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The Secret to Higher Expected Returns

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Everyone wants higher returns. To many investors, success in investing means generating “alpha.” If you are an investor in mutual funds, that means trying to generate returns in excess of the benchmark index designated by the fund. There are still many investors who participate in the pursuit of alpha, but the numbers are diminishing. In…

Find the Needles in the Financial Pornography Haystack

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It’s unfortunate that most of what passes for financial news is misleading and harmful to investors. It consists of supremely confident “financial gurus” predicting the future. They are either warning us of an imminent crash or observing that a bull run is just beginning. We are inundated with conflicting recommendations about the value of commodities,…

“Learning” From Timothy Sykes

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Timothy Sykes is offering you an opportunity to make big bucks. According to his website, he turned $12,415 into more than $3.7 million by trading penny stocks. He represents the following “verified” returns: 2014 (year to date): 90 percent 2013: 66 percent 2012: 38 percent 2011: 54 percent 2010: 57 percent Mr. Sykes sells a trading system…

The Anomaly of Greed

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I was recently speaking with a colleague in the advisory business. The conversation turned to greed. We both share a fascination with the CNBC programAmerican Greed. The program chronicles investment scams, with touching portrayals of victims. The scams have a common thread: the promise of huge returns with little risk. Often the returns are “guaranteed”…

A Thriving Export to Canada: Broker Misconduct

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Most Americans have a high regard for our Canadian neighbors to the north. We respect their honesty, their integrity and, especially, their civility. The statistics on crime in the U.S. and Canada show that Canadians live in a more lawful, peaceful society. Violent crime in the U.S. is appallingly higher per 100,000 inhabitants than in Canada. Murder…

The Secret to Picking Actively Managed Mutual Funds

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If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I recommend against buying anyactively managed mutual fund. Instead, I advise investing in a globally diversified portfolio of low-management-fee index funds, passively managed funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), in an asset allocation suitable for you. Investors are looking at the data and getting the message. According…

A Surprising Spin on a Bad January

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There was much hand-wringing about the poor stock market returns in January. The financial media engaged in its usual frenzy of speculation about whether these results meant we were in for a “correction” or worse. Typical of the financial babble about the “significance” of January returns is this silly observation by Matt King, chief investment officer at…

The Delicate Craft of Misleading Investors

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Proponents of alternative investments (like hedge funds) have a very effective presentation. They claim these investments have low volatility (risk), offer excellent risk-adjusted returns, and don’t correlate well with stocks or bonds, thereby providing a “hedge” in troubled times. These proponents demonstrate the accuracy of these claims with compelling statistics, displayed in impressive marketing materials….

Tips for Dealing With the Market Decline

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The recent sharp decline in the stock market has investors concerned. Apparently, many “investment pros” thought the market would continue its upward trajectory through 2014. The National Association of Active Investment Managers conducts a weekly survey with advisers and found that they have an astounding 98.3 percent of their clients’ portfolios allocated to stocks. This was a sharp increase over the average of 72 percent allocated to stocks in 2013.

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