Plugging into Technology Stocks

On August 2, Apple became the world’s first company to reach US$1 trillion in market value. It took 42 years to get there from humble beginnings in an LA garage, but a handful of younger technology companies collectively known as the FANGs – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google – are already nipping at its heels.

What do they have in common? All have used innovative technology to create new markets, often beginning with a single product or service. Think Apple’s early desktop computers, Amazon’s online book retailer, Netflix’s streaming service, Facebook’s social network and Google’s search engine.

According to Forbes magazine, these tech giants have become so much a part of everyday life that their products or services are regarded almost as utilities, as essential to modern living as power or water.i They have also used technology and digital transformation to redefine customer experience in a way that is leaving traditional companies behind.

While their products and services may be cutting edge, their investment appeal is old school. Legendary investor Warren Buffett has been a major Apple shareholder for some time. He is known to look for stocks with reliable, long-term earnings at an attractive price with a strong ‘moat’. A moat might be a brand name, key products or high barriers to exit. Switch your iPhone for another brand for example, and you lose your iTunes music library and countless apps you downloaded.

China unleashes BATs

While Apple and the FANGs are US-based, they face stiff competition in the global tech stakes from China’s BATs. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent may not be household names in Australia, but they deserve to be on investors’ radar because they are a dominant market force not just in China but increasingly elsewhere as well.

Hong Kong-listed Tencent Holdings is known as China’s equivalent of Facebook. Tencent was the first Asian company to reach the US$500 billion stock market valuation mark. It’s WeChat social media platform recently reached an eye-popping one billion members and it’s also involved in online gaming, music, e-commerce and smartphones.

Alibaba (China’s Amazon plus eBay) is the world’s biggest retailer. It’s New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) listing in 2014 was the world’s biggest and this year it became the second Asian company to be valued at more than US$500 billion.

Baidu (China’s Google) is the second most widely used search engine in the world. It’s also moving into mapping, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. And these are just the biggest of many emerging Chinese tech stocks.

Opportunities and challenges

The tech giants are also beginning to expand into new business areas such as cloud storage, music and video streaming. Some are also growing by acquisition, with Facebook buying What’s App and Microsoft buying LinkedIn.

Yet big does not necessarily deliver success. Facebook’s share price recently fell 19 per cent in a day. The sell-off was due partly to concerns about the company’s ability to deal with privacy issues, but also to a flattening out of user numbers. China’s BATs also face challenges from the worsening trade dispute with the US.

So how can Australian investors participate in the dynamic technology sector without getting burnt?

Getting down to business

Diversification is the key to investing in the world’s leading tech stocks, while minimising the risk of individual companies performing poorly. The simplest way to gain exposure is via a traditional managed fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF) which can be bought and sold on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) like individual shares.

For the broadest exposure there are global technology funds. A popular way to access the FANGs plus Apple, Microsoft and others is to choose a fund that tracks the Nasdaq 100 Index. Although the US-based Nasdaq exchange is home to a wide range of companies, it is well known for tech stocks.

Tech companies are often seen as exciting, but investors would do well to follow Buffett’s lead and make sure that the fundamentals are sound, looking at their financial health and ability to deliver sustainable returns. If you would like to talk about your investment strategy, give us a call.

i ‘Apple and the rise of the trillion dollar firm’, 6 August 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dantedisparte/2018/08/06/apple-and-the-rise-of-the-trillion-dollar-firm/#6eecde0c631d

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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The Real Fake News

Being time poor is something I’m convinced affects your intellect.  Or maybe it’s got something to do with the easy access of information that is so readily available to us in our modern society. Perhaps it’s a combination of both.

I really miss the days of listening to the news in the morning before work or spending a lazy weekend morning drinking coffee and reading the broadsheet from back to front. I seem to have replaced that with logging into an online news site to grab the headlines. I roughly know what’s going on at home & abroad. I can keep up with a topical conversation but I’m finding more and more that I don’t know anything “in depth” anymore.  What’s even more frightening is if I’m busy or feeling too tired to exercise my brain, I’m gravitating towards really low brow stuff. I can, for example, tell you all of the dramas of this season’s Married At First Sight.  I’m a little vague on facts for things that really matter.

I know it’s not only me. I can tell this from the repetitive quick read articles on weight loss and get rich quick stories that are being presented to us as “news”.

