Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Next Steps

We have now executed a major part of the financial plans I developed in 2018. We deployed almost all the inherited capital - we still have some Ford bonds, which were intended as a short term investment, we have completed the initial set up of the SMSF and set up accounts for our two children. We have a much more diversified portfolio. So, on the investment front it will now be more business as usual going forward. I explored trading and made a little money but haven't got to the stage of setting up a proper system. This is something I will need to revisit very soon. To decide once and for all if that is a direction I want to take. If I do it, it would be in collaboration with some other people I know. The other major thing we haven't done is estate planning. I wanted to get the SMSF done first. So, we should really look at that seriously soon too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Time-weighted Versus Dollar-weighted Returns

There was an interesting comment in the latest Millionaire Interview at the ESI Blog:

"I find it a bit silly how most people focus on their time-weighted returns instead of their asset-weighted returns... Your financial freedom is affected by your asset weighted returns, not your time weighted returns."

I have thought about this before, but not exactly in these terms. This is an interesting way of putting this idea. 

The way I thought about it is: When you start investing you will probably make mistakes. But you will have less money and so they matter less. What matters more is what your returns are when you have a lot of money.  So, you can afford to pay some tuition fees. I really paid too much tuition...

This graph shows an index of my returns in Australian Dollar terms starting at 1000 in 1996:

Initially, I did well. But then the crash came and I started losing, ending up below where I started. Then I rode the next bull market. I started getting out as the financial crisis began to appear. But I got back in again too early and crashed. I wasn't quite back to square one, but not far from it. Not much happened in the next few years following the crisis and then things took off from 2012 on. These are my time-weighted returns.

In the last 10 years, my rate of return has been 11.1% vs. 12.0% for the ASX 200. In the last 20 years it was 4.8% vs. 10.6% for the ASX 200. Since "inception" the numbers are 6.2% and 11.2%. I got through the COVID-19 crash a lot better than the previous bear markets. Hopefully, that improvement will be maintained in the future.

The following graph shows relative out-performance compared to the ASX 200 over every time horizon:

The way to interpret this is: If you invested with me in 1996 then you would have under-performed the ASX 200 by 4-5% p.a. since then. However, if you invested with me in some months in 2012 you would have matched or just beaten the ASX 200 since then. Similarly, investing in the year before the COVID-19 crash you would now be ahead of the ASX. Investing with me in the year after the COVID-19 crash you would be behind the ASX and so forth.

This graph shows my absolute profits in Australian Dollars:

A simple way of showing dollar-weighted returns. Basically, things went nowhere till 2012. All the gains have happened since then. So, I "wasted" 15 years learning to invest while saving.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Including Neighboring Development Sales in my House Price Model

This graph shows the increase as a fraction of the original when new sales price in two neighboring developments in our city since the beginning of 2015. The green dots are in our development and the red dots in the neighboring development, which was built by the same developer a year earlier:

The final red dot is the recent AUD 1.3 million sale. Using the increase above the initial price automatically adjusts for the different characteristics of each house sold. I only include free-standing houses. Our development also has row townhouses.

Prices are trending up over time in both developments but clearly houses are selling for greater premia in the neighboring development. By an average of 19%. But I think this is just because it was built earlier. When we use a logarithmic y-axis the two trendlines are almost parallel:

Therefore, I think it is valid to include the two developments in one model and just include a dummy variable for the neighboring development. Based on the analysis our house would be worth AUD 970k.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Sale in Neighbouring Development for AUD 1.3 Million

This house is in the sister development to ours on the other side of the hill. It borders the reserve just like ours. The house is a bit bigger than ours and so should sell for a higher price. But it sold for an 88% premium on its original 2007 price. Recent prices in our development have been for 25-35% premia on the original 2008 prices. I am valuing our house at a 31% premium to the 2008 price or 19% more than what we paid in 2014. I've been surprised at the sluggishness of prices in our development compared to the city as a whole. Maybe I should use prices from this neighbouring development too when estimating the value of our house?


If I do use data from this development as well, the current value of our house increases by about AUD 80k or 10%.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Career Plan

A couple of months ago I discussed my career decision making issues. I made a decision and will take long service leave next year and reduce my teaching load. I will drop my current courses and teach a new (for me) course in the second half of the year instead of teaching in the first half of the year. In the two years following that I plan to continue teaching the reduced load while taking on a "leadership" position. This takes me to the end of 2024 when I will 60. At that point I will either go half time or retire depending on the situation. Anyway, that's the plan at the moment. My immediate "boss" knows agreed to the plan for 2022 and the "boss" at the next level knows the 2023-24 plan. No-one has the full picture.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Spending 2020-21

For the last four years I've been putting together reports on our spending over the Australian financial year, which runs from 1 July to 30 June. This makes it easy to do a break down of gross income including taxes that's comparable to many you'll see online, though all our numbers are in Australian Dollars. At the top level we can break down total income (as reported in our tax returns plus superannuation contributions):

