Investment managers typically have a bachelor’s degree and can benefit from earning a master’s degree or a particular financial certification, like the certified financial planner designation. Investment managers often need to register with either their state or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, depending on their assets under management.

The latter hinderance exemplifies passive management since few investment decisions have to be made by human fund managers. The former challenge does not use human beings at all—other than the programmer writing the algorithm. As a result, both can charge far lower fees than human fund managers can charge. However, according to some surveys, these lower-cost alternatives will often outperform actively managed funds—either outright or in terms of overall return—primarily due to them not having heavy fees dragging them down.
Portfolio return may be evaluated using factor models. The first model, proposed by Jensen (1968), relies on the CAPM and explains portfolio returns with the market index as the only factor. It quickly becomes clear, however, that one factor is not enough to explain the returns very well and that other factors have to be considered. Multi-factor models were developed as an alternative to the CAPM, allowing a better description of portfolio risks and a more accurate evaluation of a portfolio's performance. For example, Fama and French (1993) have highlighted two important factors that characterize a company's risk in addition to market risk. These factors are the book-to-market ratio and the company's size as measured by its market capitalization. Fama and French therefore proposed three-factor model to describe portfolio normal returns (Fama–French three-factor model). Carhart (1997) proposed to add momentum as a fourth factor to allow the short-term persistence of returns to be taken into account. Also of interest for performance measurement is Sharpe's (1992) style analysis model, in which factors are style indices. This model allows a custom benchmark for each portfolio to be developed, using the linear combination of style indices that best replicate portfolio style allocation, and leads to an accurate evaluation of portfolio alpha.

The different asset class definitions are widely debated, but four common divisions are stocks, bonds, real estate and commodities. The exercise of allocating funds among these assets (and among individual securities within each asset class) is what investment management firms are paid for. Asset classes exhibit different market dynamics, and different interaction effects; thus, the allocation of the money among asset classes will have a significant effect on the performance of the fund. Some research suggests that allocation among asset classes has more predictive power than the choice of individual holdings in determining portfolio return. Arguably, the skill of a successful investment manager resides in constructing the asset allocation, and separate individual holdings, so as to outperform certain benchmarks (e.g., the peer group of competing funds, bond and stock indices).
Beware of market-beating brags. Warren Buffet outperforms the market averages. There aren’t a lot of people like him. If you have an initial meeting with an adviser and you hear predictions of market-beating performance, get up and walk away. No one can safely make such guarantees, and anyone who’s trying may be taking risks that you don’t want to take.
Marriage. Many couples wait to explore life insurance options until they have children or purchase a home, says Divam Mehta, founder of Mehta Financial Group in Glen Allen, Virginia. "While those are the standard benchmarks, I recommend searching for appropriate life insurance solutions as soon as marriage for a myriad of reasons," Mehta says. "First, the foundation of any financial plan should be insurance. Second, when individuals enter marriage, they are not only forming a union of the souls, but also a union of finances, most notably debt. Many young couples will have student loan debt, car loans and or credit card debt that lenders can possibly go after. The third and most important reason that marriage is an appropriate moment for life insurance is that that it the sooner you start, the more affordable it is, and the more time you have to accumulate cash value if it is a permanent policy."
A financial planner is a qualified investment professional who helps individuals and corporations meet their long-term financial objectives. Financial Planners do their work by consulting with clients to analyze their goals, risk tolerance, life or corporate stages and identify a suitable class of investments for them. From there they may set up a program to help the client meet those goals by distributing their available savings into a diversified collection of investments designed to grow or provide income as desired.
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