What DO We Know?

The correct withdrawal rate of your retirement assets will only be apparent in the rearview mirror. That’s a scary proposition. But, what do we know for sure about retirement planning?


Prior to last year, few paid any attention to Bitcoin and the myriad of other cryptocurrencies that have flooded the market. Nothing like a several hundred percent rise in price to get people's attention. What led to both the rise and recent fall of Bitcoin and its ilk? While the "currencies" may new, but the reasons may be as old as humanity.


Here's a question I'll bet you never imagined asking until recently: What are these cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum worth? And does what the market claims their are currently "worth," actually have any basis in reality? If you're confused, you're not alone.

As Goes January...

...so goes the year.

This theory suggests that the price movement of the S&P 500 during the month of January may signal whether that index will rise or fall during the remainder of the year. In other words, if the return of the S&P 500 in January is negative, this would supposedly foreshadow a fall for the stock market for the remainder of the year, and vice versa if returns in January are positive.

So What Happened Last Year?

At the beginning of 2017, a common view among money managers and analysts was that the financial markets would not repeat their strong returns from 2016. Many cited the uncertain global economy, political turmoil in the US, implementation of Brexit, conflicts in the Middle East, North Korea’s weapons buildup, and other factors. The global equity markets defied their predictions, with major equity indices in the US, developed ex-US, and emerging markets posting strong returns for the year.

ABCs of Bad Investor Behavior - part one

By now, you’ve probably heard the news: Your own behavioral biases are often the greatest threat to your financial well-being. As investors, we leap before we look. We stay when we should go. We cringe at the very risks that are expected to generate our greatest rewards. All the while, we rush into nearly every move, only to fret and regret them long after the deed is done. 

Not Getting What You Pay For

People rely on a lot of different information about costs to help inform these decisions. When you buy a car, for example, the sticker price tells you approximately how much you can expect to pay for the car itself. But the sticker price is only one part of the overall cost of owning a car. Other things like sales tax, the cost of insurance, expected routine maintenance costs, and the potential cost of unexpected repairs are also important to understand.

Don't Fear The Market

It's been just over 10 years since, in early October 2007, the S&P 500 Index hit what was its highest point before losing more than half its value. There are important lessons that investors might be well-served to remember to better prepare for the next crisis and its aftermath.

Stop Monkeying With Your Money

In the world of investment management there is an oft-discussed idea that blindfolded monkeys throwing darts at pages of stock listings can select portfolios that will do just as well, if not better, than both the market and the average portfolio constructed by professional money managers. If this is true, why might it be the case?

Five Fundamental Fiscal Tasks

One of the most significant questions we get from our clients is “how can I help my children and grandchildren with money?”  The reality is you shouldn’t give them money, or lecture them about spending too much. The better choice is guide them to independent advice from an expert, as sadly, they are more likely to believe the third party.

Corrections Happen

If you enjoy fine literature, we recommend all of Warren Buffett’s annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letters. His 2016 letter was no exception, including this powerful insight about market downturns: “During such scary periods, you should never forget two things: First, widespread fear is your friend as an investor, because it serves up bargain purchases. Second, personal fear is your enemy.”

Who's Looking Out for You?

They are probably a close friend, a member of your church or club, a neighbor, or even a relative. You feel comfortable taking their advice because they seem more knowledgeable than you and they are “such a nice person.” Who can blame you for feeling that your financial advisor (an undefined and wholly unregulated term) is a trusted member of your “team” of counselors?

The Best Intentions

At a previous employer, we were committed to the phrase “trust in the good intentions of others.”  When I used these words recently in a conversation others at the table looked at me as if I was from Mars.  “C’mon,” said an older gentlemen, “you don’t really believe that, do you?’ After thinking about it, I had to admit that I do believe it.  Should I?

The Story of Indexing

Since nearly every media outlet on the planet reported the news, you probably already know that the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 20,000 for the first time on January 25, 2017. But when a popular index like the Dow is on a tear, up or down, what does it really mean to you and your investments? Let's explore some of the ins and outs of indexes and the index funds that track them. 

Power of Portfolio Diversity

Before the 1960s, very few people invested (about 11% of the population in 1959). Most of those speculated in the stock market. Buying stocks was and is more like gambling than real investing, as individual companies can – and have – gone bankrupt; losing stockholders everything they invested.

Harvesting Portfolio Income

I once worked with a lawyer who wanted me to do a calculation for his clients that would show that their retirement income would never run out. A guarantee (the song "Wouldn’t It Be Nice” came to mind) When I told him I couldn’t do that, our relationship ended.  Abruptly.  He said that he found another financial planner who informed him (the attorney) that he had software that would make such a guarantee.

Cerebral Whiplash

For many years, Scott Burns wrote a nationally syndicated financial column for the Dallas Morning News. Scott retired at the end of January, and his column was turned over to Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University. At first glance, the change seemed reasonable...


How the Markets Work for You

Upon observing a pencil, it is tempting to think a single individual could easily make one. After all, it is made up of common items such as wood, paint, graphite, metal, and a rubber eraser. By delving deeper into how these seemingly ordinary components are produced, however, we begin to understand the extraordinary backstory of their synthesis.

Being Actively Passive

With over $4 trillion currently invested in “index-style” passive mutual funds, it appears that investors are beginning to realize that active investing doesn’t work well enough to justify its costs. But, how passive should you be?

Is Being Passive Perilous?

Real investing requires investors to adopt a patient, long-term approach to capturing the market’s expected returns. In industry parlance, some have categorized this approach as “passive,” versus active attempts to beat the market. We prefer to think of it as science-based or evidence-based investing.