CLICK HERE TO READ THE SKILLED INVESTOR’s OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT THESE “10 FINANCIAL PLANNING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
While value, affordability, risk exposure, and risk tolerance should affect insurance purchase decisions, insurance is often sold and purchased emotionally. Yet, insurance premium payments reduce personal funds that might otherwise be available for additional investments. Many people could spend all their net savings on insurance premiums and have nothing left to invest and to build an investment portfolio. The issue is where to set a rational rather than emotional balance between expected risk and return.
Risk and return tradeoffs between insurance and investments
Insurance affordability inevitably dictates that most people will bear some insurable risks without insurance coverage. Individuals may be more or less comfortable with this situation. Having a good understanding of one’s risk exposure and risk tolerance is a good start.
In general, individuals can significantly lower insurance premiums by focusing solely on buying catastrophic risk coverage and using self-insurance for more minor risks. For insurance you must have, shop around and chose high deductibles to reduce premium payments. Carefully evaluate the scope of coverage to assure that it is good quality catastrophic coverage. Then, invest the premium savings achieved through higher deductibles, rather than spending those savings. Over time, these premium savings and investment returns on them will build up your self-insurance asset pool.
Catastrophic personal events can drain assets and destroy the best of investment plans. Property, liability, life, and disability insurance can be rational purchases, because of risk pooling with other risk adverse people.
However, these types of insurance are not investments in and of themselves. Instead, they limit the financial impact of potential, but relatively unlikely, negative future events. The question comes down to finding good quality insurance at a competitive price and determining the tradeoff between money spent on premiums versus money retained and invested.
Optimal investment planning focuses on enhancing expected risk-adjusted portfolio performance. An optimal investment plan assumes that the necessary labor-based net income will be earned over time to build up your investment assets. In addition, the plan reasonably assumes that your assets will appreciate over time, albeit with substantial and unpredictable price volatility.
By adopting optimal investment practices, individuals increase the chances of financial success that can be attributed to investment returns. However, other risks are inherent in life planning, and there are no guarantees. Personal financial and investment plans may fall short of goals due to a long list of non-investment risks. These risks include inadequate savings, personal tragedy, and family misfortunes.
Insurance can address some of the other financial risks that people face, which are not directly related to investment risk. Generally, these insurable risks are risks to one’s future income stream or to one’s future expenses. Such insurance is designed to replace lost income or pay higher expenses resulting from risks that do manifest themselves.
Insurance-based annuity income guarantees are not investments
Many investors rationally seek retirement income guarantees through annuities and related insurance products. When they purchase such insurance with their labor income and/or investment assets, they change the complexion of their portfolios. When they shift investment risk bearing to an entity providing a guarantee, they cease to be investors for that portion of their assets. Furthermore, they often must pay a high price to shift asset risk to the guaranteeing organization.
Insurers intend to make a risk-adjusted profit on the asset beyond the guarantees provided. Therefore, on average an individual can expect to receive less total value than he would likely have received had he kept the asset and retained the corresponding risk. However, there is one risk that individuals retain and cannot shift. This risk concerns whether the assets of the guaranteeing entity will be adequate to fulfill its future obligations. The sad, yet still ongoing saga of the 1991 collapse of Executive Life Insurance Company is a reminder of this nontransferable risk.
Shifting risk and return to an insurance company can be rational, since the length of one’s life span is uncertain and tolerances for risk vary from one individual to another. Risk pooling based upon longevity can benefit participants, if the price paid for the guarantee is not excessive. The total price of shifting asset risk in such arrangements is the key issue to individuals – in addition to the future risk of the insurance contract non-fulfillment.
Combined insurance and investment products confuse personal financial planning decisions
In recent years, insurance firms have expanded their products and services from offering only pure insurance to selling hybrid products that combine insurance and investment characteristics. The industry also has garnered certain tax treatments that can make their products more appealing to persons with particular tax situations.
Unfortunately, some of these hybrid insurance/investment products are characterized by inferior returns, high costs, unwanted tax implications, significant insured risk limitations, and other problems. Ultimately, the issue that the potential buyer must sort through is whether the purchase of separate insurance-only and investment-only products will yield better insurance risk reduction and/or superior risk-adjusted investment performance.
Tags: asset pool
Personal Financial Planning
- Set a Minimum Portfolio Size Threshold for Mutual Funds and ETFs (
Choose mutual funds and ETFs with a minimum economical portfolio size
If you are going to invest in actively managed funds, then you should want them to have a sufficiently large asset base to fund the necessary research.
If an active fund is too small, then fund management quality can suffer or fees could grow. Index funds [...])
- Time Spent on the Wrong Financial Activities Is Bad for You (
Spending your valuable time on the wrong financial activities is just plain bad for you
A previous article, “The Solution - ONLY follow financial strategies that are scientific, passive, diversified, savings focused, risk controlled, low cost, and tax efficient,” suggested that individuals are much better off with a well-considered financial viewpoint. This follow-up article discusses the [...])
