Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Question of Balance

We are all familiar with the most popular stories from “The Tales of a Thousand and One Nights”. But what you may not know is that this expansive collection of stories has no named author or authors, no dates or places of composition and no single national tradition. In Marina Warner’s new book “Stranger Magic” she offers this guideline to the stories: “I think,” she writes, “that the reader should enrich what he is reading. He should misunderstand the text; he should change it into something else.” She believes that the reality of magic resides at two poles: one the poetic truth and the other bound in inquiry and speculation.

We as investors are guilty of wishing for, even trying to conjure magic for our investments and the portfolios in which they are nested. We attempt to make the leap from the known to the unknown, to embrace the magical thinking of a thousand different storytellers. And like this tale, there is always another story left incomplete at dawn.

So I thought today on the Financial Impact Factor Radio with Paul Petillo, Dave Kittredge and Neil Plein we’d discuss the magical thinking around the portfolio rebalance. We have watched with great amazement, our investments rebound and take on new life in 2012. Markets are up and this is one of those rare feel-good moments. Unfortunately, feeling good isn’t something you relax with when it comes to how you are invested. In fact, the maintenance these portfolios require is often counterintuitive. If your car, for instance is running and performing as it should, we are not inclined to look under the hood for potential problems. Rebalancing a portfolio however requires you to do just that: look for a problem where you might not have thought one exists. As I mentioned earlier, there are a thousand and one ways to do this. So let’s start there.

A quick glance at your statement might reveal a strong move to the upside. Why should we do anything?

How do we know when to do this and I have asked numerous guests who come on the show how do we pick our risk level, which is essential in the rebalancing?

How do we get beyond the concept of funding our losing positions and selling off our winning ones in an effort to adjust our portfolios?

Listen to Financial Impact Factor Radio with your hosts:
Paul Petillo of and,
Dave Kittredge of and Neil Plein of