Damien Klassen


MB Fund webinar: Cold War 2.0

Join Damien Klassen, David Llewellyn Smith and Tim Fuller as we discuss the new cold war between the US and China and how it affects the world of investment. Listen in to a replay of our webinar Find out below: Take us on your daily commute ! Podcasts now available on iTunes and all major Android


Do financial advisers add any value?

Trying to work out how much value an investment adviser adds to the investment process is difficult, but Vanguard has had a go at quantifying it anyway.  Vanguard’s conclusion is that there are seven key areas adding to around 3% per annum (intermittently rather than every year) that could be added by an adviser (see here for


A statistical rival for Anscombe’s quartet

Quantitative and statistical models are extremely useful in investing. But they are guides, not gospel. Forgetting there are real consumers behind the sales numbers and real companies beneath the profit numbers is the first step to an investment model that is going to fail when you need it most. There is a reason you never


Have US earnings peaked?

The Wall Street Journal suggests that they may have: I’m not seeing it yet in my data: I use Factset rather than the Bloomberg data used by the Wall Street Journal, and so maybe there is a timing issue. But Thomson Reuters data concur with Factset: Also, it is worth noting the fall in earnings in the


MB Fund August Performance

International stock markets ripped higher in August and both the Australian dollar and bond yields fell, completing a trifecta of investment themes that we have been positioned for. With this backdrop all of our portfolios performed strongly: Given our portfolio tilt toward Quality stocks, our portfolios once again performed strongly over the month of August. Our


Investment tips for the Nervous Investor

This post is dedicated to all of the Nervous Investors out there: you know who you are.  You want to start investing, or invest more, but are frozen by a myriad of concerns: are you buying at the wrong time? you wanted to buy last year but didn’t get around to it, and now you


Risk schmisk! Why US stocks are bullet proof

Investment markets are late in the economic cycle,  the issue being that you never know when the end will come. However, there are some signs that it is not here yet for US equities at least – and there is the potential that US equities will hold the rest of the world out of the abyss


What Trump policies should you worry about?

In The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy there is a galactic president: The President is very much a figurehead… the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not


MB Fund July Performance

July marked our first full year of live investment for the MB Fund. We started the year with a view that with Australia at the tail end of historic mining and housing booms, and the US in the middle of a tax-cut driven boom was that the best strategy was to invest heavily in offshore


She’ll be right mate: Privacy edition

With the royal commission showing that bank staff are busy working out how to keep billing dead customers, or busy coming up with reasons to explain why they have charged fees for services not provided, its no wonder that there isn’t enough time to train staff in Australia properly: No. 1 by a country mile!


Another financial crime band-aid

News broke yesterday morning that ASIC Chairman James Shipton has greenlit the prospect of tactical taskforces to be embedded in our banks (for up to 8 weeks at a time) in an attempt to address the surging and endemic misconduct present in our banking system. Treasurer and chief Royal Commission resister, Scott Morrison, has backed


Royal Commission deems NAB “hopelessly conflicted”

There was more from the Royal Commission grilling of National Australia Bank yesterday.  “Hopelessly Conflicted” is one term that I’m hoping will catch on: The process that saw NAB’s superannuation trustee NULIS advised by the bank’s wealth management arm was hopelessly conflicted, the Hayne royal commission has heard. Counsel assisting Michael Hodge QC put to


Disruptive technology and investment

Here is an interesting table from Technology Foresight showing the most disruptive technologies and a timeline for when they are expected. I have shown the most imminent ones below, click the image below for the full table as a pdf: I’m interested in your thoughts (preferably with supporting research or at least some sort of reason to


Golden Rules for Tax Efficient Investing

Fairfax has been running a series of articles (see here and here) on the collapse of Great Southern and the hardships it has caused, a timely reminder of the perils of mixing debt, investment and tax breaks. Almost every case consists of investors borrowing to invest on the advice of a “trusted professional”, large amounts


Property insiders expect the correction to continue

From the AFR: The owners of Australia’s $117 billion listed real estate sector are expecting the market to ‘correct’ and have kept their gearing to historically low ranges in anticipation of this according to feedback received by S&P Global Ratings. At event in Sydney on Tuesday where the impact of tighter credit on property prices was discussed,


US earnings still powering ahead

A frequent focus point for the media is whether a company “beat” its earnings forecasts or not. But the definition of a beat or miss is poorly constructed, and often misleading. For me, changes in forward estimates are a more reliable indicator of whether a reporting season is progressing well or not. On that basis,


R&D changes: Policy short-termism at its best

Front page of the AFR today: Sorry – no R&D grants because we need the money so that we can give tax cuts to companies so that they can spend more on R&D (disclaimer: more R&D will only occur if there is enough cash is left after paying higher dividends, performing more buybacks and awarding managers bigger


Did Macquarie just leap from the “glass cliff”?

