Outcomes and Probabilities

German, Brazilian, English, Argentine, and Spanish football fans, take heart.  Football (or in American vernacular - soccer) is quantifiably, the least predictable major sport.  In no other sport is luck such a critical determinant of the outcome.  So you have that going for you the next time you sit down with a Frenchman to discuss [...]

Why You Should Not Own Your Best Investment Idea in a Tax-Deferred IRA

The following paraphrases a conversation that I have had many times before with friends and clients.  It is obviously never the same dialogue but the underlying advice is the same - that you should generally not own your favorite investment or can't-miss stock idea in a traditional IRA.   Me: Did you buy this stock because [...]

Your Brokerage Statement is Terrible

Brokerage statements are almost universally uninformative, misleading, and confusing.  They are largely a means for custodians to fulfill their legal reporting requirements as well as a legacy of yesteryear when we didn't have access to real-time data.  They often neglect important information that would be helpful for investors.  In many ways, these statements do far [...]

A Story of Correlation and The Greatest Team Ever Assembled

A respected portfolio manager presented recently at an investment symposium where she explained an investment strategy that has consistently maintained zero correlation to stocks.  Several times during her presentation, she described why the strategy should be expected to maintain a near-zero correlation to stock markets in the future.  During the break that followed, financial advisors [...]

How Apathetic, Ignorant, or Overcommitted is Your Financial Advisor?

All three of time, interest or passion, and knowledge are required to be successful at anything.  I might have the knowledge of how to mow my grass properly and I might enjoy mowing my grass but if I don’t have the time to mow my grass, then my lawn eventually becomes a mess.  Alternatively, I [...]

4 Secrets to Better Investing

1) Turn off the financial noise machine. Information overload is the norm in today’s world.  We demand it.  We expect it.  Your mind, my mind, and all of our minds are wired to digest information, emotionally respond to the information, and then to do something as a result.  This is why and how advertising works.  [...]

The Stock Market Sits Down for a Job Review

"Describe your perfect day." Such a simple interview directive rarely fails to provide the most telling of replies.  Responses are almost never scripted in advance and usually provide productive insight into what motivates the interviewee, what passions she has, her creativity, or how she organizes her day.  Responses from previous experience posing this question (even [...]

Zero-Based Budgeting Applied to Personal Finance

If you have ever run a businesses or worked in corporate finance, you are likely familiar with the concept of zero-based budgeting (ZBB) as an alternative to traditional budgeting.  The traditional form of budgeting - and the one most commonly used in corporate America - uses the amount spent last year in each category (or [...]

Turbulence Forecasting for Pilots and Financial Advisors

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings I recently spoke with a pilot about how he obtains and handles the forecasts for in-flight turbulence in advance of a flight.  Before each flight, he gets a fairly precise report of weather along the route and something called a turbulence plot, which is based on [...]

How A Negligent Rule of Thumb Causes Poor Divorce and Estate Planning Decisions

An important consideration in divorce and estate planning that often gets ignored, underappreciated, or just poorly evaluated is the relative comparison of different account types: tax free accounts, tax deferred accounts, and taxable accounts.  While many people tend to think of $100,000 as $100,000, the account type in which the money resides can make a [...]