I’m not typically into New Year’s resolutions; I tend to think that if there are things we’d like to do differently, we shouldn’t wait until January to start. And anyway, 80% of resolutions fail by February, so really, what’s the point?
Just about everybody we meet with talks about travel being one of their most important financial goals; the ability to see and share a journey with loved ones is high on the priority list for most of our clients.
My kids are now 7 and 4 ½, and they’ve already been all over the U.S., and have traveled internationally to Europe and Africa. We’ve made travel a priority, and they’re starting to get old enough to appreciate it (although my daughter claimed her favorite part of our spring break trip to Italy was the “yummy Cheerios” [Froot Loops] at the airport hotel in Boston).
Every once in awhile, and sometimes more often than that, markets go nuts. Investors (over)react to some random news, in an attempt to predict an inherently unknowable future, and everyone pays.
We call the market gyrations “volatility,” especially when the market goes down. I’ve noticed that when the market goes up, we don’t call it anything; we just go on about our lives as if markets going up is normal and to be expected, like Mr. Market owes us something.
Since 2002, Crocs (CROX) has sold over 300 million pairs of some of the ugliest shoes on the planet. Their strategy, it seems, is to embrace the ugliness, and design what many consider to be the most comfortable shoe they’ve ever worn, fashion sense be damned.
This approach has led to a bit of an online backlash over the years, as this (one of my personal favorites) Facebook group shows. The group has existed since long before Facebook became the web’s number one destination for middle aged women to sell essential oils and other various multi-level marketing products, and they do nothing to shield Crocs and Croc-wearers from their disdain.
Last week marked the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which, along with the forced sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America, and the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, triggered the Dow Jones Industrial Average to plunge almost 4.5% that day. Two weeks later, an even bigger 7% drop signaled the spread of the financial crisis, as Lehman’s $613 billion in debt reverberated throughout the financial market. Their bankruptcy remains the largest in history.
Shortly thereafter, Washington Mutual was seized by the FDIC, and their assets were sold to JP Morgan Chase, and Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo.
The traditional brick-and-mortar bank is a relic of days gone by, like cable TV and Myspace. If you’re still using one, it might be time to reconsider your life choices, at least as it relates to the location of your checking and savings accounts.
Most of the people I meet with have accounts at either Bank of America or Wells Fargo. In Charlotte, I suspect a significant majority of people bank at one of those two behemoths. I’m assuming most people who have accounts there maintain them out of convenience: They think it’s too difficult to make a change, or they don’t understand how significant the advantages are to banking elsewhere.
Last week, the New York Times ran a story about an advisor at JP Morgan who rang up over $128,000 in commissions in a year, on an account worth just over $1 million:
“After about six months, she learned that the account, worth roughly $1.3 million at the start of 2017, had been charged $128,000 in commissions that year — nearly 10 percent of its value, and about 10 times what many financial planners would charge to manage accounts that size (emphasis mine).” The client has Alzheimer’s, and her 58-year old daughter was assisting her with managing the account and her day-to-day finances. The money was invested with what she considered to be a reputable firm, and she thought she was dealing with a trustworthy advisor. It turns out he’s not actually an advisor; he’s a broker who took advantage of a woman who couldn’t look out for herself, and a daughter who was doing her best to make good decisions on her mom’s behalf.Continue reading “Advisors Behaving Badly: Three Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed”
The biggest enemy to investor success is typically…investors themselves.
In today’s WSJ, Jason Zweig wrote an excellent overview of some of the most significant biases that investors struggle to overcome. I experienced it myself after working with thousands of self-directed Vanguard clients (and they’re among the best of the bunch!). It’s a big part of the reason I decided to get into this business to begin with: Without a guide to provide accountability, many fail to recognize and avoid their own biases, and end up much poorer as a result.
Most people who darken my office door for the first time assume I get paid to invest people’s money. That’s technically true, but investing has become increasingly commoditized over the past decade. The modern, expert advisor creates value by helping people avoid costly mistakes. Without some understanding of what those mistakes could be, and someone to help them avoid the pitfalls, people limit their own potential success.