Asset classes and investment strategies are two different concepts. An asset class is a category of tangible or intangible assets whose scope may or may not be fully quantifiable. The quantifiable part is the raw material from which an investment strategy is created. US equity is an asset class that’s fairly easy to define and measure. How one invests in US equity is an investment strategy, and there are many ways.
What people say they believe about financial risk and the way they think they’ll act under market stress is often contradicted by their behavior. Long-term investors frequently become short-sighted at the first sign of trouble. Many times this reaction is brought on by answering an investment questionnaire under the influence of recency bias.
Volatility. Investors hate it. Any downturn in stocks creates fear for even the most experienced investor. We can’t get around it. The feeling is natural. When something is cutting away at our net worth, we want to stop it. “It would be nice to have my money in cash right now,” our minds tell us, even though we know that’s not in our best long-term interest.
There are two categories of investors in this world: performance takers and performance seekers. A performance taker is satisfied with earning a fair share of the market’s return and weathering the risk that comes with it. A performance seeker wants more return and less risk, and pays for it in more than one way.
I’m a diehard index fund fan. I’ve written books on index funds, lectured on index funds, co-authored an award-winning paper on portfolios of index funds, and Forbes even named me “The Indexer” when I began writing for them several years ago. The problem with being “The Indexer” is that I don’t invest in all index funds. Truth be told, my portfolio is a combination of funds that follow indexes, quantitative funds that don’t follow indexes and actively managed funds. I don’t even consider following an index as being paramount in portfolio management as long as you’re capturing the risk premiums you’re seeking in a low-cost and efficient manner.