There has been a lot said about peer to peer (P2P) lending lately. With the economy and credit market crunch making it difficult to get more traditional loans, “alternative” lending opportunities are arising. Peer to peer lending is a way for those who might be turned down by a bank to get the loans that they want/need, while providing an opportunity for investors to make some money by lending to others.
Busting Common Investing Myths – A Tweetup With Motley Fool’s Tom Gardner and ShareBuilder’s Dan Greenshields
A little while back I had the pleasure of attending a Tweetup at the NYC ING Direct Cafe hosted by Sharebuilder‘s president Dan Greenshields with special guest speaker Tom Gardner, CEO of The Motley Fool.
For those wondering what a Tweetup is, it’s basically an organized meeting of sorts over the social site Twitter. The meeting was held at the ING Cafe and people from all over could follow along and participate via Twitter.
The premise of the Tweetup was to help investors bust common investing myths and take the complexities out of investing.
I tried to takes notes as best I could so I could pass them along to you. Keep in my I’m paraphrasing here and some of the words are mine, but I think you’ll get the general ideas of what was being said.
To start, Tom Gardner talked about four basic investing rules we should all follow (this is just part of his full list of rules):
A 401k plan generally involves four parties: the contributing employees, the sponsoring employer, a plan administrator, and various investment advisors.
A 401k plan aims to grow employees’ contributions through investments for retirement. To better manage a plan’s ongoing operation, once the plan has been set up by the employer for employee participation, the employer will usually appoint a plan administrator to take care of the plan with tasks such as recording keeping and accounting, providing customer service, giving educational seminars, etc…
But the actual investment of the plan contributions are managed by a group of investment companies, such as mutual fund brokerages (Vanguard, Fidelity, and ShareBuilder are a few), that the plan administrator has contracted with.
There are two major 401k fees in connection with plan administration and investment management.
Investors construct their portfolios based on investment goals and risk tolerance by assigning appropriate weights to different asset classes and categories (or how much dough should go to each class). Over time, as market conditions change, investment performances among asset classes change but not in the same amount at the same time. Some assets may grow faster and become over weighted, while others fall behind and become under weighted. As a result, the risk profile of the portfolio is altered (you have too much invested in certain classes). Without proper adjustment, the current portfolio would have a higher or lower risk depending on the relative values of over weighted assets and under weighted assets. Portfolio rebalancing brings a portfolio’s current asset allocation back to the original mix so that investments can be realigned to initial investment goals to maintain an appropriate risk level.
Investing incurs risks because it is impossible to correctly predict future returns of any investment every time (if you can let me know!). However, what is certain is that not all investments perform the same way under the same market conditions; some zig while others zag. Investors may try to pick one investment asset over the other by non-diversifying, but any wrong pick would result in lower returns or losses. Portfolio diversification reduces investment risk by eliminating such possibilities through investing in assets of different expected returns. The expected return on a diversified portfolio will always lower than the asset with the highest expected return but higher than the asset with the lowest expected return. In other words – it evens out your highs and lows for a more even return.
What is Asset Allocation?
Asset allocation is an investment strategy that is used to choose among various asset classes such as stocks, bonds, commodities, foreign currencies, real estate, annuities and life insurance, and high value collectibles including precious metals.
Asset allocation as a way of investing is an important part of a person’s financial planning process that primarily concerns the very relationship of an investment portfolio’s risk and return. Different asset classes offer different risks and returns as long as their performances are not perfectly correlated (if they go up and down in the same market conditions). Asset allocation reduces the volatility of investment results when not all investments in the portfolio rise and fall at the same time.