This week on The Money Puzzle Podcast we explore alternative investments. The idea of using an alternative in your portfolio is to find something to not necessarily hedge against stocks and bonds, but to be something that’s going to not correlate.

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Unidentified [00:00:05] This morning here.

Speaker 1 [00:00:05] With Eric Douglas. Once again, we’re recording beginning of July. All of our partners are on vacations and out playing and we’re holding down the fort along with Miss Producer here, experimenting with a kind of a new setup with our look. So if you if you have comments on that, if you’re watching, please cinnamon toast. We’d love to hear what we want to talk about today, what we had recorded that published last week. We had talked about what the markets were doing. And, you know, this has been the worst first half of a year in, you know, decades and decades, generations, really. So we wanted to go into some of the options that you have with that. And one of the things that we’ve heard from a lot of people, they’re asking about what we call alternatives. So an alternative basically is anything outside of the norm. And I know that doesn’t really narrow it down. When we talk about traditional investments, we’re typically talking about things that are stock or bond based. Hence the we use the phrases, the equities and the income markets. So that would that would include most of your mutual funds, ETFs, the obviously the individual securities and things like that. So let’s talk about some of the alternatives that are out there. Erik I think the big one and it’s been all over the news this year is, is cryptocurrencies. So that’s a true alternative that’s outside of that normal window alternatives.

Speaker 2 [00:01:32] The word. Yeah, yeah. Definitely different than everything.

Speaker 1 [00:01:36] You know in our business we use the phrase or the word alt to refer to that. And when we get into that world and we start talking about crypto with people, it almost has a really negative connotation when you use the word alt because that’s what we’re talking about. So well, what are the pros and the cons as part of your overall portfolio to using something like crypto?

Speaker 2 [00:01:57] Well, I’m not going to talk about crypto specifically to answer your question. Okay, we’ll get into crypto, but when you think about so, so we talk about Morningstar style boxes and the style is for those that don’t know what that means or basically you have, you know, a large cap, mid-cap, small cap. So big companies, medium size companies, small companies, then you have value blend growth, right? Growth companies are hyper focused on, guess what, growing bigger. That’s right. And they’re not paying dividends and they’re, you know, trying to fund their growth by reinvesting in the company instead of paying dividends to its shareholders. Value companies are your older, more blue chip types of stocks, types of companies that are paying dividends regular to their shareholders. Maybe they’re not on that 20% increased trajectory in growth. Right. But that’s because they’re so big, they don’t really have that room. Right. And and to they don’t really care to do that. And then you have your blend, which is something in between.

Speaker 1 [00:02:54] Kind of in between. Right.

Speaker 2 [00:02:55] Those are kind of traditional investments. You know, if it fits into one of those Morningstar style boxes. Right, those are your traditional investments. So alternatives can be literally anything outside.

Speaker 1 [00:03:07] Of that window.

Speaker 2 [00:03:08] Yeah. So you talk about things like precious metals, gold, silver, copper or whatever, commodities, cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, you know, any other types of alternative investments, insurance products, equities, you know, you see a lot of structured investments and we can get into those as well, those and that’s a whole other can of worms. But so it stands to your question as a part of your portfolio. Alternatives in general can actually be pretty effective if you’re not using something completely out of this world. Right, or something too terribly risky. But the idea of using an alternative in your portfolio is to find something to not necessarily hedge against stocks and bonds, but to be something that’s going to not correlate.

Speaker 1 [00:03:57] Correlate. I think that’s the key word there.

