify how you want your gift to be used, the not-for-profit organization will likely spend the money on their top funding priorities. In some, but not all instances, the organization’s top funding priorities align with your interests. You can, however, make a restricted gift. In doing so, you earmark your dollars to serve a specific purpose, spelled out clearly by you in a written letter of instruction.

For 30 years, Brinker Capital has served financial advisors and their clients by providing the highest quality investment manager due diligence, asset allocation, portfolio construction, and client communication services. Brinker Capital Wealth Advisory works with business owners, individual investors, and institutions with at least $2 million. To learn more about the services available through Brinker Capital Wealth Advisory, call us at 800.333.4573.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital. Brinker Capital does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. 

Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: 1 in 9.2 quintillion

Chris HartSenior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded March, 16 2018), Chris talks about the parallels between March Madness and investing.

 

Quick hits:

  • Much like the task of filling out a perfect bracket, which currently stands at 1 in 9.2 quintillion, the chances of correctly predicting drivers of future returns is nearly impossible even for skilled investors.
  • Many have heard the term momentum in the stock markets, and behavioral finance will tell you that novice investors chase performance by allocating to last year’s winners under the guise that results for this year will be the same.
  • While picking the occasional upset is possible, most of the time fans are wrong relying on intuition or gut feel to pick an upset, and it costs them.
  • Brinker Capital knows how difficult it is to achieve successful outcomes, and has investment disciplines in place to help protect and build wealth over the long term.

For the rest of Chris’s insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

The financial advisor as emotional coach?

Crosby_2015-150x150Dr. Daniel Crosby Executive Director, The Center for Outcomes & Founder, Nocturne Capital

One of the reasons psychologists can charge $200 per hour to ask, “How does that make you feel?” is because we have become great at putting fancy-pants labels on things that would otherwise be very intuitive. Take for instance the tongue-twisting “affect heuristic,” which is simply a reference to our tendency to perceive the world through the lens of whatever mood we are in.

For example, when giving a seminar on risk assessment, I often ask participants to write down the word, that if it were spelled phonetically, would be “dahy.” Go on, write it down and don’t over think it. It turns out the way you spelled the word has a lot to do with the kind of day you are having. Those that spelled the word as “die” may need a hug, while those that spelled the word “dye” are probably doing fine.

Ask someone having a bad day (those that wrote “die,” I’m looking at you) about their childhood and they are likely to tell you how they were chubby, had pimples, and never got picked first for kickball. Conversely, ask someone having a good day about their childhood and they are likely to recall summers in Nantucket and triple dips from the Tastee Freeze. Memory and perception are moving targets colored by our mood, not infallible retrieval and evaluation machines through which we make unbiased decisions.

financial advisor as emotional coach

So, what is the moral of all of this psychobabble? Think back to the last time you went shopping when you were hungry. Once you’ve brought that to mind, think back on the contents of your shopping cart. If you’re like me, you probably had a whole mess of HoHos, DingDongs, Nutty Buddies and Diet Coke (you don’t want to get fat, after all), but nothing very healthy or substantive.

The same rules apply to any life decision requiring risk assessment; if you try to make decisions when you are happy/sad/angry/in love/anxious/worried/euphoric, you are likely to end up with a life full of junk. When speaking to investors about the affect heuristic, I borrow an acrostic from the addiction literature – H.A.L.T. – which stands for hungry, angry, lonely or tired. The 12 step and other programs encourage those in recovery not to make decisions when they are in any of the emotional states described in H.A.L.T. and this advice is just as sound for investors. You do not view investment risk independent of your emotional state and so making long-term financial decisions in a short-term elevated emotional state should be avoided altogether. For help avoiding excessive emotion, try one of the following:

  • Exercise vigorously
  • Redefine the problem in terms of longer-term goals
  • Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol
  • Talk to a friend or your financial advisor
  • Don’t react right away
  • Shift the focus of your attention
  • Label your emotions
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings
  • Challenge catastrophic thoughts
  • Control whatever aspects possible including diversification and fees

The Center for Outcomes, powered by Brinker Capital Holdings, has developed an educational program to help advisors employ the value of behavioral alpha across all aspects of their work – from business development to client service and retention. To learn more about The Center for Outcomes and Brinker Capital, call us at 800.333.4573.

