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THE DISTILLERY

Investor Behavior Part IV

This week’s The Distillery is the last Part of our Investor Behavior series and serves to wrap things up, per se. In the first 3 parts we ended each with the same takeaway, mainly that we’re all inherently poor investors and because of that we need to implement a disciplined portfolio strategy that allows us to consistently buy low and sell high. But we didn’t really leave you with a realistic call to action. In Part IV, we have that for you. It’s all about perception...   Read More >

Investor Behavior Part III

This week’s The Distillery picks up where we left off in our Investment Behavior series. In Part I and Part II we discussed our physiological responses to up and down markets (dopamine and the amygdala), causing us to react emotionally when making investment decisions. This week we focus on the other major factor affecting our investment decision-making: Heuristics, or mental shortcuts. There are numerous types and examples of mental shortcuts available for discussion, but one that does well in getting the point across that our brain is an efficiency-seeking machine is this classic example... Read More >

Q4 2018 Quarterly Letter – Who Saw that 4th Quarter Coming?

We take an intermission from our mini-series covering Investor Behavior to bring to you The Advocates Quarterly Letter, written by our CIO, Kurt Box. His commentary reviews 2018 markets before turning a watchful eye towards what we believe is the key to capturing positive returns over the next 5-7 years, discipline, discipline, and you guessed it, more discipline.   Please enjoy!     Who Saw That 4th Quarter Coming? Certainly not us!  In fact, you should be aware by now that our investment philosophy does not depend upon making any sort of predictions.  Actually, it’s our belief that making such predictions ends up badly hurting investment returns.  Our philosophy is NOT based on predicting what will happen nor on the outcome of insignificant events (i.e. noise such as trade tariffs) but is instead based on discipline, valuation, diversification, momentum and, we might as well say it again, discipline.  We simply take the data as it comes and apply it accordingly.  Having set the stage… Read More >

Investor Behavior – Part II

This week’s The Distillery is Part II of our multi-part series focused on investor behavior, as inspired by Jay Mooreland of The Emotional Investor. Last week we covered how your amygdala reacts to situations in which it perceives as dangerous (down markets). This week we head in the opposite direction and look at how dopamine causes us to literally act as if we are high on drugs when our brain perceives an event as rewarding (up markets).   Here’s to hoping 2019 causes investors to produce lots of dopamine... Read More >

Investor Behavior – Part I

This week’s The Distillery is Part I of a multi-part series focused on investor behavior, and was inspired by Jay Mooreland of The Emotional Investor. Every year or so, we have an opportunity to hear Jay speak at our local Financial Planning Association’s chapter meeting. The content becomes even more relevant each time we see him, and he never disappoints. We hope you enjoy this series as we seek to provide you a view into the emotional side of Investing, and what makes all of us inherently poor investors.     So what’s our challenge as investors? Why don’t we all earn 20% per year in the markets? According to Benjamin Graham, one of the founding fathers of Fundamental Analysis, “The investor’s chief problem, and even his own worst enemy, is likely to be himself.” Now why is that? According to Jay, and other leading academics in the field, it’s because of two main reasons: One, our emotions, and two, our brain’s ability to identify patterns and create mental shortcuts...         Read More >

What I learned at work this year

Our first post of 2019 is one that isn’t directly related to Financial Planning, however, we still think it’s a piece worth reading as we personally review our past year and form resolutions for our new year. Gatesnotes is always an interesting read and the questions that Bill Gates asks himself as he reflects on his life in 2018 are the same questions that we hope drive your decisions around money. Did I devote enough time to family? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These types of questions, while not obviously money-related, can be woven into a financial plan by dedicating resources to goals that help fulfill these values. For example, if you’d like to spend more time with family who are scattered across the US, maybe it’s time to consider adding to your budget an expense for annually renting a vacation home to attract those family members to one meeting place. Of course you may need to offset this budget item by cutting an expense, but hopefully that expense wasn’t fulfilling one of your highest values to begin with. Either way, a meaningful exercise to think through as we settle into 2019. Every Christmas when I was a kid, my parents would send out a card with an update on what the family was up to. Dad’s law firm is growing, Mom’s volunteer work is going strong, the girls are doing well in school, Bill is a handful. Some people think it is corny, but I like the tradition. These days, at the end of each year, I still enjoy taking stock of my work and personal life. What was I excited about? What could I have done better? I thought I would share a few of these thoughts as 2018 concludes. One thing that occurs to me is that the questions I am asking myself... Read More >

A Mostly Random Walk Down Wall Street

This week’s The Distillery is a few weeks old, but still applies as the market continues to work through its’ latest identity crisis (“Am I a Bull, or am I a Bear? I’m so confused!”). It’s been a while since we’ve had to question our patience as an investor, and Michael Batnick of The Irrelevant Investor does a great job explaining the difference between market efficiency (is price right enough so that the majority of people can’t consistently determine whether it’s too high or low), and fair value (are stock prices always correct).   Hang in there fellow investors.     During a time out at every Knicks home game, a giant spinning air gun is brought onto the court and pointed at the crowd. People of all ages lose their freaking mind, hoping to be one of the lucky ones to catch what can only be described as a parachute sized t-shirt.  I’ve never seen one of them, but I’m guessing it has the Knicks emblem, some cheesy wording, and multiple J.P. Morgan Chase logos. It’s worthless. It might get worn to bed, but most likely it stays in the closet until your next spring cleaning and it gets tossed to the curb.   If this was being offered to a passerby on 7th Avenue they would walk right past it without thinking twice.   People act different when they’re in a crowd... Read More >

No Shave November

Last month the guys in the office participated in Movember “No Shave November”.  They grew out the fur on their face all month and at the end of the month they fashioned a mustache and created a fun picture to show it off.

We ask you to simply vote for your favorite in the link below. The Advocates will donate $5 for each vote Read More >

Visualizing the Bear Market in FAANG Stocks

An article highlighting how poorly tech stocks have done, just in time for the holiday shopping frenzy! In all seriousness, I felt relieved to see that the Tech group had finally experienced an official bull market. Why? It means that valuations within this group are finally normalizing, or at least trending in that direction. To receive 9 years of up, you have to accept the risk of at least a few years of down. Over time the market will reward you, but it’s times like these that require patience from the true investor.   We hope you enjoy.     What goes up, must come down. Over recent years, there hasn’t been a safer bet than big tech – specifically the FAANG stocks, which include Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google’s parent company Alphabet. But in the financial world, this feeling of euphoria can be turned upside-down very quickly Read More >