Investing Is Simple, Don't Tell The Rich

One thing you can do on Friday, at the end of the day, when you have a couple free minutes, is to pick up the phone fire all of your "financial adviser" and "investment consultants" and anyone else who takes money from you in exchange for recommending investments to you. Then just buy some low-cost index funds in a mix of stock and bonds, and then go to bed, because that is what smart people who don't like getting hustled do.

This applies to pretty much everyone, whether you have a thousand dollars or a billion dollars or ten billion dollars, and, of course, it's the ones with lots of money who always want to run off and pay outrageous fees to allegedly genius hedge fund managers and investment bankers who will immediately take those fees and put them into their collective pockets, and then probably not make you more profit than you would have made from putting your money into a Vanguard index fund paying less than one fifth of one percent in fees. For only the very latest illustration of this immutable financial fact, here is James Stewart's new story on fancy college endowment funds:

Even more startling, data compiled by the National Association of College and University Business Officers for the 2011 fiscal year (the most recent available) show that large, medium and small endowments all underperformed a simple mix of 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds over one-, three-and five—year periods. The 91 percent of endowments with less than $1 billion in assets underperformed in every time period since records have been maintained.

Again, to recap, in all likelihood you will make more money by investing your money in an extremely basic mix of stocks and bonds in a very low-cost Vanguard fund than you would by handing your money over to a highly compensated money manager, who will, in all likelihood, underperform the market, while also skimming off high fees for himself. This is true, generally speaking, whether you are rich or poor, now, and forever into the foreseeable future. For a more in depth illustration of this fact, see here or here, for example.

It sure is weird that you'd find better investing advice on a stupid website on a Friday afternoon than you will get from your self-interested and highly compensated money manager, but there you have it.

[NYT]