Category Archives: Investing Blog

Rosen Workshops and Educational Events

Would you like to learn more about investment strategies? We hold a variety of educational workshops that are open to all. We also provide one-on-one wealth coaching. All of these workshops are offered free of charge to existing asset management clients.

To find out about dates for upcoming workshops, call our office.

Our workshops and seminars cover a wide range of topics, including:

Discovering your True Purpose for Money: the crucial first step. Answering some key questions will help you identify the values that will act as your compass for financial decisions. You’ll identify those things that are more important than money. itself.

Choosing your Investment Philosophy: a stable foundation upon which to base future decisions. Once you have an investment philosophy that fits with your values and is easy to understand, it will simplify every decision you will ever make about investing.

Defeating your Money Demons:
deeply rooted belief systems about money and what it means to us. When you bring your Money Demons to the level of awareness, you can defeat them and create new beliefs that lead to different actions and outcomes.

Understanding the Dimensions of Risk and Return: these have different meanings to different people, and it’s easy to get confused. Understanding the Dimensions of Risk and Return clarifies these frequently talked about, yet rarely understood, concepts of investing.

Focusing on your Future View: what is most important to you in reaching for your goals. You will shed new light on what it is you want your money to accomplish. In this way, you redefine your idea of investment success.

Examining your Expectations: the relationship between expectations and results. When it comes to investing or any area of life, your expectations are the deciding factor in how you feel about the outcome.

Creating your Core Covenants: This program walks you step-by-step through the process of writing core covenants and teaches you how to use them with the important people in your life.

Customizing your Lifelong Game Plan: you and your financial coach will walk through a clear process so you can integrate the personal information you revealed into your investment strategy. Your Lifelong Game Plan is a comprehensive, cohesive document that merges both the coaching and financial components of your investing future.

Conscious Investing for Peace of Mind: a fun introduction to all of the concepts in the workshops and offers the opportunity to better understand what we call “the human side of investing.” Take the Conscious Investor Quiz, learn the Conscious Investor Formula, and begin to ask the “right” questions about investing.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Investing

This is the fun part. I love answering questions about investing. Let’s look at a few at a time.

How Do You Build a Better Portfolio Using an Academic Approach?
The single most important thing we learned from the work of academics is that diversification works. To build a more resilient portfolio using the academic approach, deploy your capital over global boundaries because we know that the U.S., European, United Kingdom, and Japanese markets don’t move together. Also, deploy your capital between fixed income and equity, small stocks and large stocks, and value and growth companies. We don’t know which stocks will go up or down at any specific time in the future, so owning them all reduces your risk of devastating losses.

How Do You Help the Average Investor Allocate as Little as $10,000 in a Portfolio?
Some of our smallest clients have portfolios that are as diverse as those of a Fortune 500 pension plan with billions of dollars. We recommend starting out by building a portfolio with the following:

  • 12,000 Holdings
  • 19 Different Asset Classes
  • 45 countries represented

Is It a Problem If I’m Eating into My Principal by Making Withdrawals from My Portfolio?
It’s normal for portfolios to occasionally undergo circumstances in which it’s necessary to dip into principal. When a portfolio is designed to outpace inflation, it’s going to periodically decline in value. Having some investments in bonds or fixed income investments gives you room for spendable income when markets are down. Diversification is key to ensuring that a portfolio can withstand occasional dipping into principal.

Can Index Funds Be Purchased With This Approach to Investing?
This approach can be used to invest in index funds, although it’s uncommon. Note there are a few drawbacks to using this approach on index funds. First, index funds are typically not diversified well with Small International or Small International Value Stocks, or Emerging Market categories. Second, index funds may not represent the asset classes you want. And finally, index funds can incur additional costs because stocks change regularly within the index.

If I Were to Invest in Gold, How Do I Use It? What Role Does Gold Play in This Investment Approach?
Because it’s a commodity, gold’s value rises and falls based upon supply and demand. We don’t recommend investing in commodities because our approach is founded upon the idea that someone should be paying you for use of your money. That is, when you put your money in the bank, you are paid in interest. When you invest in a company, you have the rights to a share of its profits. That isn’t the case with gold, and it’s usually much harder to sell than to buy.

