The End of the Beginning

Without struggle, there can be no progress. 2016 was a year of both. We are devoted to the cause of providing retirement plans for teachers and other public servants that they deserve. We are also not naive to the challenges of accomplishing our worthwhile goals. Hundreds of billions of dollars languish in expensive annuities that teachers…

C’mon Man!

Some people will say just about anything to justify an obscene compensation structure. The Case for the Traditional K-12 403(b) Model  takes the absurdity cake! This reminds me of the popular ESPN show C’mon Man! During this weekly broadcast before Monday Night Football, the hosts lampoon weekly NFL bloopers.  The point of the show can be summarized…

Radio Free 403(b)

  The information flow directed to teachers about their retirement plans is either non-existent or worse, highly conflicted. The war of ideas is being won by messengers preaching the virtues of high-fee and commission-based products that reward the salesperson much more than the retirement investor. This situation brings back memories of the worst days of…

Contestants in the 2017 Financial Conflict of Interest Olympics

Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch are looking like the financial equivalent of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Both their employees and, more importantly, their clients will experience a post-holiday hangover from their new 2017 policies. “Sell to us, rather than help us” seems to be the motivating force driving these new edicts from upper management….

How to Teach Evidence Based Investing

The most important job for an investment advisor is to act as a psychologist; the second most, is a teacher. The experience of teaching public school for over 20 years has greatly enhanced my ability to explain complex investment theories to my clients. I learned the value of routine, procedure and consistency when teaching middle school…

High-Cost Annuities Poison the Well of Teachers’ Retirement Plans

High-cost annuities have ABSOLUTELY no place in the 403(b) plans of public school teachers. Every day we are looking at the vendor choices for school districts and have come to this conclusion: They are appalling and are an affront to basic human decency. Roger Wohlner wrote something today called “Annuities: The Wonder Drug for Your Retirement?” If…

Reflections of Pearl Harbor Day

There were no “safe zones” in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In the age of “micro-aggressions” and “everybody’s special snowflake gets a trophy”, the events that happened on that fateful day stand out in sharp contrast our current diet of “fake news,” reality-show dominated media. That day 2,403 Americans were killed along with 1,178…

How To Domesticate the Untamed Investor

“We tend to seek easy single factor explanations of success. For most important things though, success actually requires avoiding many separate possible causes of failure.”  – Leo Tolstoy In order to be happy you must succeed in many different ways. This is commonly known as the Anna Karenina principle from Tolstoy’s famous novel. Though Tolstoy…

7 Deadly Sins Of Financial Salespeople

“There are many new sinners today but there are not any new sins, just the old ones clothed in different rags” – Billy Graham   Bad incentives cause bad behavior. The financial services industry is a prime breeding ground for this type of unethical behavior. Excessive compensation will cause the average person to do, and…

Trust, but Verify, your Investment Advisor

“The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.” – Stephen King In the end, trust in your investment advisor is all that matters. Nothing will work if this essential bond is not established. Without trust, your client relationships are no stronger than sand castles during high tide. Clients have given me checks for…