A case for International Investing

Key Points:



WHY INVEST INTERNATIONALLY?



There are at least two reasons to consider adding international exposure to your portfolio: diversification and global growth. International returns can also move in a different direction than U.S. stock market returns. Investing internationally could help guard against some of the risks associated with a solely U.S.-based portfolio. With a portfolio that includes domestic and foreign stocks, you could potentially reduce the risk of losses if U.S. markets decline.

Investing internationally also lets you capture investment opportunities that arise from fast-growing economies and markets whose currencies are appreciating against the dollar. However, that goes both ways and the dollar has had a great run over the last year. Just like the adage about not putting all of your eggs in one basket, investing overseas may spread your portfolio’s risk out over several regions and dozens of countries. By diversifying internationally, you are not stuck with one type of security in a single region or subject to the performance of one asset class.

Decades ago, the leading economies were found mainly in the United States and Western Europe, but things began to change as manufacturing moved to Asia and Latin America. The thriving economies of Asia, such as South Korea and Singapore, began gaining the attention of American investors. Then in 2001, an analyst coined the acronym BRIC when discussing then-emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These economies have seen rapid growth in the last decade, although recently they have shown signs of slowing down, everything moves in a cycle. Other up-and-coming markets that have recently begun to receive more attention include Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates which can be accessed through Frontier Market investments.

HIGH RATES OF GROWTH ABROAD


International markets can offer growth opportunities that may not be available in the United States due to differences in household income, younger populations, availability of natural resources, export strength, and movement toward free-market economic policies. Many Asian countries, for example, benefit from exports to the rapidly expanding Chinese economy.

Exposure to these unique growth areas, as well as emerging markets, can boost return potential. Emerging market countries typically have lower household incomes and lower debt levels relative to developed markets, giving them the ability to grow faster.

Economic growth in the United States is expected to be subdued in the near term. As an example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting growth in the United States to be below world growth over the next several years.

Emerging-market economies in particular are expected to have high growth rates which the IMF estimates are two to three times faster than developed-market economies. Corporate revenues have the potential to grow faster when economic growth is higher. However, bottom-line profits depend on how expenses grow. For example; wages in China have continued to rise this year, despite the slowdown in revenue growth.




THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EMERGING AND DEVELOPED MARKETS


While some economists disagree on the criteria that defines a nation as “developed,”¬ most agree that the term applies to countries that have highly developed capital markets with ample liquidity, serious regulatory agencies, large market capitalization, and high levels of per-capita income. You can find developed markets in the U.S., Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

An emerging market can be defined as a country undergoing rapid growth that has lower personal incomes and may have a new or yet-to-be established market structure and infrastructure. Some emerging markets include Colombia, Egypt, South Africa, Turkey, and Vietnam. The term also can include what analysts call Frontier Markets, which are nations that are slowly adapting to modern capitalism such as Bangladesh, Botswana, and Nigeria.

At WT Wealth Management we advocate an allocation to both developed and emerging countries and even frontier countries for our more risk adverse investors.

UNITED STATES BECOMING A SMALLER SHARE OF THE PIE


The United States boasts the world’s largest economy and stock market, the country’s importance and share of the world economy has been declining, particularly as emerging markets have grown in size. Remember, investing solely in US stocks means excluding nearly three-fourths of the global economy and over half of the world’s stock market value.

Despite the size of non-U.S. markets, U.S. investors held, on average, only 27% of their total stock allocation in International investments. I think itís important to note that if we looked at international allocations ten years ago, that number would have been closer to 10 or 15%. The fact that investors have increased their exposure to non-U.S. stocks is a positive thing. But there are many reasons why investors might maintain what we call a “home bias,”¬ a desire to have more exposure to their own securities. There are some rational reasons, but mostly it comes down to the behavioral tilts and that attitude of “I just like to invest in what I’m comfortable with and what I know.”





POTENTIAL TO LOWER OVERALL RISK IN YOUR PORTFOLIO


Investors can potentially reduce portfolio risk by diversifying their investments across various asset classes–categories of investments–each tending to respond differently to various market cycles and events. International stocks are one of the five main asset classes, along with large-cap stocks, small-cap stocks, bonds and cash investments. While international investing has higher stand-alone risk, the power of diversification across asset classes can potentially lower your overall portfolio risk.

