RTP, NC Local Chapter meetings in 2019

The Research Triangle Park Bogleheads®, North Carolina Local Chapter held its first 2019 meeting.

Bogleheads forum member Steve Thorpe recaps this meeting in this guest article.

RTP, NC Chapter Meeting 11:00 AM Sat April 13, 2019


Bullington Warehouse

Roughly sixteen Bogleheads braved the rainy weather and the obstacle course of downtown Durham’s streets to attend this morning’s meeting. Our group had newbies and long-time attendees, twenty-somethings to long-time retirees and everywhere in between. As usual we had a thoroughly enjoyable conversation covering many topics.


    • Bogleheads® investment philosophy – see Bogleheads investment philosopy
    • Educating young (and not-so-young) people on finances
    • Income strategies for retirement (e.g. dividend/high yield focused vs. Total return, dipping into principal vs. living purely off the income, REITs? MLPs? etc.)
    • Psychological aspects of dividend-oriented investing
    • Value “premium” hasn’t shown up so much in recent times. Is it real?
    • Share buybacks as a form of dividend payments (based on this idea, the S&P 500 may actually have a “dividend yield” comparable to International stocks)
    • Expenses in retirement often turn out to be higher than you expected so its best to plan conservatively (e.g. you may spend more than anticipated on medical, dental, long-term-care, recreational expenses)
    •  Long Term Care insurance: pros and cons, premiums, ideal age range to purchase, typical wealth range when it is beneficial, etc)
    • Long Term Care expenses are EXPENSIVE! (Imagine coming up with $12K/month for a few years. How to cover for that possible need?)
    • Early Retirement: Be cautious about retiring too early without thoroughly understanding those future expenses and how you expect to cover them.
    •  Benefits of simplification (you can build a fabulous portfolio with just a small number of funds)
    •  Changing tax rates
    •  0% Federal Tax rate on Qualified Dividends and Long Term Capital Gains if your income is below a certain level.
    • What percentage of our portfolios are in International? (answer, it is ALL over the map, from none to almost all!)
    • How do you know if you’ve reached “the number?”
    •  Emotional comfort level from having an extra buffer beyond your estimated “number”.
    •  Different forms and time frames of risks from stock vs. bonds.
    • Planning out scenarios for which spouse passes first, and when. Under different circumstances what will the financial picture look like for the surviving spouse?

Fidelity vs. Vanguard

In recent years Fidelity has been aggressively competing with Vanguard on low-cost index fund offerings. Chong, Ed, and Rhona have a working paper titled “Vanguard versus Fidelity: Multidimensional Comparison of the Index Funds and ETFs of the Two Largest Mutual Fund Families”. At today’s meeting Chong kindly shared the key conclusions on the various metrics. I’m not going to repeat them here since you can easily access their paper at the following link (and I encourage you to do so):  SSRN (see the “Download this Paper” button near the bottom to get a full PDF copy of the working paper.)

Fidelity’s local offices – these are convenient. Fidelity has local offices, plus they offer Medallion signature guarantors (something that is hard to come by at many banks nowadays, although credit unions can often be accommodating with Medallions).


Thank you to everyone who attended and for all of the delicious conversation! It was great to see you and I look forward to our future get-togethers!

RTP, NC Chapter Meeting 11:00 AM Sat August 24, 2019

Duke Social Sciences Building

Duke Social Sciences Building

Fourteen people attended today’s RTP Bogleheads meeting, which was graciously hosted by Professor Ed Tower at Duke University. Attendees ranged from students to retirees, newbies to long-time Bogleheads, and everywhere in between.

Topics of discussion


John C. Bogle (1929 -2019)

Our conversation ranged over a wide variety of fun topics including:

  •  Our group’s namesake Jack Bogle was always sharp and on-point. He maintained his speaking prowess throughout his long lifetime! How lucky we are to have known him.
  • Ed discussed the latest version of the paper he’s writing with Chong Li and Rhona Zhang: “DFA, Fidelity and Vanguard: Comparing the Returns of these Leading Mutual Fund Families.”
  •  Value and small cap premiums have been missing in action recently. Will the premiums show up again?
  •  Retiring early.
  • Learning to optimize finances by careful attention in TurboTax, and for certain investors by doing taxes by hand.
  • Negative experiences with horrible, self-serving brokers.
  • Spouses incorporating different investment approaches with their respective assets.
  •  Vanguard’s unique structure for having both traditional and ETF shares classes for the same exact underlying fund. A key benefit for investors with taxable accounts and the traditional index fund share class is the extra tax-efficiency from ETFs can also accrue to the investors in Traditional share classes.
  •  ETF vs Admiral share class: Advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • Investors are able to convert shares in Vanguard’s traditional index funds to the corresponding ETF share class. The conversion is a tax-free event and in many case can slightly lower the expense ratio borne by the investor.
  • Are international stocks poised to outperform moving forward?
  • Are funds with negative expense ratios on the horizon?
  •  Is Fidelity making profits from its Zero index funds through securities lending? Or are the Zero funds simply a way to lure customers in the door that they hope to switch to other more profitable products?
  • Do currency-exchange rate fluctuations even out over time, so ultimately they’re a wash?
  • Governance can be a problem in some international stock markets.
  • Avoiding market timing.
  • The Gordon Equation (expected future stock returns equals the current dividend yield plus forecasted earnings growth).
  • Google Spreadsheets and its handy GoogleFinance function.
  • Morningstar vs. Google vs. Yahoo vs. other sources for financial data.
  • Yahoo’s historical return data’s inconsistencies.
  • Bogle’s claim that its not really indexed vs. managed, but more importantly its “low cost and low turnover” vs. “high cost and high turnover” that makes all the difference in the long run.
  • Target date funds being very good to help manage investor behavioral issues.


Ed, thank you very much for sharing the paper with us and for arranging our venue! Also thanks to everyone who braved the rainy Saturday weather to join in today’s discussion. It was great to see you all and I hope you can make it next time!

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