Speaker 2 [00:03:59] So because what has happened, unfortunately, is in in most traditional investments, they’ve become far more correlated over the years. You see stocks fall and guess what? Bonds are going to fall. Maybe they don’t fall as much, you know, in what’s happened this year, especially if you look at all the major indexes. Small cap, mid-cap, large cap. Right. They’ve all gone down together. Yeah. You know, so you’re talking about building diversified portfolios, which I wholeheartedly endorse. Absolutely. Absolutely do that. But when you have a year like this year, they all kind of tend to come down together. So the idea of using an alternative is to find something that is not going to go up or down with traditional investments. So commodities is a big one. This yeah, everyone looks at the price of energy, your oil commodities, commodities have done very, very well this year. So that’s been you know, if you have something like a commodities type of fund in your portfolio, that’s going to be a fantastic alternative to what’s happening over here. So stocks are going down. But, you know, commodities have done very well. Energy oil has done very, very well. The energy sector is up 30% year to date. That’s the only positive sector this year. So you just it’s it’s all about non correlation, right. Ideally is what you’re trying to look for within a portfolio. To answer your question about Bitcoin cryptocurrency specifically, what’s been really, really interesting this year with with the Bitcoin specifically because obviously when you get online, there’s, there’s an almost like cult following. Oh yeah, behind cryptocurrency. And we did an episode about it previously. But when you talk about Bitcoin, one of the big things, one of the big ways that it’s kind of positioned is as an alternative or as a non correlating asset to the stock market. Right. It’s going to be an inflation hedge. I remember hearing, oh, you know, you buy bitcoin because the US dollar is getting devalued with all this inflation. You need bitcoin because it’s going to act as an inflation heads.

Speaker 1 [00:06:01] Well, about that.

Speaker 2 [00:06:02] Bitcoin’s down 57% year to date. Yeah. So it’s definitely a well if you could call it a non correlated asset because it’s down far.

Speaker 1 [00:06:14] It’s worse, right.

Speaker 2 [00:06:15] The market, you know, now maybe when the market rebounds it comes back up and who knows what’ll happen, but it’s definitely not doing. I think what it was originally billed or intended to do by most people or most consumers that have purchased Bitcoin over the last couple of years. So when you’re talking about alternatives, I mean, alternatives can be a really good thing. It can also be a really, really bad thing, right? So you don’t want to make sure you’re adding too much unnecessary risk within your portfolio when you’re adding something like an alternatives fund or some other type of alternative play within your portfolio.

Speaker 1 [00:06:52] So it’s interesting that you say that. I think a lot of people don’t understand this, that if you have a traditional portfolio, say your IRA, for example, it is for most people, it’s going to be full of mutual funds, ETFs, maybe, maybe a handful of stocks and bonds here and there individually. But I don’t think a lot of people realize that you can purchase mutual funds or ETFs that are made up of some of the things that we’re talking about. Have have we seen a whole lot, you know, sticking to the crypto thing? Have we seen a whole lot of crypto wanting to come in as ETFs and mutual funds at this point in time?

Speaker 2 [00:07:30] There was a lot of interest in that last year and trying to and there’s a few, but most of the crypto funds that are out there are based on futures prices and they’re actually they don’t totally correlate with exactly the the price of Bitcoin or whatever crypto. So they’re they’re actually more risky than buying Bitcoin itself. Right. And Bitcoin in of itself is an extremely speculative investment as we’ve talked about before. So by no means am I making any kind of recommendation to buy or sell Bitcoin that that’s not what this is about, where there’s more do more or less doing an analysis. Right. I say that for my compliance department who is listening right now. But, but, but yeah I mean you definitely want to try to find non correlating assets, but you want to do it in a way that’s not going to dramatically increase risk, right? Because the idea of finding non correlated assets is ultimately to reduce risk if stocks go down. Okay, this is going to go up, right. Or vice versa potentially. But you always want to find something that’s a non correlating asset that’s not going to do any damage overall to your portfolio.

Speaker 1 [00:08:36] Right. So let me let me continue to follow up. There have been mutual funds, ETFs out there. If you wanted to go into commodities, for example, utilities, things of that nature, those are available to put into a regular portfolio to attempt to take that correlation of non correlated things in there. So for example, if if you go out and you purchase a precious metal and you actually purchase, you know, gold coins or something like that, one of the issues with that is you have to store them. So you either have to find a place to put them yourself or you have to pay somebody else and you have to insure them, things like that. If you were to buy a mutual fund or an ETF made up of those precious metals, you don’t have to deal with any of those issues. And and we can talk about liquidity here in a minute. It still is a very liquid asset to.

Speaker 2 [00:09:31] Have for illiquid. Yeah.

Speaker 1 [00:09:33] So why is liquidity so important inside of that portfolio?