Being in the Financial Planning industry for over 20 years, I always read the property stories.  I don’t do this for their news content but  just to give myself a giggle. It’s like a sport-will it be good, bad or ugly?  It’s seems the vast majority fall into the good category and I know that’s not the ratio I see in my professional life. It makes me wonder are we just being feed a myth we want to believe?

For 3 consecutive days the same news site ran property articles. Come on, slow news week or what?  One quick read about experts saying property keeps rising and if you are smart enough to know where to find the hot spots, you’ll be rolling in dough soon enough. Another quick read about a lady who used her divorce settlement and with the help of friend “investors” she built her property portfolio that now enables her to stay home with her children and live a comfortable life. The final story from another expert about how property prices are going to crash and lots of people are going to be in financial trouble.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in an era where investigative journalism was a true profession, a time when politicians got grilled when they said or did something questionable and when there was enough money in newsroom budgets to check facts, rather than repeat a press release word for word without objectivity.  I don’t see too much of that anymore (Leigh Sales, I’m not talking about you, you are a shining light).

What I pointedly see is an obsession with property. I haven’t seen any articles about other asset classes, such as shares or cash.  None. To be fair, shares do have a nightly section in the news devoted to market activity but I’m not counting that because it is largely irrelevant news for the vast majority of share investors.

So why are most property articles about individual stories and news about share investment is statistical?  Why isn’t my Dad a newsworthy story when he spruiks the joys of receiving his dividend payment, just like clockwork?  Why is that not promoted but an article about somebody’s property value appreciating is promoted?  I think it’s because we all believe we understand property, with the vast majority of us citing our home as our biggest financial asset (albeit, an “asset” that provides shelter for us rather than a financial return).  Even those who cannot afford to enter the market, understand the concept of property because we all live in property.

The moral of my story-don’t just believe what you read.  For every person who researched or lucked into buying property in the hot spot and made money, there are some who did the opposite and lost money.  For every investor who gambled with friend or family “investment” money (sometimes referred to as life savings), it hasn’t always worked out and relationships have suffered. For every person at smoko who’s made a mint on “whatever”, question it. Live in the world of facts. Live in the world of reality.  It’s not complex but it’s often not easy. What is easy, is to seek professional advice to put a long term plan in place. You don’t take your car to the hairdresser to get serviced.  Don’t take your financial advice from the quick read news or the guy sitting next to you at smoko.  Go to a Financial Planner.

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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Ignore the Hype

Gareth Daniels is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

As I have mentioned before (and no doubt mention again) when reading articles in the papers, watching news on TV or even listening to the radio to and from work, it is always vital to objectively consider the information we are being given.

As a history student, I was taught to always consider who has produced the source of the information, who their intended audience is and why it may have been produced. That foundation can serve us well when considering decisions that relate to our long term financial security.

At the heart of this is accepting that popular media constantly misuses the word ‘investor.’ Many of you may have heard Peter Thornhill speak or even read his book Motivated Money. He correctly spends time focusing on the difference between speculation and investing; the first being the “buying or selling of commodities or stocks… in the hope of an unexpected rise in the price“¹ and the second being “use of money productively so that an income is obtained.

Peter goes on to note that “speculation is described as investment simply to legitimise activity that has nothing to do with investing.

I read with interest the article This asset manager thinks Australian property ‘calamity’ is coming, so he sold all the firms shares². Consider this article in conjunction with the process of analysing a source:

Who has produced it: A national media organisation that knows doom and gloom predictions sell papers

Who is the intended audience: The misconception that all investors are speculators and all speculators are investors means they are attempting to reach as many people as possible. Regarding the interviewee, I would suggest he is trying to reach future potential customers (pitching for business as he apparently knows better than the market) and those clients to whom they have just returned their money (justification for selling the fund).

Why has it been produced: Again, for the publication it is the desire to get eyeballs on their paper and website and for the interviewee, future potential customers by an apparent display or foresight whilst pacifying those clients to who they have just had their money returned by way of defense of their actions.

Philip Parker may be a top fund manager as the article notes, but by what bench mark? The ASX top 200 is cited in the article, all well and good but it is the capital value of this bench mark that is the apparent measure? I would prefer to measure against corporate profits shared out as income via dividend. I would also not like to get sucked into the yield trap, jumping in and out of different assets and significantly increasing the likely effects of market timing risk.

