Volatility is a measure of how the price of an asset – be it a stock, an option or a fund - changes. Volatility tracks how much the price moves and also how fast it changes. Beta is a commonly used statistical measure that represents volatility, and the higher beta is, the greater the risk. There’s usually a reference index such as the S&P 500 and if a stock perfectly tracks the index, it is said to have a beta of 1.0. If it changes more than the index, be it on the up or downside, it is a high beta stock. For example, a stock with a beta of 1.5 means that historically, it has moved 150% for every 100% move in the benchmark index. Mutual funds nowadays provide free volatility measures so you can get a good feel for how stable the fund is year in and year out.

Genworth is Exiting the Variable Annuity Market

Genworth Financial is discontinuing sales of its variable annuity products. The company plans to stop the sale of any new variable annuity products by the end of the first quarter of 2011. Genworth has had an active presence in the variable annuity market as a top 20 U.S. company with $2.3 billion in sales in 2008. Genworth's exit leaves the U.S. variable annuity market increasingly concentrated with 5 insurance companies controlling 55 percent of the market. Genworth's decisions comes at a...

What Retirees Should Make of the Low Volatility, No-Fear Market

The fear index seems to be signaling that all is well.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange volatility index (“...

Another Perspective on Sequence of Returns through Low Volatility Investing

Financial advisors and retirees should be aware of the profound impact that a low volatility portfolio can have on investment performance and, consequently, retirement spending sustainability.

Sequence of returns discussions typically focus on the downside or risk involved with the path of investment returns. 

For example,...

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Annuity Product Persistency Levels are Increasing

Annuity persistency refers to whether people hold on to their existing annuity products or exchange them--typically through a Section 1035 exchange --for new products. Higher levels of persistency suggest that annuity owners are sticking with existing products which are likely more valuable than what would be available in the current market through an exchange.

Retail Investors Moving Money into Bond Funds at Record Pace

Over the past several years, retail investors in the United States have been moving their money into bond funds at a pace not seen in 23 years. The movement of money into fixed income funds by individual investors has outpaced contributions into equity funds for 30 straight months.
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