Speaker 2 [00:09:36] So I love liquidity. I love control. Liquidity gives you control over your investments, meaning you can when you need something, when you need access to your investments, you can get them quickly, quickly and efficiently on time. Right. It’s been interesting this year. I’ve had in the last six months for numerous reasons, but a number of different clients, I’ve actually had far more withdrawals this year than I. We would have liked or anticipated. But it is what it is. People need, you know, money. People change lifestyles. I had one client call me last week and they’re moving to Florida and they need to take a large distribution from their IRA because if you know the for the real estate market. Yup. You can’t wait to sell your house in Kentucky to move down to Florida. Right. You have to have cash on hand to go buy your. It’s just fine. It’s a lifestyle decision and a fully encourager because it’s going to make her happy. That’s what they’ve been talking about, doing it for the last.

Speaker 1 [00:10:29] That’s what they were saving for in the first place.

Speaker 2 [00:10:31] Exactly right. So but but yeah, I mean, that you in order to take withdrawals, though, you need to be able to access your money. I’ll use gold as an example. Okay. You talked about gold, you know, and if you watch certain news stations and you know what? Sometimes I watch some of those same stations, so don’t misunderstand. But you hear commercials for for gold. Yeah. Okay. Well, you buy that gold, Ira. What happens to it? The money goes away. You’re invested in ideally gold, you know? Right. Something physical, something tangible. Well, where are you? Where are you going to? Do you have the gold in your house?

Speaker 1 [00:11:10] Where do you put it?

Speaker 2 [00:11:11] Right in a safe. Do they sends you gold? Some. Some company. Some of them.

Speaker 1 [00:11:14] Do. Yeah.

Speaker 2 [00:11:15] Most of them don’t though. But you know, so you have theoretically you own some piece of gold sitting in some safe somewhere that you have to insure. To your point, it’s sold in times of fear as a non correlating alternative asset, right? Traditionally non correlating traditional nontraditional non correlating assets over time do not perform as well as traditional investments. But this is like their Super Bowl when the markets are just fluctuating badly and everything is. Yeah. Just really failing on all fronts in the stock market. That’s when you see just an absolute glut of, you know, commercials and salesmen pop up for, oh, here’s the silver, here’s this new commodity fun, here’s this new alternative fun, here’s this new gold fund or here’s this new you know, this is why you should be investing in physical gold. Don’t don’t get the fun. The investment, physical gold. Where are you going? To spend your physical gold? You’re going to go to the gas station and buy gas. But no, you’re not.

Speaker 1 [00:12:15] Because they take that at Wal-Mart now. Right.

Speaker 2 [00:12:17] Exactly. And that that’s what’s always interesting when people talk about, you know, using Bitcoin as a hedge against the US dollar, where are you going to spend your Bitcoin? Right. And I know there’s some people talking about, you know, some industries may be starting to talk about accepting Bitcoin as payment. Yeah, but then you got to pay taxes on you know, you got to pay taxes on that. This is like taking a distribution from your right. So it it just for that reason, it just doesn’t really make sense for Bitcoin specifically. Right now, I’m not trying to trace alternatives because there are some really, really good alternatives. Right. But I don’t like the alternatives that are not liquid. Yeah. That you don’t have control of that you don’t have access to your funds.

Speaker 1 [00:13:02] I mean, I would agree, but I’m going to take a different angle and use those to use use crypto and use precious metals that we’ve been talking about. There’s another thing that that is important to me. And, you know, that’s it’s if you’re looking at an investment, we can’t predict the future. We can guess all we want, but we can’t accurately predict it. All we have is history. So if you look at precious metals, gold has been valuable for thousands of years. There’s a history we can look at. I fear that a lot of people don’t. And you were talking about at one time the price of gold 40 something years ago was the same as it was now. So on a long term, it’s not a great investment as as opposed to more traditional stocks. But there is at least a history we can go back and look at. That’s my big concern with crypto. There’s no history here. We can’t go back and look at decades of performance and say, okay, here’s what it’s done. After recessions, it’s done this, and when the markets are up, it’s doing that. We just don’t have that to work with. And that’s terrifying to me, which is one of the reasons why I lean against most alternative investments. I want to see that history.

Speaker 2 [00:14:13] Yeah, and you do see, like I said, this is the time for alternative salesmen. Yeah. To come out of the Super Bowl.