If values are over inflated then surely it is speculators that are at risk with their hopes of gains at considerable risk that should be worried. Investors who own quality assets for the long term to be in receipt of income, should not even dedicate a second of their time to read an article clearly aimed at speculators. It can become stressful to build wealth via a fund manager who believes that over the long term, through active management³ they can beat the market rather than simply owning the best that the market has to offer. The latter allows you to confidently ignore the short term fluctuations in perceived value and and enjoying the true value of a repeating, tax-effective and increasing income stream over time.

What is intriguing is the (potentially) strategic move by this fund manager. Despite the litany of unfulfilled doomsday predictions that regularly crop up, the article even sites a few, these are readily forgotten, whilst the ones that do appear to come true elevate those that predicated them to genius status. So, this firm and it’s investment team either get lauded as the special few that were able to read the tea leaves correctly, or they simply “enjoy their time off” before returning to the fold to make further predictions; attempting to reach those that believe in speculation rather than investing. All this whilst the rest of us carry on with our investment strategy, focusing on what is important to us and critically analysing the overload of information that we are unnecessarily bombarded with.

 

1. Thornhill, P. (2015) Motivated Money; Sound Financial Advice for the post GFC World, 5th Revision. Australia: Motivated Money, pg 12

2. Patrick Commins, B. (2017) This asset manager thinks Australian property ‘calamity’ is coming, so he sold all the firm’s shares. [online] Business Insider Australia. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/this-asset-manager-thinks-an-australian-property-calamity-is-coming-so-he-sold-all-the-firms-shares-2017-5 [Accessed 7 Jul. 2017]

3. The belief that a manager knows better than most can pre-empt economic cycles, property bubbles, threats of war and crisis around the world and a whole host of other fads. They are effectively trying to speculate their way to wealth via capital appreciation.

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product.
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my.solutions On Demand

Our aim is to give you access to all your Income Solutions presentations and information in 1 easy-to-use portal. We save all your past presentations in your account to provide you a snap shot in time. This makes it easy for you to see how far you have come and what goals you have achieved. If you need a reminder of what strategies you have been presented, simply log in and open the presentation.

First, make sure you have your my.solutions login details handy.  This is typically the email address you have provided to us, and a password you have created.  If you are unsure what your password is, and have tried the forgot password tool, please contact us.

Past presentations can be accessed by logging into my.solutions, clicking the Knowledge Centre on the left-hand side menu, then Toolbox.  You’ll then see a list of presentations available for viewing.

Across the top you’ll see grey boxes– clicking these enables you to instantly view your last key strategy slides presented during your last Big Picture meeting.

Click on the image below for direction:

my.solutions presentation blog

 

Below the grey boxes, on the left hand side of the screen there is a list of Presentations – here you will find every meeting ever presented to you using my.solutions.

For example, you can view all slides during your last review meeting, these can be found under the Staying on Track tab.  Click this and the menu will expand showing all past meetings.

If you have any questions about my.solutions or would like a demonstration of the portal please do not hesitate to contact the office and we can give you a hand.

Geelong: 03 5229 0577

Melbourne: 03 9654 0555

Colac & Hamilton: 03 5232 1200

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Why You Need To Attend Peter Thornhill’s Presentation

Peter Thornhill has been preaching the Gospel of Australian Index Shares for more than 30 years now, and the message has been unwavering.

Shares in the Australian Index are the safest form of investment one can make.

With many people scared of shares after prices plummeted during the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, Thornhill has been quoted as saying he would relish another GFC, regretting not going ‘hard enough’ when prices were down.

And here’s why:

PT-Picture3-Mar16

The above graph is a case study between two people who invested $100,000 each in 1979. Person A (Yellow) invested $100,000 in an Index Fund, and Person B (Red) invested $100,000 into Term Deposits.

As demonstrated above Term Deposits were doing well in the 80’s when interest rates were high, but have remained steadily low since. The best Person B can hope for is a fully taxable 3%, or in his case $3,000 a year.

On the other hand, Person A’s dividends from investing in the share market are paying $75,000 a year, and the share portfolio is now worth $1.7 million.

Evidently, the graph demonstrates during the GFC the significant drop in both dividends and capital value, but even at it’s lowest point in 5 years, the returns generated from the share market still outweigh that of a Term Deposit nearly nine-fold.

Thornhill’s theory is all about making your money work for you, without having to do any work yourself. What’s so hard about that?

