In April, I attended the annual Morningstar investment conference in Chicago. The conference provides financial advisors and mutual fund representatives an opportunity to gather together and discuss current events in our industry. Global economic updates, discussions of what the future may look like, and ideas of how to navigate our ever-changing landscape are just a few of the many topics that are discussed at this large event. This is a very valuable experience that allows us to have direct interactions with many of the fund managers we have chosen to work with here at Whitcomb & Hess.
Every year, the conference provides us with many valuable and strategic insights. Here are three that we found to have the most impact:
1) Technology is at the forefront of it all. We are all familiar with technology updates, ranging from the latest Microsoft Office package, to the next iOS update, to touchscreen options in our cars. All of these are used to help make our lives more efficient and simpler to navigate. The same philosophy can be used when talking about the investment industry. Companies like Morningstar, along with many others, are constantly developing and testing new software and technology that allows us to be the most adaptable and efficient that we can be. Whether that technology is geared towards fund research, comparing different portfolios, or giving us a platform to provide in-depth retirement planning, all of these tools are being developed to allow us to be more efficient and effective advisors, so that we can continue to provide consistently superior service for our clients.
2) Investment allocation/security selection is as important as ever. One of the greatest opportunities at the Morningstar conference is the ability to hear from some the top fund managers and advisors in our field. These experts come from many different mindsets; some focus more on value investing as compared to growth investing, while others are focused more on active management vs. passive management. Although the experts at the conference had many different views, one consistent theme continued to be heard: diversification. We are never able to predict the ups and downs of the market. However, no matter this uncertainty, being invested in a diversified portfolio (containing a mix of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that are suited for the client’s risk tolerance) should be a top priority. Educating investors on the importance of diversification within their investment accounts is an essential part of any advisor-client relationship, that will hopefully lead to an understanding of why the account is performing the way it is, no matter if the market is going up or down.
3) Investors’ personal goals are still the most important factors that determine success. It can seem like a daunting and stressful task to plan for retirement. This can be the case whether you are 25 and just starting to invest for yourself, or 65 and about to retire. But the important thing to remember is that you have the ability to take control of your own financial success. Although it can be difficult, when planning for retirement, it is more important to think 20, 30, 40 years ahead than focusing on the here and now. That is why “Goals Based Investing” is so important! Whether it’s 2 months, 2 years, or 40 years down the line, setting realistic and achievable goals will help keep you on the path to see those goals become realities. Putting away assets for retirement now will only be more beneficial as you get closer to that retirement date. It is important to not discount the future. A great example of this is underfunding retirement plans. Also, it is important to not lose focus or that sense of control. Remember, at the end of the day, you have the ability to decide what your financial future looks like. You can choose to buy that nice new expensive toy and enjoy it now, or add a little bit more money to your retirement account to save for later. At the end of the day, we are here to help guide and coach you down that path to retirement and will be encouraging you every step of the way.
Thank you for your continued trust in what we do. If we can help you or someone you know, please let us know. We hope you have a great summer.