What happens when markets change?

June 2, 2015 - John Osbon (4 mins to read)

Markets change. Goals remain. You’ve probably noticed this line on our emails or web site. These four words are so much more than a marketing slogan. They’re the factual and philosophical basis for all we do. Markets do change. Everyday. It’s our job to keep your portfolio on track toward your long term goals as markets shift, drift, jump and dive. Here’s our approach.

Play offense
First of all, it’s important to base any action on what is happening in ALL markets – stocks, bonds, alternatives, small and large, domestic and global. We carefully monitor all of these components as they are never all going in the same direction at the same pace. The differences in their performance present both opportunities and dangers that we actively watch for, ready to act as needed.get-better

It turns out there are plenty of positive actions to take when markets go up or go down. While future prices cannot be known the actions associated with them are completely knowable ahead of time. The keys to these actions are consistency, discipline and execution. We actually have a checklist and use it systematically. We look for specific situations and act accordingly when those conditions arise.

Use all available tools
Sure, it’s more pleasant when prices go up for a long stretch. Ironically, there is less to do in that environment – primarily rebalancing to keep overall asset allocation in line with goals and risk tolerance. However, declining prices open numerous opportunities to increase future expected return, reduce taxes, re-align risk or all three.

As the intricate interplay of global markets unfolds each day, we watch for situations that warrant any of the following responses.

  • Anti-taxing (aka tax loss harvesting)
  • Rebalancing
  • Currency risk check
  • Factor add or subtract
  • Cash flow adjustment up or down
  • Expense audit and update
  • Risk assessment update via Windham
  • Re-investing portfolio cashflow

If you would like to know more about how any of these responses work, let us know.

What we don’t do is predict. When large cap stock prices fall five percent, we don’t see that as a signal that they will fall another five, or that they will turn around. We base all decisions and actions on where your portfolio is today, not where it might be if unknowable future scenarios play out.

What it means for you
Does your current investment advisor watch your portfolio everyday? Really watch it? The importance of doing so is one of the many reasons that we 1) have an absolute cap on the number of clients we will work with and 2) have invested seriously and strategically in technology that allows us to more vigilantly monitor detail-level daily changes in every single client portfolio.

That technology includes the 24/7 Osbon Portal where you can see what’s going on with your money anytime, anywhere. The portal allows you to stay abreast of, among many other attributes, three important variables:

  • What is my target rate of return and where are we right now? The portal shows your historical portfolio return, updated nightly, not just of assets we manage for you, but for accounts held elsewhere.
  • How long is long term? Again, see the portal for the “movie” of your allocation in the Glide Report. It’s fascinating to watch the composition and performance of your portfolio, how it has changed over time, and where it is now.
  • Am I in balance? It’s our job to keep you in balance through the global ups and downs, and especially when the crowd is jittery or panicking. We do that by always knowing the stats on your portfolio, and by staying in touch with you to catch personal changes that may affect your portfolio.

Expect better
As my high school football coach used to say, “Every day you are either getting better or you are getting worse; you are never staying the same. You decide.” With so many moving parts in a globally diversified portfolio, getting better takes time, expertise and attention that few individual investors can devote. But it’s our full time job and obsession. So let’s talk about your goals that remain even when markets change.

John Osbon – josbon@osboncapital.com

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