Watching Others, Watching You, Watching Out

© Can Stock Photo / Bepsimage

You know the classic Catch-22 pun: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” Here are a few items I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on lately. As an evidence-based investment advisor, you may want to take a look at them too.

Say Hello To the SEC’s SALI

Given the usual deluge of headline-grabbing alerts, you may not have noticed this May 2nd SEC press release, introducing its SEC Action Lookup for Individuals (SALI). SALI is super easy to use, and reports on “individuals” (typically, advisors) who have SEC actions against them “against whom a court has entered a judgment or the Commission has issued an order.” For now, the database covers October 2014 through March 2018, but it’s expected to expand in both directions over time.

SALI could come in handy for your own general research or due diligence on, say, a prospective hire or anyone whose credentials seem suspect. Depending on how you feel about SALI, you may also want to share the link with your investor network. Plus, try entering your own surname and make sure nothing too surprising comes up – especially if you’ve got a common name like Smith or Jones.

Boondoggle Brigade Busted

Admittedly, I’m pretty naïve. Having worked for reputable advisors and fund managers for as long as I have, I sometimes forget that outlandish fees, conflicts of interest and unprincipled practices persist among the wider financial community.

Thankfully, there are columnists like The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig to remind me. Did you catch his recent “Intelligent Investor” exposé, “The Free Trips Your Financial Advisor Takes Could Cost You”? As Zweig observes of advisors who accept free trips from others, “Wining and dining with money managers for free under tropical skies could cloud his or her judgment.”

To say the least! Personally, I can’t even imagine a universe in which any reputable financial advisor would let someone else foot the bill for an all-expense-paid “due diligence conference” held at the Ritz Carlton at Marina Del Ray or the Four Seasons in Mexico City. I love that Zweig includes direct links to these and a couple of other actual, upcoming events, to show that he’s not just making this stuff up.

GDPR … It’s Growing on Me

GD-what? It’s not your fault if you’ve not even heard of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Set to go live May 25th, it’s a big deal in Europe, but I might not have heard of it either if I didn’t have a number of colleagues and clients based there. Even then, it only dawned on me a few weeks ago that I may need to comply with portions of it too, as described in this Forbes article.

If you are not collecting, processing or storing any personal information on anyone in the EU, you can probably remain blissfully ignorant about the details. But, I wanted to bring it to your attention anyway because I’m intrigued by its parallels to our would-be fiduciary standards. Think of the GDPR as having a similar mission, but it’s meant to protect people’s personal data instead of their financial well-being.

Both seem well worth protecting, and the GDPR seems to be authentically leading the charge on this important front. If it works as hoped for, we may have the opportunity to learn from and emulate its successes as we seek to advance universal fiduciary standards of care and improve on financial best practices around the globe.

I think I’ll hit pause for now, to keep this post short and sweet. But I hope to revisit the subject soon … so keep a watchful eye on my blog. Or subscribe below to receive these straight to your inbox.

Evidence-Based Investing Around the World: Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

Yet another nifty quality of evidence-based investing is that it requires global participation (to provide essential out-of-sample observations), and contributes to it too. As the compelling logic of evidence-based investing goes global, we independent providers – advisors, fund managers and support services alike – have been joining forces as well, to convert elegant, evidence-based theory into practical investor-applicable reality.

Supporting and supported by a global community, I’d like to think we’re coming about as close as we can to building that fabled perpetual motion machine.

I’ve especially enjoyed collaborating with Mineral on our Evidence-Based Investing Infographic/Poster. Our brainchild has been experiencing quite the intercontinental ride of late, in no small part thanks to several overseas colleagues. In particular, my fellow EBI communicator Robin Powell of Regis Media helped spread the word about it recently on his Evidence-Based Investor blog. Also, Robert Van Beek, CFP®, Founder/Director of About Life & Finance, reached out to us and kindly offered to help us create a Dutch-translated version of the poster. That’s now available for custom branding at the same attractive price of free (in any currency), simply by selecting “Dutch” on the order form.

This gave me and Mineral a brilliant idea. Why don’t we produce our infographic/poster in several languages?

Continue reading “Evidence-Based Investing Around the World: Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

Financial Security and Modern-Day Pirates

© Can Stock Photo / AlienCat

Pirates may be jolly when they’re Johnny Depp in a costume, but the real renditions aren’t amusing at all … as the world is being reminded of recently in the form of a global Microsoft ransomware outbreak. If you’ve not yet seen the news, all you have to do is Google “ransomware attack 2017” and you’ll get caught up pretty quickly. You might want to have a paper bag handy, to breathe into.