Put simply, by investing abroad you gain exposure to companies operating in other countries – with potentially unique products and customer sets, which ñ may weather market downturns and upturns differently.

One of the major benefits of investing internationally is the improved diversification of your portfolio. More than half of the investment opportunities in stocks around the world are available outside of the United States. Seventy percent of the largest automobile companies, 70% of the diverse telecommunications companies, 80% of mining and metal companies, and 60% of the largest electronics companies all exist outside of the U.S., making up a huge portion of the big companies around the world. This means that for anyone who wants to invest in any of these businesses, they must invest outside of the country.




One of the major benefits of investing internationally is the improved diversification of your portfolio. More than half of the investment opportunities in stocks around the world are available outside of the United States. Seventy percent of the largest automobile companies, 70% of the diverse telecommunications companies, 80% of mining and metal companies, and 60% of the largest electronics companies all exist outside of the U.S., making up a huge portion of the big companies around the world. This means that for anyone who wants to invest in any of these businesses, they must invest outside of the country.

KNOW THE RISKS OF INTERNATIONAL INVESTING


Investing internationally brings increased risks and volatility. However, the good news is that many of these risks are reduced if you hold a diversified (by country, sector and company) portfolio of international stocks, such as many ETFs provide. One the ETFs we use at WT Wealth Management has over 1,300 holdings with exposure to 24 countries.

The short term is what everyone focuses on, for better or for worse. So, when weíre talking with our clients, what we try to encourage is to take a step back and think about their long-term investment objectives. The objective of being globally diversified, whether itís in fixed income or equities, is to be more diversified rather than less diversified. If we are trying to react on a minute-by-minute or day-to-day basis, weíre going to end up chasing our own tails.

Admittedly, it’s been a struggle over the last several year staying committed to an international allocation. The U.S. has performed well and developed and emerging international markets have lagged far behind, but as they say “the worm always turns”, it’s just a matter of when.

Global diversification doesn’t come without risks. Only your financial professional can determine if the rewards outweigh the risks. Here are some of the most common and well known risks associated with international investing.

CONCLUSION:


At WT Wealth Management we advocate a globally diversified portfolio for most investors. Since the great recession of 2008-2009 investors have become more concentrated in their domestic allocations for a few reasons in our opinion. The last few years have produced better returns in the U.S. than abroad and the associated higher degree safety that investing in the U.S. brings, while adding some comfort to already jittery investors.

In 2014, the S&P 500 returned 13.69% while the developed international benchmark the EAFE lost nearly 5%. In 2013, the S&P 500 increased 32.3% while the EAFE gained 22.8%. In fact, the EAFE has only beaten the S&P 500 twice in the last 5 years. However, as of May 1st, 2015 the S & P 500 is up 2.4% while EAFE Developed Market Index is ahead 10.54% and the Emerging Markets Index is better by 9.85%. Will this continue? Who knows, but it illustrates the benefits of fully diversified global portfolio, having a plan and being patient.

At WT Wealth Management we have an active approach to portfolio management and actively transition our clients’ investments in an effort to seek out opportunities around the world. While we hated the exposure our clients had in foreign investments last year, we are loving them this year.

Disclosure


WT Wealth Management is a manager of Separately Managed Accounts (SMA). Past performance is no indication of future performance. With SMA’s, performance can vary widely from investor to investor as each portfolio is individually constructed and allocation weightings are determined based on economic and market conditions the day the funds are invested. In a SMA you own individual ETFs and as managers we have the freedom and flexibility to tailor the portfolio to address your personal risk tolerance and investment objectives ñ thus making your account “separate” and distinct from all others we potentially managed.

An investment in the strategy is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency.

Any opinions expressed are the opinions of WT Wealth Management and its associates only. Information is neither an offer to buy or sell securities nor should it be interpreted as personal financial advice. You should always seek out the advice of a qualified investment professional before deciding to invest. Investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs carry certain specific risks and part or all of your account value can be lost.

In addition to the normal risks associated with investing, narrowly focused investments, investments in smaller companies, sector ETF’s and investments in single countries typically exhibit higher volatility. International, Emerging Market and Frontier Market ETFs investments may involve risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuations in currency values, from differences in generally accepted accounting principles or from economic or political instability that other nation’s experience. Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors as well as increased volatility and lower trading volume. Bonds, bond funds and bond ETFs will decrease in value as interest rates rise. A portion of a municipal bond fund’s income may be subject to federal or state income taxes or the alternative minimum tax. Capital gains (short and long-term), if any, are subject to capital gains tax.

