Build an ETF Bond Ladder, But Be Wary of Costs
Guggenheim and iShares offer ETFs that can be used to create a bond ladder—a benefit for many investors, but higher costs and structural issues can be a drag on performance.

Old-school portfolios shine as risk parity struggles
There have been a lot of naysayers about the old-fashioned 60/40 portfolio, but this year is proving that it is hard to improve on a classic.

Busting the myth of manager diversification
Rick Ferri’s firm finds that the more active funds held, the higher the underperformance.

Momentum investing gains momentum
Strategy could replace growth to complement value in portfolios.

Passive investing: If it’s good enough for CalPERS…
Giant pension plan’s possible full-on switch to index funds speaks volumes.

Forests Are a Treasure. But Are They Good Investments?
Trees don’t watch the stock market. Forests keep growing — and potentially increasing their value — even when inflation surges or the market swoons.

The High Cost of Investing Like a Daredevil
The numbers show that most people who are lucky enough to have money to invest end up underperforming the markets by staggering margins.

Tinkering Too Much With an E.T.F. Might Not Pay
Many investment managers are building portfolios substantially or even entirely from ETFs instead of using elaborate combinations of mutual funds and individual securities.

Preferred Stocks Beckon If Interest Rates Behave
Preferred shares are a kind of cross between exchange-traded stocks (that you can easily buy online) and bonds whose prices fluctuate with interest rates and credit risk. Investors buy preferreds for their income, rarely for capital gains.

What Does the Trend Line Say About Stocks? Not Much
In the world of stocks, the past is a funny thing. It doesn’t really tell us much about the future. Yet most investors, market professionals and amateurs alike operate as if it does.

Retiring Soon? Plan for Market Downturns
Those who leave the workforce now—the ninth year of the longest U.S. bull market—are potentially setting themselves up for a tough stretch that could test their portfolio’s long-term resilience.

Why the Traditional Way of Measuring ‘Value’ Stocks May Be History
Some argue that the price-to-book-value ratio has lost its relevance due to the increasing significance of intangible assets.

A Reality Check on Stock-Market ‘Anomalies’
Most of the supposed market anomalies academics have identified don’t exist, or are too small to matter.

Why Investors Shouldn’t Give Up on Momentum Investing
Momentum strategies have turned in disappointing performance for nearly the past decade. But there are still plenty of reasons for momentum investors to stay the course.

Commodities in Your Portfolio? It’s All Hogwash, Says Wall Street Dissenter
Mr. Harvey warned commodities were too opaque and volatile to hold for the long term, and were unlikely to provide the stocklike returns that some consultants suggested.

What Investors Need to Understand About ‘Investment Return’
There are several ways to measure investment returns, and each is used to highlight different things.

Why Commodity-Index Investing May Be Futile
It’s harder to make money on commodity indexes over the long term than it is to profit from stock-index investing.

Spotlight on Robo Advisers’ Returns
Not all robo advisers are created equal—and now one financial adviser hopes to quantify that.

The Case for Buying Small-Cap Foreign Stocks
Here is a piece of advice for U.S. fund investors: If you are going to buy international stocks, you might want to make them small caps.

Should Bondholders Always Own Some Junk?
Investors should not have a permanent allocation to high-yield or “junk” bonds in their portfolio. But that doesn’t mean they should never own junk, he says. It means holding high-yield bonds is only advantageous at certain times.

How Investors Sabotage Their Own Performance
Everyone wants to assume they can think rationally. But with bear markets now a fading memory—and with volatility roaring back this past week—now is an important time to understand the common behavioral biases that cause investors to make regrettable decisions during bull markets.

Investors Reach for a New Kind of ‘Barbell’
The traditional financial definition of a barbell investing strategy calls for investors to hold supersafe debt investments in one-half of a portfolio and high-risk ones in the other, while staying away from those in the mushy middle. But these days, the so-called barbells that investors hold over their financial shoulders can be a mix of different assets entirely: index funds and active funds, liquid and illiquid investments, or low-cost mutual funds and high-cost hedge funds.

