From time to time I would asked myself to use a single word to described my overall investment approach. The answer that keeps coming up is ecumenical, taken to mean worldwide, general, and inclusive. It’s an apt description since I use multiple strategies, some even considered diametrically opposite to each other. Ecumenical also has another narrower denotation: Christian non-denominational. The religious reference underscores two truths I’ve come to realize about one’s investment strategy. First, it is unique and deeply personal. In my case, the key considerations are:
- I have a full time job so can’t and won’t day-trade. I’m also averse to strategies that require re-balancing or buy/sell a significant percentage monthly or more often.
- My overall investible portfolio currently stands at 18X my estimated mortgage-paid-off early-retire annual expense, therefore I don’t NEED to take a lot of risk. My family obligations also demand a level of prudence.
- I attribute the size of the portfolio mostly to my earnings power and being able to consistently save about half of my take-home pay, and not outsized returns. So as long as a paycheck is coming in, I have some ABILITY to take risk, although this ability diminishes as the portfolio grows.
- There is a gambler’s streak in me and I have the itch to “tweak and optimize” constantly.
- I’ve had experiences with many different investing approaches, as an amateur — “a mile wide and an inch deep” as they say.
- I’m fascinated with the financial markets and spend an inordinate amount of time learning about it daily. It’s not so much about the money as the fascination with human emotion and behavior. Financial markets are a laboratory where the collective actions and responses are displayed in great detail. What can be more exciting than that for a student of human nature?!
The second truth is that one’s chosen investment strategy is an article of faith for the simple reason that future is unknowable. No matter how much we back test, simulate, or study the correlations, the most we can do is to narrow the range of expected outcomes. Even that solace is tempered by the uneasy assumption that the future will resemble the past, without which there’s literally nothing to go by. In the end we all have only one life to live but statistical predictions hinge on the law of large numbers. So it behooves to remember man plans, god laughs.
Those caveats said, let’s go straight into my portfolio as it stands. On the most basic level it consists of a passive portfolio with many index funds following a relatively stable asset allocation, and an active portfolio that is more discretionary. The emergency fund is listed separately. The passive portfolio is typically fully invested, while the active portfolio may hold more “dry power” depending on the availability of opportunities.
Today the passive portfolio occupies 40% of the overall pie, the active portfolio 53%, and the emergency fund 7%. The passive/active split was more balanced several ago, but the active side has seen more contributions and higher returns, especially YTD. The overall asset allocation is as follows:
Precious metal bullions and miners account for 16%, other equities 48%, fixed income 29% and cash 7%. In future posts I’ll going into each of these components in greater detail.