Sex, Money, Advisors and Distrustful Clients: Searching for Alpha for June 2011

A recent article in Der Spiegel explores why Germans seem more willing to discuss the most intimate details of their sex life than money. There are plenty of articles on the Web that claim the same about Americans, a view that isn’t hard to believe, in my view.

Armed with the knowledge that money issues make most folks uncomfortable, a Wall Street Journal blog post from last year stating that investors would prefer to do their own investing rather than relying on an investment advisor is a disappointing read. Are investors so thoroughly disgusted with professional advice that they are willing to tackle one of their most uncomfortable tasks alone?  Sadly, that is the take-away from the article.

Thankfully, things have gotten a little better, as an updated WSJ posting shows a slightly higher percentage of the well-heeled are willing to consult with an advisor. Still, these articles underscore the familiar trend of disappointment during tough market conditions, such as the global turmoil of a few years ago.

It seems that most RIAs are simply not diversified enough to suffer the slings and arrows of market volatility. Tossing out illiquid strategies for all but the wealthiest clients and including liquid alternatives such as managed futures, foreign equities and fixed income, and longer dated domestic Treasuries could potentially cover downside risks enough to convince investors to stay the course. That’s the best outcome for everyone involved.

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