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Advisors Eschewing Conventional Wisdom

During last Friday’s webinar with guest speakers Bill Bengen and Greg Brousseau, we conducted a series of polls. The results are surprising.

Based on answers to our polls, advisors are sticking with the traditional buy-and-hold asset allocation doctrine that has dominated the profession for two decades. Advisors say they have not reduced equity allocations. But they are looking for a less dogmatic approach. Here are the results of the poll from the webinar attended by about 120 advisors.

With 74% of those polled saying they have not significantly reduced equity allocations,

the great majority of advisors have adhered to a strict buy-and-hold strategy.

Yet many advisors are questioning the most fundamental precepts of traditional portfolio management. More than a third of advisors say Modern Portfolio Theory and The Efficient Market Hypothesis are not a valid basis for managing portfolios.

While conventional wisdom has been that a buy-and-hold strategy is the best course of action for long-term investing, two-thirds of the advisors polled say it is wise to make judgments about the future direction of the market. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the traditional buy-and-hold appraoch to asset allocation. My column in next month's issue of Financial Advisor magazine provides a new approach being put forward by one of the best thinkers among institutional money managers. Please see the magazine's website after December 1 to read about a new approach that could be influential as advisors move into the era of "Post-Modern Portfolio Theory." (I've never seen this term used before. Have you?)

Just how pessimistic are advisors? The good news is that a majority (59%) of the advisors we polled believe the economy will remain in poor condition for one or two years, while only 4% believe the American economy will remain in poor shape for more than five years. However, a significant number of advisors polled (40%) said they believe poor economic conditions will plague the nation for a three- to five-year period.

73% of the advisors polled believe now is a good time to buy stocks. Market sentiment polls like this are actually reverse indicators. The optimstic sentiment could mean that too few advisors have capitulated, and that the market must drop further before hitting bottom. Finally, in what may be the most significant finding, last Friday’s poll revealed significant dissatisfaction with the industry’s membership organizations. At the suggestion of one of our guest speakers, Bill Bengen, CFP®, who is best known for his groundbreaking research into “safe” withdrawal rates for retirees, I asked advisors attending the webinar whether they have been well served during the financial crisis by the industry’s educational apparatus. The answer: 48% of the 110 advisors participating in the webinar disagreed. This means that almost half of the advisors at the session believe they’ve not been well served by the industry’s professional educational system.

I don’t understand why the membership organizations have not produced weekly programs to help financial advisors deal with one of the worst financial events in the nation's history and certainly the worst financial crisis since the advent of personal financial planning. These groups have far greater resources than I do, can reach a much larger audience, and are paid by their members to provide this kind of support. Moreover, even though I’ve been conducting these webinars for over a month now, no one from the educational arms of the major membership organizations has called me to ask how they can help, whether they can provide some expert speakers, offer continuing education credits to attendees, or just to say thank you.

I'm grateful for the many kind words of support from advisors who have attended the webinars. Your encouragement is motivating.

Thank you for placing me in a position to be able to help during this difficult time.

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