My last post, reviewing 2020, observed that my performance is, superficially at least, very similar to Vanguard’s WoRLd equity tracker ETF VWRL. Despite my portfolio involving a helluva lot more complexity/faff. My post elicited this comment from Bob:
Thanks for sharing, intriguing as always. As someone who recently (18 months ago) simplified my portfolio into three holdings: 1 VWRL seven figures, 2 [single megacap tech stock] six figures, 3 Vanguard Global Bond six figures. I find myself reading about your complexity and not feeling jealous one bit. So the question is, why do you dislike VWRL (or similar global tracker) so much? You mention the comparison several times, what is stopping you making the change? That is after all what reviews should lead to e.g. insights, and change.
Bob, commenting on 2 January 2020
Bob’s challenge is a good one. Why wouldn’t I just swap out my entire portfolio for, say, holding only a single world equities tracking ETF like VWRL or its non-Vanguard equivalents (see Monevator’s updated list of alternatives here, or the SRI alternatives listed on my ETFs page)?
I feel as if there is a crescendo of doom-mongering about London.
Most notable for me was a piece a week or two ago by Simon Kuper in the FT. Kuper argues that three things threaten to diminish London, risking it following Vienna and Constantinople into decline:
Covid-19. Covid means lockdown. And lockdown means working from home. Kuper argues that “though working from home threatens all cities, it disproportionately threatens London”.
Brexit. The “UK-EU trade deal does little for London”. In the first week of the Brexit new world, apparently €6bn a day of stock trading moved from the UK into the eurozone, which alone could be worth has much as £20bn a year of lost revenues (a quarter of the UK’s services trade surplus). I hear rumours that Goldman Sachs is yet to move 2000 roles from the UK into the EU. That is a lot of tax that won’t be paid to HMRC, and fancy dinners no longer being enjoyed in the West End.
The role of English. Kuper argues that “a decade ago there was no obvious European substitute for London. Now, cities like Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam have become quasi-bilingual business hubs.”
Kuper cites house price data as suggesting that “local rivals are eating into London’s supremacy”: London’s prices have fallen (in international terms) since 2016, whereas Parisian prices are up about 25%. More money is going into Paris’ office space than London’s in 2019, the year before the pandemic.
The end of December 2020. Time to do my monthly review of my portfolio, but also time to do an annual review. It is the end of my eighth year of monthly tracking of my portfolio. And it’s the first year I’ve tracked that has a very serious market meltdown in it, triggered of course by the covid-19 pandemic.
While I am somewhat geeky unusual in the attention I pay to my portfolio, it is general good practice even for ‘normal people’ to review their finances and investments on an annual basis. In the spirit of trying to be helpful, I’m setting out in this post to tackle seven generic questions that I think all prudent investors should ask themselves at least annually, and where the answers suggest ways to optimise/enhance your outcomes.