Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 138

Long-term investing: the destination is better than the journey

The old adage ‘time in the market, not timing the market’ is frequently used in articles like this one, with good reason – it often holds true. One of the key elements of successful investing is patience, as a long-term mindset is required to achieve investment goals. Returns in the short-term can be unpredictable and volatile, so investing with a short-term focus produces difficulties and can be counterproductive. It is easy to be fixated on the daily market movements and become distracted from long-term investment goals. It is often better to take a step back and allow investments to grow steadily over time.

Returns over different time horizons

To highlight the merits of having a long-term perspective, we assessed the historical returns after fees and tax of a ‘balanced’ superannuation strategy over three distinct time intervals: rolling one-month, rolling one-year, and rolling 10-years.

Exhibit 1 shows the rolling one-month returns or the portfolio's individual month-to-month performance. The green bars above the x-axis represent positive performance and a gain in the portfolio's value. A red bar below the x-axis represents negative performance and a loss in the portfolio's value.

There are no clear patterns or sequence to the returns. In the short-term, even a well-diversified portfolio exhibits volatile and unstable returns.

Exhibit 2 illustrates the rolling one-year returns, so each bar includes 12 months of performance.

Here we observe smoother and more persistent positive returns over time, with less frequent periods of negative performance.

Exhibit 3 depicts the balanced portfolio's returns over rolling 10-year periods and each bar accounts for 10 years of performance. The benefits of long-term investing become apparent, with two important takeaways:

  • In this period, there are no periods of negative returns, which means that no matter what 10-year period an individual was invested over, the portfolio delivered positive performance. This is because the well-diversified balanced strategy recovered from any losses or periods of underperformance within each 10-year window.
  • The returns are significantly smoother and considerably less volatile compared to shorter time horizons. Investors can see past the haze of short-term market movements and focus on achieving long-term investment goals.

Peter Gee is Research Products Manager with Morningstar Australasia. Information provided is for general information only, and individuals should seek personal advice before making investment decisions. The objectives of any individual have not been considered in this article.

 

8 Comments
Phil Bamback
January 04, 2016

Well said Terry... even though nothing more needs to be said I felt this was needed :)

Terry McMaster
December 12, 2015

This article shows that there can be an inverse relationship between the number of words, very low, and both the quality and quantity of information, very high.

The graphics tell the tale beautifully.

In summary, investing in shares and property is a long term exercise and if you are not prepared or able to take a long term view, ie at least ten years, then you should not invest in shares or property.

Nothing more needs to be said.

Peter Vann
December 11, 2015

Hi Brian S

1) Another way to address your desire for more research is in

http://ccfs.net.au/cvs/content/Impact_of_Investment_Risk_onRetirement_Income.pdf

In this white paper the authors** derive sustainable retirement income estimates as a function of the aggressiveness of their asset allocation for three specific cases. These calculations account for investment (and inflation) volatility (for the technical it uses a stochastic analysis not the simple but misleading deterministic analysis) .

Whilst these are only 3 specific cases, the nature of the conclusion seen on page one applies for many general cases.

2) Sure, Peter Gee's analysis is based on history, whereas in reality we all need to undertake forward looking analysis. But forward looking analysis uses history as a guide, plus current market conditions and expectations (not in the statistical sense) of future return generating parameters. Hence Peter's work provides useful insights for that forward looking process.

Peter Vann

Peter

** Chris Condon and myself.

Brian S
December 10, 2015

There is nothing new here and for those in the superannuation accumulation phase it should be reassuring. For those of us in the pension phase with drawdowns of 5% per annum or more a "balanced" portfolio may be too agressive but there is little published material showing how our investments would perform over various time spans and with different asset allocations.

David
December 10, 2015

Why on earth would any investor be in commodity stocks, just as one example, over the last 3 years?

Jon B
December 10, 2015

The trouble is institutionalised laziness and the insistence that tracking error is more important than negative returns. Constructing actively managed, diversified portfolios from managers that hate to lose investors money makes a monstrous difference to investor performance. All the above article proves is that there are "lies, damned lies, and statistics".

