Let’s get right to it: Unless all heck breaks loose between now and January 5th, I’ll soon be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the day I filed my articles of organization for Wendy J. Cook Communications, LLC. Wahoo!
For now, I just wanted to let you know to be on the look-out for a January 4th announcement about a very special gift. Because friends don’t let friends party alone.
In the meantime, I wish you and yours the warmest, most wonderful holiday season. To swipe a quote from a holiday greeting I received from People Science, “May your workload lighten, your in-store crowds be showered and your traffic jams be merry and bright.”
In fact, let’s start the giving early. In case you missed it, Cliff Asness of AQR Capital Management just sent out his own announcement, commemorating AQR’s 20-year anniversary by giving away a nifty book: 20 for Twenty: Selected Papers from AQR Capital Management. The book includes one of my all-time favorite reads, “My Top 10 Peeves,” which includes one of my all-time favorite quotes (still every bit as relevant today): “Every time someone says, ‘There is a lot of cash on the sidelines,’ a tiny part of my soul dies. There are no sidelines.”
Looking forward to staying in the fray with you, in 2019 and beyond!
PS: Here’s a hint about your upcoming gift. It involves a friend and colleague who’s been hanging out in New Zealand lately. You’ll find out more on Jan. 4 … especially if you sign up to receive my announcements directly to your inbox. 😉
There isn’t an evidence-based investor or advisor around who doesn’t owe an enormous debt of gratitude to John “Jack” Bogle for popularizing index fund investing. He was able to see – and more importantly, stubbornly stick with – a vision of what it could bring to everyday investors, even when his peers were taunting his idea as “Bogle’s Folly.”
Hooray for Bogle; he not only got the last laugh on his detractors, it’s been an incredibly long and lucrative laugh. Well-deserved!
Which brings me to this week’s Wall Street Journal op-ed by Bogle, “Bogle Sounds a Warning on Index, Funds.” In it, he warns of potentially dark days ahead in an industry that could end up being dominated by a few massive fund managers.
Far be it from me to assume Bogle is wrong. There are certainly lessons to be learned from those who laughed at him the last time he stuck to his vanguard guns (pun intended).
That said, I do have a quibble with how he communicated his message. In particular, his data visualization, i.e., the charts and graphs, struck me as disturbingly disingenuous.
Happy Cyber Monday, my friends! Discounts, schmiscounts. Let’s talk about value-added ideas that will cost you nothing at all. Today, I’ve joined forces with Larry Goldstick of Capture Digital Marketing. In his guest post, he shares his excellent insights on what “Google My Business” can do for you (and leaves me hungry for some pizza). Take it away, Larry …
Why “Google My Business” Is Critical To Grow Your Business
Google My Business is free to verified businesses. Using this tool increases your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack. Local Pack is a query tool that displays the top 3 most relevant businesses based on the users’ search criteria. Details about the business are shown with a ‘pin drop’ location on Google Maps. Establishing a Google My Business account also increases ranking on Local Finder and Google Maps. Gather the necessary details first and then claim your business at Google My Business.
Essential for SEO
SEO or search engine optimization affects the ranking of a website via a search engine. Think about the last time you used Google to search for ‘pizza near me’. Keeping your Google listing up to date, adding photos and getting and responding to reviews influences the ranking level of local pizza restaurants in your area. Google shows 10 results per page, so if your restaurant is ranked 13, chances are the order for a Deep Dish Supreme is going to be given to a competitor.
Sometimes, it’s hard to decide. Especially if you’re like me and you overthink every little thing. (Just ask my husband.)
Then there are the occasional no-brainers. For example, for some time, I’d been reading our local newspaper online, recycling the print versions untouched. One day, I finally inquired about changing from “Print + Digital” to “Digital Only.” Not only was the switch going to cut our monthly bill in half, it would save a ton of trees. Duh … and now done.
This summer, while attending a Dimensional Fund Advisors workshop in Portland, Oregon, I encountered another no-brainer decision that seemed just as obvious as my digital change-over. I’m talking about Dimensional’s annual Global Investor Insights Survey.
With three surveys under their belt and the next one just released, here are some of the reasons firms that are incorporating Dimensional’s fund line-up for the core of their clients’ portfolios should consider participating every time:
Data Points of Distinction. The survey results are helping advisors like you affix solid numbers to how differently you’re serving your own clients compared to the typical run-around most investors experience (which, hint hint, can be incorporated into your marketing materials).
Client Appreciation. The current survey is designed to be delivered as a tailored reach-out between you and your clients, letting you demonstrate how much you value their candid feedback.
Opportunity Identification. If there are weak spots worth tending to in your service offering, the survey may help you find those as well.
