Now what? Investors can be forgiven if they’re at a loss, after seeing the stock market decimated in 2008, followed by this year’s partial comeback. Was 2008 a fluke? Was this year?
In other words: Now what?
To get some answers, Daisy Maxey, a reporter with Dow Jones Newswires the sat down with six financial advisers to talk about what they’re recommending for next year. They talked about their general philosophies and their specific recommendations, about traps to avoid and opportunities to go after.
Here are edited excerpts of that discussion.
DAISY MAXEY: Can each of you start by saying what you expect for the next year?
MICHAEL JOYCE: I think that there is probably a wider range of potential outcomes for the economy and the markets than perhaps we’ve seen in a long, long time. And we need to be prepared for all different scenarios.
In the economic and financial downturn, there was a lot of criticism that there was lack of imagination on what could go wrong. We need to guard against a lack of imagination on not only what could go wrong, but also what could go right in this environment.
So not having a silver bullet, we are focusing on staying diversified across a broad level of asset classes, both those which have done well and haven’t done so well, and to focus on quality. What has done best since March have been, in general, the lowest-quality types of investments. And certainly in the U.S. equities markets, companies that have good balance sheets, pay strong dividends and have the ability to increase their dividends over time have really been laggards in the market.
THOMAS ORECCHIO: With a lot of new products coming on the market, we’re exploring those products and the innovative financial engineering that’s occurring for ways to protect the downside of the portfolio and improve diversification.
We all know that uncorrelated assets are the Holy Grail; they are hard to find, especially in an environment like last year, but they do exist. And I think we need to do a better job as an investment and planning community to seek out those types of investments for our clients.
RICHARD L. BELLMER: I think the thing that’s interesting is that we’ve had a lot of discussions as it relates to markets and how clients feel about risk. So there have been some changes as far as the allocation is concerned.
WILLIAM T. BALDWIN: The easy pickings in the bond market are now over; we’ve gone back to short maturities and very high-quality or muni portfolios. And the allocations that we’re working on with our clients are very often much more conservative than they had been in the past. We want clients to be able to weather storms. They are not capable of doing so if they think they’re going to lose all of their money. So we’re seeing 60-40 and 50-50 allocations with 60% perhaps being the equity for middle-aged individuals, whereas before it may have been a 70-30 or 80-20.
Individuals are happy with the lower risk. They are happier with that than they are unhappy about losing potential upside of an all-stock portfolio.
DIAHANN W. LASSUS: At some point next year, the Fed is going to have to start raising interest rates. And when they do, we have concerns around bonds. So we’re beginning to move some of the dollars out of bonds and to focus more on short-term bonds versus the longer term, intermediate term — especially in the corporate arena.
We’re also looking at commodities from the perspective of as interest rates rise, the dollar probably is going to strengthen somewhat from where it is now and that’s going to have an impact on commodities.
The other thing that we’re continuing to look at is, where do you park cash? It’s a big challenge because with the money markets, you have to pay them to take your money almost. CDs are very low, but are certainly still an alternative. Short-term bond funds like some of the Ginnie Mae funds are an alternative.
ROBERT WACKER: We are overweight international stocks versus U.S. stocks. In both areas we like the quality stocks, the good balance sheets, steady revenue stocks. Those have been the ones that have lagged behind all of this year, and will likely do better in a less optimistic scenario.
We are concerned about bonds in general because of the potential for rising interest rates. So we’re looking for ways to ameliorate that, whether it be floating-rate funds, shorter durations, TIPs [Treasury inflation-protected securities].
We have a strategic allocation to [real-estate investment trusts]. We think they may do reasonably well. That has nothing to do with commercial real estate, which will not do reasonably well. But they are not coupled. REITs generally go down before the commercial real estate does and rebound before commercial real estate rebounds.
And, probably most of all, we are doing more hedging.
