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The Active Versus Passive Debate: There’s Scope For Active In SA

Greg Hopkins, Chief Investment Officer of PSG Asset Management on what you need to consider when it comes to passive versus active investment strategies.

Greg Hopkins

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South-African-investment

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In 2008, Warren Buffett made a now famous million-dollar bet against specialist asset management firm Protégé Partners.

He set out to prove that a simple passive strategy – tracking the performance of the S&P 500 – could outperform actively traded, more complex hedge fund strategies designed to seek out untapped value. Buffett placed his money in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares (which invests in the S&P 500).

In response, Protégé Partners picked five funds of funds (each comprised of a selection of hedge funds) that the firm felt could do better.

Today, eight years into the ten-year bet, Buffett’s investment has returned over 65%. In comparison, the Protégé Partners portfolio has returned just over 20%. While there is still some time to go, it is likely that passive pundits will soon have a strong case to support their standpoint.

Related: 27four Investment Managers Aren’t Afraid Of The Big Boys

Passive investment strategies will play an increasingly prominent role

We have little doubt that passive investment strategies will play a bigger role in our industry in future. A passive investment approach offers a good value proposition for investors who don’t feel confident in choosing a manager that can deliver consistent outperformance over the long term.

We also believe that it’s a mathematical certainty that the average investor (including mutual fund managers, institutional investors and private investors) will underperform their relevant benchmarks over the long term, after investment fees.

We’re a long way from Buffett’s Omaha…

While Buffett’s bet (and its likely outcome) has certainly given investors something to think about, the debate between active and passive investing becomes more interesting when placed in a local context.

In fact, the South African market presents a compelling case for active management, especially when compared to global markets. This is because it has a high concentration of large index-weighted companies, which can become significantly mispriced at times.

Comparing the ALSI to the S&P 500, for example, the top five stocks in the ALSI make up 41% of the index, compared to the top five stocks in the S&P 500 which make up just 11% of that index. South African active managers are therefore given greater scope to deviate from the underlying benchmark and seek out opportunities for long-term outperformance.

As a result, there are a number of South African asset managers that have consistently outperformed benchmarks after fees, over meaningful periods.

In all instances, they have certain characteristics in common, which include:

  • a consistent investment process
  • a long-term orientation
  • a value-based approach of trying to buy when expectations are low and sell when expectations are high.

Related: Ashburton Shares How You Can Protect Your Investment Portfolio

Deliberate, considered benchmark deviation contributes to outperformance

Asset managers may stick closely to their benchmarks when compiling their funds in the fear that they will underperform over shorter periods. However, they might have a tough time justifying their fees and longer-term performance when compared to passive strategies.

To add meaningful outperformance as an active manager, the ability to deviate from the benchmark and identify high-quality, undervalued securities is key.

An increasingly popular way of measuring the extent to which a fund overlaps with its benchmark is by considering its ‘active share’.

Put simply, active share is calculated by adding up the differences in each fund holding’s weighting in the fund and its weighting in the benchmark, and then dividing by two. The higher the active share, the larger the differentiation from the underlying benchmark.

Related: Enko Education Investments Matches Money With Passion

Greg Hopkins is the Chief Investment Officer at PSG Asset Management and co-manages the PSG Global Equity, PSG Equity and PSG Balanced funds. Prior to that he had roles of Analyst and Fund Manager at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (now Blackrock) in London and SIM Global in South Africa.

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11 Things You Need To Know About Bitcoin

The cryptocurrency has had a tumultuous existence so far.

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Gold Bitcoin Coin

11 Bits about Bitcoin

Even the most tech savvy among us have a hard time wrapping their heads around Bitcoin. It’s a hot topic and a frequent point of discussion among investors, entrepreneurs and stock traders, so you should want to know all about it.

