On Investment Objectives and Risks, Clear Communication Is Key, Part I

Adjusted by Lisa M. Laird, CFA, from “Communicating Plainly about Financial Investment Objectives and Risks” by Karyn Williams, PhD, and Harvey D. Shapiro, originally published in the July/August 2021 issue of Investments & & Wealth Monitor.1.

Effective investment management requires clear communications. Everybody included should comprehend the returns they are seeking and the threats they are shouldering. However the amorphous quality of some vital investment principles, especially investment danger, typically makes these interactions hard to attain.

The Setting.

When investment return goals are approximated, financiers need to go on to establish the financial investment strategy. Making the most of returns might seem sensible as an objective, however thats much easier stated than done. It can indicate welcoming significant danger, which develops the potential for problems that constrain a companys ability to satisfy its objectives.

Once the structure commits to, state, supporting the arts, it needs to next develop how long it prepares to exist. Should it hand out all its money as fast as possible to meet crucial requirements in the arts and then go out of company? Or should it commit to supporting its mission in all time? Either of these are affordable choices, but if its the latter, the foundation needs to develop a grant-making program supported by a financial investment program that guarantees it lives within its methods.

Thats why identifying the investment goals and accomplishing stakeholder buy-in is the vital primary step in linking the goals to portfolio building. Which needs getting rid of the intrinsic shortcomings of how we discuss threat and other investment concepts.

In this first installment of our three-part series, we talk about the need for clear interactions at the initial phase of the financial investment process and how objectives are the bedrock for basic investment strategy choices.

This balancing act is even more made complex by the lack of symmetry in the language of investing. Risk and return are investings yin and yang. Return procedures are concrete and allow for significant comparisons across time and a variety of portfolios. However danger is nebulous and hard to assess. Is it volatility? Tracking error? Any decline in value? A catastrophic drawdown? Doing something that others consider as silly?

In the investment world, however, communication is hard. As an outcome, considerations take place in what might appear like a foreign language to non-practitioners and some participants may think they comprehend and are understood when neither is the case.

For most sizable financial investment pools, the general function may appear clear enough. The money is there to generate funds to support charitable activities, safe retirement incomes, pay future insurance claims, or produce income for relative now or in the future.

When the function is established, there should be a granular conversation of goals to determine how funds should be invested to support that purpose. For example, a humanitarian structure needs to establish particular program objectives, because it cant do whatever for everyone.

$ 50-Million Public Foundation$ 100-Million Private Foundation$ 1-Billion Defined Benefit Pension PlanAnnual Expected Funding Needs/Payments3.00% 5.00% 3.50% Expected Inflation2.50% 2.54% 2.75% Investment Management Fees0.75% 0.50% 0.55% Portfolio Growth0.50% 0.00% 0.20% Target Investment Return Objective6.75% 8.04% 7.00% Each of these financial investment organizations has varying degrees of discretion and precision for setting its target-return goals. A private structure must pay at least 5% every year to maintain its tax-exempt status, but a specified advantage pension fund requires just an estimated payout and a public foundation might have substantial discretion in its costs. Each organization has a target-return goal for the five-year horizon, even if it expects to meet its purpose forever.

Test Five-Year Investment Return Objectives.

Mid-course corrections are often essential actions to changes in financial investment outcomes or shifting circumstances. These structures have responded appropriately, modifying their purpose and financial investment goals to change with the times and the evolving requirements of their objective. Regularly reconfirming purpose and routinely setting financial investment goals are essential parts of the investment process.

At any large organization, the investment procedure needs partnership. The concepts and viewpoints of participants, from executives and board members to external financial investment supervisors and consultants, should be heard and examined even if they are not necessarily carried out. Intensive and extensive communication is vital.

An useful technique is to set financial investment goals over constant, or rolling, “investment planning horizons.” These can be as short as one year or as long as 10 years and are usually upgraded every year. The following table reveals common elements of target-return objectives over a five-year investment-planning horizon for a $50-million public structure, a $100-million personal foundation, and a $1-billion defined benefit pension plan.

The interaction challenges that accompany conventional financial investment choice structures and run the risk of principles, such as standard deviation, will be the topic of the next installation in this series.

From Purpose to Investment Objectives.

The success or failure of these discussions shapes considerable decisions at every phase of the financial investment process.

1. Investments & & Wealth Monitor is released by the Investments & & Wealth Institute ®.

Image credit: © Getty Images/ vitranc.

Expert Learning for CFA Institute Members.

Harvey D. Shapiro.
Harvey D. Shapiro is senior advisor at Institutional Investor, Inc., where he has actually been senior contributing editor of Institutional Investor publication in addition to a consultant and moderator for various Institutional Investor conferences. A previous adjunct teacher and a Walter Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University, he has been an expert to a number of foundations and other institutional investors. He earned degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago. Contact him at harvshap@juno.com.

CFA Institute members are empowered to self-determine and self-report professional learning (PL) credits earned, including content on Enterprising Investor. Members can record credits easily utilizing their online PL tracker.

Occasionally reconfirming purpose and routinely setting investment goals are essential parts of the financial investment procedure.

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All posts are the viewpoint of the author. They need to not be interpreted as financial investment suggestions, nor do the opinions expressed always reflect the views of CFA Institute or the authors company.

Lisa M. Laird, CFA.
Lisa M. Laird, CFA, is a principal and senior adviser at Hightree Advisors, LLC. She is a structure trustee and is a previous chief financial investment officer, investment committee member, board member, and investment expert. Contact her at lisa.laird@hightreeadvisors.com.

$ 50-Million Public Foundation$ 100-Million Private Foundation$ 1-Billion Defined Benefit Pension PlanAnnual Expected Funding Needs/Payments3.00% 5.00% 3.50% Expected Inflation2.50% 2.54% 2.75% Investment Management Fees0.75% 0.50% 0.55% Portfolio Growth0.50% 0.00% 0.20% Target Investment Return Objective6.75% 8.04% 7.00% Each of these investment companies has differing degrees of discretion and precision for setting its target-return objectives. Once financial investment return objectives are estimated, investors must go on to establish the financial investment method. She is a structure trustee and is a previous chief investment officer, investment committee member, board member, and financial investment specialist. She is a primary financial investment officer, structure trustee, independent public company director, and a previous financial investment specialist.

Karyn Williams, PhD.
Karyn Williams, PhD, is the creator of Hightree Advisors, LLC, an independently owned supplier of investment choice tools, success metrics, and risk details. She is a chief investment officer, structure trustee, independent public company director, and a former financial investment expert.

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