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Bedford Federal Wealth Management is a wealth management and financial planning firm serving Bedford, Bloomington, Mitchell and the entire South Central Indiana area. Our team of Wealth Advisors and Financial Advisors act in a fiduciary capacity with a commitment to your best interests. Our focus is on advising individuals who are transitioning into retirement, affluent retirees who want to preserve their assets, retirees who want to increase their income and business owners who have unique financial challenges. We are devoted to helping our clients grow, preserve and transition their assets over multiple generations. We strive to provide peace of mind when people die prematurely. We plan ahead so you can live a worry-free retirement and maintain your independence. We offer solutions that seek to protect your income if you get sick so you can maintain your dignity. And finally, we give you options designed to give you the ability to leave a legacy once you have passed.
Excellent investing isn’t technical and it does not require an advanced degree. However, there are some basic principles that need to be followed.
Being an excellent investor is not really about producing the highest possible returns. Someone somewhere is always getting a higher return. Rather, being an excellent investor means earning the returns you need to fund your most important lifetime and transgenerational financial goals with the minimum amount of time, energy and stress.
So how do you do that? We think you start by concentrating your time and effort on attempting to control the variables that can be controlled (as opposed to predicting movements of markets or economies). You also focus on those variables that have the most pronounced effect on long-term, real-life return.
What are the genuinely critical variables – the most highly controllable beliefs and behaviors which will most reliably, and with the least effort, help an investor toward achieving their real-life financial goals?
Bedford Federal Wealth Management believes there are six critical steps that dictate somewhere around 90% of a household/family’s lifetime investment return. In case you are curious, this implies that “timing and selection” might account for the remaining 10% percent of return. The first three of these steps are principles; that is, they are basic attitudinal approaches to goal-focused long-term investing which take place in the mind of the investor rather than inside the portfolio. The last three steps are practices, or methods of managing the portfolio itself.
FAITH IN THE FUTURE
This is the first and greatest of the principles. Successful investing can essentially be boiled down to a conflict that takes place in the investor’s mind – a conflict between faith in the future and fear of the future. After all is said and done – after a lifetime of working to accumulate assets followed by another 30 years of living off those assets in retirement – the investor’s lifetime return will be to a very great extent governed by which of these impulses wins. It is impossible to know exactly HOW things are going to turn out all right. You just have to know THAT things are going to turn out all right.
We live in an age of late-breaking market news, and this places investors under constant pressure to do something- to react to the events of the moment rather than acting on the goals of his lifetime and beyond. Yet the more the investor reacts to the breaking news du jour, or chases the hot stock and loses sight of his long-term financial goals, the more his long-term return declines.
The definition of discipline is “orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior.” So discipline applied to investing is essentially the decision to keep doing the right things. It takes discipline to follow a long-term financial plan. It takes discipline to continue dollar cost averaging into your retirement plan in the face of a declining market and scary news headlines. Excellent investors are disciplined.
Asset allocation is basically the long-term mix of stocks, bonds and cash in a portfolio. It is one of the greatest determinants of long-term investor returns. Timing and selection have very little to do with long-term investor returns. Over an investing lifetime, the big swing in portfolio returns comes from what percentage of your holdings was in equities. This is only logical. All you have to do is look at the enormous gap between the returns of equities and bonds throughout history.
In the long run, equity markets must accurately reflect the earnings, cash flows and dividends of the publicly held businesses in the underlying economy. The stock market is not a casino, and not a game to be played, but a relentlessly efficient way of discounting the future earnings of real businesses.
Over this past 100 years there have been a dozen or so bear markets with an average decline of somewhere around 30%. What does this tell you? It tells you that a free market advances permanently even as it occasionally contracts cyclically. So this point brings us back to the first and most critical of all the steps. You must have faith in the future to be an excellent investor.
Diversification is basically the portfolio approach you take within each asset class of the portfolio. The idea is that you should never own enough of any one thing to be able to make a killing in it. At the same time you should never own enough of any one thing to be able to get killed by it.
Equity diversification says that we can’t know what sectors – small or large cap, growth or value, domestic or international – are going to be hot next, nor which will fade for a season or two. So we will own a number of opposing sets, in roughly equal measure. This creates tension in the portfolio by owning sets of things that run on different cycles. You should end up with the blended long-term return of all the components.
The last and final step necessary to be an excellent investor involves rebalancing your portfolio back to its originally desired weightings roughly once every year.
Bedford Federal Wealth Management works closely with clients to develop a plan that follows and takes into account these six steps to excellent investing. Our Financial Advisors and Wealth Advisors have the experience and perspective necessary to help you work towards whatever your financial goals might be.
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