© 2019 SourceMedia. All rights reserved.

Goldman wealth manager tells rich clients to put American stocks first

Goldman Sachs has a simple yet firm message for its wealthy clients: stick with U.S. equities.

“As we’ve gone through various crises, we’ve still told clients to stay invested and not get out of U.S. equities, it’s too early,” said Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani, chief investment officer for Goldman’s Private Wealth Management, which oversees about $500 billion and caters to high-net-worth individuals, families and endowments.

“There’s a strong message there — the preponderance of assets in the U.S. at the expense of other developed and emerging-market assets.”

Mossavar-Rahmani’s advice makes her a contrarian amid this year’s record $683 billion surge of cash into bonds as traders searched for havens amid trade-war-related growth concerns. In 2019 alone, despite the MSCI World Index posting a 16% return, investors have pulled $349 billion from global stocks, exceeding the crisis-hit 2008 redemptions by 40%, according to EPFR Global data.

The Statue of Liberty stands in this aerial photograph taken in New York, U.S. Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

“It’s really remarkable how geopolitical issues have taken so much mind share and dominate what people are doing with their portfolios,” Mossavar-Rahmani told reporters in London on Tuesday. “It’s incredible to us how money has gone into the worst-performing assets."

The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index has returned 28% since September 2009, compared with a total return of 250% for the S&P 500 Index. Many investors have preferred to stay on the sidelines of this year’s stock rally as they fear that elevated valuations pose a risk at the end of the cycle.

Goldman Wealth Management dismisses the fears as unwarranted. The strength of U.S. labor productivity, innovation and demographics make the asset manager rate the probability of a recession at just 30% over the next 12 months. And with the S&P 500 trading at a 10% discount to its 2017 highs on a forward price-to-earnings basis and equity funds bleeding cash, there’s little risk of over-crowding despite the rally, says Mossavar-Rahmani.

“There hasn’t been that much overvaluation in equities nor that much hype,” she said. “People don’t like U.S. equities. It’s remarkable considering the outperformance. We’re nowhere near dotcom bubble levels."

While bonds can give investors exposure to lower rates, Goldman’s Private Wealth Management recommends being underweight fixed income to fund investments in U.S. equities and other areas, Mossavar-Rahmani said.