As I wrote more and more about index investing, it gradually occurred to me that in choosing index investing as an investment strategy, it is quite possible that investors have simply graduated from stock-pickers to asset-pickers.

While it wasn’t the first time that I thought about this idea, the first time I wrote about it was in the index investing Facebook group a few days back. With 350 members, we are having more robust and dynamic discussions these days – a great sign! We are questioning the “why” instead of following the Pied Piper.

Below is my adhoc reply written on my handphone without really any serious thinking –

If we take one step back and look at index investing as a whole, what we have done is essentially “graduating” from stock-picking to asset-picking.

Which is perhaps why you’re asking these asset allocation questions – which assets should we pick? If we are talking about financial assets only, then a global equities index and a global bond index offers maximum diversification. A simple Bogleheads two-fund portfolio would do. Of course, the world has other form of assets like real estate, commodities, etc which we would neglect.

Another way to tackle the asset allocation problem is to come from the perspectives of the four economic cycles – expansion, recession, inflation or deflation – and hold the corresponding asset classes that will do well in each cycle. Therefore, the permanent portfolio.

If you like REITs, you can use Rick Ferri Core four portfolio as a guide like what <insert name> did.

What does passive investing mean to you? What is index investing to you? What is index investing to me? Are we merely placing specific bets on assets which we think would perform well in long run?