A weekly reality check on sensible investing and financial decision-making for Canadians. Hosted by Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore of PWL Capital.
Dr. Anna Lembke: Dopamine & Decision-Making
The contemporary world is saturated with ways in which we can experience rewards that were historically much more difficult to access. Although this idea of a world filled with dopamine fixes is not new, it can be continually surprising just how extreme this reality has become. Here on the show today to talk about this issue and her most recent book, Dopamine Nation, is Dr. Anna Lembke, and we have a fascinating and important conversation in which she unpacks the human body and mind in relation to the world around us at present. One of the main points from this chat is the weakness of humans, and how unaware we can be of the way our brains compel us to engage in behaviours and seek pleasure. We get into some strategies and solutions for healthier ways to exist, talking about mindfulness, awareness, and dopamine fasting, in the face of accelerating tech and overabundance. Dr. Lembke gives us a great introduction to dopamine and how it functions in our bodies, unpacks the four properties of addictive substances and activities, the different ways to frame and understand addiction, and shares some realistic ideas about moderation. So to hear all this and much more, tune in to this great episode of the Rational Reminder Podcast.
Key Points From This Episode:
An introduction to dopamine and its functions in the human body. [0:03:03.2] The human brain and the current overabundance of addictive experiences and substances. [0:05:36.1] Contemporary increasing in different types of addiction. [0:08:13.8] Considering the inherently negative connotation of the word 'addiction'. [0:11:44.4] The reasons that make gambling so addictive to the human mind. [0:14:12.7] Applying what we know about addiction and gambling to speculation and the stock market. [0:18:03.2] Why working also falls into the category of addictive behaviours. [0:21:46.8] Looking at the addictive nature of spending money and shopping. [0:24:01.5] A shocking story about water addiction from Dr. Lembke's practice. [0:25:12.1] Thoughts on recognizing addiction and possible ways to stop the behaviours. [0:26:22.2] Using in moderation; Dr. Lembke comments on the realities of this idea. [0:29:32.7] Long-term decision making versus a dopamine-laden environment; the battle of our time. [0:31:00.4] Understanding hormesis, seeking pleasure through pain, and embracing volatility in a portfolio. [0:34:54.6] The impacts of increased leisure time and the question of what we need. [0:38:47.6] Lembke's advice around retirement and the dangers of dopamine deficit states. [0:42:43.3] How the era of the pandemic has affected these trends in addiction. [0:45:20.2] The relationship between radical honesty and dopamine; how lying is related to reward pathways. [0:48:39.6] Radical honesty and better parenting; Dr. Lembke's thoughts on transparency. [0:54:01.3] Weighing the value of shame and its power as a socially regulating force. [0:55:51.2] Lembke's definition of success and its connection to being a good parent and becoming a positive force in the world. [1:00:01.6]
Is the Value Premium Smaller Than We Thought? Featuring Mathias Hasler
Today we have a guest join us on one of our 'us episodes', and we are very lucky to welcome Mathias Hasler to take part in the last section of today's podcast. Mathias is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Finance at Boston College, and his primary research focuses are empirical asset pricing, market efficiency, value investing, and corrections for data mining. In our chat with him today, we zoom in on a specific paper of his and its proposition about 'the six decisions' and their alternatives. Before we dive in with Mathias, we spend a little time with our usual round-up; looking at a new book by Hubert Joly, and fielding a very interesting listener question about value and investing in relation to green investments. Also, make sure to stay tuned for some thought-provoking Talking Sense cards with Mathias at the tail end of today's podcast.
Key Points From This Episode:
This week's book review for The Heart of Business and a look at some of its main ideas. [0:05:12.4] A quick recap of some fundamental information regarding inflation hedging. [0:09:45.1] A listener question about value and ESG investing, and the relationship between factors and sectors. [0:13:40.4] Unpacking the six decisions that Mathias outlines in his recent paper. [0:34:42.8] The process that Mathias went through testing his alternatives to the six decisions. [0:40:18.3] Differences between conditional and unconditional value premiums estimates. [0:43:39.5] The implications of Mathias' findings for investors pursuing value. [0:47:08.2] A round of Talking Sense cards with Mathias relating to saving and spending, job outcomes, and more. [0:49:20.1]
Robin Taub: The Wisest Investment: Teaching Kids About Money
Today we are tackling the vitally important subject of financial literacy from the standpoint of parents wanting to educate their children. We have a true expert on the show today to help us with this discussion, and we cannot wait to share this highly actionable and impactful conversation with our audience. Robin Taub is a former CPA turned author, and her book, The Wisest Investment, approaches the need to educate children from an early age, and the best strategies that parents can use for this task. Robin previously worked at Citibank in derivatives marketing and brings the high-level expertise of accounting to her book and this episode of the podcast. We strongly support her perspective on financial education and believe the framework she discusses here and shares in her book is well worth any parent's time. In our conversation, we cover all the important bases; financial values, summer jobs, investment apps, human capital, and everything in between, so make sure to listen with us to hear it all.
