The DIY investor readers of this blog know the basic argument for low-cost, indexed ETF investing. Basically, professional investors are, pretty much, the market. As Bogle points out, they mathematically are going to achieve, on average, the market return because they are the market. Take out between 1 and 2% management fee, and the average professional investor is going to be behind the market. Many incur, of course, even greater costs because they use mutual funds, which in turn, charge approximately 1.3% on average. For a short period , 1 -3 years, it is possible that many will outperform on an after-fee basis because they are smart people. But as the investment horizon extends, more will fall back because the cost mounts. So, in the end, the evidence shows that 70 to 80% of actively managed, professional money underperforms low-cost indexing. Market timing doesn't work, stock picking doesn't work, and even tactical asset allocation doesn't work.
The low-cost indexed approach focuses on asset allocation, establishing an investment plan and continuing to contribute as markets drop. In fact, falling markets are embraced as opportunities.
There is a potential way to improve on this approach in using "fundamental indexing." The logic goes like this: the indices we are seeking to match when we index the S&P 500, for example, are market cap weighted. This means that, as companies do better, they have a greater weight in the index. For instance, if Best Buy doubled in price, it would have a greater weight.
We know this can be successfully counter traded in rebalancing a portfolio on a sector basis. For example, when rebalancing, we lighten up on the sector that has done the best (become over-weighted) and booster the underperforming sector. In other words, we sell high and buy low, at the margins. Why not do this with individual companies in the index?
Fundamental indexing is the brain child of Rob Arnott, a brilliant researcher and founder of Research Affiliates. His insight was to think about weighting stocks not by market cap but some other fundamental measures. For example, what about weighting on the basis of a company's revenues? This approach has outperformed even the market using both past data and real time data.
Rob Arnott explains his approach in this video:
If you are seeking investment help, look at the video here on my services. If you are seeking a different approach to managing your assets, you have landed at the right spot. I am a fee-only advisor registered in the State of Maryland, charge less than half the going rate for investment management, and seek to teach individuals how to manage their own assets using low-cost indexed exchange traded funds. Please call or email me if interested in further details. My website is at http://www.rwinvestmentstrategies.com. If you are new to investing, take a look at the "DIY Investor Newbie" posts here by typing "newbie" in the search box above to the left. These take you through the basics of what you need to know in getting started on doing your own investing.