Should I Seek to Get Out of the Market When the Economy Is Starting to Look Bad?
The market, like everything, has its ups and downs. It moves in cycles. If you want to get out when it takes a downturn, it’s typically an emotional reaction. The news and financial analysts have a way of creating fear and panic in investors that drives the kind of emotional decision making that leads to long-term portfolio erosion. Before making any changes, consult with your financial coach who can help you make sure you’re making logical, informed decisions about your money.

Is It a Good Time to Buy Stocks When the Market Takes a Big Drop?
The short answer is yes because generally speaking, after a big drop stocks will go through great growth periods. But this isn’t always true, and it’s hard to know when the drop has hit bottom or when the growth will occur. Making sure you have a diverse portfolio will help to ensure stability while the outcome reveals itself.

Is It a Good Idea to Have an Annuity to Protect My Principal?
Keep in mind that investing should be about getting a reward for allowing a company to use your money. Without some risk, the reward is low. The problem with annuities is that while they are a “safe” place to keep your money, their returns are usually restricted by tactics such as high fees and caps on returns. On top of that, as an annuity investor you don’t get to partake of dividends from the annuity’s underlying companies, making the annuity more lucrative for its manager than the investor.

I trust the investment firm I’m with because they’ve been around for a long time. Is my confidence in their qualifications justified?

If you do an internet search that includes the name of your investment firm and the words “settlement,” “misconduct,” or “lawsuit,” you’ll see that they’ve likely been accused of mishandling money at some point. Even if they are acting scrupulously, many times money is being managed by unsupervised people who have entered the industry with minimal education and experience. It’s crucial that you don’t have blind faith when it comes to your portfolio and that you have a solid understanding of investment tactics and options so you can be sure your money is being managed properly, whether it’s by a globally recognized firm or a local entity.

“This Has Never Happened Before.” What Do I Do?
The market will always be affected by dramatic world events; it’s nothing new. Looking back over the 20th century, we can see many wars, man-made catastrophes, and natural disasters that left investors and entire populations feeling insecure and unsure of what to do next. In times like these, it’s important to turn to your pre-established rules for investing so you aren’t making emotional decisions. One thing that’s certain is that things have always recovered, no matter how bad they seemed at the moment.

I’m New to Investing and the Amount of Information I Have to Take in is Intimidating. How Can I Get Started?
Before you get started, review everything you’ve learned from this book. Being able to see the difference between myths and truths, especially in advertising, will help you avoid investments that are too good to be true. Second, we recommend working with a fee-only advisor, which will prevent you from paying more than the amount necessary for his services. Continue to educate yourself because it’s entirely up to you to make informed decisions about who you will trust to advise you as you work to build wealth.

What is a Financial Coach?
A Financial Coach guides clients through a disciplined investment process. No matter how well the portfolio is put together, there may be periods of time when the market outlook is negative and fear could cause you to want to get out. A coach helps support you through the process of keeping a disciplined approach that’s based on knowledge. Peace of mind isn’t created from the portfolio, but through education and financial coaching.

What Makes Financial Planning Different from Financial Coaching?
Financial planning is often used as a marketing tool to sell financial products. An individual investor working with a financial planner generally has little way of knowing whether the recommendations made are in their best interest or in the best interest of the planner. They also have little way of knowing whether the financial products could have been obtained elsewhere at lower cost. The majority of planners work for brokerage firms or a broker/dealers, and don’t really work for the client. The brokerage firm also typically controls which products can be recommended. Finally, the traditional planning process does little to educate investors and help them deal with the emotional reactions that are at the root of many poor investment decisions.

Coordinate Your Financial and Estate Planning

You can do everything right on the investment side and still have problems when you reach retirement because of poor coordination between financial planning and estate planning. Poor financial planning can not only complicate your golden years, but can even cause estate problems after death.

In addition to having an investment strategy and sticking to it, you need an estate plan that will protect your most important assets from taxes, court fees, nursing homes, etc. But if your investment portfolio is dysfunctional, there may not be many assets left to protect. Too many people pay excessive fees and take on too much risk.

It makes no sense to separate retirement planning from estate planning. The elements that are essential to crafting a solid estate plan are the same ones that are crucial to a financial plan: evaluating your objectives, wishes, and family concerns. At Rosen Investment Management, we take a holistic approach, analyzing all the important details of your situation, and integrating asset protection, financial planning, retirement income and distribution planning, long-term healthcare planning, and estate planning.