For starters, here’s an overly simplified explanation of Bitcoin: It’s a digital currency (there are more than 800 now) that isn’t controlled by a central authority such as a government or bank. It’s created by “miners,” who use computers and specialised hardware to process transactions, secure the currency’s network and collect bitcoins in exchange. Supporters say it allows for more secure transactions over the internet. That’s in part due to blockchain, a technology that records cryptocurrency transactions chronologically in a public digital ledger.

Bitcoin is only eight and a half years old, but it’s the oldest and most highly valued cryptocurrency out there. In such a short time, it’s had a rocky and controversial history, but it’s also attracted a fair share of high-profile supporters.

Related: 6 Rookie Investor Mistakes You Must Avoid For Profitable Investing

Click through to read 11 bits about Bitcoin that will make you at least sound like you know what you’re talking about next time it inevitably comes up.

The birth of Bitcoin

birth-of-bitcoin

Starting point at 2008

The origins of bitcoin trace back to 2008, when its creator, who went by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, published a proof of concept for Bitcoin. The proof was then published to a cryptocurrency mailing list in 2009. Nakamoto left the project in 2010 and disappeared, but other developers picked up the work. Bitcoin’s birthday is Jan. 3, when Nakamoto mined the first 50 units of the currency.

An elusive creator

elusive

No one really knows

The true identity of Bitcoin’s creator has never been confirmed. Newsweek claimed to have found Bitcoin’s creator in 2014, identifying Temple City, Calif, resident Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. He has vigorously denied it. In 2015, an Australian entrepreneur named Craig Wright said he was Bitcoin’s creator, but he couldn’t produce the evidence to support his claim. Whoever Nakamoto is, that person is very rich, as the creator is estimated to have mined a million bitcoins in the currency’s early days.

Very expensive pizza

pizza

We wonder what was on the pizza?

The first transaction involving bitcoin was reported on May 22, 2010, when a programmer identified as Laszlo Hanyecz said he “successfully traded 10,000 bitcoins for pizza.” As of Aug. 28, 2017, 10,000 bitcoins are worth about $43 million.

You can spend bitcoins

spend-bitcoins

How to spend your bitcoins

While it may not seem like it, people continue to use bitcoins to buy stuff. The largest businesses to accept the cryptocurrency include Overstock.comExpediaNewegg and Dish.

Related: Fintech: Fusing Finance And Technology

Federal Bureau of Bitcoin

Federal Bureau of Bitcoin

The banning of Bitcoins

At one point, the U.S. government was one of the largest holders of bitcoin. In 2013, after the FBI shut down Silk Road, a darknet site where people could buy drugs and other illicit goods and services, it took over bitcoin wallets controlled by the site, one of which held 144,000 bitcoins. Investors have been making a killing by bidding on government-seized bitcoins.

A mountain-sized setback

Mt. Gox

Mt. Gox

In early 2014, Bitcoin suffered a devastating loss after the alleged hacking of Mt. Gox, a Japanese exchange. About $460 million of the currency (in 2014 value) was stolen. It was the largest loss of bitcoins ever and raised concerns about how secure the currency was.

The billionaires’ takes

warren-buffett

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, perhaps the most famous investor in the world, was not so keen on Bitcoin one of the only times he addressed the currency. “Stay away from it. It’s a mirage, basically,” he told CNBC. “The idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is a joke in my view.”

Fellow billionaire investor Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, had even stronger words about Bitcoin: “You can’t have a business where people are going to invent a currency out of thin air. It won’t end well … someone is going to get killed and then the government is going to come down on it.”

But not all billionaires are against Bitcoin. Mark Cuban has said its value is inflated, but he recently invested in a venture capital fund that backs cryptocurrency. Richard Branson, however, has spoken more optimistically about it.

Related: The Currency Revolution

Wealthy twins and a smart teen

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss

Other notable investors in Bitcoin include Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (the Harvard-educated twins who sued Mark Zuckerberg claiming that Facebook was based on an idea they’d had). They invested $11 million into Bitcoin in 2013, an amount said to be about 1 percent of all bitcoins in circulation at that time. The Winklevoss twins have been petitioning the SEC to create a bitcoin exchange traded fund. The agency rejected the idea earlier this year.