Why Your Cash Isn’t Trash
Cash isn’t just a return-free anchor on your portfolio. It does something other assets don’t: It lets you take advantage of future opportunities while avoiding undue risks now. That adds a real return to the negligible yield savers are frustrated by.

The Right Way to Invest Globally
Shares of foreign companies are making up an increasingly large chunk of U.S. investors’ stock portfolios, as barriers to investment fall, global economies integrate and the potential benefits of international diversification are widely embraced.

Dueling Strategies for Your Retirement Funds
There is a difficult balancing act facing retirement savers: building an investment portfolio that can generate enough savings to last potentially decades and, at the same time, protecting against losses from which it can be impossible to recover.

You’re Paying Too Much in Fees
Most fees can be reduced, negotiated or eliminated entirely if you are willing to comparison shop and haggle, and it often is worth the extra effort.

Five Surprising Ways Bond Investments Can Hurt You
By now, most investors know that in the current economic climate, bonds are becoming a lot riskier. But there are other risks associated with bond investing that aren’t as widely understood, and some of them involve the very strategies that investors consider to be the safest.

Some Frontier-Markets Funds Face Big Changes
Some major indexes are changing the way they classify countries. Whenever a country gets a new classification, it moves out of its current index and into a new one. And funds that closely replicate those indexes—like many exchange-traded funds and passive index funds—have no choice but to make those changes too.

How to Spot a Market Bubble
The bursting of two major asset bubbles—in home prices in recent years and Internet stocks at the turn of the century—has trained investors to scan the horizon for signs of where the next one might form.

Funds Investing: Make More Money and Worry Less
If you’re investing for a long-term goal such as retirement, then keeping it simple with a portfolio of three to six broad-based, low-cost mutual funds can pay off in the long run. Rebalance on occasion, and you’ll be well on your way.

Frontier Markets: Strengths and Risks
Fans of “frontier” markets say that the economies are relatively healthy and that investors will benefit over time as companies serve the expanding populations in those countries. Yet, heightened risks associated with investing in foreign or emerging markets generally are magnified in frontier markets.

How to Predict the Next Decade’s Bond Returns
If you are going to hold bonds for a longer period, the current yield gives you a decent indication of what you might earn over time.

Go Abroad, Young Investor
Research shows that the safest investment portfolio—one with the highest potential return and the lowest risk—is likely to be heavier on international stocks and lighter on U.S. stocks.

Five Myths of Bond Investing
A guide to some of the most dangerous misinformation about investing in bonds and bond funds—along with practical steps you can take to invest wisely on the basis of more-accurate evidence.

How Much Stock Should You Own in Retirement?
Three different approaches financial experts are pushing, all of which conclude that people should be investing more heavily in stocks—even after they’ve collected the gold watch.

The Lagging Effect of Alternative Funds
Finding alternative ways to invest might sound like a smart idea, but in practice it can prove much tougher to pull off.

In Search of the Perfect Portfolio
If you’re looking for an investment portfolio that you could just forget about—and which would still earn good returns in any environment—what would you put into it? It is surprisingly hard to find a good answer.

Much Ado About Adviser Compensation
Few investors truly understand how financial advisers get paid. At the heart of the confusion: disagreement over what signifies proper use of such common terms in the business as “fee-only” and “fee-based”—and whether some advisers and broker-dealers are forthright enough in their disclosures to clients about their compensation.

What’s Next for Gold
A small allocation to gold won’t kill an investor’s portfolio, but experts say you should think twice before leaning on it heavily to hedge against inflation, economic collapse or any other specific fear. Most stated goals of gold investors can be accomplished with other, potentially cheaper, asset classes.

Investing for the Fun of It
Many fans of stock indexing set a little money aside to bet on riskier investments. Here’s how to do it safely.

Is It Safe to Invest at Just One Brokerage?
The answer, most financial advisers say, is yes. But there are no guarantees.

