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Helping Larchmont Families Plan for the Future
Ian A. Post, CFA, CFP®
Fifth Set Investment Advisors LLC • 2065 Boston Post Road • Suite 200 • Larchmont, NY 10538
Email: ipost@fifthsetinvestment.com • Web: www.fifthsetinvestment.com • Phone: 646-783-9717
• Portfolio Management
• Financial Planning
• Investment Insights
Investment Corner
Iam not a golfer (tennis is my game) but
my roommate in college was the captain
of the golf team. Over time, my head
filled with various golf sayings. One of my
favorites, “drive for show, putt for dough”,
always reminds me of the importance of
focusing on what really matters. In investing,
what ultimately matters is growth of
wealth over time. But what measures really
determine wealth creation? In golf terms,
the “drive” measure is the average return
while the “putt” measure is the compound
return. Yes, the difference between these
measures really matters.
The difference between compound returns
and average returns is that compound
returns consider how the returns were
realized and, surprisingly, that impacts
wealth over time. More volatile returns will
result in less wealth over time and vice versa.
An example of how volatility impacts wealth
can help drive home the point. On January
1st of Year 1, you invest $100 in each of
two portfolios, DRV and PUTT. DRV is
more volatile but also has a higher expected
return. PUTT is less volatile but with less
potential upside. After three years, you
review the results of each of the portfolios
at right.1
The table summarizes the results (the better
result for each column is in bold). DRV
delivered better returns in two out of the
three years and a higher average return than
PUTT. PUTT outperformed in just one
year and delivered a lower average return
that DRV. Yet by the measure that really
matters to investors, PUTT was the superior
portfolio. The $100 investment in PUTT
grew 5% more than DRV (and provided a
smoother ride along the way).
This is an example of what is called
“volatility drain”, an important consideration
when investing in volatile assets (i.e. mostly
everything other than bank accounts
and CDs). When designing portfolios
with the goal of increasing wealth over
time (commensurate with an investor’s
risk tolerance), there are two parts of the
equation to consider: One: include assets
with positive expected returns and Two:
combine assets in ways that reduce volatility.
The combined result of a well-designed
portfolio is increased growth of wealth
delivered more steadily over time. Speaking
of time, I remember another saying from my
friend’s golf coach that he used when players
complained about something not being fair,
“If life was fair, I would have hair.” Time has
certainly brought that point home…
Fifth Set Investment Advisors LLC is a registered in-
vestment adviser. Information presented is for edu-
cational purposes only and does not intend to make
an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of
any specific securities product, service, or invest-
ment strategy. Investments involve risk and unless
otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to
first consult with a qualified financial adviser, tawx
professional, or attorney before implementing any
strategy or recommendation discussed herein.
1
Investments and results are hypothetical and are for
illustrative purposes only.
Larchmont resident Ian A. Post, CFA is the Principal of Fifth Set Investment Advisors LLC. Fifth Set is the result of his evolution of thought in regard
to conventional investment management. His experience and education led to research for a smarter approach to portfolio management and
financial planning. Prior to Fifth Set, Ian conducted fundamental equity research at Citigroup, Credit Lyonnais and CIBC Oppenheimer. Ian earned
a BS in Engineering and Public Policy from Washington University and an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Statistics from NYU and is a
holder of the Charted Financial Analyst designation, a member of CFA Institute and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM
certificant.

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The Impact of Volatility on Wealth

  • 1. 8 Helping Larchmont Families Plan for the Future Ian A. Post, CFA, CFP® Fifth Set Investment Advisors LLC • 2065 Boston Post Road • Suite 200 • Larchmont, NY 10538 Email: ipost@fifthsetinvestment.com • Web: www.fifthsetinvestment.com • Phone: 646-783-9717 • Portfolio Management • Financial Planning • Investment Insights Investment Corner Iam not a golfer (tennis is my game) but my roommate in college was the captain of the golf team. Over time, my head filled with various golf sayings. One of my favorites, “drive for show, putt for dough”, always reminds me of the importance of focusing on what really matters. In investing, what ultimately matters is growth of wealth over time. But what measures really determine wealth creation? In golf terms, the “drive” measure is the average return while the “putt” measure is the compound return. Yes, the difference between these measures really matters. The difference between compound returns and average returns is that compound returns consider how the returns were realized and, surprisingly, that impacts wealth over time. More volatile returns will result in less wealth over time and vice versa. An example of how volatility impacts wealth can help drive home the point. On January 1st of Year 1, you invest $100 in each of two portfolios, DRV and PUTT. DRV is more volatile but also has a higher expected return. PUTT is less volatile but with less potential upside. After three years, you review the results of each of the portfolios at right.1 The table summarizes the results (the better result for each column is in bold). DRV delivered better returns in two out of the three years and a higher average return than PUTT. PUTT outperformed in just one year and delivered a lower average return that DRV. Yet by the measure that really matters to investors, PUTT was the superior portfolio. The $100 investment in PUTT grew 5% more than DRV (and provided a smoother ride along the way). This is an example of what is called “volatility drain”, an important consideration when investing in volatile assets (i.e. mostly everything other than bank accounts and CDs). When designing portfolios with the goal of increasing wealth over time (commensurate with an investor’s risk tolerance), there are two parts of the equation to consider: One: include assets with positive expected returns and Two: combine assets in ways that reduce volatility. The combined result of a well-designed portfolio is increased growth of wealth delivered more steadily over time. Speaking of time, I remember another saying from my friend’s golf coach that he used when players complained about something not being fair, “If life was fair, I would have hair.” Time has certainly brought that point home… Fifth Set Investment Advisors LLC is a registered in- vestment adviser. Information presented is for edu- cational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities product, service, or invest- ment strategy. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser, tawx professional, or attorney before implementing any strategy or recommendation discussed herein. 1 Investments and results are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes only. Larchmont resident Ian A. Post, CFA is the Principal of Fifth Set Investment Advisors LLC. Fifth Set is the result of his evolution of thought in regard to conventional investment management. His experience and education led to research for a smarter approach to portfolio management and financial planning. Prior to Fifth Set, Ian conducted fundamental equity research at Citigroup, Credit Lyonnais and CIBC Oppenheimer. Ian earned a BS in Engineering and Public Policy from Washington University and an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Statistics from NYU and is a holder of the Charted Financial Analyst designation, a member of CFA Institute and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certificant.