Reasons To Include International Investments In Your Portfolio

The United States currently represents 60% of the global equity market.¹ This means investors with an extreme home bias are ignoring 40% of the equity universe. In truth, doing so over the last 14.5 years would have worked out for you, but markets are cyclical, so it’s unlikely this lasts forever. There’s also a long history of throne-swapping between U.S. and international stocks (see chart). Particularly in today’s challenging market environment, investors should think twice before giving ex-U.S. assets the cold shoulder.

The U.S. stock market doesn’t always dominate

The United States doesn’t always dominate the global equity market! When U.S. stocks are facing headwinds, international stocks may rise to the occasion. Sustained periods of outperformance by one region have been fairly common historically.

These bouts can be significant. For example, consider the ‘lost decade’ for U.S. stocks that started in the early 2000s. Between 2000 – 2009, the cumulative total return for the S&P 500 was negative 9.1% vs positive 30.7% for the MSCI All Country World Index ex U.S.

International stocks could outperform if U.S. stocks are struggling

The graphic above breaks down performance of the S&P 500 vs the MSCI EAFE. During periods when domestic stocks produced below-average returns, international equities did better, by over 2% on average. Further, during all rolling 10-year periods since 1971, the top performer was almost a coin toss: the U.S. only did better 56% of the time.

Since trying to time regime changes is very difficult in real time without the benefit of hindsight, there are reasons to consider allocating both U.S. and ex-U.S. equities to an asset allocation.

Ex-U.S. equity may be able to help reduce risk in a portfolio

Having international exposure in your portfolio in the early 2000s and throughout the Global Financial Crisis would have been a key ingredient in reducing overall risk and maintaining some level of investment return.

By way of example, consider this hypothetical 60/40 portfolio of stocks to bonds. The U.S. only portfolio includes the S&P 500 and Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond index while the U.S. & international portfolio allocates 20% of the equity exposure to the MSCI All-Country World Index ex-U.S.

Other reasons to consider international assets in your portfolio

  • Different sector concentrations. The U.S. is fairly tech heavy. The S&P 500 is currently about 27% technology companies. Compare that to Europe at 7%. Exposure to other sectors like financials and commodities in emerging markets can add overall diversification.
  • Currency risk and return. At a high level, the relative strength of foreign currencies to the dollar has the potential to help or hurt returns. Asset managers can engage in different strategies to hedge or boost returns around foreign exchange rates, but the takeaway is that currency can be another layer of diversification.
  • Valuations. Valuations outside of the United States have been much cheaper to the long-run averages for quite some time. Especially relative to the U.S., international stocks look much more attractive on a valuation standpoint. Despite the selloff in 2022, the S&P 500 is only now just in line with the 20-year average P/E ratio.

The takeaway

Adding ex-U.S. stocks to your portfolio may be able to help reduce risk over the long-term. But there are downsides to be aware of. Most notably, international assets tend to be more volatile. These swings can be to the upside or the downside. And just as the unique elements of investing overseas (like foreign exchange rates or sector exposure) can help investors at times, they can also hurt U.S. investors in other circumstances.Quintex3-1-2-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1

As with anything in investing, consider your personal risk tolerance, time horizon, and circumstances. Diversification isn’t a magic bullet, and if you do add international exposure to your portfolio, be sure to appropriately size the position to meet your needs.

I’m a Certified Financial Planner professional specializing in stock options and sudden wealth.

Source: Reasons To Include International Investments In Your Portfolio

International markets are generally divided into 2 categories:

  • Developed markets are located in countries that have established industries, widespread infrastructure, secure economies, and a relatively high standard of living.
    Examples of developed markets include the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Canada, and France.
  • Emerging markets are located in countries that have developing capital markets and less-stable economies. However, they’re considered to be in the process of transitioning into developed markets, and they may be experiencing rapid growth. Currently, emerging markets make up about 15% to 20% of international markets in total.
    Examples of emerging markets include India, China, Egypt, South Africa, Mexico, and Russia.

Not surprisingly, developed markets are similar to the United States when it comes to volatility levels and the range of potential returns. Emerging markets are more volatile than developed markets and have a wider range of potential outcomes. For that reason, we recommend that you don’t overweight your allocation to emerging markets.