Brinker Capital is a privately held investment management firm with $21.7 billion in assets under management (as of December 31, 2017). For 30 years, Brinker Capital’s purpose has been to deliver an institutional multi-asset class investment experience to individual clients. Brinker Capital’s highly strategic, disciplined approach has provided investors the potential to achieve their long-term goals while controlling risk. With a focus on wealth creation and management, Brinker Capital serves financial advisors and their clients by providing high-quality investment manager due diligence, asset allocation, portfolio construction, and client communication services. Brinker Capital, Inc. is a registered investment advisor.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

 

Investment Insights Podcast: March 2018 market and economic outlook

Leigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded March 9, 2018), Leigh provides a brief review of February markets.

 

Quick hits:

  • Market volatility came roaring back in February with the VIX index surging to levels last seen in 2015 and washing out signs of complacency that were present earlier in the year.
  • The S&P 500 Index finished the month down -3.7% and is up 1.8% year to date.
  • Developed international equities underperformed domestic equities for the month.
  • Within fixed income all sectors posted negative returns.
  • Overall, we continue to remain positive on risk assets over the intermediate-term.

Listen_Icon  Listen to the audio recording.

Read_Icon  Read the full March Market and Economic Outlook.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

 

Vlog – Trade wars are bad for business; Fortunately, we aren’t in one, yet

Brinker Capital’s Global Investment Strategist, Tim Holland, provides perspective on the Trump Administration’s tariff announcement.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Fiscal policy takes the baton from monetary policy – What it means for the economy & risk assets

Tim Holland, CFA, Senior Vice President, Global Investment Strategist

On this week’s podcast (recorded February 23, 2018), Tim takes a closer look at US fiscal policy and how it might impact the economy and markets as we move through 2018.

Quick hits:

  • For now, we see fiscal policy as a net positive for economic growth and risk assets, particularly equities.
  • We also don’t see interest rates and inflation as a risk to the economy and markets.
  • We do think rates are biased higher, which is one reason we are conservatively positioned within fixed income.
  • Increased investor concern over higher rates and inflation is driving greater market volatility, something we all lived through earlier this month.

For Tim’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Introducing Brinker Capital RIA Services

Marino_R 150 x 150Roddy Marino, CIMAExecutive Vice President
National Accounts & Distribution

For 30 years, Brinker Capital has helped advisors provide better outcomes for their clients. Building on that track record, we are thrilled to announce the launch of Brinker Capital RIA Services. This recently established division focuses on better serving RIAs, who are experiencing rapid growth by bringing together like-minded partners, a fully-digital platform, and a team of experienced professionals to support the business.

In the video below, Brendan McConnell, Chief Operating Officer, discusses Brinker Capital RIA Services with Matt Ackerman of InvestmentNews and the reasons behind the launch.

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To learn more about Brinker Capital RIA Services, register for a webinar on Wednesday, February 21 at 4 PM ET. Frank Pizzichillo, Managing Director, RIA Platform Services, and I will discuss the guided and open-architecture investment solutions; multi-custodial flexibility; proposal and reporting technology; and the dedicated support team.

Brinker Capital is a privately held investment management firm with $21.7 billion in assets under management (as of December 31, 2017). For 30 years, Brinker Capital’s purpose has been to deliver an institutional multi-asset class investment experience to individual clients. Brinker Capital’s highly strategic, disciplined approach has provided investors the potential to achieve their long-term goals while controlling risk. With a focus on wealth creation and management, Brinker Capital serves financial advisors and their clients by providing high-quality investment manager due diligence, asset allocation, portfolio construction, and client communication services.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

Vlog – Market volatility: It’s back! Why? And what comes next?

Brinker Capital’s Global Investment Strategist, Tim Holland, provides perspective around recent market volatility, what triggered it and what impact it’s having on our thinking and portfolio positioning.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.