Here you’ll find articles on traditional and not-so-traditional approaches to investing — primarily in individual stocks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and bonds. Along with my breakdown and scrutiny of general strategies are first-hand experiences in implementing these approaches. Specific topics include building an investment portfolio and possible ways to determine whether a stock is bargain priced. Information and insights in the Investing category can help you develop a framework for making investment decisions.

What is Asset Allocation?

When I’ve read about investing and considered the services of investment advisory firms, I’ve often encountered the term of asset allocation.

What is asset allocation? A simple definition: it’s putting my proverbial eggs in multiple, uncorrelated baskets. For an investor, this process involves allocating investments among the big three types of asset classes: equities, fixed income instruments, and cash and its equivalents.

Managed Portfolios: What They Are and Why You Should Know

Managed portfolios seem to becoming more popular as more people want to invest, but aren’t sure how.

The practice of portfolio management has been around a long time but has more recently become part of the mainstream as portfolio management services are now accessible to the average person (who may have just a few thousand dollars to invest). Companies like Betterment and WealthFront (also called robo advisors) have begun to popularize the concept.

What is a managed portfolio or what are portfolio management services? Generally, a managed portfolio is one in which a professional manages investments on a client’s behalf. Typically, the client will pay a flat or sliding-scale fee based on the portfolio size. The fee is calculated by multiplying a percentage (such as 0.25% or 1.0% set by the investment or brokerage firm) by the assets under management (AUM). The AUM represents the dollar value of investments being managed.

Problems with Financial Advisers: Past Performance Doesn’t Predict Future Performance

A financial adviser once made a presentation to my husband that illustrated how our money invested with his firm (one of the largest financial institutions in the country) would grow over the course of the next 10 years. This projection indicated the trajectory of this growth and even indicated the investment balance each year into the future. This adviser concluded his sales pitch by saying that everything would be fine and he’d take care of our family.

I didn’t like the idea of handing my money over to this guy to manage. He had put together projections using the past performance of certain mutual funds. But past performance doesn’t predict future performance.

The adviser didn’t show him his track record in managing a portfolio or explain his rationale in choosing these mutual funds. I was pretty sure I could identify great-performing funds and then calculate future returns based on those funds’ past performance. Actually delivering returns on investments for the unknown future would be difficult. But picking winners from the past, well, that seemed pretty easy.