Bottom line, to help shore up the security of your virtual ship, there’s one important step you and your clients should be taking if you’ve not yet done so: Make sure all updates and patches to your Windows operating system have been completed – like, yesterday. (As in, stop whatever else you’re doing, and do that now.)

By the way, I’ve just added a short email to the Content-Sharing Library, which you can use to reach out to your clients about this simple but important step. And, as incredibly excellent timing would have it, just last Friday, I also happened to load a quick-reference guide and a longer report on the subject of protecting against financial fraud and identity theft (U.S. and Canadian versions of the same).

If my timing were always this impeccable, I’d become an active investor! It’s not, and I won’t.

As they used to say on Hill Street Blues, let’s be careful out there.

Canadian Bank Bloopers: Have You Heard the News?

© Can Stock Photo / gleighly

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

Have you heard the news? First there was that little Wells Fargo dust-up down here in the states. Now, ALL of Canada’s big banks – or at least some 1,000 of their employees – have reportedly been deluging CBC News investigative reporter Erica Johnson’s inbox, anxious to talk about the pressures they’ve felt to place customers’ best interests second.

The story broke in early March with a bank teller confessing, “I will do anything I can to make my goal.” I wonder if Johnson had any notion that this chink in the wall was soon to be split wide open with a flood of “me too” mea culpas sent her way. She reported on them in this incredible, mid-March follow-up piece, “We are all doing it.”

Incredible to me, anyway. Usually, the popular press loves nothing more than a juicy financial scandal. Except, apparently, if it’s going down up in Canada. What, have we got too many of our own to report on? Unless I’ve missed it, I haven’t seen a peep in the major U.S. media outlets.

Continue reading “Canadian Bank Bloopers: Have You Heard the News?”

Fiduciary, Fee-Only Friends Found All Around the World

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

As we reflect on the outcome of yesterday’s presidential elections, you may enjoy a reminder that, big picture, the world has a way of continuing to turn, come what may. My personal inspiration came last week when I took a little longer than usual to knock off for the day, scheduling a 6 pm Skype with a new friend I’d recently met: Phil Stockton of Private Capital Ltd.


BREAKING NEWS: As I was putting together this week’s whimsy, I was delighted to see that my British communications colleague and Evidence-Based Investor author Robin Powell published a podcast conversation between us. In “What’s With the Name?” we explore the origin and meaning of Evidence-Based Investing. I also happened to mention my conversation with Phil toward the end. I do hope you’ll give the show a listen. We’re all one, big happy global family!


Now, back to my own post: I was willing to delay happy hour last week, because my Wednesday evening was Phil’s Thursday morning, and another busy day for him as he and his partners Rick Adkinson and Mathew Bate are spreading the mostly unheard-of word on evidence-based investing to families sorely in need of hearing more about it – in Hong Kong.

Continue reading “Fiduciary, Fee-Only Friends Found All Around the World”

Thou Shalt Not Testimonial (Or Shalt Thou?)

www-web_optimizedLast week’s launch of WWW (Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy) was some fun. And it quickly generated an idea for this week’s post, when one U.S. adviser commented: “I noticed that [the] site includes testimonials, which is verboten here. Lucky him.”

Lucky indeed. Advisers who are based abroad may not know that U.S. Registered Investment Advisor representatives are strictly prohibited from including client testimonials in their advertising (website included). Thou shalt not testimonial is set in regulatory stone here; woe be unto the adviser who violates this commandment.

Flip that around, and many U.S. advisors may not realize that our prohibition on client  testimonials is not universal. In Canada and the U.K. (at least), they are A-Okay.

Continue reading “Thou Shalt Not Testimonial (Or Shalt Thou?)”

Introducing: WWW (That’s “Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy”)

No, I am not claiming to have invented the World Wide Web. But I am launching a brand new “WWW” today – Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy – a weekly(ish) short & sweet idea that I believe evidence-based advisers like you will find helpful to your cause.

Today, I’m giving a nod to Neligan Financial’s website. After all, our evidence-based advisor friends over in the Land of the Brexit could no doubt use some kindness this week.

Neligan Financial Screen Grab

What I Like About It:

  • It’s nice and clean overall, good use of colors, language and imagery to convey a distinct personality, give it a sense of place, and quickly communicate key themes.
  • I am particularly fond of its Services page. I love how the adviser used his prospective clients’ most pressing questions as his key service offerings. Score!
  • Scrolling down to his newsfeed, check out this recent post: “Things That Reward Patience.” It shows how you don’t have to write a lot to say so much. Bravo!

For the record, I don’t know this adviser personally (yet). I stumbled across his site when he joined our Evidence-Based Advisors LinkedIn group. If the group is a good fit for you, I encourage you to do the same.

