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Edition: 346

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Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 346

It is times such as this outbreak of coronavirus which test whether a portfolio is properly positioned for a person's risk appetite. A major hurdle to investor success is the urge to do something in reaction to news, especially as market experts are issuing lists of companies which will suffer from the lower activity caused by the virus. We don't yet know how widespread and sustained it will be, and investors take a risk selling out of high-quality companies and then not investing again. The S&P/ASX All Ordinaries Index fell almost 10% last week and the S&P500 is 12% down from recent highs. Consider how investors jumped out of Apple years ago when a quarterly sales figure did not quite meet target.

Kunal Kapoor on different paths to investor success

The Morningstar CEO on democratising investing, why saving in your youth is crucial, and why most investors care more about paying off their debts than comparing their results against benchmarks.

What is the likely effect of COVID-19 on the Australian economy?

Our close links to China mean the impact of the virus could tip the local economy into recession and certain sectors such as resources, education and travel will be harder hit than others.

Do sin stocks really give your portfolio the edge?

Should sin stocks, those companies who engage in activities that are considered unethical or immoral, be excluded from a portfolio, or would this compromise potential performance?

Poor pricing of life insurance products and the impact on Australians

The use of discounted pricing by insurers to attract new business is unsustainable and leaves existing policyholders on higher premiums for what is essentially the same product.

Spotting signs of trouble in a retirement portfolio

Do you risk paying a lot of tax in accumulation phase? Or, if you're in retirement phase, do you face the risk of outliving your asset pool? Two key things to consider in the low-rate world of today.

Media worth consuming - February 2020

Links to dozens of global media articles that often do not receive mainstream coverage in Australia. It's sceptical, fun and revealing, often challenging consensus and accepted wisdom.

Poll results: Equity manager cash allocations

Last week's poll on whether equity managers should be holding large allocations of cash had more than 400 responses. Disclosure is the key to keeping investors happy.

Most viewed in recent weeks

11 lessons from my lousy $50K profit on Afterpay

Afterpay listed at $1 in 2016 and traded recently at $70. How should an investor treat a small holding in a 70-bagger when each new level defies the experts? Should true believers let the profits run?

How much bigger can the virus bubble get?

Stocks have rallied hard creating a virus bubble, but will this run for years or collapse in a matter of months? The market is giving a second chance to leave so head for the exit before there's a rush.

Which companies will do well in the turmoil of 2020?

While the shutting of Australia’s borders to international travellers and quarantine measures is damaging to certain sectors of the economy, it is not uniformly negative for all companies.

Share trading is the new addiction

The ability to buy and sell cheaply and quickly in small parcels is both the biggest drawback and benefit of shares. But it encourages people who should not go near the market to use it as a casino.

What is happening with SMSFs? Part 1

Taking a realistic view of the median ‘operating expense’ of an SMSF shows they cost less to run than previously claimed. Look at this granular breakdown and see how the costs of running your SMSF compare.

Why are we convinced 'this time it's different'?

Investors tend to overstate the impact on investments when something significant happens and they assume the future will be different. COVID-19 has been dramatic, but is it really that unusual?

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