What’s in your portfolio? Larry MacDonald

As part of Financial Literacy Month, I reached out to various bloggers and financial experts to ask what’s in their portfolio.  More specifically, I wanted to pick their brains to find out what their investing goals were, learn a little about their investing strategies, uncover some of the products they own and see what advice they might have for other investors.  As it turns out they had lots to share.

In the first post of a small series I intend to write, here is a look at Larry MacDonald’s portfolio.  For those that don’t know Larry as well as I do Larry writes for leading business and financial publications in Canada including Canadian Business Online, The Globe and Mail and MoneySense magazine.  Larry has also authored books, including The Bombardier Story: Planes, Trains, and Snowmobiles (2002).  Prior to taking up business and financial writing, Larry MacDonald earned a master’s degree in economics and previously worked as an economist within the federal government of Canada.

Here is what I asked Larry and what he kindly shared back:

1. Describe your investing goals in one or two sentences:

As an early retiree from the labour force, capital preservation has been the focus for much of my portfolio. For the rest, I seek to maximize capital growth while minimizing risk.

2. Describe your investing strategy that helps you fulfill your goals in one or two sentences:

For the growth part of my portfolio, I follow a “value indexing” approach. It consists of acquiring broad or sector ETFs that are substantially undervalued – as often happens when the news is bad and markets are panicking.

3. List some of the investing products you own that help you with your investing strategy:

They include:

SPDR SER TR S&P HOMEBUILDERS (XHB) – bought in 2009 and 2010

ISHARES S&P/TSX CPPD REIT IDX (XRE) – bought in 2009

ISHARES S&P/TSX CAPPED COM (XIC) – bought in 2009 and 2013

ISHARES JAPAN FUNDAMENTAL IDX (CJP) – bought in 2011, and fall of 2012 and 2013

VANGUARD TOTAL STOCK MARKET ETF (VTI) – bought in 2011 and 2012

SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) – bought in 2012 and fall of 2013

4. What advice do you have for other investors based on what’s working with your approach?

Investing is more about character than intelligence – i.e. being able to deal with market volatility.

What I liked about Larry’s approach is the simplicity of it, “acquiring broad or sector ETFs” and the logic of it, obtaining those holdings “when the news is bad and markets are panicking.”  Instead of selling investments or switching up his portfolio when market turmoil occurs, he’s buying.  Larry’s approach reminds me about what Andrew Hallam wrote in Millionaire Teacher:  

“Think of the stock market as a grocery store filled with non-perishable items.  When prices fall, it’s a good idea to stock up on those products because the prices will inevitably rise again.  A stock market drop is the same as a sale at your local supermarket.”

Seems Larry has known this stuff all along…

A big thanks to Larry MacDonald for participating in my series what’s in your portfolio?  Stay tuned for other profiles in future blogposts over the next few weeks.

Disclaimer:  The contents of this post are not recommendations for any individual investor but have been shared to educate readers and provide insight into how others are managing their portfolios. My Own Advisor is not a financial professional.   Every reader is encouraged to seek help from a financial professional before making any important investment decisions.

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