Speaker 1 [00:14:21] I like that.

Speaker 2 [00:14:22] And talk it. Talk about all these non correlated, nontraditional assets. Ironically, the time for most of those alternative assets was when the market was at its high. Yeah, because you want a non correlated asset to perform when the market comes down, right? When the market rebounds, which we’re probably closer to a low than we are to a high. I’m not calling the bottom. No one can. But you know, historically speaking, when you look at all the data, you look at all the like the 200 day moving average of the stock market and all these stocks that are setting new 52 week lows. I mean, we’re you know, we’re we’re starting to see breadth in the market right now. That is a good sign that we’re nearing the knock on wood, potentially, hopefully of. Bottom some type of a. But it’s funny because when the when the fear is the highest in these products get bought and consumed is when they’re actually the least effective. Right. Right now is actually the most effective time for traditional investments if you are going to buy into the market, so to speak.

Speaker 1 [00:15:23] If you’re closer to the floor than you are at the top, that’s the time to buy that. Yeah, great.

Speaker 2 [00:15:28] And to your point about his historically speaking, when you’re looking at history and using history as a gauge traditional investments, there’s just no comparison. Yeah, there’s always going to be flash in the pan. Alternative investments we talk of, you know, we see a lot of structured investments. Those, you know, those kind of had its heyday maybe, you know, five, ten years ago, I saw a ton of structural investments and we still see a ton of them come through from clients that have been sold them in the past. We don’t really do them here internally, but for a number of reasons. But but structural investments are, you know, you’re kind of give your money in and you’re very illiquid for a period of years.

Speaker 1 [00:16:07] And therein lies the biggest part of the problem is liquidity.

Speaker 2 [00:16:10] And a lot of them are sold in a way where, oh, hey, this is really cool, new investment opportunity. And you go to a party and you talk about, hey, this, you know, I’m invested in X and it sounds really cool to people is like, Oh, how do I get into that? Okay, well, that’s really cool. And some of those do really well. The majority of them don’t perform any better than traditional investments. In fact, most of them typically perform worse than traditional investments over a period of time. And that’s the key. What is your time horizon? It’s not sexy to go in and say, you know, hey, I own the S&P 500. Yeah. Wow, it’s not sexy, right? But it’s effective is really, really effective over a long period of time. The best investments are not sexy, right? They’re boring. They’re really, really boring. Right. But they work.

Speaker 1 [00:16:59] You know what? Either I read a great book. I don’t know if you’ve read it or not. It’s called Being Right or Making Money. And it kind of goes into that stuff. It’s it basically talks about how yeah, the traditional stuff is it’s not sexy. I own the S&P 500, you know, I own mutual funds and ETFs of these types of things in that normal little style box. Okay. So that’s you’re not the latest greatest and you’re not grabbing people’s attention and you’re boring. Yeah, but you know what? If you have the window, you’re going to win every time, at least according to history. Right. So let me switch gears a little bit. You’re talking about structured products. Another big one that people use as as an alt to the traditional investments would be annuities. Mm hmm. So, you know, annuities have a very bad reputation because and I’ve heard you say it a million times because they’re oversold, you know.

Speaker 2 [00:18:00] Especially right now.

Speaker 1 [00:18:01] Yeah. In these environments, I think back to 2008 people lost lots and lots and lots of money on paper. If they didn’t sell, they didn’t lose anything. Right. But what a lot of people did was they they got this idea of, hey, there’s this wonderful thing out there called a fixed indexed annuity. Right? And I mean, we’ve discussed these many times, these are very good products. When they’re used correctly.

Speaker 2 [00:18:27] They can’t be right.

