Are you really looking for horrible investment advice?

Dear Mr. Market,

How great would it be to have a job where you could constantly deliver results short of expectations and never have to worry about being fired?  What if you could always simply blame your lack of performance on random external forces or global events?  Imagine if you had a yearly performance review that went something like this…

 “You missed your target goals by 28% and were wrong more often than you were right!  Nice work, we are going to give you a bonus and a 10% raise!”

pay performance

 This doesn’t happen in the real world…or does it?!  The financial services industry has become notorious for overpaying executives even when the company itself is struggling to survive or is even on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.  For example, Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers was one of the 25 best-paid CEO’s for eight years straight – right up until his firm collapsed in 2008.  It has been called ‘”the largest bankruptcy in history”;  it triggered a chain reaction that produced the worst financial crisis and economic downturn in 70 years!  What about professionals in the financial industry that consistently underperform but are not at risk of losing their jobs? Continue reading

Women Investors : Who Controls the Purse Strings?

Women Investing

Dear Mr. Market:

Did you remember Mother’s Day and get her something special?  As we celebrated Mother’s Day earlier this month we would not be surprised if Mr. Market didn’t do much for his mother or for women in general.  The financial services industry has been notorious for overlooking women investors however the ‘tides of change’ are quickly approaching and everyone needs to be aware of it.

Women have become a major power player and are making a huge impact in today’s financial world.  The statistics speak for themselves; here are some eye opening facts: Continue reading

Target Date Funds – is it time to refocus?

Off TargetDear Mr. Market :

You certainly have a unique sense of humor! Your unpredictable personality often leaves investors scratching their heads as they attempt to figure out your next move and how they should be positioned.  You’ve reintroduced us to market volatility the last few weeks and left investors scrambling.  During the first quarter of this year, investors moved billions of dollars into the equity markets as they began to gain a sense of comfort based on recent performance.  As investors muddle through the overwhelming amount of investment options available to them, more and more continue to look for the ‘quick fix’ or the ‘one stop shop’ and invest in Target Date Funds.  By simply picking the fund that has a date corresponding to a time frame they have in mind for their investment goals, they can put their portfolio on cruise control and focus on more important things. Simple, right?

If only it were truly that easy…“If it seems to good to be true, it probably is”

Investors need to take a step back and not allow ‘Mr. Market’ to play with their hard earned dollars and take a look if these funds are in fact too good to be true.  While the underlying premise of the fund appears sound, investors definitely need to kick the tires on these funds before buying them.  The typical Target Fund intends to be much more aggressive in the early years and as the years pass and the ‘target date’ approaches, they will become more conservative.  They do this through the asset allocation within the fund. Simply put, in the earlier years the portfolio has a higher percentage in stocks which then get trimmed with a reallocation and more exposure to fixed income or bonds.

Sounds perfect doesn’t it?! Continue reading

Making Cents of Investing…Really!?

Dear Mr. Market:

Making centsAs we close out the first quarter of 2013 investors are intrigued with impressive returns on top of the double-digit results posted for 2012.  Throughout the first quarter mutual funds set records for the amount of money invested in them.  The sad truth is that while investors watch the market continue this upward trend, breaking records in the process, the average investor is not seeing the same results in their accounts. In a recent report published by Goldman Sachs, nearly two thirds of the actively managed mutual funds underperformed the broad markets (S&P 1500 – consisting of large, mid and small cap stocks) last year.  While only a third of the funds beat the market last year the results are even more disappointing in 2011 as 84% of the funds couldn’t beat the broad markets.  While the so-called ‘experts’ have not posted impressive results what is even more shocking is what investors are paying these underperforming managers on a yearly basis.

According to ‘The Motley Fools’ the average actively managed equity fund charges an expense ratio of approximately 1.5%.   If you sit back and really think about this the numbers are eye opening.  If you invested $10,000, into an average actively managed fund, you paid $150 a year every year whether the fund performed well or underperformed (like the majority of them did the last several years).  This is like paying a private tutor to teach your children and being satisfied when they come home with straight “D’s” on their report card the majority of the time. Continue reading