Commercial banks live and die by interest rates. Today, when rates are low, you’d think they wouldn’t be doing so well. They shouldn’t be. But heaps of data show that banks are doing just fine. As an example, commercial banks and savings institutions’ total 2014 net income came in at $152.7 billion, 5% above the pre-crisis peak of $145.2 billion in 2006, according to the FDIC.
Fundamental and political issues aside, we’re interested in doing the bank’s job, only better. But before we get to that, why would you even care about outsmarting your bank? You aren’t one, right?
No, but there’s no reason you can’t act like one. Instead of relying on your bank to pay you interest on your savings, start paying yourself like a top-notch customer-first bank would. Stop worrying about how low CD rates have ruined your lifestyle, and start thinking and acting like a moneymaking machine.
By taking your banking into your own hands, you get options—something your bank does not and will not give you. It’s big, inert, and subject to a ton of rules. That’s not going to change.
And the single most important option your bank doesn’t offer is higher rates. CD rates of 5% or more are firmly a thing of the past. Some people are content to wait until they return, if they ever do. But we don’t feel like losing money in the meantime.
You can up your savings interest—by moving idle money out of your bank and investing it in a diversified portfolio. True, it won’t be FDIC-insured anymore, but rational diversification has always been a valid alternative to government promises. And by starting to act like a bank, you—flexible and with only your own interest in mind—can do better than a bank.
Take a look at this chart: it tells you how much an average US bank makes off its earning assets.
With interest rates at historical lows, it’s no wonder these yields are lackluster.
Now, the solution we’ve put together allows you to earn close to 5.1%, 1.4 percentage points more than an average US bank.
We’ve done this by investing in a mix of bond funds and companies that provide debt financing. The portfolio ends up having various sorts of debt exposure, with various yields and durations that, taken together, work as a whole and generate upward of 5% in yield.
Benjamin Graham, often called the father of modern value investing, said that to be sufficiently diversified, it’s enough to hold 10 to 30 companies. Through eight picks, some of which are invested in many other companies, equities, and debt instruments, we’ve found a straightforward way to balance yield with protection.
If you feel that you’re doing your job as a saver but your bank isn’t holding up its end of the bargain, try going out on your own. We’ve put together an excellent special report for Money Forever Portfolio subscribers that explains how.