Object Lessons in Mass Psychology and Discipline

Humans are hard-wired for connection, and as such our very nature pre-disposes us to investment failure, because most people want to be part of the “In” crowd. That’s quite a mouthful, and an ominous one at that. Our current U.S. equity market environment provides object lessons in both mass psychology and discipline.

As I write on the morning of March 2nd it’s noteworthy that yesterday saw $8.2 billion go into SPY, the largest ETF on the S&P 500. That’s the biggest single daily inflow since December 2014 and the second largest in six years. Contrast that with recent reports from major institutional investment houses that state they’re either not increasing equity exposure, or they’re planning to actively decrease equity exposure in portfolios.

Since every trade has a buyer and a seller, there was also $8.2 billion worth of trades yesterday wherein “someone” is getting out. The only possible conclusion one can arrive at is that Institutional Investors are selling their positions to Retail Investors. Market tops are often referred to as those times when investments transfer from strong hands (Institutional, “Smart Money” investors) back to weak hands (Retail, Dumb Money” investors), and that’s what this smells like.

So, are you more comfortable investing with the masses – “hard-wired for connection with the crowd” – or are you content being a patient and disciplined contrarian whose investing behavior mimics or follows the smart, patient and behaviours of Institutional Investors? This is the object lesson in mass psychology: are you part of the “smart” money or the “dumb” money?

The stronger the mass opinion that “everything is positive and rosy,” the more likely we’re close to an interim top…one can almost smell the desperation of the recent buyers whose Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has over-taken their Fear of Loss of Capital (FLOC), or perhaps their bias against Donald Trump. As Michael Campbell and others has recently warned, mixing your political opinions with your investment decisions is a recipe for disaster.

So, was yesterday’s retail buying panic driven by frustrated Democrats who had previously believed that the markets had to crumble because Donald Trump is (in their eyes) “the source of all evils soon to be perpetrated on America”…and whose February 28th address to a Joint Session of Congress was widely hailed (by 75% or more of viewers) as positive, strong, clear and, yes, even somewhat Presidential? Was yesterday the hard evidence of shy retail investors throwing in the towel, and proclaiming “Just get me into this market before it gets away?”

While I don’t believe this is a major market top that starts a major meltdown, history shows that buying frenzies like we saw on Wednesday March 1st usually immediately precede pull-backs. Only time will tell if history is once again our best guide…but that’s where our Clients’ (and my family’s) money is positioned. It’s boring, and relentlessly effective. If we get a dip in markets, remaining cash will get deployed, so we’d be completely okay with a sharp little pullback. It would be the pause that refreshes “The Bull”, whose lot in life is to always slowly climb the wall of worry created by the masses.

This begs a second important question for readers: do you have a clearly articulated Investment Policy Statement (IPS) that defines the framework for your portfolio? Is your minimum and maximum exposure to cash, fixed income, stocks, precious metals and alternatives clearly laid out as a guide for investment decisions? If you don’t have an IPS, why don’t you? If you do have an IPS, is it being followed by your investment professional or you – if you’re self-managing? This is the object lesson in Discipline…are you following a smart framework?

Patience and Discipline are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness – so focus on these.

Cheers,

Andrew Ruhland, CFP, CIM

Founder, www.integratedwealthmanagement.ca

Calgary Cares: Healing with Compassion

Greetings!

Today, we remain a community in mourning. Calgary is well known for its clear running water; right now that includes the tears being shed in countless homes, offices, and classrooms. Water in all forms can cleanse and heal…if we allow it to by literally going with the flow, instead of resisting.

When a senseless tragedy like the murder of young people happens at the hands of a peer, with a motive yet unknown, it shakes all of us to the core. The closer we are to the victims or the accused, the more acute and profound the pain and grieving becomes. As time passes, many of us are learning just how close we were to being directly and intimately affected by the pain of one very frightened young man; this includes my family.

About a year ago, the Boston Marathon bombing happened. The motto that emerged, “Boston Strong,” expresses the civic resiliency and unity that emerged from their galvanizing tragedy. I’ve seen a few “Calgary Strong” bumper stickers since our epic floods in the summer of 2013, but the Calgary Stampede’s spontaneous adoption of the brilliant “Hell or High Water” motto captured our hearts as THE expression of our own community spirit, teamwork and dedication…quite literally defiance in the wake of widespread destruction.

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2014 Annual “Forecast”

Greetings!

Welcome to the 2014 Annual “Forecast” edition of Views from the Crows Nest. One of the many challenges with publishing a document that is intended to cover a one year period is that so much can change in a year.

Another challenge is choosing a theme, especially now when my creative faculties are wide open to receiving wisdom from countless sources. It’s not always this easy, so I’m deeply grateful when I am blessed with an almost embarrassing abundance of ideas, opportunities and new connections.

The most obvious challenge, though, is getting the actual forecasts themselves accurate enough to actually be useful and helpful to readers. The reality is that high-quality forecasts and advice are only as useful as they are timely, so forecasts that are too broad can actually be counter-productive.

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Party with a Purpose

Integrated Life Management

Have you ever been in a situation where everything you’ve dreamed about just “flows” and wish you could repeat this at will?

Have you ever wanted to connect with a dynamic, diverse tribe of other intelligent professionals and practitioners who “get it” and can enrich your life?

Have you ever wished for a simple, low-cost, effective solution to attracting only ideal clients to your business…and that this could actually be fun?

Have you ever imagined that your business and personal lives could both be in complete alignment with the authentic you, with no B.S. or pretense?

Are you open-minded, collaborative and willing to give and receive wisdom, joy and abundance, so you can share it with your inner circle?

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, then we request the pleasure of your company at a lively, meaningful and exceptionally productive get-together early in 2014. You may also bring one other person who fits the criteria above, and first priority will be given to direct recipients of this note.

I’ll send a reminder with more info before 2014, and then you can ask your big questions at the party…there’s a very good chance you’ll love the answers

Friday January 10, 2014 7:00 to 9:00 PM
At Self Connection Books 4611 Bowness Road NW
(Next door to NOtaBLE Restaurant)

Please RSVP as soon as possible to
Lisa@integratedwealthmanagement.ca

Can we finally start learning and changing from Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day is always highly emotional for me, increasingly so as I mature, reflect back on my youth and gain new perspective from these memories. So here is my question for readers: Can we finally start learning and changing from Remembrance Day? Yes.

Before anyone tunes out because they think this article is unsupportive of our Canadian Armed Forces, let me first share with you exactly where I’m coming from.

My parents were born in 1927 and 1934 in small‐town Holland, each part of large Catholic families whose fathers were skilled craftsmen. My grandparents had dignity, made enough to support their families, and wanted exactly what most parents want today: to help their children grow up healthy, strong and responsible with the best of what each parent and their community had to offer.
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Our new blog has launched

Our new blog has launched. Stay tuned for news from Integrated Wealth Management.