Another is investor and entrepreneur Erik Finman, who invested $1,000 into Bitcoin when he was 14 years old and is now a millionaire.

Celebrities want in

ashton-kutcher-2017

Ashton Kutcher

Celebrities have also expressed enthusiasm for the cryptocurrency. Actor and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow advises Abra, a Bitcoin wallet, and Ashton Kutcher, Nas and Floyd Mayweather have all invested in Bitcoin start-ups.

Support from a big financial institution

Fidelity Investments

Fidelity Investments

In August 2017, Fidelity Investments became a rare standout among financial institutions in embracing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The company allows its clients to use the Fidelity website to view their bitcoin holdings held through digital wallet provider Coinbase.

“This is an experiment in the spirit of learning what these crypto assets are like and how our customers may want to interact with them,” Hadley Stern, senior vice president and managing director at Fidelity Labs, told Reuters.

A hard fork

Bitcoin Cash

Bitcoin Cash

On Aug. 1 2017, Bitcoin experienced what’s being called a “hard fork” as a result of a few issues, including the limited number of transactions that can be processed per second. Essentially, the cryptocurrency split into two, with Bitcoin Cash debuting.

Here’s how Rob Marvin of PCMag explains the situation:

“The Bitcoin fork speaks to a fundamental ideological rift over what’s more important: Preserving the decentralised nature and independent control of the Bitcoin network, or accelerating transaction speeds to make the cryptocurrency more viable for mainstream ecommerce and payments.” Bitcoin Cash allows larger blocks of currency and more transactions per second.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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9 Warren Buffett Quotes That Will Teach You More Than Just Investing

While he is one of the most famous investors in the world, his expertise goes beyond money.

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Check out these nine quotes on time, success, mindset and more

There’s more to learn than finance from one of today’s most famous investors, Warren Buffett. In fact, the businessman, financial guru and philanthropist can teach you a thing or two about life. From taking risks to coping with change, Buffett’s expertise that expands far beyond stocks and dollar signs.

From a young age, the billionaire investor was destined for success – selling garbage bags to neighbors and delivering newspapers. By age 15, Buffett was already worth thousands of dollars and investing in real estate.

However, fast forward nearly 70 years and the “Oracle of Omaha” is now worth a whopping $77 billion, according to Forbes, making him currently the second richest person in the world (behind only Bill Gates). There’s much to learn from Buffett too.

Related: 5 Worthwhile Investment Lessons I Learned From Warren Buffett

On time

warren-buffett

Warren Buffett

“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” – Warren Buffett

On risk

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett on risk management

“I don’t look to jump over seven-foot bars: I look around for one-foot bars that I can step over.” – Warren Buffett

On change

warren-buffett

Be the change you want to see in the world

“The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” – Warren Buffett

Related: 5 Things Warren Buffett Does After Work

On success

Warren-Buffett

What you need to know about success

“You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” – Warren Buffett

On empowerment

Warren-Buffett-billionaire-successful-entrepreneur

Image Credit: Art Streiber

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett

On opportunity

Warren-Buffett-problem-solving

When looking for an opportunity…

“You do things when the opportunities come along.” – Warren Buffett

On mindset

Warren-Buffett-billionaire-close-up

Mindset management

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

On leadership

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

On motivation

Warren Buffett

Look for motivation

“Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building arks does.” – Warren Buffett

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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5 Worthwhile Investment Lessons I Learned From Warren Buffett

Patience in long-term investing is one lesson. Investing in what you understand is another – the reason Buffett steers clear of tech.

Toby Nwazor

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It’s one thing to be a good investor; it is quite another to know how to teach investing. Warren Buffett is spectacular at both and has over 50 years worth of financial and investment success to prove it. Nicknamed the Oracle of Omaha, Buffett may not be the richest man in the world, but he is, by a great margin, the planet’s wealthiest investor.

