The Mathematics of Asset Location

Our recommendation on asset location is to prefer holding tax-inefficient assets in tax-advantaged accounts. In our view, the expected return of an asset is close to irrelevant when determining where to locate it. This guidance applies to Roth as well as to traditional IRAs. For many, this can seem counterintuitive, given that much of what investors find in the financial media generally discusses locating the highest-expected-return asset classes in the Roth account. This article is broken into two sections. First, we will discuss how a security’s expected return and risk characteristics can change based on where the asset is located. Second, we will walk through a Roth-versus-taxable-account asset location decision using after-tax asset allocation.
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Active Management’s Surprising Survival

It’s truly an amazing paradox. According to the Thomson Reuters Lipper second-quarter 2018 snapshot of U.S. mutual funds and exchange-traded products, active funds of all kinds, including money market funds, manage about $16.4 trillion. That’s more than 2 1/2 times the $6 trillion managed by passive funds and ETFs. That’s also despite the overwhelming evidence that active management is a loser’s game (one that’s possible to win, but with odds of doing so that are so poor, the winning strategy is not to play).
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Re-Examining Emerging Markets

Emerging market equities have substantially underperformed the S&P 500 Index in 2018, with the S&P 500 up 6.5 percent and emerging markets down 4.4 percent through July. As I detailed in a recent post on international developed market equities, remaining committed to a globally diversified portfolio can be challenging during extended periods of underperformance relative to the U.S. market. In this post, we’ll look specifically at emerging markets by examining five lessons from long-run and current market data that reinforce some of the reasons investors should remain committed to emerging markets equity investing.
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Determining the Nature of ESG Returns

Investment strategies targeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and concerns have exploded in popularity. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance recently estimated that $22.9 trillion worldwide is managed under the auspices of “responsible investment strategies,” a 25% increase just since 2014, and which now represents roughly 26% of all assets under professional management.
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