How to choose an international investment

There are a few ways you can invest in foreign markets:

  • International funds invest only in foreign markets, excluding the United States.
  • Global or world funds provide exposure to both foreign and U.S. markets.
  • Regional funds invest primarily in a specific part of the world, like Europe or the Pacific region.
  • Developed markets funds focus on foreign countries with proven economies, like Japan, France, or the United Kingdom.
  • Emerging markets funds combine investments in countries that are considered to have “developing” economies, like India, Brazil, or China.

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The Secrets Of A Successful Social Media Strategy For Startups

The age of social media has disrupted conventional ways of advertising and transformed the way that businesses reach consumers. In recent years, social media itself has undergone radical changes. Mike Mandell is a leading lawyer on social media thanks to the popularity of his legal tips and entertaining posts. Here he shares his advice for startups and their founders.

Alison Coleman: Why is it so important for startups to develop a great social media strategy for their business?

Mike Mandell: In the past, companies had to spend years amassing a large following to have any hope of a substantial number of views. Today, short-form video content, 15 to 30 seconds in length, is the cutting edge. Quickly produced videos can launch a business into the spotlight overnight, or even faster.

By studying what captured the public’s attention, companies can follow up with more viral content on a consistent basis, keeping their brand relevant and vital. Social media represents a quantum leap in identifying niche markets. Algorithms know things about users that they might not know themselves. As the software learns more about individuals, its ability to influence them only grows.

Coleman: Many startup founders lack the time, resources, and budgets to create valuable viral content; how can they compete?

Mandell: First, let’s talk about budgets. With the dominance of short-form content, it’s not necessary to have one. Posting consistent, quality content alone can create a huge audience for your work. That said, even a shoestring budget can go far on social media. Allocating a few hundred bucks to boosting your posts would allow you to experiment until you see enough leads to justify the time and effort.

The beauty of this system is that cost scales with your success. If you’re making money, you’ll eventually want to hire staff to handle your social media. Businesses can do this more cheaply than they might expect. A million young people ache for these jobs, and they don’t expect a fortune in salary. They want in the game. That’s it. Keep in mind that these skills are learnable, as well. Consider offering paid internships.

Coleman: What tips do you have for startups for building a winning social media presence that pays dividends?

Mandell: Build an inventory before you launch. Have 10 to 20 videos on hand as a cushion. Avoid making your topics too time-sensitive, if you require your ‘rainy day’ fund for later, rather than sooner. Keep a list of your thoughts. You’d be surprised how often you can forget a brilliant idea if you don’t record it. Listen to followers and consumers; they’ll tell you what they want. On social media they leave comments. Read these and let the feedback, both positive and negative, guide your future content.

The algorithms favor consistency, and part of maintaining your audience is ensuring followers know when to expect something new. If you release new content on Monday and Friday, then do that consistently. Even consider letting subscribers know you’ll be going away on vacation for a week. If your content isn’t seeing sufficient returns, consider taking a hard look at its appeal from an audience-centered perspective.

Coleman: What’s the key to going viral?

Mandell: Firstly, you don’t need to go viral to have a successful social media presence. The key is engagement, not the number of views or your follower count. The more people engage with your content, the farther along you are in creating a community of supporters who love your brand.

Focus on that. I’d rather have 1,000 followers who engage with me all the time than 500,000 who never comment. People want to do business with someone they feel connected to, and social media provides you with that opportunity. A tight-knit audience that has ‘buy-in’ will do more for you than a huge passive following.

When it comes to creating viral content, the keys are to innovate, engage with followers, produce solid material, and release it on a consistent schedule. Most importantly, persist. One of the quickest ways to fail involves assuming you’ll strike gold, failing to do so, and quitting. Building a following on social media can be a grind. Luck does indeed play a role. But the longer you push, the luckier you are bound to get.Coleman: What are the common social media mistakes made by startups and small businesses, and how can they be corrected?

Mandell: Don’t develop a persona and try to perform. Be genuine. People respond to authenticity. And don’t bandwagon. If you just echo what everyone else is already saying, then you’ll get lost in the shuffle. Most people can tell you are just fishing for likes or followers. Instead, create a purposeful brand and stick to it, even when others shift in another direction. People can change their minds overnight, and they might switch back before you know it. Your consistency will beget their trust.