Discipline.

In simple, easy to understand and relatable terms, Thornhill will aggressively challenge your thoughts and explain why people’s impatient behaviour affects their generation of wealth.

Come for a nugget of information, stay for the gold mine of knowledge.

Register here.

 

Please note: The advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

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Myth #5: Now I have a plan, I am set

Blog - Linked In Size (1)For the final instalment of the Financial Planning Myth Series, I wanted to touch on a Myth that even some people who already engage a Financial Planner believe; that is “Now that I have a Plan in place, I am all set and can execute the plan myself.

A Financial Plan is not unlike a Personal Training or eating plan; you get much better results when you have a coach who holds you accountable to enact the plan and to stick to it! Like weight loss or muscle gain goals, achieving financial goals requires hard work and dedication. Getting successful outcomes is always easier when you have someone challenging you along the way.

Whilst our industry is full of people who recommend change for change sake (mostly when it is not actually required), occasionally there are changes to your circumstances that you might not realise cause ripple effects right throughout your Financial Plan. For example, consider the impact of a large home renovation, whilst this might not seem like a huge deal, have you considered things like:

  • Does your Will need changing to reflect your wishes and to equalise your estate?
  • Do you require higher sums of Life and Total & Permanent Disability Insurance?
  • Does your Home Loan need reviewing and could you get a better rate now you have more debt (hence more bargaining power with the Bank)? Perhaps you should contact your Mortgage broker or lending specialist.
  • Are there strategies you could use like Debt Recycling to reduce your Mortgage more quickly?

A good Financial Planner can give you the tools and create a Plan to get you on the right path, but even the best laid plans will require tweaking and adjustments over time. The value added through a long-term partnership with your Planner can be invaluable.

To quote Will Rogers: ‘Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

Steven Nickelson, Financial Planner

 

Please note: The advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

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Adversity and perseverance in every day life

In December, we Bec blog Jan 2016at Income Solutions held our End of Year Event in Geelong and Melbourne to say “thank you” to our wonderful clients. Every year we have a theme and this time it was “Adversity and Perseverance”. What does that have to do with Financial Planning? Well, in terms of “hanging in there”, quite a lot really.

In a complex world with billions of inhabitants, we often find ourselves needing to be tough in order to get by – and some have it much harder than others. One of our guest speakers at the event was Moira Kelly; an amazing humanitarian who thinks nothing of entering a war torn country to help sick and injured children receive adequate medical care and a warm bed. Her list of achievements and awards from 1986 onwards would make most of us feel incredibly guilty for complaining about a bad hair day or not having a nice enough car.

Moira is one of those special people with a very interesting psyche that not all of us are born with. As a little girl, she wanted to work with Mother Theresa to help those in need. At the age of 18, her wish came true. However, Moira made it happen. She willed it to happen, but also planned and took the necessary steps to make her dream a reality.

A timely example of this level of perseverance is Mr David Bowie and his rise to fame. This week I watched a documentary on his journey to creating the Ziggy Stardust character. I like to think I’m quite knowledgeable about music artists, as my preferred literary genre is the music biography. However, I wasn’t entirely aware of just how long it took Bowie to score a hit single and sell a decent amount of records. As David Jones, he formed his first band at 15, at 20 he released a strange novelty single that flopped, followed by a string of unsuccessful singles. It took Bowie ten years to become the huge star and incredible artist we know and love (and mourn) today. The level of belief in himself and his talent is what eventually made him one of the most influential music artists of all time. Most musicians would have given up during that ten year period.

So how does adversity and perseverance apply to you and I, in our everyday lives? We don’t need to be a Moira Kelly or a David Bowie to reach our goals. However, if we want to live a fulfilling life and do the things we love, we have to “hang in there” sometimes. Are you in the right job? Do you even like it, let alone love it? Would you consider going back to study to get a job you really want? Are you currently earning what you deserve? In terms of finances, is your money working for you? How (if at all) is your money and super invested?

So many questions to ask ourselves! Sometimes we have to change a few things in our lives to get on the path we should be on. Some of us will face adversity, most of us will need to persevere – but we only get one shot at life. At Income Solutions, we’re more than just financial planners – we believe that investing in yourself and doing what you love is the key to a happy and fulfilling life; and we talk to our clients about this every day.