Speaker 1 [00:18:28] Sure. The trick is using them correctly instead of using you know, it’s the one tool in your box and that’s that’s what you do. The problem with them back then and I’m afraid that there might be some of this going on now I don’t know would be that you’re you’re sold that hey, if you put your money into this product, you’re guaranteed not to lose. So that sounds really good when you’re down, right. And when the market goes back up, you go back up with it. Well, that sounds fantastic. When it goes back up, I’m going to get my money back. But if it goes down further, I’m not going to lose anything. And that’s that’s what you get in your mind. The catch is that there are other parts to it. The biggest part of it is the cap. So just to let you know, the way that that cap works is there will be a percentage that you get when the market goes back up. So say the cap is 8%, which would actually be a pretty good fire. If the market goes up 6%, you get six. If the market goes up eight, you get eight. If the market goes up 30, you get eight. You don’t get to participate in all of the growth. And therein lies the problem. In 2008, there were a lot of them that came out there with these caps of 4%. So all the all of the the loss that people had taken in that run up, they.

Speaker 2 [00:19:46] Locked it in.

Speaker 1 [00:19:47] They locked it in by going with something that had that cap now and that’s once again fees are a great product on the used correctly but you’ve got to be very careful and you got to understand what it is that you’re actually buying.

Speaker 2 [00:20:00] Yeah. I mean, you see and this is, this is where they shine because. This is where insurance, you know, this is where insurance companies come out and this is where they sell on fear. Yeah, sure. And insurance is sold on fear at the end of the day. How do you sell in in any any insurance?

Speaker 1 [00:20:14] I buy auto insurance because I’m afraid of having a car wreck.

Speaker 2 [00:20:18] You buy a life insurance because you’re afraid.

Speaker 1 [00:20:19] Afraid of dying.

Speaker 2 [00:20:20] At some point you are. Right. But, you know, you want to make sure that you’re insuring a legacy for the people that you leave behind. Same thing with annuities. I’m afraid I’m going to run out of money during my lifetime. Right? All insurance is sold on fear. Fear is at an all time high right now in the financial industry, in the markets. So they they prey upon people that, oh, I can’t lose anymore. I’m at the point of capitulation. Right. I give up. I can’t lose it.

Speaker 1 [00:20:45] I can’t take it.

Speaker 2 [00:20:46] I’m out. And then they and then they lock in their losses basically by moving into products like these in the end. And they can be appropriate for a piece of a portfolio. And we talked about this a lot. Maybe it’s good for a 15, 20% portion of your portfolio. It’s not appropriate for 70% of your portfolio. I can you know, from a suitability standpoint, I don’t really need to know too much more about your situation to know that the vast, vast majority of people, something like an annuity, is not going to be appropriate for that much of their portfolio. And that’s with a bad reputation. Yes, exactly. Oversold because they pay the best commissions. Right. So it you know, it’s it’s a tool just like any other alternative investment is a tool, just like commodities, just like, you know, certain other specific types of sector types of funds. Precious metals, gold, silver. That all can be a tool in the toolbox. And it can be an effective tool. Mm hmm. Depending upon how much you use it within your portfolio. But you never want to overuse alternatives. Right. Over the long term, you know, I’ll use commodities as an example. Commodities is having a fantastic year this year, not so much in the last week or two, you know, but commodities are typically very volatile in nature. And they’ve been a fantastic hedge this year. Over the last decade, they’ve been a horrible one. Absolutely. I’ve been a horrible investor. Commodities traders have had a bad, bad decade. Now. Now they’re now they’re coming out of the woodwork and saying, hey, the commodities are great this year and people are moving into a more and more. And, you know, that’s okay. You based on the current market conditions and it’s in a time of inflation. Right know we’ve had we talked about this last week. We’ve had record low inflation really for the last decade. We were due for inflation. Commodities perform well in times of inflation. Okay. Well, that’s that’s this year. And, you know, maybe even the next couple of years, potentially, it’s typically a business cycle with commodities is about seven or eight years. But historically speaking, that’s that’s not a good long term investment. Right. And so you need to be a little bit more strategic when you’re looking at alternatives within your portfolio. Traditional investments once again sound like a very boring, broken record. Okay? Traditional investments over a long period of time outperform any other investment. Yep. Just that.

Speaker 1 [00:23:06] That I don’t think there’s any window of time you could look at where that’s not true.

