It's appropriate and logical that bull markets are book-ended by surreal and sometimes scary events. The bull market that was born in March of 2009, when the world was immersed in the Great Financial Crisis, ended this week. She was 11 years old. The one before that...
Happy New Year! Emerging into a new year and decade, we’re always seeking ways to remain innovative and keep pace with a rapidly changing wealth management industry. I started the Firm with the idea that clients can still be the centerpiece and sole priority of a...
The following is the transcript of an interview I gave with Tyler Gallagher, the Founder and CEO of Regal Assets, that was published in Authority magazine. I thought the subject was important enough that I re-post it here. I've made it shorter, but the full...
I was recently asked, “what’s the definitive answer to the question you’re asked the most?”Wow. A flurry of boring finance darted across my brain…what do I hear the most? I came up with: “Am I going to make it?”
I returned recently from weeks of travel to find not one but two ‘data breach’ letters in my mail. Someone had hacked my personal details from a random server(s). This type of incident is no longer an exception; it’s the norm. The more data are stored on cloud-based systems around the world the likelier each of us are to experience theft of our information.
After a tumultuous 4th quarter that saw a nearly 20% drop in the equity markets by Christmas Eve, a funny thing happened in Q1. Boredom. The CBOE Volatility Index (the ‘VIX’) is a measure of volatility, but it’s also known as the market’s ‘fear gauge’ – when things get crazy in the markets you’ll see that reflected in the VIX.
Personal finance is the ultimate example of ‘simple but not easy.’ Everyone understands the concepts – live below your means, don’t put your eggs in one basket, invest for the long run…but the truth is most people fail to execute them very consistently or effectively. We have to make this simpler if we expect people to get better at it. But our modern lives exist in a permanent state of fast forward; to achieve today requires that you reduce friction.
There’s something about another trip around the sun that makes us want to calibrate. The calendar turns and we all get busy measuring our body weight, exercise frequency, and portfolio performance. But calendar months are arbitrary. Taking stock of things during January is really no different than doing it in February… …except for this year.
In the investment business we spend a lot of time talking about risk. As it applies to portfolio construction and management it is a decades-long debate: how to structure, how to measure, how to optimize. Academics and asset allocators keep the debate going each and every day, testing and honing their models in hopes of finding even the slightest of edges. But…that’s not real risk.
Good financial planning can save you money. A lot of money.This example shows a simple Roth conversion strategy for a person entering retirement that can shift a large percentage of money from taxable to non-taxable. Most people don’t understand this subtle yet important tool.
I recently distributed a client survey with a simple question in mind: how can I make the Firm more helpful for clients?I received some great feedback, particularly as it relates to the markets. Clients want a market update, but brief, and of course as relevant as possible to them. With that in mind, this is the first in what will be a regular quarterly summary of markets and some portfolio education. There are already too many resources where you can read a generic update, my goal is to make this short and emphasize some specifics, focusing on how global markets translate into your life. I aim to inform but not put people to sleep, so if you’re still awake by the end, please let me know how I do.
Back in July I wrote a post about credit scores that I hope brought clarity to a murky topic. While that one was purely about education, this one is more about fun. You do like fun, right?Once you understand what makes up your credit score, you can utilize your understanding of it to get free stuff! Here are the rules for how to play The Credit Card Game.
I want to tell you why you should never invest based on a ‘buy/sell’ rating from an analyst, but to do it I have to open up about my worst (hopefully ever) investment.
I currently have 15 credit cards.Over the last 5 years, I’ve opened 35 of them.My credit score is 825.If you read that, and you reacted with surprise, shock, or you’re judging me right now…this is for you. First, we’re going to bust some credit myths, and then I’m going to give you four straightforward ways to improve your credit. If you catch yourself saying ‘I didn’t know that,’ then please share this article, because I know from hundreds of client meetings that you’re not alone.
I’ve discussed the Fiduciary Rule in this space many times, and as I’ve written, the battle to preserve the status quo was going to be fierce. A court ruling last week may have finally killed the Rule, which isn’t terribly surprising given the deep pockets of those fighting it. I thought I’d share a timely story to make the Rule a little more ‘real’…
Everyone loves the feeling of making money. To invest in something and see the number get bigger and bigger, very few things in life can provide that thrill. Not only does it mean you can buy more things and maybe retire earlier, but it provides us a sense of security to know the system is working as designed. Your hard work is paying off.
The Holidays are a great time to step back and reflect, the break from our normal routine creates much needed head-clearing time. It’s also a time to pause to take inventory on our lives, to clean up our household and knock out some things that, let’s face it, we all put off as long as possible!
