Friday, August 9, 2013

Conservative and Aggressive is Not An Asset it is a Methodology

I recently reviewed an investment portfolio for an 82 year old and his daughter.  It was the usual asset allocation mutual fund portfolio with the usual funds I normally see.  When we go the an emerging market bond fund his daughter was aghast because she thought there was no way an 82 year old should own this risky an investment.  She was partially correct.  At the time emerging market bond funds had moved from being in an uptrend to being in a downtrend.  Over the past three months they had been down somewhere in the neighborhood of 11%.  There is no way and 82 year old, a 65 year old, or a 25 year old should own emerging market bond funds, or anything else, that is in a downtrend like that.  On the other hand, prior to that, emerging market bonds had been in a steep uptrend.  I have no problem with anyone at any age owning emerging market bond funds when they are in an uptrend.

The point is that asset classes in and of themselves are not risky, it is how you use them that is risky.  In the hands of a buy and hold asset allocator emerging market bond funds are risky as they can go through periods where they lose a lot of money.  In the hands of a tactical investor then they are just another tool to shift money to when they are in favor.

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