It has been an interesting few weeks reading about how much money Neil Woodford has lost over the last few years, but the thing is, he hasn’t. His investors have lost money, he has made millions!
In 2018, his Equity Income fund returned -16.5%, and in the year before achieved growth of only 0.8%, however, in the financial year 2017/18 Woodford Investment Management paid a 36.5% dividend to a company called Woodford Capital, in which Mr. Woodford has a 65% stake.
Remember the words of Bruce Springsteen?
Gambling man roles the dice,
Working man pays the bill,
It’s still fat and easy on Banker’s Hill,
Up on Banker’s Hill the party’s goin’ strong,
Down here below, we’re shackled and drawn……
For years, I’ve wondered why people think ‘star’ fund managers can outperform the markets? It’s not just the investing public who have such beliefs. An extremely large fund platform, obviously with a large research department, whose head is seen to be ‘one of the very best in the profession’ (What profession? It is an industry selling products!) were promoting a Woodford fund, even though it was ranked at 257/258 in its sector just before the fund was suspended.
Why do they think the ‘stars’ are better than the rest? Do they have access to more information (really, in this world of the internet)? Do they know something that all the other fund managers don’t? (I hope not, that could be insider trading, which is illegal). Or can they achieve what King Canute couldn’t and go against the tide?
When the markets are going up, the value of investment funds will usually follow, and when they are going down, brace yourself…
Do fund managers actually add value, and can they beat the markets?
Research of active funds in Europe has revealed that they repeatedly fail to outperform lower cost, index tracker funds over the past 10 years, in fact, only 2 in 49 categories beat the average. (Source: Morningstar, using data compiled between June 2008 to June 2018).
Out of over 2000 UK funds, how is it ever possible to select the very few funds that will outperform?
It’s pin the tail on the donkey time folks!
Another issue to be aware of is that active funds are more expensive than index tracking passive funds. But what is guaranteed? Charges or performance?
There was one dealer who thought he could go against the trend and control the markets. They made a film about him, Rogue Trader (1999).
I believe that investors should structure their money around their lifestyle and any money that is unlikely to be spent within the next 5 years, should be invested to counter the longer-term effects of inflation. If inflation is your benchmark, passive funds will match or beat this depending upon the level of return (and risk) you need to take to achieve your objectives.
The level of risk you need to take is determined by your lifestyle. If you know you are never going to run out of money, whatever happens, why take a risk, or pay higher charges to get more?
If you need higher returns, because you need more money to support your lifestyle, understand the actual rate of return you need to achieve with the resources you have available and then invest in a portfolio with an asset allocation that may help you achieve these returns.
A good financial planner, using cash flow modelling, charging time based fees, will help you cost your desired lifestyle, calculate the rate of returns you need on your investments and recommend a portfolio, with an asset allocation to achieve this.
Follow a structured, logical process, not some ‘mythical guru’
If you would like to talk to a truly independent financial planner please get in touch on 01661 860438 or email David at email@example.com
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