The gross income for this year is just an estimate. Tax includes local property tax as well as income tax and tax on superannuation contributions. Investing costs include margin interest. Mortgage interest is included in spending, while mortgage principal payments are considered as saving. Spending also includes the insurance premia paid through our superannuation. Current saving is then what is left over. This is much bigger than saving out of salaries because gross income includes investment returns reported in our tax returns. The latter number depends on capital gains reported for tax purposes, so is fairly arbitrary. Still, it has increased each year over this period. Spending also increased until this year when it was flat. Graphically, it looks like this:

We break down spending into quite detailed categories. Some of these are then aggregated up into broader categories:

Our biggest spending category, if we don't count tax, is now childcare and education, which has risen steeply. Given this it is surprising that spending didn't increase this year. Commentary on each category follows:

Franking credits: Income reported on our tax returns includes franking credits (tax paid by companies we invest in). We need to deduct this money which we don't receive as cash. Foreign tax paid is the same story.

Life and disability insurance: I have been trying to bring this under control and the amount paid has fallen as a result.

Health: Includes health insurance and direct spending. Spending peaked with the birth of our second child.

Housing: Includes mortgage interest, maintenance, and body corporate fees (condo association).

Transport: Continues to rise as I spend more on Uber and e-scooters and Moominmama drives more.

Utilities: This includes spending on online subscriptions etc as well as more conventional utilities.

Supermarkets: Includes convenience stores, liquor stores etc as well as supermarkets.

Restaurants: This was low in 2017-18 because we spent a lot of cash at restaurants. It's low this year because of the pandemic.

Cash spending: This has collapsed. It's hard to believe it is really that low, but that's what the numbers say. Moominmama also gets some cash out at supermarkets that is included in that category.

Department stores: All other stores selling goods that aren't supermarkets. No real trend here.

Mail order: This continues to rise. For example, I recently bought a new iMac by mail order.

Childcare and education: We are paying for private school for one child, full time daycare for the other, plus music classes...

Travel: This includes flights, hotels etc. It was very high in 2017-18 when we went to Europe and Japan. This year it was down to zero due to the pandemic and having a small child. We haven't travelled in Australia either. With the family it needs a lot of planning and borders are likely to suddenly close.

Charity: A growing category.

Other: This is mostly other services. It includes everything from haircuts to professional photography.

Clearly, we only kept spending under control in 2020-21 because we have stopped spending on travel and greatly reduced spending on restaurants.

Monday, July 05, 2021

June 2021 Report

This month I completed the review of all our investments.

The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7738 to USD 0.7500. It was another month of increases in world stock markets. The MSCI World Index rose 1.35%, the S&P 500 by 2.33%, and the ASX 200 rose 2.32%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.16% in Australian Dollar terms or lost 1.95% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have gained 2.32% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to gain 0.68% in US Dollar terms. So, we underperformed all benchmarks. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral terms):

Gold detracted the most from performance followed by private equity and futures. Hedge funds contributed the most followed by large cap Australian shares. The reason we under-performed the target portfolio were mainly that we had a negative private equity return rather than a strongly positive private equity return and our international stocks didn't perform as well as the index.

Things that worked well this month:

  • Regal Funds (RF1.AX) gained a lot (AUD 28k) before going ex-dividend on the last day of the month. I sold into the rally. Hearts and Minds also did well (14k).
What really didn't work:
  • Gold lost 30k followed by Cadence Capital losing 8k. Aspect Diversified Futures debuted with a $4k loss though Winton and soybean trading both made gains. 3i, Pengana Private Equity, and Pershing Square Tontine Holdings all lost money in the private equity category.

The investment performance statistics for the last five years are: 

The first two rows are our unadjusted performance numbers in US and Australian Dollar terms. The following four lines compare performance against each of the three indices. We show the desired asymmetric capture and positive alpha against the ASX200 index. We are doing a little worse than the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times. 

We moved a little away from our desired long-run asset allocation. Hedge funds is the asset class that is now furthest from its target allocation (4.25% of total assets too little) following selling most of our Regal Funds shares.

On a regular basis there are retirement contributions. I have stopped making regular contributions to investments outside of superannuation. This was a again a very busy month:

  • I sold most of our Regal Funds (RF1.AX) shares as the price soared above NAV.
  • I bought shares in my tenth painting at Masterworks for USD 10k.
  • Following the investments review, I closed our holding of CFS Future Leaders and CFS Diversified Fund and increased our holdings of CFS Imputation Fund, CFS Developing Companies, and opened a position in Aspect Diversified Futures.
  • I sold our holdings of two baby bonds: SBBA and SBKLZ.
  • USD 15k of our Ford bonds were subject to an early call.
  • I bought 8,000 more shares of Ruffer Investment Company (RICA.L) doubling our position.
  • I opened a position (3,000 shares) in Pershing Square Tontine Holdings (PSTH).
  • There was a net increase in our holding of MCP Income Opportunities (MOT.AX).
  • I increased and rolled our position in the soybeans future calendar spread. I bought a put option as well which was a losing trade.
  • I added 1,000 shares to our PMGOLD.AX position.
  • We received 83,320 shares in the WAM Strategic Value (WAR.AX) IPO.
  • There were a lot of foreign currency transactions, but I'm not going to try to summarize them.