Be careful what you say. What you put online stays there. This goes for private messages, which someone could screenshot and share on multiple platforms. Finally, long-form content is popular – but only if you have a base audience that wants it. If not, short means short. If it’s not essential to post, remove it.

I’m a freelance journalist, founder of Coleman Media. For the last 20 years I’ve covered business stories for national and international online and

Source: The Secrets Of A Successful Social Media Strategy For Startups

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The Worst Of The Stock Market Crash May Be Yet To Come

Though stronger than expected, the rate of inflation in April slowed for the first time in eight months, but experts still aren’t sure how long it will take for prices to return to normal levels—even if the worst has finally passed.

Overall prices rose 0.3% from March—higher than the 0.2% economists were expecting but much lower than the previous month’s increase of 1.2%, according to data released by the Labor Department on Wednesday.

On a yearly basis, prices jumped 8.3% last month, falling from 8.5% in March but exceeding expectations calling for an increase of 8.1%; the slowdown marked the first month-over-month decline since August.

The overall increase was the result of broad upticks across shelter, food, airline fares and new vehicle prices, while a month-over-month decline of 6.1% in long-surging gasoline prices (which spiked 18% in March) helped offset the gains, the government said.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.6% in April after a 0.3% uptick in March—a “seriously disappointing” jump given expectations for a 0.4% increase, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson said in an email Wednesday, pointing out a 1.1% increase in new vehicle prices was “significantly bigger” than in recent months.

In a weekend note to clients, Goldman Sachs economist Ronnie Walker cautioned the inflation outlook remains “highly uncertain” due to lingering supply chains, red-hot wage growth and still-surging commodity priceswith gas prices, for example, jumping to record highs on Tuesday.

The economist expects shelter inflation will remain firm amid the tightest housing market in decades, while price spikes driven by supply chain constraints will “fall sharply” as bottlenecks ease, particularly in used cars and consumer electronics, which saw prices continue to fall in April.

“The slight moderation in inflation will likely provide some needed boost in consumer confidence,” Jeffrey Roach, chief economist for LPL Financial, said in emailed comments Wednesday. “Investors and policy makers both know inflation will likely stay above target for a while but both will focus on the direction of the change.”Stocks fell immediate after the Wednesday CPI report, with S&P 500 futures falling 1.1% by 9:05 a.m. ET, while Nasdaq futures plunged 1.8%.

The reopening economy and fiscal stimulus helped fuel one of the strongest starts to a bull market ever during the pandemic, but stocks have struggled this year as the Fed raises rates and unwinds economic support to ease inflation.

After rising 27% in 2021, the S&P has fallen 17% this year, while the Nasdaq has flirted with bear-market territory, plummeting as much as 26%. “A repricing of stocks is currently taking place due to rising interest rates, which mathematically makes stocks less attractive,” explains David Bahnsen, chief investment officer of $3.6 billion advisory The Bahnsen Group.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at

Source: The Worst Of The Stock Market Crash May Be Yet To Come, According To Wall Street’s ‘Fear Gauge’ Signal

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Burned By Tech Stocks? Consider These 3 ETFs Instead

Unfortunately, hopping off the tech-stock roller coaster may be harder than you think. Seven of the largest 10 companies in the S&P 500 index are in tech (eight if you consider Tesla a tech company).

Tech’s influence on the broader market

The list of S&P 500 tech stocks includes Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon. All three have negative year-to-date performance. Worse, these stocks and their large-cap tech peers are heavily represented in index funds and ESG funds, not to mention tech funds.

There are times when increasing your exposure to a broad market index fund can be a defensive tactic. But that strategy won’t help right now if you’re sick of getting burned by tech.

What you can do is increase your exposure to ETFs that invest in stable sectors like consumer goods, utilities, and healthcare. Because these sectors sell products and services that people need (vs. want), they’re less sensitive to temporary economic conditions.

For an idea of how these sectors have behaved differently from tech recently. It shows the performance of three stable sector ETFs vs. the Nasdaq 100 index over the last six months.

Those sector ETFs may look very comforting, but there’s a huge caveat here. Six months is a short window of time.

This is why changing up your portfolio in response to temporary market conditions can easily backfire. When tech eventually stabilizes, you may regret overinvesting in lower-growth sectors.

