Mark Mobius is the only person worth listening to on Global business impact. PERIOD. Are you shaking from all the noise about BREXIT?
Sit down! Be silent!
Don’t take me at MY word about Mobius—gracious no! Read this and ponder the value of cool-headed analysis based on real world experience. Then you will be able to exhale. Ah, the exhilaration of working with competent individuals!
This post is also available in: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish On Friday, June 24, financial markets around the world awoke to a post-Brexit hangover. The United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union (EU), leaving many investors surprised, including me.
There is a reason that ABetterPlan.com ranks Gretchen Morgenson in the Top 5 of business journalists. She has her finger on the main financial pulse and she articulates her observations as few genuine journalists do.
Here is an idea we both agree on—it’s using Return on Capital as the preferred (No BS) metric in gauging (real) returns.
Everybody knows that chief executives receive bounteous pay as a matter of course. In 2015, for example, the median pay for a top corporate executive at 200 large American companies was $19.3 million. Less discernible, though, is who actually earned their pay the most by increasing the value of the companies they run by a commensurate amount.
Lots of people mistakenly believe that Dodd-Frank fixedbanking and investment failures.*
They expected their financial circumstances to be better. Really better. Those in the know understand the flaws and the problems. Bad law due to a lack of experience in bank rates and reserves. Little compromise. We are all leaving money on the table.
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (HR 4173) avoided dealing with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The actual culprits fanning the excessive and unchecked flames of lending. Congressional accountabilitytook the last train out long ago.
This same institutional confusion has shown up in the electoral process. It is a multi-layered media carnival promoting a spectacle. Zany, indeed.
If there’s to be no serious discussion maybe we need to ask: What can WE do right NOW?
A few things–all action oriented. First, let’s get a grasp of a few things.
Genuine solutions abound to stated problems, such as income inequality. Obama Has Power To End Tax Loophole For The Rich headlined Gretchen Morgenson’s article in The New York Times, May 7, 2016. She writes that closing the ‘carried interest loophole’ begins to equalize the tax rate and generates billions in tax revenue. Tax law changes have been a talking point for and by business for several years. Yet, the ideas sit, unactionable because no one carries the idea forward.
So there are solutions. It’s not hopeless. Do we fix ourselves? Yes. Sort of.
First, let’s recap. 1) Laws now are too many, wrongheaded, and poor cures. and 2) Real solutions are ignored. Do we need to look after our own finances? Yes. But, don’t turn to TV for help.
Advertisers always see what’s happening. The “Mad Men” Era, the years after the Second World War, changed America. It was on the rise. And so were the stresses of a new suburban lifestyle. They want you to know they have what you need. No headache and a return to civility at home. Phew!
Over the recent last decade, companies have abused the trust they built with ads like this. So if you buy blindly into this, you may find it dangerous to your financial health.
In the past big companies, like GE, helped ease our pains. They really did ‘bring good things to life.’ Banks were rock solid. Stocks were something only wealthy people owned. Then in the 1970s came retirement planning and dabbling with investments. IBM, bank stocks. Remember American Cyanamid?
Now matured, the financial service industry seems more about piling up its own assets than enriching and protecting clients. Going public, like Goldman Sachs, stripped away the gentlemanly aspects of finance.
Today financial firms hire ad agencies to make them look sensitive. To show that they respond to bad things. They know they aren’t popular. But you have to put your money somewhere. Right? So today, the ads are about an aggressively passionate person (the new APP?).
They tell us: You don’t have to worry! We’ve got you covered.
Western Financial Group is a leading financial services organization in Western Canada. When you’re insured with Western Financial Group, you’ll receive a competitive rate, annual coverage review and a fair claim – guaranteed. Not to mention, peace of mind.
Here is a slightly more honest TV ad — by the Certified Financial Planner Board (CFP). It dramatizes the investors biggest fear. Being taken.
Just keep this in mind. A real CFP may allocate your money more skillfully. But that concentration only puts them in competition with brokers.
