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At present, I have huge sympathy for portfolio managers. In challenging markets they have to parade their well-worn mantras: be patient; be invested for the long term; it’s not about timing the market, but time in the market. They are correct, but sometimes their meanings can get quite stretched.

The horizon for “time” and “long term” is well accepted as being about five years. But looking at the most recent five-year period, the JSE All Share Index (Alsi) has gone nowhere, only rising 1.4% compounded per year, and investors would have been better off in interest-bearing instruments. Adding in a dividend yield of 3% takes this to a total return of 4.4%, still significantly lower than money markets.  ..

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