Canadian Bank Bloopers: Have You Heard the News?

© Can Stock Photo / gleighly

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?”

Evidence-Based Connections Between Flossing and Finance

© Can Stock Photo / andreykuzmin

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

One of the best lessons from last fall’s Evidence-Based Investing Conference in NYC didn’t take place at the conference itself. It happened in the train station, where I met up for a couple of hours with “Annie,” a high school friend I hadn’t seen since the late 70s.

Had Facebook existed then, maybe we would have been better at staying in touch. It didn’t, and we weren’t. Fortunately, the bear hug Annie gave me when we reconnected promptly eliminated any time and distance between us. We jumped right back in where we left off, talking about nothing in particular and everything at once.

One of the things we talked about was this “evidence-based investing” jones that had brought me to the East Coast to begin with. Annie, who is a palliative care senior social worker at a major medical center, said something at the time about the comparative challenge of evidence-based medicine, controlled studies and practical treatments.

Continue reading “Evidence-Based Connections Between Flossing and Finance”

Corporate Communications Can Be a Super Pain

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

With the torrent of political news we’re awash in at the moment, I’ve had a hard time finding my whimsy of late. We could all use something especially whimsical this week, don’t you think?

Exhibit A: No matter how carefully your marketing pros plan your company’s consistent branding, one worker-bee with a misplaced label can cause it all to come crashing down. What a super pain.


Then again, that front-line worker-bee better captured my actual sentiment about house painting. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from that.

Enough said.

Breaking News: Your Blogging Life Just Got Easier

You know it’s good for you and your community: blogging. Especially if it’s good stuff, accessible and informative, without sucking away too much of your client-service face time.

What would you say to a new service to help you achieve just that? Consider it done!

It all started when husband/wife team Jud and Kim Mackrill of Mineral reached out to me recently with an intriguing idea. Here’s the overview: Continue reading “Breaking News: Your Blogging Life Just Got Easier”

Wise Wording: More Accurate or More Approachable?

© Can Stock Photo/Birchside

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

Continuing to explore some of the questions I raised in my post-EBI Conference post, Questioning … Processing … Evidence-Based Investing, today I’ll touch on another question I posed, but left unanswered:

When describing investing to the general public, is it better to go with terminology that is more accurate or more familiar?

To be honest, I’m still not sure I have an easy answer.

More Accurate?

Clearly, the term evidence-based investing is more accurate. It’s closer to the essence of how most advisors with whom I collaborate are serving their investor clients.

After all, if the best available evidence suggested that stock-picking skills and market-timing reflexes generated true alpha over time and after costs … that’s what we’d be doing. Some might call that “active,” but the justification would still be evidence-based. Continue reading “Wise Wording: More Accurate or More Approachable?”

Evidence-Based Investing: Is It Literature?

© Can Stock Photo / tharun15

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

In my last post, Questioning … Processing … Evidence-Based Investing, I offered a mind dump of some of the questions I’ve been considering since I attended last November’s Evidence-Based Investment Conference.

I may or may not comment further on the entire list of questions. That’s where the whimsical part comes in. Today, I want to air my views about the first question I posed:

How important is the “evidence-based investing” name to begin with? Must it be tightly defined, or is a loose confederacy all well and good?

Personally, I’ve decided I can live with the loose confederacy. In fact, we are probably best served by it … if we embrace our inner Bob Dylan. Continue reading “Evidence-Based Investing: Is It Literature?”

Questioning … Processing … Evidence-Based Investing

©CanStock Photo/smarnad
©CanStock Photo/smarnad

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy  

Technology has spoiled us. Actions that used to take days are now a click or flick away.

Unless, of course, you’re downloading something, and you encounter the dreaded “progress bar.” It never moves. It never ends. It’s processing … forever.

That’s a little how I feel about getting back to you with my review of the inaugural Evidence-Based Investment Conference I attended in mid-November.

I’m processing.

Continue reading “Questioning … Processing … Evidence-Based Investing”

Just So Dimensional



A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

If you haven’t been paying close attention, you may not have noticed that Dimensional Fund Advisors has just released a powerful new, massively overhauled public-facing website,

It’s just so Dimensional, isn’t it, to do something fabulous and virtually whisper about the news?

Now, whenever you’re struggling to explain to current or would-be clients why they shouldn’t be loading up on gold, chasing the latest red-hot ETF, dumping everything into an S&P 500 index fund, avoiding all things international, or otherwise pursuing the most popular possibilities of the day … you’ve got a great first stop on the tour. Just point your visitor to Dimensional’s new site in his or her chosen language, and your work may very nearly be done.

Using the U.S. site as my reference point, here are a few of my favorite things:

Being Seen – I wouldn’t swear by it, but I think their “find an advisor” function has gotten a lot more functional. That’s good news for those of you who would like to be found.

Being Heard – You and I have known all along that Dimensional’s returns are a thing of beauty, and that its track record for inflows is often second to none … especially during the ugliest times when everybody else is heading for the hills. Now, these sorts of critical stats are almost the first thing a visitor sees, in stunningly simple glory. They’ve even managed to keep the disclosures from cluttering up the scenery. (Hopefully no compliance attorneys were harmed in the making of this site.)

Being Quietly Compliant – Sure, you may run aground on the shoals of compliance if you start showcasing outperforming returns. Dimensional’s disclosure requirements are not the same as yours. You should be able to point visitors to their site and let them do the talking for you.

Being True to Form – For those of us already familiar with Dimensional, the site is a fun and fresh reminder of everything we already know and appreciate about them – the history, the science, the academic underpinnings.

It’s just so Dimensional.

In Memoriam to Phil, My Friend and Adviser

Today’s blog is not whimsical. Today, I received the news that, earlier this week, my financial adviser passed away suddenly while vacationing in Hawaii with his family. Phil – who I blogged about just last August – is gone.


I share this news with you, my adviser friends, for two reasons.

First, especially for those among you who knew Phil personally, nobody could more fully understand the feelings I’m experiencing today, as I think about how my good friend and adviser (decidedly in that order!) will now no longer be there.

He’ll no longer be there to celebrate – as only Phil could do – the good-news milestones in our lives. I won’t be able to remind him how grateful I am that he and his team have helped make those milestones possible, and to share in how happy that always made him, right to the bottom of his fiduciary soul.

He won’t be there to shake his head along with me whenever the market has lost its flipping mind. Even though I know better than to succumb to the insanity, it will no longer be us and Phil against a crazy world.

He won’t be there to gently disagree with me when I’m wrong. Not that he’d ever come right out and say so. There was that pause of his. His hands would fold together as if he were stitching together his thoughts on the matter. He’d give me that look, affectionate and amused. “That’s right,” he’d begin, “but …” Whatever misguided idea I may have had would be a goner by the time he was done.

But now, Phil is the one who is gone. And yet, not really. First of all, he’s still lodged firmly inside my head. I have an “inner Phil” who will remain my advisor for life.

Continue reading “In Memoriam to Phil, My Friend and Adviser”

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”