On the other hand, diversifying more outside of tech — or any one sector — is smart. That’s especially true in two scenarios. One, you may not have realized your heavy exposure to tech if that exposure is mostly through funds. And two, your risk tolerance may be lower than it was when you built your portfolio, and now you’re ready to get more conservative.

If one of those situations applies, read on for some key stats on the three ETFs shown in the chart above.

1. Consumer Staples ETF

Fidelity MSCI Consumer Staples Index ETF holds 99 large-, mid-, and small-cap consumer staples stocks. The fund’s top 10 holdings include Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Costco, and Pepsi.

FTEC’s 30-day SEC yield, a standardized measure of dividend yield, is 2.11%. The fund’s total average return over the last five years is 9.74%.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
FTEC FIDELITY COVINGTON TRUST MSCI INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY 108.67 -4.59 -4.05%
KO THE COCA-COLA CO. 64.64 -1.52 -2.30%
COST COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP. 531.72 -30.28 -5.39%
PEP PEPSICO INC. 171.71 -5.79 -3.26%

2. Utilities ETF

Vanguard Utilities ETF holds 64 utilities stocks such as Duke Energy and wind and solar energy-producer NextEra Energy. The top 10 holdings comprise 54% of VPU’s total net assets — a fairly heavy concentration.

The fund pays out a 2.7% dividend yield, per the 30-day SEC yield formula. The five-year average annual returns are 10.87%.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
VPU VANGUARD WORLD FDS VANGUARD UTILITIES ETF 154.73 -4.71 -2.95%
DUK DUKE ENERGY CORP. 110.09 -3.71 -3.26%
NEE NEXTERA ENERGY INC. 71.02 -2.51 -3.41%

3. Healthcare ETF

The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund invests in healthcare companies that are also in the S&P 500. This approach gives you the sector exposure you want, plus a focus on larger, established organizations.

There are 64 stocks in the XLV portfolio, including UnitedHealth Group, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer. Like VPU, this fund has a top-10 concentration of more than 50%.

XLV has a 30-day SEC yield of 1.3% and has returned an annual average of 15% over the last five years.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
XLV HEALTH CARE SELECT SECTOR SPDR ETF 130.28 -3.44 -2.57%
UNH UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INC. 508.55 -15.87 -3.03%
JNJ JOHNSON & JOHNSON 180.56 -3.03 -1.65%
PFE PFIZER INC. 49.07 -1.44 -2.85%

Diversify for stability

The recent tech sell-off is a reminder not to bet too big on any one sector — even technology. To diversify outside of tech and build more stability into your portfolio, consider ETFs in less cyclical sectors. Consumer staples, utilities, and healthcare are three examples.

If tech stocks are roller coasters, stocks in these stable sectors are more like tilt-a-whirls. You may still need a seatbelt, but the highs and lows should be less extreme.

Source: Burned by tech stocks? Consider these 3 ETFs instead | Fox Business

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Workers Facing Inflexible Office Returns Are Stressed Out And Anxious. Their Bosses? Not So Much.

As the pandemic threat recedes and more employers call workers back to the office, new data from a survey of 10,000 workers describes a “troubling double standard” in the realities that employees and their bosses face, with non-executives showing much steeper declines in measures of work-related stress, anxiety and work-life balance.

Future Forum, a research consortium on the future of work launched by Slack and other partners, released on Tuesday its latest Pulse survey of 10,000 knowledge workers globally. The consortium, which also spearheads a working group of executives to discuss future workplace issues, found that non-executives are nearly twice as likely as top managers to work from the office every day, and their work-life balance scores are now 40% worse than executive respondents. Workers also reported more than twice the level of stress and anxiety as top bosses.

There was also a sharp divide between the employee experience scores of workers who have full-time in-office mandates and those who have hybrid or remote options, with declines twice as steep for full-time office workers when it comes to work-life balance and 1.5 times as steep for scores on stress and anxiety, the survey found.

“Executives are embracing flexibility while they’re telling everybody else to come back to the office,” says Future Forum vice president Sheela Subramanian. “What we’re seeing is just a lot more rigidity, more top down mandates happening and executives are not necessarily setting that model from the top.

Meanwhile, Subramanian says, the overall declines in employee experience scores since its research last quarter come as some companies are requiring workers to revert to pre-pandemic approaches to office attendance. The new survey found that 34% of knowledge workers have gone back to working in the office daily, the largest share since the consortium began its research in June 2020.