He also dishes out free and priceless investment advice whenever he can, mostly through his annual letter to shareholders. His sage words of advice can benefit everyone across the investment spectrum, from the Class A shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway to the average investor involved in low-key passive income investing.

Here are a few of these lessons Buffett has offered throughout the years that may help you, too, become a better investor.

1Develop an investment mindset

It’s true that any of us can become investors, but not all of us can own and manage our investments ourselves. For that, we’d need a fully equipped investor’s mindset. And that means putting in thousands of hours of intentional study to build your investment-skill level and mental aptitude.

Related: Why Warren Buffett Doesn’t Worry

2There’s a power to practicing patience in long-term investing

Whenever Buffett uses the word “investment,” he specifically excludes speculators who are in the habit of hit-and-run investment (meaning purchasing, then selling off investments at the slightest northward tick in value).

This is why the Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway has never split its Class A shares (which as of March were worth $258,000 per share) and only created Class B shares to discourage the creation of unit trusts. One of Buffett’s famous statements, which alludes to his preference for long-term investments, is:

“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”

A real investor, in short, does not merely speculate; he or she makes informed and intelligent investment decisions and rides it for the long haul. That kind of investor eventually ends up with more success than the short-term kind. Case in point: Berkshire Hathaway’s 2014 letter to shareholders disclosed that in the period extending from 1964 to that year, 2014, the company claimed an overall 751,113 percent gain.

3Prioritise value over money

Ferrari

Sometimes, the amount of money we spend on something and the value we get back from our purchased item do not correlate. Just because you purchased a Ferrari for $400,000 doesn’t mean that your overall quality of life will improve because of the car you drive.

Many people make the mistake of ascribing ultimate value to money. Buffett disagrees. An investor understands that the market prices of commodities and stocks are driven by demand, supply and general market sentiment about the company or commodity in question.

Related: Billionaire Buffett’s 2-List Success Recipe

Buffett has a general formula for investing, especially in stocks. He suggests that the best time to invest in any business is when the price of its stock is lower than its intrinsic value. In simple terms, you should invest in companies when they are undervalued.

4The human factor plays a big role in investing

Buffett’s decades of consistent success are further proof that the now largely discredited efficient market theory is flawed. Investing is both a science and an art, and Buffett believes that modern financial theory does not adequately take into consideration the artistic side of it – the human factor.

Human emotions and sentiment and intelligence affect the market much more than modern financial model is willing to admit. The latter makes things look too easy and straightforward, assuming that something that has never happened can happen.

The modern financial model leans more on past and present market data (physical science) than the human factor (behavioral science) when the reverse should be the case. Buffett has suggested that controlling the emotions is much more important. According to him, “Success in investing doesn’t correlate with IQ  … what you need is the temperament to control the urges that get other people into trouble in investing.”

5Invest in what you understand

Drawing on his “circle of competence” belief, Buffett advises that you “never invest in a business you cannot understand.” In other words, don’t choose businesses requiring knowledge outside your circle of competence, at least not until you have acquired sufficient knowledge to do so. Buffett lumps factors affecting a business into categories: The knowable, the unknowable, the important and the unimportant.

So, what he’s saying is that businesses are a good bet for investing only if their important factors are knowable – and known.

If you don’t have sufficient knowledge about a company, it becomes harder to hold long-term investments and predict what the company (and its industry) will look like a few years down the line.

Related: The Top 25 Self-Made Billionaires In the World

Buffett, for instance, usually stays away from tech industry businesses; he puts most of these businesses in the “too hard” pile on his desk. He refers to investing in businesses you do not understand as trying to jump over seven bars when you should be looking for a one-foot bar (a business you understand) that you can step over.

Clearly, the Oracle of Omaha, over the years, has found and profited from plenty of those one-bar businesses.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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