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7Twelve: A Diversified Investment Portfolio with a Plan Hardcover – August 9, 2010
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“Craig Israelsen has an interesting idea: Let's leave 1950 behind. The associate professor at Brigham Young University<http://topics.dallasnews.com/topic/Brigham_Young_University> in Utah<http://topics.dallasnews.com/topic/Utah> thinks it's time to include the world outside the United States, among other things, in our investments rather than just talk about it . . . . This is accomplished with what Israelsen dubs the ‘7Twelve Balanced Fund.’ Rather than just domestic stocks and bonds, the new benchmark has seven asset classes. Those asset classes, in turn, are subdivided into a dozen subsets, all held in equal amounts. The payoff is huge. Over the last 10 years, his better balanced index provided a return of 7.52 percent annualized. The Vanguard Balanced Index fund did better than nearly 60 percent of its managed competitors but returned only 2.64 percent over the same period. That 7.52 percent return would have ranked Israelsen's passive index in the top 2 percent of all moderate allocation funds. Indeed, it would have ranked in the top 30 percent of all world allocation funds - funds that do invest in a broader menu of assets . . . . This is no guarantee of investment nirvana, but it's a good start for a new millennium.”—Scott Burns, Syndicated Columnist, Dallas Morning News (March 27, 2010)
From the Inside Flap
While most investors would agree that diversified, low-cost investing makes great sense for everyone, the reality is that the average investor has very little experience building a diversified investment portfolio. Most investors end up cobbling a few different mutual funds together, resulting in a portfolio that lacks true diversification. 7Twelve shows you how to build a diversified, multi-asset portfolio using "7" core asset classes (or investment categories) by utilizing "Twelve" underlying mutual funds.
Author Craig Israelsen clearly explains just how easy it is to manage a successful portfolio with a plan, rather than managing your money piecemeal. His three key guidelines in the 7Twelve recipe are deceptively simple: select 12 different ingredients (such as mutual funds), allocate your investment equally among all 12 funds, and rebalance the 12 funds on a periodic basis, such as annually. Israelsen describes in straightforward and ready-to-apply terms what your portfolio should look like and outlines how to make it a reality for you. In 15 succinct chapters, he takes you step by step through the process of building and managing a portfolio that optimizes performance and minimizes risk. He begins by demonstrating how diversification is actually achieved and introduces various ways to meaningfully measure portfolio performance. He then outlines how to actually build and manage the 7Twelve portfolio—from periodic rebalancing to changes in the asset allocation over the life cycle—and specifically addresses the all-important issue of portfolio durability during the retirement years. Israelsen also presents research that sheds light on some of the most-debated topics among investors: value versus growth, active versus passive investing, and some of the perplexing problems in many target- date mutual funds.
Better risk-adjusted performance is the key benefit of building broadly diversified investment portfolios, and only by combining a wide variety of asset classes can an investment portfolio produce superior performance with lower levels of risk. The 7Twelve approach provides diversification depth within each separate mutual fund, and diversification breadth across the 7 asset classes—a recipe that provides ideal risk-controlled performance.
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I sent the author a couple of inquiries based on current financial news items and have been pleased with his personal responses. No one system fits everyone's needs. If you're confident about managing your own portfolio, this is worth a look.
This is a must read for anyone interested in managing their own (or others) mutual fund portfolio.