The intent of all these ads is to regain your trust. As in, we are different. We will help you. We WANT you to ask questions–because we have the answers you need. But they all also want you to believe that your financial plan is all about your investments.
I am here to tell you that is not entirely true. Your plan is your whole plan. Not day trading to put money into a retirement account and some life insurance and a house. Not just enough to retire on. But a whole plan that you decide. An ongoing process that checks the path you set. This path includes your legacy. How you will be remembered.
Lastly (this series is a current reader favorite).
Yeah, right! Except that fees are not the most important aspect. Your returns, safety, or strategy are. What you pay — is still about the transaction. We should get way beyond that. But this is a start. Asking questions is the thing. Just not softball questions about fees or what you should buy.
The preferred strategy is for you and the right professionals to help each other.
At the beginning, no discussion should involve math. There’s nothing for you to tally up. No returns to estimate.
Until you have gone through a process that weighs your goals and those of your family, you will not give the stockbroker-financial advisor one thin dime. You will interview, you will set the rules. Your advisors will share their advice. Then, you will decide want to do. Once again, there is historic precedence for this.
Beginning in the 15th Century or so, advisors were bankers. These men ‘tended’ sovereign kings and queens. They would float bonds to fund wars that would add to the crown’s power and wealth. If you think risk analysis is tough today, imagine waiting a few weeks for news to reach you by ship and horseback!
Interesting Sidenote: Chess developed around the royal court. Early on, no one spoke directly to the crowned heads of state about anything. So how did they advise? The game acted as a sort of switchboard. In a game, Bishop taking knight might suggest the church was being a bit too assertive. If she received the illustration, I imagine the Queen would say something like: ‘Golly!’ And then swiftly thwart the opposition with a public beheading.
As wealth grew, captains of industry became advisors, mostly to their clients. Royalty and other wealthy landowners. It was serious business with deadly penalties. As wealth became more democratized so did the laws overseeing and taxing it. There were many other changes.
Today we look down on people carrying swords into meetings. Still, it is reasonable to have high expectations of victory. Wins that make us more money. But our financial victories are very rare for most of us—aren’t they?
Is there a better way to plan your modern life? Yes. There is.
Why not groom professional allies who will guide your financial and legal decisions with advice and consent? Why not hold every top advisory accountable? We can begin with the following three tasks.
Service is watching the changes in the markets that may change your returns and your tax burden — and then alerting you to a better approach. Not harvesting commissions on Buy/Sell orders.
Fiduciary is the professional acceptance of responsibility and accountability for your money.
And scenario planning is a discipline for studying the impact of change. It might cover law, politics, culture and certainly the effects of business changes on each of your investments. Such planning provides feedback loop of information. This helps you manage risk and grow your money in ways you fully understand.
Asking questions about money really is the secret to protecting yourself. And you must carry it over into your financial literacy.
What can a small, private girls boarding school teach the two national political parties?
Going into super Tuesday, and then just afterward, both major parties had demonstrated their weaknesses, and shown signs of their representative illegitimacy. The DNC’s vice chairman had quit, over a procedural disagreement. The RNC was going after its own leading candidate for the presidency. He’s leading, but they don’t like him; So they’re not going to support him. And they are pulling out Mitt Romney to give a well delivered speech to denigrate him. (At least they know not to bring out W.)
Only the more intelligent pundits have pointed out the cognitive dissonance of these, and other related events.
On Wednesday night I attended an alumni get together for a girls private school. This is the school that wonderful Teddy attended, and loves to this day for what it did for her and for her daughter Charlotte. We were very happy to have been invited to remain for a dinner with the new head of school, a super intelligent and kind leader and educator.
Still new to the school herself, one of her primary missions is to preserve the school’s traditions.
It occurred to me that the contrast between these two events illustrates another level of cognitive dissonance, between tradition and change. It’s interesting to point out that the public entities are having the most difficulty with tradition. The private entity, in open conversation, regularly discusses the balance between tradition and change.
Change in a girls boarding school pertains to things like cell phone use. In this case, the school encourages a qualitative cell phone use through an Instagram page. The regularly updated page was created and is maintained by student. On it are student photographs of things that the girls love about the school. That to me is an interesting metaphor for the balance of tradition and change.
