Behavioral Finance

/Behavioral Finance
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Investing: What Can Investors Learn from Warren Buffett’s 2016 Letter to Shareholders?

I heard a great conversation today with Roger Lowenstein, former WSJ columnist and Author of Buffett: The Making of An American Capitalist, America’s Bank and When Genius Failed, on the Masters in Business podcast. When asked about how he learned about investing, he mentioned how much he had learned from reading Warren Buffett’s Annual Letter to Shareholders. I thought I would dissect his 2016 Letter and share his often folksy advice in an abbreviated format (the letter is 29 pages long).

I thought you might find these insights useful:

  • Two things to keep in mind during market declines which captures the psychology of investing (not his use of the phrase “sit for an extended period”):

Spreadsheet Math: Two Investments Walk Into A Classroom…

Ok, not the best title but let’s run with it. Let’s start with a question:

You have a choice between two investments of $100,000:

  • Investment #1: Earns a consistent 8% return every year (put aside the fact that an investment like this doesn’t exist at the current time; it’s been a while since you could buy a 30 year Treasury Bond with that kind of return).
  • Investment #2: Has an average return of 8% per year but has “lumpier returns” aka it has more volatile returns but the returns each year are in the top 10% of fund returns. Some years it is up, some years it is down, but overall it averages the same 8% return as Investment #1.

Which investment has a higher balance at the end of the 20 year period?

Videos: What’s New In Investing?

  • Warren Buffett’s Million Dollar Bet: Who’s Winning (from MarketWatch)?
    • What’s the bet?
    • What’s a hedge fund? What’s an index fund?
    • Who’s winning? Why?
    • Why should this matter to you as a regular investor? What’s the lesson?
  • Fee war breaks out on commissions to trade stocks (from CNBC):
    • How much are brokerage fees going down? Is this good news for investors?
    • Why do you think the online brokerage stocks are falling with this news?
    • Do you think investors will change brokers based on these cost reductions?

What Are The Five Most Valuable Brands In The World?

From BrandFinance:

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Questions:

What’s New In Behavioral Economics?

I thought I would highlight some recent behavioral economics resources that caught my eye recently:

  • ArticleHow Behavioral Economics Can Help You Retire Rich (Bloomberg article). Have your students read the article and ask them ONE action they will take based on these findings. Here are some of the interesting experiments described:
    • How to get people to save more with their tax refunds: “In one experiment, a control group of users was sent a simple text after a refund showed up in checking. It asked what percentage of the refund they’d like to save. The answer: an average of 10 percent. The experimental group was messaged before getting any refund check. Its text said that members might get a tax refund and asked what percentage of it they’d want to save. They answered 15 percent.”
    • How the 401(k) structure encourages savings: “A 401(k) plan is a pre-commitment device. “Imagine a world in which you didn’t have 401(k)s and every month you decided how much to save,” Ariely said. “It would be a terrible world, from a savings perspective.” Even better are automated programs that bump up contributions into 401(k)s. Fidelity Investments did some math on that. They used the example of a 25-year-old employee making $40,000 and getting annual raises of 1.5 percent after inflation. If she bumped up the percent of salary going into a 401(k) plan by 1 percent every year for 12 years, she’d have $1,930 more (PDF) in monthly retirement income.
By |March 8th, 2017|Article, Behavioral Finance, Savings, Video Resource|

A Few Podcasts To Get You Thinking…

I had a few long car rides today and wanted to share a few Hidden Brain podcast episodes that you might find useful:

  • Misbehaving (24 minutes): Interview with behavioral economist Richard Thaler of “Nudge” fame. Discusses how traditional economics misses the boat when it comes to the foibles of human behavior (e.g., lack of self-control). Discusses research findings that explain why cabs aren’t available on a rainy day, why we use money differently depending on its source, how self-control is real work (including the marshmallow experiment) and importance of “hot” and “cold” states when it comes to decision-making.

By |February 26th, 2017|Audio Resource, Behavioral Finance, Current Events, Investing, Research|

Snapchat Is Going Public. Would You Buy Their IPO?

First an admission. I have never used Snapchat. Despite that, I thought their upcoming IPO would be a good hook to get students interested in how the stock market works. Before diving into the specifics of Snapchat (actually it is their parent company, SNAP, who is going public), here’s a good video from Wall Street Survivor that explains what an IPO is:

Questions:

Who’s the Fiduciary: The Butcher or The Nutritionist?

Opened the Saturday paper in search of good blog material and Ron Lieber of NY Times comes through again in his latest column “Pepper a Financial Adviser with Questions About Fees.” Fiduciary is a word being tossed around lots these days when it comes to the relationship between a financial advisor and their clients. It might surprise a lot of people that in the current regulatory environment, a financial advisor is NOT required to act in their clients’ best interest (hmmm…surprised?). This fiduciary standard (to act in best interests of your client) was about to be applied to advisors providing retirement investment advice but the new Administration appears keen on delaying this, according to CNBC.

By |February 13th, 2017|Article, Behavioral Finance, Current Events, Investing, Video Resource|