What Good is an Investment Advisor?

An investment advisor can help you avoid making big mistakes. He does that by giving dispassionate, objective advice that’s tailored to your unique situation. Ask yourself if you can trust the person to get to know you well enough to help you behave financially for the next ten, 20, or 30 years. That means understanding not just your finances, but also your objectives, your values, and your family situation. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your investment advisor because there will be times when they will have to convince you to not do something (like sell when times are looking bad). If they can’t do that, why should you pay them at all? Seek out someone whose advice you will actually respect.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: successful investing is about behavior, not skill.

Nobel prize-winning behavioral economist, Daniel Kahneman, has suggested that we are all born with certain inherent biases. This wiring makes it difficult to consistently make good financial decisions. So, when the market gets ugly, most people sell. When it rallies, most people buy. This results in exactly the behavior you want to avoid: sell low; buy high. Not good. Your financial plan and your advisor are guardrails that keep you from joining that money-hemorrhaging crowd. You can still move within the lines, but they keep you from stepping out of bounds.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating an Investment Advisor

An excellent way to identify conflicts of interest is to examine how the advisor is compensated. Here are some simple questions you should ask:

1. How do you get paid?
2. How much do I pay you?
3. Are you a fiduciary?
4. Are you entitled to any compensation, based on our working together, from anyone other than me?
5. Do you receive any extra compensation based on the products you recommend to me or that I purchase?

Note that you should ask each of these questions; they’re not exactly the same. (OK, the last two are basically the same, but it couldn’t hurt to ask twice just to be sure.) For example, compensation for many advisors comes partly in the form of sales-based bonuses or commissions for selling you certain products. After hearing the advisor’s answers to these questions, you’ll have a good idea whether there are likely conflicts of interest as well as how much you will have to pay the advisor and how often (e.g., quarterly or monthly).

Keep in mind that some people are unscrupulous, and some are outright liars. (Even Bernard Madoff was a SEC-registered investment advisor.) But going through these steps helps you minimize the risk of hiring the wrong one.

Also note that some people are both stockbrokers and investment advisor. They can wear two hats, which means you have to be clear on whether the fiduciary standard applies to your account.

How to Choose an Investment Advisor

A lot of the decisions you have to make in the investment process are emotional. They should be, because they will affect the people you care about the most. That’s why no matter how smart and rational you are, it helps to work with someone else. Even financial advisors work with financial advisors. It’s economics; but it’s also psychology. We are often blind to our own biases and mistakes. The advisor serves as a check and a balance to your own inclinations, protecting you from yourself.

So if you’ve decided to seek the help of an objective financial advisor, the next question is “Who?” and “How do I identify him?”

The following are some of the elements to consider:

Understanding Your Personal Goals and Needs
Your first meeting with an advisor should involve lots of questions – about your life, your family, and your goals, so your advisor can have a full picture of what’s important to you. Without an appreciation for your unique position, no advisor can do a good job for you.

Conflicts of Interest
An advisor is not a salesperson. Obviously, a Ford dealer is not going to tell you that a Jeep would be best for you and your family; you know walking in there that he’ll try to sell you a Ford. They call themselves automobile salesmen, not advisors, and we don’t expect them to give us purely unbiased advice. But in the financial realm, it’s peculiarly permissible and common for the lines between salesperson and objective advisor to blur. Many so-called “advisors” are really stockbrokers who make money from sales commissions, and try to cloak themselves in the image of objectivity. They have every incentive to put their and their firm’s interests above your own, which unfortunately they often do.

The main difference between a stockbroker (who holds a Series 7 license) and an SEC-registered investment advisor (who holds a Series 65 license) is that only the latter is bound by a fiduciary duty. That means they are required by law to act in your best interests, and put those before their own.

First, do a simple background check to make sure your advisor has a Series 65 license. You can do this at the “BrokerCheck” website ( provides information about the advisor’s employment, registrations, and licenses, as well as any investment-related investigations, disciplinary actions, arbitrations, criminal records, or bankruptcies.

Once you sit down to talk with a potential advisor, ask about conflicts of interest. An honest advisor will readily disclose the scope of his own potential conflicts.