Diversification and asset allocation may not protect against market risk or a loss in your investment. At WT Wealth Management we strongly suggest having a personal financial plan in place before making any investment decisions including understanding your personal risk tolerance and having clearly outlined investment objectives.

WT Wealth Management is a registered investment adviser located in Jackson, WY. WT Wealth Management may only transact business in those states in which it is registered, or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. Any subsequent, direct communication by WT Wealth Management with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. For information pertaining to the registration status of WT Wealth Management, please contact the state securities regulators for those states in which WT Wealth Management maintains a registration filing.

A copy of WT Wealth Management’s current written disclosure statement discussing WT Wealth Management’s business operations, services, and fees is available at the SEC’s investment adviser public information website ñ www.adviserinfo.sec.gov or from WT Wealth Management upon written request. WT Wealth Management does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to WT Wealth Management’s web site or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility therefor. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

WARRANTIES & DISCLAIMERS

There are no warranties implied.
Any opinions expressed on this website are the opinions of WT Wealth Management and its associates only. Material listed on this website is neither an offer to buy or sell securities nor should it be interpreted as personal financial advice. You should always seek out the advice of a qualified investment professional before deciding to invest. Investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETF’s carry certain specific risks and part or all of your account value can be lost.

At WT Wealth Management we strongly suggest having a personal financial plan in place before making any investment decisions including understanding your personal risk tolerance and having clearly outlined investment objectives.

View Disclosure
WT Wealth Management is an SEC registered investment adviser, with in excess of $100 million in assets under management (AUM) with offices in Flagstaff, Scottsdale, Sedona and Tucson, AZ along with Jackson Hole, WY and Las Vegas, NV. WT Wealth Management is a manager of Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs). With SMAs, performance can vary widely from investor to investor as each portfolio is individually constructed and managed. Asset allocation weightings are determined based on a wide array of economic and market conditions the day the funds are invested. In an SMA, each investor may own individual Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), individual equities or mutual funds. As the manager we have the freedom and flexibility to tailor the portfolio to address an individual investor's personal risk tolerance and investment objectives – thus making the account “separate” and distinct from all others we manage. An investment with WT Wealth Management is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other government agency. Any opinions expressed are the opinions of WT Wealth Management and its associates only. Information offered is neither an offer to buy or sell securities nor should it be interpreted as personal financial advice. Always seek out the advice of a qualified investment professional before deciding to invest. Investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs carries certain specific risks and part or all of an account's value can be lost. In addition to the normal risks associated with investing, narrowly focused investments, investments in smaller companies, sector and/or thematic ETFs and investments in single countries typically exhibit higher volatility. International, Emerging Market and Frontier Market ETFs, mutual funds and individual securities may involve risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuations in currency values, from differences in generally accepted accounting principles or from economic or political instability that other nations experience. Individual bonds, bond mutual funds and bond ETFs will typically decrease in value as interest rates rise. A portion of a municipal bond fund's income may be subject to federal or state income taxes or the alternative minimum tax. Capital gains (short and long-term), if any, are subject to capital gains tax. Diversification and asset allocation may not protect against market risk or investment losses. At WT Wealth Management, we strongly suggest having a personal financial plan in place before making any investment decisions including understanding personal risk tolerance, having clearly outlined investment objectives and a clearly defined investment time horizon. WT Wealth Management may only transact business in those states in which it is registered, or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. Individualized responses to persons that involve either the effecting of transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made without registration or exemption. WT Wealth Management's website is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its advisory services, together with access to additional investment-related information, publications, and links. Accordingly, the publication of WT Wealth Management's website should not be construed by any consumer and/or prospective client as WT Wealth Management's solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, over the internet. Any subsequent, direct communication by WT Wealth Management with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. A copy of WT Wealth Management's current written disclosure statement discussing WT Wealth Management's registrations, business operations, services, and fees is available at the SEC's investment adviser public information website (www. adviserinfo.sec.gov) or from WT Wealth Management directly. WT Wealth Management does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to WT Wealth Management's web site or incorporated therein, and takes no responsibility therefor. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

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