Yet recent weeks have seen a wave of companies launch their hybrid returns to office, with many introducing policies that range from a few days a year to a few days a week onsite. At Overstock.com, most workers’ in-office mandates will be limited to a few days in the spring and late summer. Apple is easing workers in with a requirement of one day a week, which will grow to three days a week starting in May. Google has also said it expects workers to be in the office three days a week.

At Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which officially reopened its offices April 4, about 80% of its workforce is designated as hybrid, with no mandate for the number of days they should be in the office. These employees, as HPE CEO Antonio Neri wrote in a recent blog post, will be “working primarily remotely but encouraged to come into the office for collaboration.”

The company’s chief people officer, Alan May, says that HPE is doing more to articulate when those collaboration times might be. For instance, the tech firm asks leaders to meet with their employees every couple of months for targeted career, strategy and performance-metric discussions.

“We’re encouraging all of those to occur face-to-face where possible, in the office,” May tells Forbes. Collaboration events, meetings with customers and meetings designed to recognize workers should also be done in person, he says.

Yet at the same time, there’s “certainly not an edict or a quota on the number of days people have to show up,” he says.

Still, May says, they’re trying to make the office a draw, with a new headquarters in Houston that includes make-at-home meal kits to take home, large outdoor screens for movies, onsite health and fitness facilities and a pop-up “makerspace” with equipment like 3-D printers for workers to dabble in their own projects or attend workshops with peers.

Of the “makerspace,” May says, “it’s an additional amenity that I think, frankly, is a lot more thoughtful than just another foosball table.” People are excited to be back on the new campus together, but that doesn’t mean “they suddenly jumped back in five days a week,” he says. “I think those days are gone.”

“Actually I don’t think you come together to work. You do the work remotely. You come together to build social bonds.”

—Atlassian cofounder Scott Farquhar

Future Forum’s Subramanian agrees being flexible doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no role for the office. Despite all the focus on where people will be working, their new survey showed that when employees are expected to work may be even more important to workers than where. While 79% of respondents say they want location flexibility, 94% say they want to be able to choose the hours they work.

When making plans for coming together in person, she says, companies should create team-level agreements for a set of core hours and be “really intentional about why you’re getting together—rather than ‘you need to come into the office so I know that you’re working and responding to my messages quickly.’”

“Intentional” is exactly the word Scott Farquhar, Atlassian’s cofounder and No. 123 on our 2022 billionaires list, used when describing his software company’s strategy recently. In an interview with Forbes, Farquhar said details are still being hammered out, but he expects the direction to be that employees who don’t live near one of the company’s offices will travel about four times a year for what he calls “intentional togetherness.”

He says he doesn’t call it working together “because actually I don’t think you come together to work. You do the work remotely. You come together to build social bonds.” When people come together, “I think it does look much more like a conference you go to.

At Atlassian, the company allows people to work anywhere as long as three criteria are met: They’re legally allowed to work there, the company is legally allowed to employ them in that location, and the time zone works for their team, wherever people are based. Farquhar said about 10% of the company’s U.S. employees have moved states over the past 18 months, and 44% of its new hires in the U.S. in the past year live two or more hours from one of its main office locations.

Subramanian says it’s critical for companies with hybrid policies to set “behavioral guardrails,” as it’s “very easy for things to become inequitable.” That goes for executives, too. Ben Langis, head of workplace of the future at State Street, which has announced a hybrid work plan, says the giant asset manager has asked senior leaders to model the expectations it has for employees around working hybrid, and offers managers training on this new approach to work. “Everyone has to realize this is a large social experiment,” Langis says.

At Atlassian, where its Trello team has always had a remote-first approach to Zoom calls, if one person is remote, everyone else is join calls that way, too. That includes Farquhar: He once flew in from Australia for a town hall meeting at Trello’s offices but conducted it from a phone-booth sized room since some employees were dialing in remotely.

“I call it the Brady Bunch mentality,” he says. “Everyone has their own little box.”

Jena McGregor

I am in charge of Forbes’ leadership, careers, and workplace coverage.

Source: Workers Facing Inflexible Office Returns Are Stressed Out And Anxious. Their Bosses? Not So Much.

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