- Efficient Market Pricing in the Investment Securities Markets (
Efficient market pricing is the theory that all known information is already reflected in current securities prices.
Efficient securities market pricing has become very widely accepted within the investment community. The preponderance of evidence is that securities markets are efficient and tend to reflect available information. Whether you believe markets are efficient is very important to [...])
- How Many Mutual Funds are Needed for a Well-Diversified Portfolio? – Evidence (Actively-managed mutual funds are not created equally. Performance can vary significantly - even when funds pursue similar strategies or "styles."
This article addresses the impact on portfolio diversification of holding more than one actively-managed mutual fund. (For the companion article to this, see: How many mutual funds are needed for a well-diversified portfolio? – a commentary)
- Two Examples of the Tax Assets Graphic in VeriPlan (Two examples of the Tax Assets graphic in VeriPlan
TAX ASSETS: Taxable and Tax-Advantaged Financial Assets (real $/yr)
Below are two examples of the blue-tabbed TAX ASSETS graphic, which come from VeriPlan's "Sue and Sam Saver" tutorial. This graphic separates their cash, bond, and stock assets by account taxability throughout their lifetime projections. Assets are separated [...])
- Summary Table of Traditional IRA and Roth IRA Tax Rules (Summary Table of Traditional IRA and Roth IRA Tax Rules
For your convenience, The Skilled Investor has provided a detailed table that summarizes 2007 rules for traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.
Because this table has 13 columns and 20 rows, it is too large to be displayed properly in a blog posting. To view this table and [...])
- Earned Income Drives the Personal Finances of Most People (Do-It-Yourself Financial Planning - Earned income drives the personal finances of most people
The ability to project your various income sources automatically over your lifetime is one of the first steps in creating a useful do-it-yourself personal financial plan. Whether from wages and salary or from self-employment, personal earned income drives the lifetime finances of most [...])
- Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund – Select Shares (SWPPX) capture the Best +10 Fund Authority Score (
Fund Authority Scores rate mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) on the most important economic factors that influence individual investors' net long term diversified investment fund performance. The Skilled Investor developed the Fund Authority Score system to provide individual investors with concise, objective, and realistic summaries of mutual funds and ETFs for comparisons within [...])
- 2006 and 2007 Personal Income Tax Rates for the 50 States and DC (
2006 and 2007 personal income tax rates for the 50 states and D.C.
The Skilled Investor has made available for downloading a spreadsheet that contains graduated personal income tax rates and other personal income tax rate information for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
If you want to know about specific U.S. state personal graduated [...])
- Roth IRA Contributions Versus Traditional IRA Contributions for Renters (Introduction: Roth IRA Contributions versus Traditional IRA Contributions for Renters
In a series of articles, The Skilled Investor compares different lifetime financial planning projections for Fran and Fred Frugal to illustrate the relative value of adopting different financial planning strategies. Fran and Fred, both ages 30, are a married working couple with $100,000 in combined annual [...])
- If Personal Finance is Difficult – Carefully Hire a Good Advisor (
If personal finance is difficult for you, carefully hire a good financial and investment adviser
A previous financial article, “The Solution - ONLY follow financial strategies that are scientific, passive, diversified, savings focused, risk controlled, low cost, and tax efficient,” suggested that investors are much better off with a well-considered financial plan. A stable set of [...])
- American Funds – Growth Fund of America – Class A Shares (AGTHX) collect a +2 Fund Authority Score (
The investment fund objective of American Funds' Growth Fund of America
With 4.4 million shareholder accounts, the Growth Fund of America (AGTHX) is the largest actively managed stock mutual fund in the United States. According to American Funds prospectus, the investment objective of the Growth Fund of America "is to provide you with growth of capital."
- Assess your personal investment return and risk preferences – Step 3 of 10 Financial Planning Steps in the Right Direction (CLICK HERE TO READ THE SKILLED INVESTOR's OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT THESE "10 FINANCIAL PLANNING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION."
Investors with different levels of risk tolerance are more satisfied with investment strategies that are better aligned with their risk preferences.
Differences in investors' personal risk tolerances mean that more risk-averse investors are personally more satisfied with a [...])
- Use Caution with Classical Investment Books (Use Caution with Classical Investment Books - A Tip from The Skilled Investor
Individual investors should exercise caution when applying the tactics of classical investment books to current markets. The more handcrafted, seat-of-the-pants, and individual actor approach to the securities markets in the pre-computer, pre-networking era has given way to different practices. What might have worked [...])
- Diversify fully within asset classes – Step 4 of 10 Financial Planning Steps in the Right Direction (CLICK HERE TO READ THE SKILLED INVESTOR's OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT THESE "10 FINANCIAL PLANNING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION."
Diversification is genuinely an investment “free lunch,” and it is a key contributor to improved investment risk management.
Diversification has become an axiom of personal investing, because the specific risks of businesses and other investment entities can be [...])