Key Points From This Episode:
Unpacking Robin's beliefs about the importance of financial education in the family. [0:02:55.2] Financial education in the Canadian schooling system; Robin weighs in on its success. [0:04:08.6] The assessment that parents can make about being role models to their children. [0:06:53.1] The communication of values through the process of teaching and learning. [0:09:01.8] Ideas for the appropriate time to start teaching kids about money. [0:11:40.5] Using teachable moments to begin the conversation about money. [0:14:35.3] Thoughts about allowances and best practices for parents. [0:18:09.7] The evolution of money conversations as children grow older; increasing sophistication over the years. [0:23:46.9] Benefits and considerations when introducing the concept of working for money. [0:27:30.3] How social media can impact young people's spending, and how to mitigate these effects. [0:31:26.2] Robin weighs in on the question of cellphones and when children should get one. [0:38:42.6] Increasing financial responsibilities as children grow older, and beginning the conversation about investments. [0:40:37.3] The impact of investment apps and how to minimize the damage they can do. [0:45:21.1] Teaching children about philanthropy and the importance of sharing. [0:47:04.6] Weighing up the idea of getting a financial advisor involved in your child's life. [0:49:27.3] The concept of human capital and how to approach it in your family. [0:50:51.1] Robin's thoughts on conversations about entrepreneurship. [0:54:48.6] Breaking the cycle of financial problems in a household that is struggling. [0:57:54.3] Minimizing entitlement in a family of greater financial means. [0:59:42.8] Reasons for the shift that Robin made from her career as a CPA to becoming an author. [1:03:30.1] Robin's personal definition of success; finding satisfaction in the important areas of life. [1:05:20.5]
The "Good Company is a Good Investment" Fallacy
It sounds reasonable to say that investing in the most popular companies would produce the best returns, but this is just not how asset pricing works. Today on the show, we unpack the ‘good company is a good investment’ fallacy. Before diving into the main topic, we kick off our discussion on the subject of index funds with Robert Wigglesworth’s Trillions. From there, we share some updates about custom indexing and home buying in Canada, along with the immense valuation of Tesla as well as Elon Musk’s net worth. This acts as a great segue into the focus of today’s show: a so-called good company has high historical returns, strong earnings growth, strong forecasted earnings growth, and high prices. But just because the good companies have done well historically, this does not mean they will continue to be a good investment. In fact, there is a premium that says that higher-priced stocks earn lower returns than lower-priced stocks and value stocks. We unpack several papers that explore the concept that it is the lesser-known companies that tend to have better returns. We also get into how growth extrapolation, the skewness effect, and the big market delusion plays into the good company is a good investment fallacy. Our discussion concludes with the idea that investors are better off paying attention to expected returns rather than falling victim to extrapolation errors. Tune in today!
Key Points From This Episode:
Introductory comments: modifications to the show, listener feedback, and more. [0:00:30.2] Book review of the week: Trillions by Robert Wigglesworth. [0:08:28.3] News updates: custom indexing, Tesla valuation, homebuyer gifts, and more. [0:12:23.2] Introducing today’s topic: the ‘good company is a good investment’ fallacy. [0:19:30:9] Investing in good companies is irrational because of how asset pricing works. [0:20:44.7] The threat that crypto and decentralized applications pose to good companies. [0:21:50.5] Higher-priced stocks earn lower returns than lower-priced and value stocks. [0:24:40.3] Findings from papers exploring glamorous stocks and investor bias. [0:27:21.2] The problem of extrapolating growth too far into the future. [0:34:07.1] Behaviour patterns of lottery-like stocks with high expected skewness. [0:37:17.4] Declining prices and the big market delusion. [0:39:51.1] The high prices and low expected returns of the NIFTY 50 companies. [0:44:05.2] What the Fama French Five-Factor Model has to say about how assets are priced. [0:45:30.2] Talking Cents: Questions about the price we pay for riches. [0:46:50.2]
Antonio Picca: From Index Investing to Factor Investing at Vanguard
In our conversation this week, we take a deep dive into factor investing. We are joined by the formidable Antonio Picca, Head of Factor Strategies at Vanguard, to help us navigate this complicated topic. Antonio is one of the largest asset managers in the world, with over seven trillion dollars under management. Among his credentials is a Master's in Finance and Economics from the London School of Economics, as well as a Doctorate in Finance and Economics from Chicago, where he was also a teaching assistant with Gene Fama. During our discussion, we cover a broad series of questions on factor investing, while also venturing into deeply technical territory. We examine how one might make the transition to factor investing after gaining confidence in passive investing and unpack important questions around factor investing and risk. Another fascinating topic we cover is how factor investing resembles active investing, including some crucial distinctions. Next, we take a look at some of the negative connotations of active investing and investigate why those issues may not apply to factor investing. Antonio goes on to explain why factor investing is a natural extension of a broad equity market investing and illustrates how it aligns with Vanguard’s philosophy, which is a belief in low-cost, long-term focus, and broad diversification. You won’t want to miss this excellent opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of factor investing from one of the leading experts in the field. Tune in today to hear it all!