Correlation doesn’t equal causation. But sometimes it does. I would like to know whether the board of Macquarie are Freakonomics listeners or just unwitting participants in a glass cliff experiment – Australian edition. The ABC sets the scene (emphasis mine): Shemara Wikramanayake is set to become the first female chief executive of Macquarie Group, taking over from Nicholas Moore,


Why you should get your money out of Little China

Vested interests are everywhere, chipping away at the moral fibre of politicians, tilting taxes in their favour and diverting resources. In a more diversified economy, the vested interests compete with each other for government favours – a waste of money I’m sure, but there is some benefit in that no one type of vested interest


What does ethical investing cost?

Jeremy Grantham’s GMO offered a recent presentation talking about climate change and investing at the LSE: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/the-mythical-peril-of-divesting-from-fossil-fuels/ The main chart that caught my eye was a one on the long-term effect of excluding an entire sector from the index : Basically, my interpretation is that if you decided to exclude an entire sector from your investment


US Q2 earnings set to boom

Good breakdown by Credit Suisse (via the Wall Street Journal) on where the US earnings growth is coming from: Oil is good for a small set of companies, bad for the rest. But unless the oil price falls the earnings growth will be repeated in 3Q and 4Q. Taxes are one-off but set to continue


Battery power tipping point approaching fast

The shoe is on the other foot for a change with a Chinese company (recently listed Contemporary Amperex Technology – the world’s largest EV battery manufacturer) announcing a new factory in Germany yesterday. From Bloomberg: CATL and the state of Thueringia in central Germany Monday announced a plan to build a 16-gigawatt lithium-ion plant close to


MB Fund June Performance

June continued to see positive returns across our portfolios,  our Australian fund was up 2.3%, International up 1.3% and the tactical funds up between 0.3% and 0.9%.  These returns were supported by a fall in the Australian dollar, which added significantly to performance in June. June was a strange month from a performance perspective. World


MB Fund May Performance

May continued to see positive returns across our portfolios,  our Australian fund was up 2% and the rest were up around 1% over the month. These returns came as protectionist trade rows flared and markets belatedly realised that European growth is slowing more sharply than expected – themes that we were relatively well positioned for.


MB Fund April Performance

April saw markets bounce back from a poor March, and our portfolios had healthy gains with our international portfolio up 2.6% and both our Tactical Growth and Tactical Foundation funds rising 1.6%. International shares were aided again by a falling Australian dollar – over the last 3 months the weakness in the Australian dollar has


The four big fixes for better financial planning

Financial planning has long had two major problems, and the intersection of the two problems is where the action is. The Royal Commission into banks is merely uncovering what most people in the industry have known for a long time. Problem 1: Do Financial Planners provide advice or sell product? If I go to a


10 lessons from the RC’s financial advice slaughter

Yesterday’s Royal Commission had all the elements for some great headlines: a celebrity taken down,  a $500,000 stuff up, impersonating clients and fake degrees. But what I want to talk about is managed accounts. First, some context from Fairfax: High-flying celebrity financial planner Sam Henderson’s world came crashing down on Tuesday as the banking royal commission heard he instructed his employees


March MB Fund Performance

March was a shocker for the ASX with the ASX200 down over -4%. Investors in our tactical funds did much better, led by our income and accumulation funds increasing +0.4% and +0.3% respectively.  International shares performed much better than Australian shares (helped by a falling Australian dollar) finishing down -1.1%. In particular, our March performance


IAG: Driverless cars 20 years away

David Harrington from IAG channels Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”. From The Australian: Australia has 700 pieces of different regulation that need to be changed before driverless cars can take to the roads, according to Insurance Australia Group, which