Reexamining the 5th Key Rule of Successful Investing: Buy Low and Sell High

You’ve probably heard this advice so often that you’ve come to laugh it off. Of course, we all want to buy low and sell high; the question is how?

The answer is actually simple: it just takes discipline to periodically rebalance your portfolio, whether you do it based on the calendar ever quarter, or when the ratio of your investments gets out of line with your investment strategy..

For example. if your investment strategy is 50% fixed income and 50% stocks, but in the following quarter, stocks rallied and now your portfolio mix is 39% fixed income and 61% stocks (because the stock value grew faster than the bond value). Then it is appropriate to rebalance the portfolio to 50:50 by selling stocks and/or buying more fixed income securities.

In the example above, where stocks have rallied, it can be psychologically difficult to force yourself to rebalance your portfolio. It’s hard to rationalize shifting money from an asset that is performing well into one that isn’t. But don’t think of it as giving up on well-performing assets; think of it as locking in some of your gains. Cutting back on the current “winners” and adding more of the so-called “losers” forces you to buy low and sell high.

Many financial experts recommend that investors rebalance their portfolios on a regular basis: every six or twelve months. The advantage of this method is that the calendar reminds you when to rebalance. At Rosen Investment Management, we automatically rebalance our investors’ portfolios every quarter, after considering the tax implications of selling off assets, unless the asset ratio has not changed very much.

Reexamining the 4th Key Rule of Successful Investing: Reduce Your Costs

One of the easiest ways to make more money in your portfolio is by not spending as much in fees, but the only way you can reduce these costs is by knowing what fees you are being charged.

You need to be aware of all the fees you’re paying, including the ones that are “hidden,” or not readily disclosed in a prospectus. These fees can be found in the Statement of Additional Information that is available to all investors, at no cost, upon request.

You should also know how your investment advisor is compensated—for example, does he earn a fee by selling you certain stocks?—and whether he is fulfilling a fiduciary duty to you or is working for the mutual fund or brokerage.

Reexamining the 3rd Key Rule of Successful Investing: Diversify Broadly

If you own mutual fund shares, the MRI will evaluate what they contain.

Let’s say you own both Fidelity’s Contra Fund and Fidelity’s Growth Fund, each of which invests in Apple in different proportions. The Contra Fund might have 3% of its holdings in Apple stock and the Growth Fund might only have 1%. If Apple does well, the Contra Fund has a competitive advantage over the Growth Fund. It will receive a 5-star rating, and its fund manager will be called a genius. But it was really by chance that one fund did better than the others.

This is also an example of Portfolio Overlap in which multiple funds hold the same stocks. That redundancy can reduce your true diversification and add complexity to managing your investments.

We see this all the time, and what it means is that not all strategies—or even all funds—are truly designed to diversify your risk. In fact, it’s likely that they are designed in part to diversify Fidelity’s chances of having a highly rated fund. If Fidelity were really confident in Apple, all of their funds would own the exact same amount of Apple stock.

Reexamining the 2nd Key Rule of Successful Investing: Buy and Hold

You may recall that missing the market’s top-performing days by trying to react to “news” or speculation can prove costly to a portfolio. Remember the hypothetical investor who missed only the 10 top-performing days during the 20-year period from 1993–2012? By selling his investments and being out of the market for 10 days out of 20 years, that investor would have earned half as much as an investor who remained in the market for the entire period. By missing 10 days, he would have left 50% of his potential gains on the table. Constantly buying and selling not only has its own costs (commissions on transaction costs) but also risks missing out when an investment begins to move up again.

In addition to transaction costs, frequent trading results in higher taxes. That’s because Short-Term Capital Gains (profits from assets held for one year or less) are taxed at the same rate as income (10–39.6% in 2015), which is higher than the tax on Long-Term Capital Gains (profits from assets held for longer than one year) which are taxed at a lower rate (generally 15% or 20%) than income.

Now, you may be adhering to the principle of Buy and Hold, but the same might not be true for your fund manager. To assess how much buying and selling has been going on within a mutual fund, you must review the turnover percentage. A fund turnover of 50% means that 50% of the stocks in your portfolio have changed since last year. Every time your fund manager buys and sells a stock, there is a cost. It’s called the “Bid/Ask Spread.” These costs are passed on to you and hurt your returns.

This also means that your fund manager is gambling with your portfolio, buying and selling stocks he thinks are winners and losers.