In any meaningful sense, there are no guaranteed returns

Dec 2015 //
Risk vs. Volitility

For the intelligent investor, there are only two primary questions to address regarding potential investments:  (1) What are the risks over my time horizon? and (2) What are the probabilities of various returns over my time horizon?  Simplistically, short-term oriented investors should knowingly accept small amounts of after-tax, purchasing-power loss by investing in T-Bills, bank deposits, money funds, etc. in order to preclude unacceptably larger short-term losses.  (Yes, we said “loss,” because that’s what you should expect from these sorts of investments, after taxes and inflation.)  For long-term investors, diversified portfolios of stocks have provided the best after-tax real returns over time.  Based on both historical results and future prospects, we primarily invest in stocks for long-term returns, and we maintain money-fund buffers to accommodate clients’ short-term needs for periodic withdrawals.