It has been a long time now since I wanted to write my Investor Policy Statement (IPS). I just took some time over the last week to write it down completely. It took me about one hour. It was a really good exercise for me.
So, what is an IPS? Basically, it is a set of guidelines for your investing. It will state how you are going to invest and why. It should also state how you will react to some events.
Why would you need an IPS? The reason is to keep you on the right path when a situation trigger. If you already thought of the problem and the solution to it, you know how to react. You do not need to be emotional about it. And emotions in investing are generally a bad thing.
I did not invent the concept! It is a well-known thing. It was at first used between a portfolio manager and the client. This was helping the manager invest in the way the client wanted. Since I am my portfolio manager, I am doing this statement only between me and me. I was motivated to write my IPS after I read this post by Mr. Retire In Progress. He was himself motivated by another post by Physician On Fire. I would also recommend you read these two posts if you want more information on the subject.
If you want an example, you will find my Investor Policy Statement just below. Keep in mind that every IPS is different and should be made for your own situation and goals. You should not copy another IPS. However, you can get some inspiration from other’s IPS. So let’s delve into my own IPS.
The Poor Swiss Investor Policy Statement
- Reach FI before age 50 (2038)
- Taking into account children
- Taking into account the possible purchase of a house
- Save at least 50% of income
- Invest all extra cash at the end of the month
- Minimize taxes
- Every year, max out contributions to the third pillar
- If possible, contribute buy-ins to the second pillar
- Invest mainly in stocks (>75%), then in bonds (<20%)
- Consider real estate investing
- Consider peer-to-peer lending
- Buy and hold
- Never try to time the market
- Only sell when money is necessary
- Only invest through indexes
- Do not buy individual stocks
- Use ETFs
- Minimize fees
- Only use no-load ETFs/Funds
- Minimize transactions costs
- ETF should be chosen with TER below 0.3%
- Avoid sector bias
- Be open to 5%-10% more open investment (fun money)
- In an investment portfolio, not in a retirement portfolio
- Could be individual stocks, P2P Lending, P2P Real Estate
- Could be a different kind of fund
- Still keep the fees low!
- Do not do Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA)
- Invest every month
- Use investing to rebalance
- Minimize the number of monthly investments, to lower the costs. Ideally only one per month
- In case of large planned expenses (car), forego investing
- In case of large unexpected windfall (>10’000 CHF)
- No hasty decisions
- Be aware of taxes (only consider the after-tax number)
- Only use up to 20%, guilt-free
- Invest what remains, towards the goal
- Do not increase lifestyle!
- Bonus and ESPP are not a windfall, but regular income
- In case of very large unexpected windfall (>100’000 CHF)
- Same as for smaller windfall
- Only use up to 10%, guilt-free
- Every year (beginning of the year)
- Review this document
- Major rebalance if necessary
- 90% Stocks
- 80% International Stocks
- 20% Domestic stocks
- 10% Bonds
- In the second pillar only
- While working, keep at least 2 months of expenses in cash
- While not working, keep at least 12 months of expenses in cash
- Money > FI should not be invested in stocks
- Withdraw first pillars in several years
- Delay social security, if possible
- Dividends should be used in priority
- Sell only when necessary
- Minimize fees
- The Investor Policy Statement should be reviewed in-depth when:
- Buying a house
- Large windfall
- Large revenue increase
Here you have it: My Investor Policy Statement!
This was a great exercise for me. It took me quite a long time to make it well enough for me. It helps thinking of situations I did not think before. Now that I have got my IPS, I can rely on it when I need to take an investment decision. This will help me take a decision without emotion. For instance, this would have helped me with my portfolio. Instead of updating it first with more bonds and then updating it again with smaller bond allocation. Now my portfolio is in tune with my IPS. I really recommend you to do the same exercise and write an IPS.
As I said, your IPS is not set in stone. I will check my IPS every beginning of a new year. If my goals are changing for instance. Or if I think my strategy is not adapted to the situation anymore. But do not change your IPS just to explain a decision! I will update this page when I do changes to my IPS.
What do you think of my IPS? Do you have one?