NYU FINC-GB 3124 - Investment Philosophies - Introduction (12 pages)

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Investment Philosophies - Introduction



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Investment Philosophies - Introduction

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12
School:
New York University
Course:
Finc-Gb 3124 - Investment Philosophies
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Investment Philosophies Introduction Aswath Damodaran www damodaran com Aswath Damodaran What is an investment philosophy What is it An investment philosophy is a coherent way of thinking about markets how they work and sometimes do not and the types of mistakes that you believe consistently underlie investor behavior Investment philosophy vs Investment strategy An investment strategy is much narrower It is a way of putting into practice an investment philosophy In brief An investment philosophy is a set of core beliefs that you can go back to in order to generate new strategies when old ones do not work Aswath Damodaran Ingredients of an Investment Philosophy Step 1 All investment philosophies begin with a view about how human beings learn or fail to learn Underlying every philosophy therefore is a view of human frailty that they learn too slowly learn too fast tend to crowd behavior etc Step 2 From step 1 you generate a view about how markets behave and perhaps where they fail Your views on market efficiency or inefficiency are the foundations for your investment philosophy Step 3 This step is tactical You take your views about how investors behave and markets work or fail to work and try to devise strategies that reflect your beliefs Aswath Damodaran Why do you need an investment philosophy If you do not have an investment philosophy you will find yourself 1 Lacking a rudder or a core set of beliefs you will be easy prey for charlatans and pretenders with each one claiming to have found the magic strategy that beats the market 2 Switching from strategy to strategy you will have to change your portfolio resulting in high transactions costs and you will pay more in taxes 3 With a strategy that may not be appropriate for you given your objectives risk aversion and personal characteristics In addition to having a portfolio that under performs the market you are likely to find yourself with an ulcer or worse Aswath Damodaran Aswath Damodaran Categorizing Investment Philosophies Market Timing versus Asset Selection With market timing you bet on the movement of entire markets financial as well as real assets With asset selection you focus on picking good investments within each market Activist Investing and Passive Investing With passive investing you take positions in companies and hope that the market corrects its mistakes With activist investing you play a role or provide the catalyst in correcting market mistakes Time Horizon Some philosophies require that you invest for long time periods Others are based upon short holding periods Aswath Damodaran Investment Philosophies in Context Aswath Damodaran Developing an Investment Philosophy Step 1 Acquire the tools of the trade Be able to assess risk and incorporate into investment decisions Understand financial statements Be aware of the frictions and the costs of trading Step 2 Develop a point of view about how markets work and where they might break down Step 3 Find the philosophy that provides the best fit for you given your Risk aversion Time Horizon Tax Status Aswath Damodaran I Investor Risk Preferences The trade off between Risk and Return Most if not all investors are risk averse To get them to take more risk you have to offer higher expected returns Conversely if investors want higher expected returns they have to be willing to take more risk Ways of evaluating risk Most investors do not know have a quantitative measure of how much risk that they want to take Traditional risk and return models tend to measure risk in terms of volatility or standard deviation Aswath Damodaran Summing Up on Risk Whether we measure risk in quantitative or qualitative terms investors are risk averse The degree of risk aversion will vary across investors at any point in time and for the same investor across time as a function of his or her age wealth income and health Proposition 1 The more risk averse an investor the less of his or her portfolio should be in risky assets such as equities Aswath Damodaran 1 II Investor Time Horizon An investor s time horizon reflects personal characteristics Some investors have the patience needed to hold investments for long time periods and others do not need for cash Investors with significant cash needs in the near term have shorter time horizons than those without such needs An investor s time horizon will have an influence on both the kinds of assets that investor will hold in his or her portfolio and the weights of those assets Proposition 2 The longer the time horizon of an investor the greater the proportion of the portfolio that should be in risky investments such as equities Aswath Damodaran 1 III Tax Status and Portfolio Composition Investors can spend only after tax returns Hence taxes do affect portfolio composition The portfolio that is right for an investor who pays no taxes might not be right for an investor who pays substantial taxes Moreover the portfolio that is right for an investor on one portion of his portfolio say his tax exempt pension fund might not be right for another portion of his portfolio such as his taxable savings The effect of taxes on portfolio composition and returns is made more complicated by The different treatment of current income dividends coupons and capital gains The different tax rates on various portions of savings pension versus nonpension Changing tax rates across time Aswath Damodaran 1


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