Why Are Billionaires Dumping Stocks At a Record Pace?

Why Are Billionaires Dumping Stocks At a Record Pace?

By Yash

The recent reports of billionaires dumping stocks at a record pace indicate that even the super-rich give close attention to their financial planning. In the previous year, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk were among the super-rich tech founders who opted out of their major positions in the stock market. According to reports from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, billionaires dumping stocks at a record pace led them to pocket nearly fifty billion dollars in profits in the previous year. But the impending growth in tax rates may be a big reason behind these sell-offs. The considerations regarding the tax implications for the super-rich are very different from the people who do not have such kind of money at their disposal.


But financial advisors note that any person who has even a single share should review their holdings in the near future and be ready to undertake some tough action. This is more valid after a robust rally in the share markets recently. The major index obtained greater highs in the previous year despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Several investors who had been investing in the stock markets to create their retirement corpus have now got great capital gains in the equity positions held in the taxable accounts. This is truer for the people who have owned stock funds or stocks for quite a number of years and do not imply high costs. Apart from the possible impacts on the capital gains, the investors are also facing problems in diversification if the respective positions in the share market are more concentrated or form a big proportion of the total holdings.


Investors often hold some shares because they inherited them or bought them many years ago and never tried to sell them off. The other investors have some shares only because they prefer the organization and want the shares. Workers employed with an organization also get stock options from them. They land up with a big concentration of the shares of the organization.


Billionaires Dumping Stocks At a Record Pace to Offset Gains With Losses


Harvesting the losses due to taxes is one of the solutions for cleaning up a portfolio of shares or high concentrations of shares where there are a lot of single shares. That is the method of selling shares at a loss to set off the capital gains which happen when other shares are sold off. But shares have been performing very well for a lot of years now. So, it is very hard to get shares that you can sell off at a loss. There are several financial firms where billionaires hold the options of tech firms. The experts of these financial firms say that a big portion of the organization's investors has individual shares. But balancing the diversification against the tax hit may involve more than simply harvesting the losses due to taxation. At some particular point in time, the portfolios just do not have the losses that can be harvested with the usual strategies to get the tax loss.


This is more valid when such portfolios have funds that are broad-based. These firms have a plan known as the strategic gain realization in many billionaire accounts. This means turning to modes such as qualified opportunity zone funds, charitable trusts, and donor-advised funds. The firms then advise their clients about the risks of holding single stocks. The firms discuss various strategies with the investors apart from donor-advised funds and harvesting the losses of taxation. One of the methods is the utilization of swap or exchange funds. These funds permit the billionaires to substitute a position in a concentrated share with diversified units of such shares valued at the same cost. This helps in accomplishing a couple of functions. It postpones the consequences of taxation and removes the risk present in the portfolio.


The main issue here is that the exchange fund must be willing to accept the client’s holdings. The shares of bigger firms are often accepted readily. The smaller firms are accepted on the individual merit of the firm. The financial firms also suggest that clients donate their shares directly to their preferred charity. The billionaires can take a deduction for the entire amount of the donation. This includes more than twenty-five percent of their adjusted gross income. Another method is to develop a charitable gift annuity. This method permits the billionaire to make a charitable donation, get a lifetime stream for their chosen beneficiaries, and get a partial deduction in their taxes. Another preferred method is gifting the shares to members of their families.


A billionaire can gift more than ten thousand dollars to any adult child without filing any tax return for the gift. Any married couple can give more than twenty-five thousand dollars to their adult child. Apart from the tax implications, the big concentrations of single stocks can cause big risks to future financial planning. Andrew Miles, Founder of 6 Meridian, said, "It is a big topic of conversation. So your average high-net-worth investor is looking at tax rates and the conversation on tax rates. It's a big driver of how they plan. But the move in the corporate tax rate and the long-term capital gains tax rate, if that were to move from the low 20s currently to the marginal tax rate, would be a significant driver of investor behavior. I think that you could see a lot of people starting anticipatory selling to lock in things they feel are pretty fully valued."


Billionaires Dumping Stocks At a Record pace: Calculating Single-Stock Risk


It is also possible to calculate the prospective returns of a single share using backtesting software or risk analysis. The risk of the single share can be incorporated into a specific financial plan. The calculations help to determine the portfolio risk regarding the single shares. These risks can make it more complicated to get the financial outcome that is desired by the billionaire from the specific stocks. Experts say it is crucial to determine the source and thought process behind the high allocation of funds in a single share. Usually, billionaires have a high concentration of shares of their own firms. In such cases, they have a greater risk. They have a great stock position from a single source as their main income. Also, there may be limitations placed on the sale of such shares.


Billionaires now understand the risks and are developing a plan that can help work both the investing and the tax implications. The diversification of holdings is not always a rapid process. The billionaires often need to disconnect from the emotions related to the stock before they can focus practically on the investing and tax implications.


Billionaires Have a Plan for Single Stocks


Experts believe that billionaires with a concentrated position in some shares should have a specific plan for all these holdings. They may want to keep a particular share. But a prudent financial plan may show that a smaller position than the one they are currently holding is more beneficial in the long run for the billionaire. But they have to be prudent here too. If the loss is not huge and is for the short term only, it may not be good to offset it against the profit. Many billionaires only want to hold on to the individual positions they have owned for many years. This is good if it fits with the recommended allocation of shares in the portfolio. But the billionaires have to review the portfolio to ensure no unintentional overweighting in a specific class of assets.




Billionaires are dumping stocks at a record pace because some positions may have to be reduced. The portfolio may be more inclined toward big growth, but there may be no international or small-cap stocks. Billionaires are now developing plans to decrease these heavily weighted positions in single stocks. Billionaires are dumping stocks at a record pace and using the proceeds to improve the diversification of the portfolio. They are opting for low-cost passive ETFs to mitigate the risk of the single stock.