Key Points From This Episode:
Introducing today’s guest Antonio Picca, Head of Factor Strategies at Vanguard. [00:00:17] How Antonio would explain factor investing to an existing Vanguard client who's already sold on the idea of low-cost, cap-weighted index investing. [00:03:16] Why clients need to be educated on factor investing, and why factor investing is a form of active investing. [00:04:31] The benefits of targeting other factors in addition to the market risk factor. [00:05:20] Some of the drawbacks to a strategy that targets other factors in addition to the market risk factor. [00:06:41] How Vanguard helps clients determine whether factor investing is the correct course of action for them. [00:08:19] The role that cap-weighted investing plays in the structure of factor products when capital forms the core of your investing, and factor portfolios are secondary. [00:09:35] How investors should think about sizing their factor position, relative to their market cap-weighted position. [00:11:12] How they decide which factors to target in Vanguard's product lineup. [00:12:37] Vanguard’s approach to capacity when considering factors. [00:15:03] How Vanguard decided to target momentum as a standalone factor. [00:16:24] More on the liquidity factor and how Vanguard is targeting it. [00:17:40] A breakdown of what the value factor is. [00:20:12] Why factor investors should want to be active, rather than follow a factor index, despite the negative connotations that come with active investing. [00:22:25] Why negative connotations of active aren’t applicable to active factor investing. [00:24:27] The frequency with which factor funds need to be rebalanced to effectively capture the factor premiums. [00:25:52] Instances where it is possible to quantify the benefit of more frequent rebalancing, or more flexible rebalancing. [00:27:01] Some of the days in early 2020 where there were market movements of multiple percentage points and how Vanguard made decisions accordingly. [00:28:05] Antonio's thoughts on the prospect of quantifying premiums for factors. [00:30:46] The paper that Vanguard is currently working on to determine whether it is possible to time factor premiums, or whether investors maintain consistent exposure to them. [00:32:32] How factor investing is different from traditional active management. [00:33:51] Some of the instances where a factor portfolio can replace an active manager. [00:35:40] Antonio
Is the debate over renting vs. buying a home really over? Featuring Rob Carrick
Today we welcome Rob Carrick back to the show to talk about a range of interesting topics, focusing on the Canadian housing market and some of the recent developments from the banking and investment space. Rob has such a balanced and measured approach, qualities that are visible in his long-standing work at The Globe and Mail. We start today's episode with some fun recommendations of books and TV content, before diving into the meat of our conversation. Rob weighs in on the range of perspectives on whether to rent or buy, offering the assurance that renting is a completely acceptable way to manage your needs and means. He also comments on the utility of robo-advisors, the impacts of the recent banking regulations, and shares his surprise at which of his articles have proved most popular. We always feel like we should have Rob on the show more often, and this episode is such a good argument for that very idea. So, to hear all Rob has to say, be sure to join us today.
Key Points From This Episode:
This week's book and TV recommendations; Impeachment, Capital, Trillions, and more. [0:00:39.2] A call for applicants here at PWL Capital, and some recent reviews for the show. [0:07:17.7] Looking at an excerpt from Azeem Azhar's book, The Exponential Age. [0:11:45.4] A recent study comparing renting and buying in Canada. [0:18:18.6] Rob's observations on the new banking rules in Canada and what they mean for the advisor community. [0:29:27.2] Thoughts on trends in the banking space and the roles of financial professionals. [0:36:07.1] Canada's adoption of indexing: measuring the speed of changes in the country. [0:38:38.7] The role of robo-advisors and why Rob believes strongly in their value. [0:41:48.5] Rob weighs in on the debate of buying versus renting property. [0:44:39.6] Generational flows of money from boomer parents to millennial and Gen Y children. [0:50:52.3] Rob's message to Canadians feeling like they are stuck renting. [0:54:24.1] Some of Rob's most popular articles from over the years. [0:55:20.7] Lessons from Sweden's housing market and considering Canada's possible future. [0:59:03.6] A round of Talking Sense cards with Rob dealing with most prized possessions, lending, and happiness. [1:02:26.3] Assessing some of Robert Kyosaki's recent comments on a looming crash. [1:08:29.1] The present is exciting in finance; why Rob is enjoying the ride. [1:14:22.5]
I’m completely blown away by Ben and Cameron’s podcast! This podcast is packed with incredible content and has phenomenal guests! I’d highly recommend it!
May be one of the best investing podcasts out there for Canadians
I have been listening to this podcast around when it first started after the canadian couch potato podcast ended (great podcast by Dan btw). It’s amazing to see how far these 2 guys have come. By far one of the best, if not the best podcast on investing I have listened to. Ben and Cameron are so articulate and informative on their discussions as well as backing everything up with data from academic literatures. Ben was also recently on a Physician financial conference and was a big reason why I attended!
A great resource for financial literacy
Like many other podcasts, I discovered this one during financial literacy month in Canada. I really enjoyed the recent episode with Robin Taub- teaching the next generation about financial literacy is so important!