Speaker 2 [00:23:09] That’s the history of the stock market. It is. It’s boring. It’s everyone knows it. Everyone and everyone intrinsically knows that. They’ve heard that, you know, you put money away, you leave it alone for a long period of time. It’s really hard to remember that in times like this year, you know, when the market’s down 20%, over 20% year to date, it sucks. We talked about this last week. Yeah, it sucks. But you know, you get through it and historically speaking, we’re going to look back at this year and say, Yeah, yeah, it kind of looks like every other, you know, history doesn’t repeat right, but it rhymes. And right now we’re rhyming with some other years and we’re right now with some years that we haven’t had in 50 years. Right. That’s okay. There’s still historical precedent for what’s going on. We will come out of this in time. But what we want to make sure that we’re seeing consumers not do is, you know, when the habit when the pendulum swings to this side of the market, everyone panics and they move into things that are going to inhibit their long term growth potential, including annuities, including, you know, over an overreliance on annuities, including an overreliance on bitcoin potentially, or gold or whatever it may be. You know, you don’t want to. Alternatives are great. They’re an alternative.

Speaker 1 [00:24:26] Right? That’s key.

Speaker 2 [00:24:28] They’re an alternative. We typically if we’re if we ever build in an alternative within a portfolio, we’re typically building and maybe five at most 10% within a portfolio depending upon the risk.

Speaker 1 [00:24:39] And that goes back to what you said earlier. Diversification.

Speaker 2 [00:24:42] It’s diverse.

Speaker 1 [00:24:43] Correct? Diversification, though, not diversification for the sake of it. Not diversification because it’s sexy. Remember what the goal is. That is the goal to have a portfolio that you can brag about all the cool stuff you’ve got in it, or is the goal to have a portfolio that is a tool to accomplish? Your actual life goals. So just kind of keep that in mind when you’re looking at these types of things.

Speaker 2 [00:25:08] And do you have. I mean, we could. I mean, we.

Speaker 1 [00:25:10] Could we could go on for quite.

Speaker 2 [00:25:11] A beat. This horse to death. Yeah. We’re probably nearing the point where we need to wrap it. Yeah, but.

Speaker 1 [00:25:15] I would summarize these types of things. Okay. We just mentioned diversification a minute ago. I look back and I say, okay, Warren Buffett, show me a better investor. And I would be truly impressed. Right. And one of the things that Buffett always talks about is you never invest in something that you don’t understand. Right. And I think that’s where a lot of people can really get into trouble with adults. They don’t understand what it is that they’re buying. That’s another reason why I like the more traditional space for the vast majority of people’s portfolios. It just people understand it. There’s a comfort level when you know what you’re doing. And the greatest investors of all time tend to agree with that.

Speaker 2 [00:25:59] Yeah. Understanding the why. Yeah. Why? Why am I making this decision? Why am I considering this annuity or this, you know, gold, right? Or this commodity or whatever it is? Why am I doing this? What intrinsically is driving me to consider this as an investment? And is there a better alternative solution versus using these alternatives?

Speaker 1 [00:26:19] Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 2 [00:26:20] You know, as I double speak here a little bit, but but yeah. Yeah. I mean, those are the things you want to keep in mind. You never want to over rely on something that’s only really supposed to be designed for a small piece of a portfolio, something that’s going to act as a non correlating asset in your portfolio versus what your more traditional investments are going to be doing.

Speaker 1 [00:26:36] So we’ll go ahead and wrap things up because like you said, we could beat this horse for a long time. If you’ve got some questions or concerns about alternatives, whether they’re appropriate for you or not, if you just want to have a look at your portfolio because you’re scared of what’s going on. Feel free to give us a call drop by. We’re at the corner of her Spawn and Shelbyville Road here in Louisville, Kentucky. The phone number and Ms.. Producer, I’ll throw it up on the screen because we actually got our technical difficulties worked out this time. 5022005210 or visit our website at FWB partners dot com so that’s Frank whiskey papa and then partners dot com and just reach out to us and we’d be more than happy to talk to you about how how you can use your portfolio to get to your right goals. And Eric, I’ll let you wrap it up. Yep.

Speaker 2 [00:27:25] Thanks for watching any of your friends and family that you feel might benefit from anything that we have to say. If you could please share our content with them, we would greatly appreciate it. Give us a call if you have any questions about anything that we’ve talked about today or in any other previous episodes. Once again, Eric Douglas, Chris Vaughn, Family Wealth Planning Partners. Thanks for spending some time with us.

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