Jerome Lander
December 10, 2015

Unfortunately, this is a simplistic view of markets based on looking in the rear view mirror, and with no elucidation of what the drivers of the returns have been, and how these might have changed and be different in future.
I would hate for anyone to rely upon this sort of analysis to invest their money, as depending upon the starting point they could easily have a very disappointing result.
Would you consider the following a good investment result:
Return: 5% per annum (over 10 years)
Risk: Biggest draw down 30-40%
Most people wouldn't, and nor should they! Alas, this is the sort of result they could achieve if they started today, and didn't lose their nerve in the meantime...

Gary M
December 10, 2015

“Patience” is fine if you are happy you have bought great businesses at great prices and are not worried that maybe you haven’t; and if you have great confidence that your existing investments will definitely achieve your goals when you need to them to; and if you know for sure that you won’t panic when your passive portfolio falls 50% or more. For everybody else (99% of investors) there is little reason to be patient.

 

Leave a Comment:

     

RELATED ARTICLES

7 truths of volatility, but are they friends or foes?

Investing is like water, but what the hell is water?

Super fund performance and rank depends on risk

banner

Most viewed in recent weeks

Lessons when a fund manager of the year is down 25%

Every successful fund manager suffers periods of underperformance, and investors who jump from fund to fund chasing results are likely to do badly. Selecting a manager is a long-term decision but what else?

2022 election survey results: disillusion and disappointment

In almost 1,000 responses, our readers differ in voting intentions versus polling of the general population, but they have little doubt who will win and there is widespread disappointment with our politics.

Now you can earn 5% on bonds but stay with quality

Conservative investors who want the greater capital security of bonds can now lock in 5% but they should stay at the higher end of credit quality. Rises in rates and defaults mean it's not as easy as it looks.

30 ETFs in one ecosystem but is there a favourite?

In the last decade, ETFs have become a mainstay of many portfolios, with broad market access to most asset types, as well as a wide array of sectors and themes. Is there a favourite of a CEO who oversees 30 funds?

Betting markets as election predictors

Believe it or not, betting agencies are in the business of making money, not predicting outcomes. Is there anything we can learn from the current odds on the election results?

Meg on SMSFs – More on future-proofing your fund

Single-member SMSFs face challenges where the eventual beneficiaries (or support team in the event of incapacity) will be the member’s adult children. Even worse, what happens if one or more of the children live overseas?

Latest Updates

Superannuation

'It’s your money' schemes transfer super from young to old

Policy proposals allow young people to access their super for a home bought from older people who put the money back into super. It helps some first buyers into a home earlier but it may push up prices.

Investment strategies

Rising recession risk and what it means for your portfolio

In this environment, safe-haven assets like Government bonds act as a diversifier given the uncorrelated nature to equities during periods of risk-off, while offering a yield above term deposit rates.

Investment strategies

‘Multidiscipline’: the secret of Bezos' and Buffett’s wild success

A key attribute of great investors is the ability to abstract away the specifics of a particular domain, leaving only the important underlying principles upon which great investments can be made.

Superannuation

Keep mandatory super pension drawdowns halved

The Transfer Balance Cap limits the tax concessions available in super pension funds, removing the need for large, compulsory drawdowns. Plus there are no requirements to draw money out of an accumulation fund.

Shares

Confession season is upon us: What’s next for equity markets

Companies tend to pre-position weak results ahead of 30 June, leading to earnings downgrades. The next two months will be critical for investors as a shift from ‘great expectations’ to ‘clear explanations’ gets underway.

Economy

Australia, the Lucky Country again?

We may have been extremely unlucky with the unforgiving weather plaguing the East Coast of Australia this year. However, on the economic front we are by many measures in a strong position relative to the rest of the world.

Exchange traded products

LIC discounts widening with the market sell-off

Discounts on LICs and LITs vary with market conditions, and many prominent managers have seen the value of their assets fall as well as discount widen. There may be opportunities for gains if discounts narrow.

Sponsors

Alliances

© 2022 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer
The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.

Website Development by Master Publisher.