A Sensible Shot Heard Around the World: An Interview with UK’s Sensible Investing Hosts

L to R: Igors Alferovs, Larry Swedroe and Richard Woods.
Igors Alferovs, Larry Swedroe and Richard Woods.

I don’t remember how I discovered SensibleInvesting.TV and its landmark video series, “Passive Investing: The Evidence.” But I do remember my reaction when I did: Eureka! It was one of the first times I knew that US and UK investors alike had sensible proponents of evidence-based (formerly “passive”) investing, to help them find their way in our grueling global markets.  

The respect is clearly mutual. The series features some of the same familiar voices we’re used to heeding here in the states – so familiar that their surnames usually suffice: Bogle, Sharpe, Fama, French, Bernstein (William, that is), Malkiel, Ferri, Goldie … And Swedroe, Larry Swedroe, who has both shaken and stirred the financial community many times over with his collection of investment books for helping everyday investors discover evidence-based investing. 

Imagine my delight when I learned that Sensible Investing’s founder and host Richard Wood and his colleague Igors Alferovs had recently collaborated with Larry to publish a British version of one of his most popular books: “Think, Act and Invest Like Warren Buffett.”  

I was pleased when Richard and Igors agreed to share with me their experience advocating evidence-based investing in the UK. Here are the results. (Additional book ordering information is below, if you are interested in obtaining a copy of Larry’s Anglicised book for you or your clients.)


What is Sensible Investing? When did you found it and why?

Sensible Investing is an online video channel and information website featuring film, articles and comment about evidence-based, or passive investing. We began it in 2012 while we were making our documentary Passive Investing: The Evidence, and realised there was a gap in the market for independent, impartial, fact-based information about investing. This was especially the case in the UK, which was (and still is) years behind the US in awareness of the true cost of traditional active investing. An online channel for videos, blogs and downloads, combined with an active social media presence, seemed to be the best way of reaching as many people as we could. Although it’s funded and run by our wealth management firm BRWM, we are committed to keeping it as independent as possible, and are happy to feature content from other organisations who share our beliefs. Continue reading “A Sensible Shot Heard Around the World: An Interview with UK’s Sensible Investing Hosts”

A 2016 Call to Action for the Evidence-Based Advisors Group

Evidence-Based AdvisorsCalling All Evidence-Based Advisors!

If you’ve not yet heard about it, a small team of us has been maintaining an Evidence-Based Advisors (EBA) LinkedIn group since 2008. What began as a modest adventure has grown to a list of 1,500+ members, with new join requests coming in weekly.

The majority of members are evidence-based advisors, just as the name implies. There also are a scattering of service providers like yours truly; fund manager representatives from firms such as Dimensional, AQR and Bridgeway; and some academics who have expressed interest in participating in meaningful conversations (versus using the forum as a promotional venue). Advisors from the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and a number of other countries are represented in the group. Just this morning, we accepted a join request from an advisor based in Santiago, Chile. Bienvenida!

Continue reading “A 2016 Call to Action for the Evidence-Based Advisors Group”

Evidence-Based Investing: A Universal Passion

As thankful as I am to be writing and editing for evidence-based investment advisers, there are days that I have wished there were more of “me” to go around — more creative types whose passion for evidence-based investing comes as much from our experience as ordinary investors as it does from being marketing sidekicks to the evidence-based adviser community. That’s one reason why I’ve especially enjoyed getting to know Robin Powell during the last few years, as he has served in roles similar to my own from his home base in the U.K.

While I’ve focused on the writing, Robin seems more comfy spreading the word in front of a camera. If I had a nifty British accent, maybe I’d feel the same way! In any case, I’m pleased to update you on Robin’s most recent adventures, including how and why he recently launched www.evidenceinvestor.com, and his own story about how he came to share our universal passion for, as he describes it, “proper investing, as opposed to speculating.” If you like what you see, give it a subscribe, and consider encouraging others to do the same … let the evidence speak! 

 


The Making of an Evidence-Based Investor:
Q&A with Robin Powell

Robin Powell, Evidence-Based Investing
Robin Powell, Evidence-Based Investing

Wendy: Why did you launch The Evidence-Based Investor?

Robin: It’s a few months now since I left Sensible Investing TV and several people have asked me what I’m doing now and where they can find my blogs and videos. In fact I’ve been busy building a new operation called Regis Media, which is a specialist content marketing consultancy for fiduciary advisors. It’s going very well but I’m still a journalist at heart, and I miss doing what I enjoyed most about Sensible Investing, in other words writing blogs and producing videos. Hence, The Evidence-Based Investor.

Continue reading “Evidence-Based Investing: A Universal Passion”