Monthly Archives: September 2011

Don’t Fumble Your Retirement Planning

Guest blog by Lauren Tivnan, Managing Editor,

More and more participants in 401(k) plans are using Target Date Funds according to the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (ERBI). Here at the Portfolioist, we think this is great news. For more than a year now, we’ve been writing about the benefits of Target Date Funds (and more specifically, our line-up of Target Date Folios) along with a variety of postings on the importance of planning and saving for retirement.

The ERBI study found that… Continue reading

“A Little Late” by Carl Richards

Carl Richards’ is a favorite contributor here at the Portfolioist. We’ve interviewed him in the past (see, “How to Pick an Investment Advisor (Part 3): Carl Richards’ 3 Key Questions” by Nanette Byrnes) and remain a fan of his website,

Using a Sharpie and a piece of card stock, Richards captures complex financial ideas in simple, easy-to-understand sketches.

Here’s his latest sketch and commentary on the recent market volatility. Enjoy–we certainly did. Continue reading

Long Live Diversification!

I get tired of all of the articles saying that the old standards of buy and hold and diversification are dead. Every time the market takes a dive or things get volatile, I hear the same refrain:

Buy and hold is dead.
Diversification is an easy way to lose.
Diversification is for idiots.

What I want to know is: Where’s the evidence? Continue reading

Implied Volatility: A Better Way to Gauge Risk

If you ask most investors how risky corporate bonds are compared to government bonds, or to compare emerging market stocks vs. domestic stocks, you’ll find that most investors have a sense of the relative risk based on personal experience—but nothing concrete. If you ask the same investors how risky an investment in gold is vs. the S&P 500 their answers usually get even more ambiguous.

However, in the last several years, we’ve seen a remarkable (yet largely unheralded) new source of information to help investors determine the risk level of an asset class or sector. Continue reading

Social Security and Retirement: The Reality

Social Security is a hot topic in the economic and political landscape these days. Many reports indicate that Social Security’s finances are getting worse as the economy continues to struggle and as the “Baby Boomer” generation begin to retire. To add to the confusion, Texas Governor Rick Perry is standing by his assertion that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme—a fraud being perpetuated on today’s young people by old people. While I’m not sure this is necessarily true, I recently came across a fascinating history of the Social Security program that will help us understand how we got to where we are in the first place.

Continue reading

Surviving the September Swoon

Guest Blog by Lauren Tivnan, Managing Editor, with contributing research by Geoff Considine.

September is here. For many of us, this means summer is over and the kids are back at school. For investors, the arrival of September signals the September swoon—a month where investors typically buckle up and hang on for a bumpy ride.

This year, investors have been buckled in since the start of the summer and are still bracing for impact. And who can blame them? Continue reading

It’s Time to Revisit Our Financial Resolutions

Did you make a financial resolution when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve?

Don’t we all?

Believe it or not, January 1, 2011 was more than eight  months ago—and needless to say, a lot has happened since we all rang in the New Year.  That’s why right now might be the perfect time to revisit those financial resolutions.

What a Year …

Well-known companies like LinkedIn (LNKD), Pandora (P), and Zillow (Z) went public. The economy started to rebound only to lose its footing. Washington debated and debated and then finally voted on the debt ceiling. Then Standard and Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating.

So what’s an investor to do in these uncertain times? Continue reading

Did Tail Insurance Turn South in Recent Market Volatility?

Investment News recently ran a story called “Black Swan Funds Duck Market Mayhem.” Since the bear market of 2008 the idea of managing the potential for extreme market downturns has become a focus for many portfolio managers—and finding the best method to do that has been a challenge.  Continue reading