How to Add 3 Nobel Prizes to your Portfolio

nerd money Dear Mr. Market:

What if you, the investor, had all the knowledge and findings that it took to win a Nobel Prize in Economics? Would you be a better investor? Believe it or not…with the amount of news disseminated in today’s hyper-information and “data dumping” world…you likely already have all it takes to be a more disciplined and well schooled investor.

This past Monday (10/14/2013) the winners of the prestigious Nobel Prize for Economics where announced.  All three winners were American, which marks a trend as at least one American has won the award since 1999.  The winners: Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller were recognized for their outstanding research and work in the financial markets.  While their work does not perfectly align there are several similarities and the bottom line is that you can never trust Mr. Market!

 Summary Of The Winners:

  • Eugene Fama’s research has revealed the efficiency of financial markets. If you’re a financial advisor who makes a living pitching expensive mutual funds or annuity products at clients you won’t likely have a framed portrait of Dr. Fama in your plush office.  Fama basically states that the market absorbs information so quickly that investors simply can’t outperform it consistently.  He is credited for popularizing the use of index funds as an investment option.
  • Lars Peter Hansen works strictly with data (econometrics), creating statistical models in an effort to test competing theories.  His work has allowed researchers to focus on what truly drives the financial markets. Of the three winners Hansen is the least known and popular but he ironically helps connect the other two winners’ work into something investors need to be aware of; you simply need to derive conclusions from what you do AND do not know.
  • Robert Shiller is best known for creating the Case-Shiller Home Price Index Study and now perhaps for the fact that he is married to Janet Yellen, the next Federal Reserve Chairman.  We’re huge fans of behavioral finance so the next time you hear someone talk about a “bubble” you will know who originally broke ground on the concept. His research has shown that investors are irrational and that markets develop bubbles that will eventually burst (he predicted both the Tech and Real Estate Bubbles). Continue reading

Where to find a top advisor?!

Top advisor - magnifying glassSo…if you’re looking for the best financial advisor there is do you simply run a quick search on Google? Would it look something like ” best financial advisor in Denver” or “best financial advisor in Orange County”?  Would you rely on a list that ranks the best financial advisors?

In nearly every aspect of our lives we rank products or services and take pride if we are associated with or use that brand.  How often have you heard that a product has a “Gold Star Rating” or is recommended by ‘Consumer Reports’?  It should be no surprise that the same applies when it comes to the Financial Services industry.  Investors want to work with the best and often rely on rankings issued by various publications and websites for this information.

The key difference is that there are many more variables that need to be taken into consideration when looking at the financial industry and ranking firms or individuals.  In this article we will take a look at a list that is published annually and is highly respected – ‘Barron’s Top 1,000 Advisors List’.  Through our discussion it will become clear why ranking financial professionals is not as easy as ranking cars or laundry detergent and the results need to be looked at closely. Continue reading

10 Ways to Save Money

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(1) Write it down! – You’ve probably heard this before but the act of simply writing down a goal considerably increases the chances of you actually accomplishing it. One of our favorite quotes is: “A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de-Saint Exupery

One major thing to remember when writing down goals is to make them concrete and specific. “Saving money” is not good enough. “Saving $10,000 for an exotic family vacation” is better…

(2) Set up your “buckets”– Regardless of the stage of life you are in it’s smart to have different accounts (or buckets as we call them) assigned for specific goals and needs. Initially everyone needs to at least start with their “emergency bucket” where at least three months living expenses is tucked away. Get a few other goal buckets lined up as well. If you’re working you’re likely to have a retirement bucket (401k, 403b etc). If you’re self-employed or own a business set up a SEP IRA or a Simple IRA. (there are plenty of choices here but you get the idea) Do you have a “vacation bucket” or an “automobile bucket” ? Get them established and then start filling them up!

(3) Tackle dumb debt Credit cards are NOT dumb or evil; not paying them off in full each and every month is.  We won’t get preachy here and to state the obvious the past few years have truly tested many Americans who had to do their best to make ends meet. What we’re pointing out here is that it makes absolutely no sense to hold a balance on a card when you have cash or other “non-performing” assets elsewhere. For example: If you have $5,000 on a card that charges you anywhere from 13% to 22% and your friendly neighborhood bank is ‘generously’ giving you 0.01% to hold your money….there is a serious disconnect. Continue reading