I was fortunate to attend the second annual Evidence-Based Investing conference on November 2nd in NYC, put on by the team over at Ritholtz Wealth Management, and once again it was excellent. I summarized this event last year, and others have more eloquently done so this year.Some news was breaking during the week that contrasted so perfectly with the mood and camaraderie at the conference. Morgan Stanley announced they were leaving the Broker Protocol, pushing the message to the field with 4 days notice.
I know…the title sounds a lot like click-bait, the kind that takes you down an internet rabbit hole. I want to tell you about one (really hard) step you can take to live a better life. I could write it in one sentence, but without some context, it’s probably not going to carry much meaning. If you can stick with me as I weave my way through these pages, I promise to arm you with a real chance to get a handle on some financial stress.
If you’re a return visitor to this page, you’ll know that I’ve spent a lot of time discussing the Fiduciary Rule, and what it truly means when someone is acting in your best interest.This article discusses the behavior of investors within the same investment, but that investment is branded differently.
I was fortunate to be looking at the Charlotte news this week because I got to see this headline:Investors likely won’t get all their money back in complex Charlotte fraud caseThis guy is now on the long list of those that have attempted a form of a Ponzi scheme and of course failed in spectacular fashion. I know Charlotte’s news better than other places, having lived there for so long, but each community has its own names just like these.
As the pressure increases on the investment industry to get cheaper, more managers are turning to the ETF space for lower cost vehicles. As I wrote here before, it’s not always the case, but generally the money is flowing into ETFs because they are cheaper than traditional active mutual funds.
Returning to a story from several months back and a sequel… We’re finally looking at partial implementation of the ‘Fiduciary Rule’ on June 9th. After some typical political delays and long drawn out lawsuits, somebody high enough finally said enough is enough and it’s moving forward. Now, the rule is technically still under review until full implementation on Jan 1, 2018, but you should see changes starting immediately.
Wall Street is quite the enormous marketing machine, and unfortunately once you become aware of it, you can’t un-see it, it’s everywhere.
Two stories caught my eye this week with a head-scratching common theme: what the heck are the financial regulators doing, anyway? At the risk of incurring the wrath of my regulator overlords, let’s look at these stories…
Andrea Fuller, an investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, thought she was asking a very simple question: how much was she paying her investment advisor? The answer, as you might guess, was anything but simple. Her article in Sunday’s Journal goes on to describe the ‘confusion and frustration’ with her inquiry, and after talking with multiple people, she still had no convincing answer to her simple question.
This is the first edition of what will be a regular, weekly series I’m calling the Friday Insider.My goal is take headlines from the financial news and give you a quick ‘behind the scenes’ explanation. The headlines are often biased or filled with jargon, hopefully I can simplify and put things in real terms, terms that mean something to you.
I’ll often get lunch and a quick workout in one trip, and that was the case one early winter afternoon when I sat quietly post-workout with some chicken noodle. I recognized one of the personal trainers from my gym when he sat at the booth next to me, a young guy no older than 26-27. His back was towards me when, a few minutes later, a young woman came in with a big stack of paperwork and started spreading them out – the pitch was on! I tried my hardest to ignore them, but they were just too close.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the flurry of executive orders issued by our new president, this past week he ordered a review of the upcoming DOL Fiduciary Rule, which was set to take effect in April. I won’t go into any more detail here about Fiduciary or its implications, I’ve written in detail why I feel it’s important, but I felt like I should put something in print in response to the new political atmosphere.
Last year around this time I wrote something about annual Wall Street predictions, which even the people making them know are nothing more than a coin flip. I was reminded of that again last month, when I had the pleasure to attend the first annual Evidence Based Investing conference in New York, put on by the folks at Ritholtz Wealth Management. If you have any passive interest in investing, the conference would have been interesting. If you’re a finance nerd like me? It was akin to taking a 4-year-old on his first trip to Disneyland.
There’s a battle taking place in the money management business and it’s contentious enough that the typical quiet policy changes that occur behind the scenes are sneaking ‘above the fold.’ At issue is the question of fiduciary financial services. The word ‘fiduciary,’ while simple in definition, is tremendously complicated when put into action in the asset management space.
The theme of the list? These changes are simple, easy to execute, and most importantly, they actually work! It's a new year, and it's always a good idea to improve your financial situation.
Most people have traditions they’ve grown accustomed to this time of year, no matter what holiday you’re celebrating. Wall Street has a holiday tradition too, and thanks to the internet, mobile, and easy access to data, it takes on more life every year. I’m talking about stock market predictions, and if you browse any financial periodical, you’ll see what I mean.
If you tune into financial news at all, or watch the news at all, or read headlines, or are aware of current events in any fashion…you’re bound to see a blurb about the Federal Reserve meeting and interest rate decision. Well get a pen, because I’m about to tell you the things you need to do immediately with your portfolio now that the Fed has spoken.Ready?Nothing.