“There’s something’s happening here | What it is ain’t exactly clear …”
If you’re an American flower-power child from the 60s or 70s (or have similar musical tastes), you’ve probably now got a certain classic protest song injected into your head, which you may be humming all day. You’re welcome.
The song’s title, “For What It’s Worth,” is less familiar. Even less well known is its intent. I was surprised myself when I read on Wikipedia that, despite its 1966 “man with a gun” lyrics, it was apparently not another anti-war song. It was composed in reaction to a 10 pm curfew aimed at clearing out the music-loving party-goers who were congesting Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip. Who knew? Based on the crowds that remain there to this day, I’m guessing that curfew thing didn’t go so well.
Evidence-Based Investing: The Movement
What’s this got to do with evidence-based investing? There’s been something happening here too, baby, in a big way. Any of us who have been part of the movement for a while can’t help but notice it. After years of playing the role of the anti-establishment protester, we’ve recently picked up a mass of followers in the U.S. and around the globe. The crowds are spilling out into the streets. Suddenly (or so it seems), we pacifist protestors have become the Man, the Establishment, the status quo to rail against.
This week’s whimsy is inspired by a recent thread in the Evidence-Based Advisors LinkedIn group about John Oliver’s outrageously entertaining attack on many retirement plans’ high fees and opaque arrangements. It’s watchable, worthwhile, and free to share as a link or an embed … You’d think we’d be taking this piece viral faster than you can say “teacup pig.” (If you’re not catching the reference, watch the video.)
But there’s a catch. The language is so salty, the video could serve double duty as a cow lick. It makes McDonald’s fries seem like health food. You get my drift. While most agreed that the piece is “stunningly good” (said one commentator), “the language is just a bit too much” to share (said another). See for yourself, if you’ve not yet.
Should you or shouldn’t you use cuss words in your communications?
Some of the advisers with whom I work regularly pepper their pieces with their own special blend of the famed words from George Carlin’s, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” Oliver’s popularity puts all of ours to shame, and those seven-plus words aren’t slowing him down. Like us, our clients are adults; if we like the video, why wouldn’t they? And what’s Oliver got that we haven’t?
This week’s Whimsy is going to be short and to the point. Having edited evidence-based advisors’ work since 1998, I’d be an independently wealthy writer indeed if I had a nickel for every time Warren Buffett has been referenced, quoted, cited or shared in our communications.
As beloved as the man seems to be in our community, you would think we would at least spell his name correctly.
Quite the opposite. I estimate that I’d nearly double my wealth if I also received a dime for
every time I needed to add the second “T” to the end of his name: Buffett, not Buffet.
I haven’t actually kept score, but it is the most consistently common correction I’ve made during my career – by far. That includes figuring out whether it should be “who” or “whom.”
It’s also a more serious error in my estimation. I’d rather see your readers forgiving you for not being sure whether it should be “its” or “it’s” than catching an error that suggests you’ve confused the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway with an all-you-can-eat food bar.
Here are a few more handy associations to help you remember Mr. Buffett’s name:
Think of him as “Tea for Two.”
He’s such a great big name in our business, he deserves all the letters he can get.
He’s twice the guy most of the rest of us are.
Two Rs, Two Fs … might as well make it two Ts too.
You know those “free offers” we get deluged with daily? My common refrain for 99% of them is: Just because something is free doesn’t mean it’s worth the price.
That said, I’d like to think that my free stuff is the 1% exception – worth every penny and more.
Several of you who read last week’s Whimsy, figured out that you could retweet or share my post among your social media connections, and come as close to a (probably) compliant investor testimonial as a Registered Investment Advisor firm can ever hope to get.
Plus, I’ll do you one better. For this week’s Whimsy, I’m pleased to share a newly created, non-branded PDF handout based on last week’s post, for you to reprint and share with your peeps. Visit my website’s new Free Stuff page, and you’ll be able to download a copy from there.
There is one catch. I’ll ask you to subscribe to my e-newsletter to complete the download. That way, when I offer more worthy free stuff in the future, you’ll be sure to hear about it.
That’s it. Otherwise, it’s free, $0.00, nada. (If you’re already subscribed to my e-newsletter, go ahead and fill out the sign-up form anyway to proceed to the free download; don’t worry, you will not end up receiving duplicate e-mails.)
Oh, and one relatively non-whimsical but critical caveat: Please consult with your compliance team on proper use for your firm.
Hire an Adviser or Do It Yourself?If ever there were a promising candidate for a DIY approach, it would be me.
That’s not always been so. When I embarked on my investment journey around 1990, I was just a typical investor about to enjoy a tech-boom-fueled run in the markets. Then, in 1998, I happened to accept a position at Buckingham Asset Management, where I was introduced to a new way to invest. I’d written about healthcare, libraries and pet care products. Why not finance? I knew as much about investing as the next person.
Which is to say, I knew nothing.
In what turned out to be one of the luckiest breaks in my life, I heeded the advice of my new employers and shifted my scattered stocks into a portfolio of Dimensional Fund Advisors funds. I didn’t really know why, but to be a team player, I took a leap of faith.