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Stunning Odds Doom Your Returns

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Few investors understand the stunning odds that are likely dooming their returns. The system is rigged against investors and in favor of those who “manage” their money. Mutual fund families, brokers and insurance companies are the big winners in this process. Investors barely scrape by. Here’s some historical data for your consideration. It may fundamentally…

Two Predictions You Can Take to the Bank

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Most predictions are utter nonsense. They’re made by self-styled “gurus” who are really emperors with no clothes. If they are right, it’s due to luck and not skill (although they are quick to claim credit). Warren Buffett’s view of those who pretend to have the ability to predict the future is spot-on. He famously stated:…

Let’s Redefine ‘Smart Money’

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Frank Luntz is a corporate consultant, pollster and political consultant to Republicans. His specialty is in messaging and finding the right words to help his clients sell their products or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate. In a fascinating interview on Frontline, Luntz made some interesting observations about the impact of language….

The Stock Picking Era Is Over

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I’m sure Jim Cramer will be the last one to leave the burning building, but the era of stock picking is basically over. He continues to talk about index funds as being adequate for those who don’t have the time to research individual stocks, but investors — in increasing numbers — are too smart to…

The Biggest Scam of Them All?

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This is the time of year when investment boards and committees in charge of selecting fund managers for pension plans and 401(k) plans gather for a time-honored ritual. They review the past performance of their fund managers and decide whether to keep or replace them. The point of this elaborate and lengthy exercise is to…

Avoid the Ultimate R.I.P.-Off

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Many estate planners advise their clients to complete a useful, albeit sobering, exercise. The exercise calls for the client to assume they have died, and that their beneficiaries are gathered around the dining room table dealing with the aftermath. The point is to identify before the fact some key estate planning questions a client may…

Your Genes Impact Your Investment Decisions

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The sharp market decline in January has raised the anxiety level of investors everywhere and brought out the worst in the financial media. Many investors are asking the wrong questions, like these: 1. Is this the beginning of a market correction? 2. Should I sell my stocks and just “sit on the sidelines”? 3. Is…

Good Looks, Bad Advice

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In a recent blog post for Pragmatic Capitalism, Ben Carlson did an excellent job of putting the recent surge of money into passively managed funds in context. The shift to passive funds is still modest The shift from active to passive strategies is understandable, given the historical poor performance of actively managed funds in beating…

Dumb Investing Ideas

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No wonder the average investor significantly underperforms market returns that are theirs for the taking. After all, the financial media and the securities industry inundate investors with a daily barrage of new products and misleading information. Here are some recent examples: A dumb idea from Fidelity As reported in The New York Times, Fidelity has…

A Powerful Force Is Killing Your Retirement

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Investment “professionals” could be killing your chances of retiring with dignity, if at all. This extract, from one of America’s most respected financial journalists, William Bernstein, should be read and reread by every investor: “There are two kinds of investors, be they large or small: those who don’t know where the market is headed, and…

Investing Facts You Probably Don’t Know

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Intelligent and responsible investing can be simple and uncomplicated. It involves buying a globally diversified portfolio of low management fee index funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or passively managed funds in an appropriate asset allocation. After the initial purchase, there is very little to do except rebalancing perhaps once or twice a year and tax-loss harvesting…

Investing Headlines: The Good, Bad and Ugly

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You can learn a lot if you read the financial headlines with the right perspective. It’s unfortunate that most provide misinformation designed to encourage trading, increase anxiety and otherwise foster bad investing behavior. There are some notable exceptions, but finding them can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack. Good headline Burt Malkiel:…

Try This Revolutionary Approach to Investing

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As an investor, you are probably concerned about “uncertainty” in the market. Sometimes it may feel like you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It probably doesn’t help that the financial media appears so vocally divided between those who believe the bull market will run at least through 2015 and others who…

A Surefire Way to Make Money in 2015

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I have a surefire way for you to make money in 2015. It’s disarmingly simple, and I’m not even going to keep you waiting. Here’s what I want you to do: Get into the business of managing other people’s money. Specifically, become a broker and tell your clients you can “beat the markets.” This career…

Don’t Repeat the Same Investing Mistakes Next Year

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It was a great year for stock market returns. According to data from Morningstar, as of Dec. 24 stocks representing the U.S. market returned 13.95 percent. Morningstar’s intermediate core bond index returned 5.16 percent over the same period. Even with disappointing returns in European and emerging markets, if you held a diversified portfolio, you likely…

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