How to Get Your 401(k) Ready for Retirement
If you’re planning to retire sometime in the next 10 years, here’s some crucial advice: Take a very hard look at your 401(k).

The Great Retirement Income Hunt
WSJ looks at existing tools that can help you plan—and new investment options that can help you get there from here.

Have ‘Alternative’ Investments Lost Their Diversification Value?
In recent years, investments such as commodities and hedge-fund strategies have moved more in sync with stocks.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Investing
Financial crisis be damned—investors are still making the same mistakes the always have.

The Dark Side of Higher Yields
Income-hungry investors have flocked to energy-focused master limited partnerships and MLP funds this year. Yet risks are rising, and taxes can be hazardous.

Is It Time to Buy Commodities?
With prices sharply down on many commodities—and stocks at record highs—investors may be wondering: Is it time to swap stocks for soybeans?

Advisers Find Value in Microcaps
Stock prices of small-cap companies appear stretched to some investors. But in such an eclectic and far-flung market, the tiniest of the lot have managed to avoid much of the limelight.

Can Market Timers Beat the Index?
Even those who do beat a buy-and-hold strategy in one market cycle have no greater odds of success in the next cycle.

If You Are Fired, Will Your Portfolio Cushion the Blow—Or Make It Worse
Investors don’t usually think about their job when designing a portfolio—but they should.

A Portfolio That’s as Simple as One, Two, Three
With so many funds to choose from, investors might get everything they need by buying just a few of them.

The Case for Swearing Off Stocks
Many investors try to strike a balance between ho-hum and higher-risk by holding a combination of bonds and stocks. But some investors shun stocks entirely.

For Pension Funds, Higher Fees Don’t Mean Higher Returns, Study Finds
Public-employee pension plans paying the highest investment fees aren’t generating the highest returns, according to a new study by a pair of Maryland think tanks. In fact, just the opposite may be true.

In Battle of the Market Timers, the Bulls Get It Right
The best-performing advisers who focus on calling market turns are giving the bull market the benefit of the doubt. The worst performers aren’t.

The Experts: How Much Should You Invest Abroad?
What percentage of portfolios should consist of non-U.S. investments?

The Best Place to Hold REITs and MLPs: An IRA or a Taxable Account?
What is the best account to hold REITs and master limited partnerships? Is there a prohibition against holding these shares in a rollover IRA?

Junk Bonds: Active or Indexed?
Practitioners of each approach to below-investment-grade debt make their case.

What Are You Afraid Of?
You can take steps to cushion your portfolio against the risks that worry you the most.

Should You Buy Taxable Muni Bonds?
Taxable munis, unlike their tax-exempt cousins, aren’t shielded from federal, state or local taxes. Some investors still might find the bonds worth a look. But most small investors should be wary.

New Bells and Whistles for 401(k) Plans
Free online tools aim to help people save more for retirement—as well as better manage what they have.

It’s Time for Some ‘Portfolio Pruning’
Record-high stock prices have many nervous investors seriously contemplating the old Wall Street adage, “Sell in May and go away.”

Is This the Best Time for Investors? Don’t Bet On It.
The stock market is expecting a massive new economic boom, with accelerating growth, widening prosperity and expanding profit margins. Meanwhile, the bond market sees the economy remaining in a funk, with slow growth, widespread unemployment and low inflation. Obviously, they can’t both be right.

The Secret Behind Morningstar’s Success
In the world of stock picking, Morningstar Inc. stands alone. However, its analysts use a mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis that some say render comparisons to other firms’ stock pickers difficult, if not unfair.

A New Era for Do-It-Yourself Investing
Many investors want to call the shots—while turning to tools and people for help as needed.

Dollar-cost averaging just means taking risk later
This paper compares the historical performance of dollar-cost averaging (DCA) with lump-sum investing (LSI) across three markets: the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. On average, it finds that an LSI approach has outperformed a DCA approach approximately two-thirds of the time, even when results are adjusted for the higher volatility of a stock/bond portfolio versus cash investments.