Takeaways from the Morningstar Investor Conference

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An important part of our job at Financial Symmetry (FSI) is spending time on research for our investment strategy.

On average, every employee spends 8-12% of his or her time on investment research which has benefited our clients over the long-term.

To further improve our outlook and investment selection process I recently attended the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago.

The conference gathers some of the most prominent voices in the investment industry to assist FSI with the knowledge, insights, and resources to better serve our clients.

Key Takeaways we Learned

  • After a six year bull market the US stock market is not in a bubble, but remains expensive compared to historical levels. Better opportunities today remain in the international markets.
  • Public companies are spending too much money buying back their own stock and not investing in their business. This has impacted the strength of the economic recovery since the great financial crisis.
  • There remains a lack of qualified labor in the market as employers are having a hard time finding candidates with the right skill set. This could result in wage growth inflation in the future as it has been non-existent since the financial crisis.
  • 80% of Greece debt is held by the ECB/IMF compared to five years ago when the majority of the debt was held by European banks.
  • Active vs. Passive (index) Mutual Funds – active funds that focus on low fees, manager ownership of the fund and differentiates itself from the index has resulted in long-term risk-adjusted results that have exceeded the index.   All characteristics that we look for in our fund selection.
  • Historically, active mutual funds do better in a rising interest rate environment.
  • Retirement studies show that people who use an advisor have the most saved compared to others who use only computers or themselves as noted in the chart below(1).   morningstarchart.jpg
  • One study showed that 68% of employees feel they have saved too little in their 401k plans, but only 3% actually make the changes in their plan as noted in the chart below(2). This is another reason why working with a financial advisor can assist you reaching your financial goals.

morningstarchart2.jpg

  • Risk tolerance surveys are irrelevant as they show people with high risk tolerance during a bull market and a low risk tolerance during a bear market when the opposite should be true.
  • Not a time to take a lot of risks in the bond market with credit spreads at or below historical levels and potential for rising rates.

Our Processes

In addition to attending the investing conference above every Financial Symmetry financial advisor participates in our monthly outlook and security selection meetings where we discuss current economic/investment information. This is a robust and detailed process that helps us make informed investment decisions for our clients.

If you’d like further information on this process or how we can help you please contact us.

(1) From 2015 Morningstar Investing Conference, Delivering Better Retirement Outcomes Presentation.

(2) From 2015 Morningstar Investing Conference, Delivering Better Retirement Outcomes Presentation.

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