Best investment advice

By Matt Turner via finance.yahoo.com   Article

Warren Buffett just shared his best investment advice, and said the ‘elite’ have wasted $100 billion ignoring it

“Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is out with its annual letter to shareholders. … ‘Over the years, I’ve often been asked for investment advice, and in the process of answering I’ve learned a good deal about human behavior,’ Buffett said in the letter. ‘My regular recommendation has been a low-cost S&P 500 index fund,’ he said. ‘To their credit, my friends who possess only modest means have usually followed my suggestion.’ …

Not everyone listens to Buffett’s advice, however. … ‘Instead, these investors politely thank me for my thoughts and depart to listen to the siren song of a high-fee manager or, in the case of many institutions, to seek out another breed of hyper-helper called a consultant.’ … ‘Can you imagine an investment consultant telling clients, year after year, to keep adding to an index fund replicating the S&P 500? That would be career suicide. Large fees flow to these hyper-helpers, however, if they recommend small managerial shifts every year or so. That advice is often delivered in esoteric gibberish that explains why fashionable investment ‘styles’ or current economic trends make the shift appropriate. …

… ‘the financial “elites’ – wealthy individuals, pension funds, college endowments and the like – have great trouble meekly signing up for a financial product or service that is available as well to people investing only a few thousand dollars. This reluctance of the rich normally prevails even though the product at issue is –on an expectancy basis – clearly the best choice. My calculation, admittedly very rough, is that the search by the elite for superior investment advice has caused it, in aggregate, to waste more than $100 billion over the past decade. …

‘Much of the financial damage befell pension funds for public employees. Many of these funds are woefully underfunded, in part because they have suffered a double whammy: poor investment performance accompanied by huge fees. The resulting shortfalls in their assets will for decades have to be made up by local taxpayers.’

‘Human behavior won’t change. Wealthy individuals, pension funds, endowments and the like will continue to feel they deserve something ‘extra’ in investment advice. Those advisors who cleverly play to this expectation will get very rich. This year the magic potion may be hedge funds, next year something else. The likely result from this parade of promises is predicted in an adage: ‘When a person with money meets a person with experience, the one with experience ends up with the money and the one with money leaves with experience.’

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