Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

I spent Friday at the London Investor Show. It was far busier – and very slightly more diverse – than a few years ago.

Sure, there was the usual preponderance of 50-something men with rucksacks and 20-something salesmen in suits. It’s always good fun watching the latter trying to decide if the former – invariably scruffy – are millionaires next door, or simply chancers who’ve come along to score free pens and biscuits.

But I did notice some guys in their 30s. And while there were literally as many young women in tight-fitting clothing giving out promos as women watching the presentations, there were at least some women watching the presentations.

I’ve been to events like this where it seemed women weren’t allowed in the building unless accompanied by a promotional stand and a bar code scanner. Surely feminism hasn’t truly won until women feel as entitled as men to lose their life savings on spivvy mining stocks?

Of course, women – superior investors, according some studies – could well be doing something more productive than listening to AIM companies explaining how wonderful they are. Something like passive investing on auto-pilot, say, while they spend their days earning an income or taking walks in the country.

Whatever, it’s clear that ‘hobbyist’ active investing remains the preserve of older men with, I imagine, as much money to lose as to gain.

I do wonder what draws these fellows to active investing. Have they not saved enough for retirement, and so see potential big wins as their only salvation? Or are they wealthier types who, like me, enjoy the pursuit as much as any pay-off?

Or do they just not know any better? Do they think picking individual shares is the only ‘proper’ way to invest?

I’ve read some articles suggesting that it’s the younger demographic who are more inclined to invest in trackers and ETFs.

Roll up, roll up!

All that to one side, the busyness of the show suggests to me that we’re closer to the middle or the end of this long bull market than the beginning.

I don’t intend to do anything radical based on my impressions – and I’m certainly not suggesting you do. Your time horizon and your risk tolerance should determine your asset allocation, not how many investors show up at some promotional jamboree in London. Any more radical changes in your exposure to shares are best saved for apparent extremes of over- or under-valuation, and I’m not saying things look super-frothy.

But I do think equity investing is more attractive to the mass market than it has been for many years. Bull markets attract people, whereas of course it’s bear markets that should logically draw them in.

I’ve long wondered what the audience for Monevator would be like if investing in shares ever became really popular again.

We may yet find out!

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: Ethically-minded savers frustrated that the Co-Op Bank has somehow ended up in the hands of hedge funds are looking to Reliance, the banking wing of the Salvation Army, reports The Guardian. The top brass draw less than £500 each in annual bonuses and mortgage rates start at 2.49%, but it doesn’t do credit cards.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

  • Passive beats active: The science bit – Swedroe/CBS
  • Choose assets, not shares – John Redwood/Telegraph
  • Good stock advice doesn’t come from TV – Guardian
  • Governments shouldn’t push indexing [V. silly article]CNBC
  • Fund giant Fidelity is launching ultra-cheap, Vanguard-beating ETFs in US – Investment News

Active investing

  • How to invest in the energy market – Telegraph
  • Investors flocking to hedge funds that don’t hedge – Alpha
  • Why you’ll never be a Yale superman [Techie!]FT Alphaville

Other stuff worth reading

  • Beware: The age of bullshit investments is back – New Yorker
  • Ten ways to cut the cost of driving – Guardian
  • Coming soon? Paying in cheques via phone photos – Telegraph
  • Comping: The hobby of doing competitions – MoneySavingExpert
  • Britain is finally bouncing back – The Economist

Book gadget of the week: Amazon’s promo for its latest tablet – the Kindle Fire HDX cheekily boasts it’s “lighter than Air” – a dig at the branding and claims of Apple’s new iPad Air. While I’m an Apple fanboy to the core (geddit?) there’s no denying the competition has really caught up. Tablets are great value for money for knowledge junkies – I’d guess I spend three hours a day reading via mine. They are infinitely better for sofa-based web browsing than a laptop, if that’s what you’re still thinking.

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  1. Reader Ken notes that: “FT articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.”

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