There’s never been more places for investors to put their money, from Wall Street banks to discount brokers to free trading apps where you can purchase low-cost ETFs, and an opinion piece by Nir Kaissar in Bloomberg asks whether individual investors should still hire money managers to avoid making costly investment mistakes.
Recent data indicates that today’s investors are smarter and not as likely to make ill-timed moves. According to the latest “Mind the Gap” report from Morningstar, the gap for U.S. stock funds was a positive 0.29% per year from 2010-2019. That turnaround came after a negative 0.36% per year in the 10-year period ending in 2015. Investors are learning from experience, as well as taking advantage of a long bull market, the article maintains.
The recent bear market was a chance to see how those investors would fare during a market drop, and early data suggests that most of them stayed the course. In fact, those that did move money around probably bought low and sold high, not the other way around. According to a recent report from Vanguard Group, only 5% of their self-directed investors and 17% of their retail households traded between February and May 2020—and less than 0.5% of investors moved to all cash in a panic.
DIY-minded investors should be confident, Kaissar writes, positing that a well-diversified portfolio only needs two low-cost ETFs: a global stock fund and a U.S. bond fund. And those ETFs can be purchased without a commission on most trading apps. Strike a balance between stocks and bonds by determining how much risk you want to take on a scale from 1 to 10. Then, multiply that number by 10 and you’ve got your stock allocation.
Of course, there are always good reasons to hire a money manager, from personalized advice to having a wise voice talk you out of selling when the markets dip. But, Kaissar concludes, there’s never been a better time to be a DIY investor.