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.