MS. MAXEY: Diahann, you mentioned trying to get people to get their money out of cash. Can you talk about areas you’re recommending specifically?
MS. LASSUS: We like international and emerging markets. In terms of bonds, we’re moving to international bonds outside of the U.S. and a global bond fund where you have a little bit of hedge against the falling dollar.
TIPs are another place. I call it buying insurance because we don’t expect inflation anytime soon, but it’s a cheap insurance policy right now. And we think, over time, that they will in fact pay. We believe we have seen the run-up of the high-risk assets this year.
Next year, the quality, the large-cap international, the U.S. large cap, the dividend-paying companies, the companies with strong balance sheets and cash flow are the ones that will do well. We don’t think the small-cap will do as well in 2010.
MR. JOYCE: There are still some needles in the haystack that you can find in very short-term bonds that get extremely high yields. We bought some investment-grade bonds that are due on April 15, 2010, and we got a 6% yield to maturity on those bonds. The week before that, we bought a non-investment-grade bond, but one that I think is a lot higher quality than many investment-grade bonds; that’s Ford Motor Credit bonds.
William T. Baldwin, President and co-founder of Pillar Financial Advisors in Waltham, Mass.
Richard L. Bellmer, President of Deerfield Financial Advisors Inc. in Indianapolis.
Michael Joyce, Founder and president of Joyce Payne Partners in Richmond, Va.
Diahann W. Lassus, President and co-founder of Lassus Wherley & Associates in New Providence, N.J.
Thomas Orecchio, President and principal of Modera Wealth Management in Westwood, N.J.
Robert Wacker, President and chief investment officer of R.E. Wacker Associates Inc. in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
为了获得一些答案，道琼斯通讯社(Dow Jones Newswires)记者麦克西(Daisy Maxey)与六位理财顾问坐下来，探讨了他们对明年理财的建议。他们谈了自己的基本看法以及具体的建议，谈了应该避开的陷阱和应该追逐的机遇。
贝尔默(RICHARD L. BELLMER)：我认为，有趣的是我们已经进行了大量有关市场和客户对风险感想的讨论。因此，在资产配置方面，已经作出了一定的改变。
鲍德温(WILLIAM T. BALDWIN)：可以在债券市场上轻松做出选择的日子现在已经结束了；我们已经回到了到期日短、质量非常高或市政债券的投资组合中。我们对客户提供的资产配置常常要比过去保守得多了。我们希望客户能够抵御风暴。如果他们认为会损失所有的资金，他们就不能这样做。因此我们看到，对中年人来说，现在的资产配置比例可能是四六开（其中六成可能是股票）或五五开，而以前可能是三七开或二八开。
拉苏斯(DIAHANN W. LASSUS)：在明年的某个时间，美联储将开始加息。届时，我们会对债券感到担忧。因此我们已开始从债券中撤出部分资金，更多地关注短期债券，而非中长期债券，尤其是在公司债券方面。
乔伊斯：在提供极高收益率的非常短期的债券中，仍然可以如大海捞针般找到不错的投资对象。我们购买了一些2010年4月15日到期的投资级债券，到期收益率为6%。之前一个星期，我们购买了一笔非投资级债券，但我认为该债券比很多投资级债券还要优质不少：这就是福特汽车信贷公司(Ford Motor Credit)发行的债券。
鲍德温是马萨诸塞州沃尔瑟姆Pillar Financial Advisors总裁兼共同创始人
贝尔默是印地安纳波利斯Deerfield Financial Advisors总裁
乔伊斯是弗吉尼亚里士满Joyce Payne Partners创始人兼总裁
拉苏斯是新泽西州新普罗维登斯Lassus Wherley & Associates的总裁兼共同创始人
奥奇欧是新泽西州威斯特伍德Modera Wealth Management总裁
沃克尔是加州圣路易斯欧比斯普R.E. Wacker Associates总裁兼首席投资长
Erica Beckman/The Wall Street Journal