Are you just starting out and want to find out about putting a plan in place to secure your financial future? Perhaps you just want to learn more about how your hard earned cash can be better invested? We have a range of free information sessions held in our Geelong and Melbourne offices which cater for everyone. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, or where you are in life, you can make some informed decisions and sensible choices to help design yourself a life that you can be passionate and excited about. So, get in touch!

Rebecca Lee, Marketing Manager

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Myth #4: My Adviser should get me the best returns

SN blog 2016With recent market sentiment being all negative, oil price concerns, China devaluing the Yuan and Australian Share markets at a 2 ½ year low earlier this week, it’s timely that I post the 4th Financial Planning myth of the series; My Adviser should get me the best returns.

A good Financial Adviser, in fact, should be brave enough to admit that they’re unable to control markets and manipulate your portfolio to time markets and ‘buy low and sell high.’ Likewise, adding value by ‘picking’ individual stocks or Fund Managers is elusive.

As John Bogle, Founder and former CEO of Vanguard puts it, ‘Successful Investing is all about common sense.’ ‘Simple arithmetic suggests, and history confirms, that the winning strategy is to own all of the nation’s publicly held businesses at very low cost.’

“So what does a Financial Adviser do, then?”

A truly great Adviser should assist you to build a capital base that produces enough income to enjoy the lifestyle you want to live in the future; all whilst juggling your short term goals such as building a family, educating said loved ones, paying for travel to give your family great experiences along the way, covering contingencies (in case life doesn’t go as planned) and allowing you work-life balance – so you can enjoy the spoils of your hard work.

Indeed, there are many roles an Adviser should play in your life; including educating you to make sound decisions with money, reassuring you during tough times, giving you recognition for your efforts and achievements, providing you with peace of mind, and offering a sounding board to bounce ideas off.

My favourite description is ‘an unreasonable friend’. As a coach and a friend, your Adviser will be someone in your life who gets behind you and can give you a nudge beyond the normal limits you have set for yourself in order to help you reach for something greater. Someone who will not simply tell you what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear, and always put your interests in front of theirs. It sounds simple, but that is often very difficult to find.

To book an appointment with an Income Solutions Adviser, visit our website now!

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DAVID RAMSAY’S END OF YEAR COMMENT

As the year comDavid EoYes to an end, you will see in the media the so-called financial experts trying to predict what the share market will return in 2016.

Personally, I never make short term predictions about the share market; but if I did it would similar to Nick Murray’s prediction for the US market for 2016. Many people say if the US sneezes we get a cold, however I hope we get what Murray predicts the US will receive in 2016:

“We’re simply observing that five hundred large profit-seeking companies, managed by experienced professionals, are currently planning to commit very large cash sums to strategies which might, if successful, result in both direct and indirect benefits to the patient, diversified, long-term investor”. Nick Murray, Client’s Corner, Dec 2015.

To find out more, I urge you to visit Nick Murray’s website and subscribe to his Newsletter Client’s Corner. The article is entitled How Companies Are Planning To Reward Shareholders In 2016. I also recommend, if you have not already done so – that you attend our free information evening Common Sense Investing. We have dates scheduled for January, however if you are still enjoying your holidays, our 2016 dates and can be viewed here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

David Ramsay, CEO and Founder

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RETHINKING YOUR DECISIONS

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of JulyAs part of my current study I was required to research and analyse the Charter Hall Group. I am inclined to share some of my findings with you.

Charter Hall Group (CHG), is a property funds manager which, was founded in 1991. The group employs specialist intellectual property and advanced intellectual knowledge to manage property assets across retail, office, residential and industrial properties. These assets can be held in either unlisted, or listed property trust.

The Charter Hall Group’s intellectual property includes investment management, asset management, property management, transaction services, development services, and treasury, finance, and legal and custodian services as outlined in the Charter Hall Group Annual Report 2015. Consequently, Charter Hall consider themselves to be the upmost experts in property.

On the 16th of June 2006, the Charter Hall Group floated on the ASX, closing at $4.97.

On the 14th of December 2015, the Charter Hall Group closing price was $4.33. This demonstrates a loss of over 12%, in 9.5 years.

I ask you, taking into consideration the information I have just shared with you.

If the experts at Charter Hall are unable to make a profit in the property market, why do so many Australians invest their time, and expend their energy trying to turn property into profit?

David Ramsay, Founder and CEO

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