The parties and the school operate on two grossly different world views. The private entity’s mission is about improving the community with a long view. But, the public entities taunt ego and power. There would be a revolt if the values changed in the girls school. But the party leadership changes the rules to maintain control.
Control does not mean victory. Victory comes when the players all work together for the common good. Victory over Germany and Japan, or the 1980 US Hockey team beating the Soviet Union. It was called the Miracle on Ice. These made Americans all feel exceptional–that is part of the American dream, that feeling. It builds national character.
So what’s the point? We can’t all go (back) to girls boarding school, can we? And, not all of us want to be involved with the national parties.
Each of us can and should embody the best. That means our personal and our national best. This goal is the magnet that has made the country truly great, despite many deep and painful divides.
What made the country strong, and the lesson from the girls boarding school, is about maintaining an admirable sense of community and a longer view of time and responsibility.
By removing our own selfish whims, in favor of what is good for the country long after we are gone, we will ALL do better.
We need upbeat stories now. Leadership seems overwhelmed. Followers are disillusioned. Many people lack the courage to be themselves.
I saw this story and thought I would share it here. “The typical Iraqi Christian has, over the last 30 years, been displaced four or five times,” says General Secretary of the Bible Society in Lebanon Michael Bassous. “Many of them will never be able to leave Iraq, for financial reasons.” Much of the world has been led by Christian countries for centuries–and yet the Christians are little better than the majority of Muslims at caring for their own. Why is that?
I think it is because we need to surrender our whims to the greater good; and work on our beliefs in our greater power, however we perceive him.
China’s leaders want market growth; but they cannot seem to let go. Freaky how much such action feels like Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank,
general comments from the beltway. We don’t want bad ethics on &
around Wall Street, of course.
There are better approaches to solutions.
Why not reward success using a behavioral approach? Step one: Decide
what you want to happen with our society. Step Two: Create incentives
to develop ideas around that. Step Three: Pull together all the pieces;
education, tax strategy (heavily tax what you don’t want–drugs, deviant
sexual behavior, ocean pollution, etc,), government sticking to its business
mainly security and Constitutional measures. Step Four: Hire better
leadership. That is made easier because a smart country (think Sweden)
roots out the human dreck. No one likes a loser–to quote DT. Sadly, losers
don’t stand out in a crowd of losers.
Cliff Asness and economist Tyler Cowan discuss investment ideas, but also the problem people have with making investments. Just as I write in my new book, BETTER!, behavior beats all sensibility. To get to the better behavior we have to understand and run the professional relationship. As one local Newporter once said to me: “Gee. That’s sounds like a lot of work.” Why yes…
It is. And it is well worth it. We’re talking about our money and our purpose. So why skimp of money essentials?
ConserVideo posted this clip WITH PERMISSION from the fim makers to help promote the informative documentary film titled “I WANT YOUR MONEY.” Buy the full documentary at http://www.IWantYourMoney.net. If you like this short clip, you will love the full length documentary.
Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister of Singapore for thirty years. Sadly he passed away earlier this year. Sad because we are living in a time where losing even one qualified and articulate voice on complex global issues is tragic for us all.
Happily, Harvard’s Kennedy School and the Belfer Studies Center for International Security thought to interview him, exhaustively it seems, to produce a fine and brief work on diplomatic art and current events. It is titled, elegantly, “Lee Kuan Kew: The GrandMaster’s Insights on China, the United States and the World.”
His candor is refreshing, if a bit gritty, for a Westerner such as myself steeped in American “rightness.” Here is a small taste of the gentleman’s ability to express meaning.
“The ideas of individual supremacy…when carried to excess, have not worked. They have made it difficult to keep American society cohesive. Asia can see it is not working. Those who want a society where young girls and old ladies can walk in the streets at night, where the young are not preyed upon by drug peddlers, will not follow the American model…”
Anyone involved in currency, finance, trade, or manufacture should read it. IMHO, all Americans should read it. You can buy it below by clicking on the image.