Breaking news. Each year, Dimensional has been refining and modifying its survey to explore new and different avenues. Even if you’ve already participated, each round should yield new insights.
Horse, Meet Water
Why would an evidence-based advisor not participate? Beats me. And yet, when our summer conference hosts asked the room of several hundred attendees who had participated in last year’s survey, I was surprised more hands weren’t raised.
Maybe it’s a matter of time. It’s easy to get so busy on the daily details, even excellent opportunities can slip through the cracks.
To learn more, I reached out to Dimensional’s Head of Advisor Communication Jake DeKinder, who shared with me some of the highlights from past surveys, as well as a preview of some of the newest concepts they’ll be rolling out soon.
Just when I thought cybercriminals and identity thieves couldn’t get any scummier than they already were, I’ve noticed a trickle of articles streaming in reporting a new low for them: child identity theft. Identity thieves are out to swipe your kid’s identifying information (such as a U.S. Social Security Number or Canadian Social Insurance Number) and link it to their own bad behaviors. The Wall Street Journal recently covered the growing crisis. My friends at the BAM ALLIANCE are on the beat as well, with this powerful video from Jared Hoffman.
To nip child identity theft in the bud, let’s turn that trickle of information into a deluge. Like it or not, parents around the world need to be on the look-out for the warning signs these days. That includes periodically checking to see whether your child has a credit history on file – or at least whether their identity does.
To help you share this important information with your community, I’ve created a pair of articles in my Content-Sharing Library, which you can download for free and use according to the Library’s terms of agreement. (In English, the terms essentially grant you licensing rights to remove my identifying information from the materials and brand them as your own; I retain copyright behind the scenes).
So, click on the link to the version of your choice to download it. Edit it to meet your particular needs. Help spread the word!
It’s time once again to catch up on my blogging backlog, sharing some substantive suggestions for my favorite peeps: the evidence-based investment advisor community. Kick back, grab a cool beverage, and read on about:
How to strengthen your online privacy (compliments of GDPR)
A Plutus Award financial publisher honor you may want to aim for, and
A handy robo-advisor resource …
Controlling Computer Clutter, GDPR-Style
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a big fan of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Sure, it’s created some extra work for us business owners, but it’s also driving improved infrastructure to help everyone take better control over their online privacy. In a world in which we may feel our privacy slipping away, that’s important, and I’m happy to be a part of the cause.
Teaser: In my next blog post, I’ll be sharing a bold next step I’m taking on that front. In the meantime, here’s a tip I learned when establishing GDPR-compliant cookie consent on my own website: Thanks to GDPR, you can now more tightly control what cookies you accept from many websites around the world.
Especially for those of us who are artistically challenged, stock photos are the bomb. I use them in just about every post I publish, to help make my communications pop.
But there’s a trap to beware of, lest those photo bombs backfire on you. I’ll explain more in a moment, but watch out for stock photos marked “editorial use.”
First, congratulations if you’re using stock photography to begin with. That already puts you miles ahead of anyone who assumes that, just because you can download an image from the Internet, you may. By and large, you may not. If you don’t believe me, enter “photo copyright infringement penalties” into your favorite search engine and feast your eyes on the results.
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.
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.
Note: If you’ve been reading my blog for years, this post may sound familiar. I originally posted a version in 2012. The subject came up again recently, so I decided a redux was in order …
“I know I probably should but …”
What’s your favorite excuse if you don’t routinely ask clients for referrals?
It feels pushy. It’s not my style. This isn’t the right time/place. I forgot. What if it isn’t a good fit? I’m not currently seeking new clients. I’m just no good at it. … Do I have to?
If any or all of these sound familiar, I challenge you to shift your mindset: Asking for referrals doesn’t have to be a chore or an embarrassment, and trust me, the more you do it, the easier and more natural it will become. Once you become comfortable with it, it can become a three-way win for you, your clients and those being referred to you. Here’s how:
While The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is not an investment advisory firm, this venerable publication faces similar challenges to the ones found in our industry. They’ve been around quite a while, working hard at being the source for “serious” readers, Jason Zweig fans (Jonathan Clements before him), and “stipple” drawings.
Still, as is the case in the advisor community, even the grandest institution can crumble if it doesn’t keep up with the Times (figuratively and perhaps literally in journalism). The bigger you are, the harder you might fall if you assume you can completely ignore those pesky roboadvisors, for example, or if the evidence underpinning your evidence-based investment strategy incorporates nothing newer than insights applied at the turn of the millennium.
Happily, this is not a cautionary tale based on the WSJ’s demise. Instead, I’ve now been subscribed to the publication for a little over a year, and I have been pleasantly surprised at the lessons I’ve been learning from it – directly from its news and commentary, and indirectly from its strategies for ensuring “clients” like me are happy campers.