As we mad-dash toward another new year, it’s a good time to reflect on fitting friends, old and new.
Take Joe Goldberg, for example, who I met when we both worked at BAM Advisor Services. I went independent back in 2009, while he remained on board as director of retirement plan services until earlier this year. Like me, Joe became his own boss … with a much wider break from past job descriptions. Joe is now in charge of trimming bodies instead of 401(k) accounts at his new fitness studio, TruFusion St. Louis.
I could not be happier for Joe; even back in the day, health & fitness were core to him, as he cajoled BAM conference attendees to get up in the wee hours of the morning to join him for a morning spin. The more sweat, the wider his grin got.
One thing we both took from our years at BAM was a deep appreciation for the “do unto others” mindset you get when you combine dedicated fiduciary advice with rational evidence-based investing. Pair the two together, and you inherently end up with a powerful perspective you can’t ever fully legislate or regulate into being – and that we may too often take for granted.
I realized that when Joe recently posted as follows on Facebook:
Isn’t that just such an “evidence-based advisor” thing to say?
Coming out on a Monday as it did, you may have missed this little bombshell of a Financial Advisor piece authored by “The New Retirementality” author Mitch Anthony: “Harsh Lessons in Modern Con Art.” In it, Mitch shared how he – and his mother! – were conned out of $1 million by an unscrupulous real estate wheeler-dealer.
I don’t think Mitch will mind if I share his opening and a few other key excerpts:
“As I sit down to write this article, I know it will likely be the most difficult composition of my writing career—difficult because it dredges up a miasma of regret, embarrassment, sadness and anger like nothing else I’ve experienced in life. I was conned out of almost a million dollars.”
If you’ve never read Mitch’s larger body of work, I encourage you to do so. You may also consider using it as a resource for your clients who are pondering the practical and emotional aspects of their work/life balances. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you my early encounters with Retirementality directly influenced the path I took with my own career. As much as I enjoyed my corporate day job at the time, his insights expanded my thinking, readying me to seek even more out of life by moving to Oregon and going freelance with my work (on the eve of the Great Recession, no less).
But first, read his breaking – and heart-breaking – “Harsh Lessons” article. Imagine how tough it must have been for him to describe to us, his own community, how he had fallen victim to the very sort of swindlers that fiduciary advisors are constantly warning their clients to avoid.
What separates the mice from the Mitch, however, was his willingness to share his learning experience despite the risks, focusing on the greater goal of advancing an important call to action we are well-advised to heed.
Specifically, as awful as the experience was, Mitch describes how it was aggravated by a federal five-year statute of limitations on prosecuting the perpetrator for his flagrant financial crimes. The problem is, five years isn’t always enough time to catch a financial thief. Mitch explains:
“Once you discover you have been defrauded, very likely two to three years have passed. Legal proceedings will chew up a year or two. By the time prosecutors decide there is merit in proceeding, the time has almost run out, and they will cease their efforts knowing they are up against the statute. This was our exact experience. By the time I brought the fraud to the attention of the FBI, they informed me that the perpetrator was already ‘on their radar’—but at this point, there wasn’t enough time left to do anything, and they couldn’t afford the time and resources to waste their efforts.”
So, rightfully so, Mitch has asked for our help. Based on his conversation with Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Charles Grassley’s office, here’s what we can do (emphasis mine):
“[Grassley’s] staff have informed me this is an important matter, but that for the law to change, we will need to speak up about it. This means having our various associations express their concern to the committee and to law enforcement as well. … If you want to voice your concern directly to the Senate Judiciary Committee, you can do so directly by contacting Richard_DiZinno@judiciary-rep.senate.gov.”
For Mitch’s sake, for your sake and, most of all, for your clients’ sake, go to it … and spread the word. As soon as I hit publish on this piece, I will be doing the same.