Let's get right into this...
Another FREE quality article.
What does your capital allocation say about how you feel about shares?
Most people in the UK and worldwide know nothing or very little about shares directly. Of their own volition they probably have put no money in shares.
I reckon less than 10% of people in the UK have actively decided to put money into shares. It will be higher who have money in shares via a 'pension pot' though.
So... of those people... how many short shares? I reckon less than 1% of people in the UK short shares.
All that matters in shares is how much money you make. For many years I have just been 'long term buy and hold' and that generally is a fine way to do it. It beats cash in the bank...
Obviously shares do not go up in a straight line. Over the last 2 weeks the FTSE 100 has fallen about 10%. In general with shares when there is a fall there is a steep fall...
So how much you have allocated in shares should reflect how confident you feel in your shares... and the economic situation as a whole.
Ben Graham's rule of thumb is interesting. He says that if you're 75% in shares you should be very positive about the market... if you're 25% in shares you're very negative about the market.
The thing is, even for say a year, it might not be a bad thing to have a high percentage of your wealth in cash. If you have 80% of your wealth in cash and quality shares drop say 30% then may be the time to pounce...
This has been on my mind quite a lot... let's see if I can get the right words out...
I think in general it would be BAD to have the vast majority of your wealth in cash for most or all of your life. Especially with interest rates as they currently are- in the UK you're lucky to get 1% in a savings account now and millions of people get nothing. How much you have in cash does depend to an extent how much interest rates are. If they were 10% then it might make sense to have at least 30% in cash, maybe more.
It will be a long time if ever if we see 10% in the UK though.
At the same time... ideally I don't think it's ALWAYS good to have a high percentage of your wealth, say over 75%, in shares. Because there are always sharp drops from time to time and then you can lose a lot of money. Warren Buffet has a ton of cash piled away right now to pounce on good shares. Who knows, maybe he is even buying right now, it could well be a good time to do so.
The amount of cash you have in shares depends on many things... and how much time you can dedicate to it. I dedicate quite a lot but I am not like Chris Bailey who regularly sleeps 3 or 4 hours a day then spends the vast majority of the rest of his time on shares. There are people who are better analysts of shares than I am in some ways. I still spend quite a lot of time on shares though and believe after almost twenty years in the game my instincts are good. There is always more to learn. As long as I have enough money I will be doing shares for the rest of my life.
Of course Ben Graham is dead now. In the 70s there were much better interest rates than there are now and in general it was harder for smaller or private investors to invest in shares.
In the current climate it can be tempting for people in the UK to have a high percentage of their money in shares. After all there are millions of people getting no money in interest from their bank.
Also you can obviously money allocated to things other than 'cash and shares'. Off the top of my head there is cryptocurrency, gold, oil, property...
Most people at some point will have quite a lot of their money tied up in property because they need a house to live in. Property is a solid investment which over the long term consistently rises. I would like to invest in property more, although it is a different skillset and more challenging in some ways than investing in shares.
But how much should you have in shares as a percentage?
It depends how positive or good value you think shares are. However there are other ways to make money with shares. You can short them. I have just started doing and learning about this. Shorting a share or index is an expression of a negative attitude towards the markets.
In general you can say having money in shares is positive towards the market, cash is neutral and shorting is negative.
So your capital allocation should reflect your view on this. At some times it may be fine to have a decent amount of 'negative' attitude towards the market. Or stay 'neutral' with say 20% of your cash or more so you can pounce on good opportunities.
This article is one I just keep coming back to...
The key thing to remember about high yield shares is that plenty of opportunities will usually be there. OK so it can be a bit annoying perhaps thinking of having a lot of cash stuck making practically no interest.... and that interest being paid once a year. However shares with good yields can get even better. Look at Imperial Brands as a recent example.
Dividend cover is key... because remember a company can cut a dividend to nothing at an instant. Then you have a big capital loss AND no dividend. Look at Capita as an example. Even a good history of dividend payments can't stop a cut. I can see why some people want dividend cover to be two times cash available. I think I will look for at least 1.7 myself. You can look at 'free cash flow' and possible extra capex.
Imperial Brands btw... I bought more shares and think the share is really cheap at this price. A PE of 10.75 can EASILY go to 15 for a tobacco company and British Amercian Tobacco has traded at around a 20 PE. Imperial are saying they are going to increase the dividend by 10% per year too.
In fact I would rather have good dividend cover and a history of nice increasing yield than a very high dividend yield. It's down to 'free cash flow'... I probably should research this more in companies.
But they key point is... wait until you see a GREAT opportunity for either shares or spreads. Good opportunities will be there most days... great opportunities? If you know shares and spend a lot of time looking at the market hopefully you will see two a month, maybe more. Especially if you know a lot about shorting shares which I have plenty to learn about.
Real life examples...
I instinctively felt in 2016 that we would vote for Brexit yet I was stuck in my 'long term buy and hold' mindset. What I should have done before Brexit is selling practically everything then buy back shortly after Brexit when there were many great value shares.
People like Warren Buffet and Chris Bailey often have a sizeable amount of cash to pounce on good opportunities. Chris had quite a lot of cash available so has been able to take advantage of the recent downturn. I have less cash overall as a percentage but still may take advantage of it.