If anyone needs a batch of presents from the jolly fat man in red, it is the commonly abused individual investor. A wish list that would defend them from the charlatans, miscreants, and scoundrels that try to separate them from their money would fit nicely under the Norway Spruce. I have compiled such a list that should be e-mailed in mass to the North Pole. If that doesn’t work, forwarding this to an investor’s inbox would substitute nicely. Here it goes…
I have been a very good boy/girl this year. Unfortunately, I know little about managing my finances and am often taken advantage by some well-dressed salespeople who speak a language I don’t understand. I feel very insecure about my ignorance, so I often agree with what they suggest I do. I sign things I don’t understand and notice that my money never seems to grow much. These people are often driving fancy cars and taking expensive vacations. I need some help to make next season bright. Can you please get me the following items?
1. A force field. I need to keep the following people away from me: Gold Bugs, political zealots of all walks, and sell-out celebrities (e.g., Fred Thompson, William Devane, and Tommy Lee Jones); their money advice never seems to work out too well for me.
2. A Rosetta Stone program. I need this to help me understand financial/insurance and legal speak. This would translate all the stuff in Variable Annuity contracts, Universal Life Insurance, and mutual fund prospectuses that I throw out. I don’t think all of this complicated language is there to protect me.
3. A finance show parental blocker for my T.V. This would block CNBC, Fox Business News, and market-related programs from MSNBC. These shows just seem to make me very nervous, upset or angry. I often follow the advice of an hysterical host and have lost lots of money this way. I don’t want to watch these people anymore but I need something to help me resist the temptation.
4. Some Basic math skills. I am not afraid to admit that I am innumerate. I especially have problems with denominators. When I hear I big number like 180 points were lost on the Dow, I often panic. I ignore the bottom number of 18,000 and have trouble grasping percentages. This has led me to make some pretty bad decisions. I would greatly appreciate it if you could get your elves to design an app that deals with my problem.
5. Separate accounts for my political ideology and personal finances. I often comingle these with disastrous results. When I listen to angry people yell about political stuff on the radio, I often become very scared. Just last year, I heard a guy on Fox News saying the economy was about to collapse and the only thing that would save a person was to buy gold. I went out and bought a lot of it. I think I paid $1,600 an ounce. I have lost A LOT of money. Please send me some sort of Chinese Wall to separate these two things, but not like the ones the Investment Bankers are supposed to use. I heard those really don’t work.
6. A stopwatch for looking at my portfolio. Some days I look at my investment dozens of times. When the market drops I look even more! I have found this raises my blood pressure and does not seem to stop the market from going down. I would like some sort of stop watch that would limit my viewing to no more than an hour per year. I want it to shut off once I have exceeded my time. I have lots of other important things to do and I want to stop obsessing over things I have no control over.
7. Broker Alert. I know there are many people out there who sell investments and as a reward win vacation trips and get huge bonuses for reaching their monthly sales quotas. I know this because they seem to call me a lot more toward the end of the month and year. It seems like they are serving two masters and I know from reading the Bible this is not a good thing. I don’t want to talk to these people anymore but I need some kind of warning system. I like that thing some rich folks have in their pools: when someone pees a blue ring forms around them. Everyone knows he did it and he is shamed into changing his behavior. Can you have one of your little fellas design something that is kind of like a stink bomb. When one of these broker people start talking about A,B,C, shares, Non Public REITS, or Variable annuities (all the stuff I don’t understand), it will be set off. This will cause a horrible noxious sulfur smell to be released, resulting in the immediate termination of the conversation. Kind of like the blue ringed guy in the pool, this would shame the culprit and I would know to stay away.
8. Forecast Verifier. Lots of people go on TV and make all kinds of predictions about the markets. There are so many, I have a hard time keeping track of who said what! I have a strong suspicion most of these people are wrong a lot because when I do what they say, I often end up being very upset. Can you design some sort of ticker that will run on the bottom of the screen when they are speaking? This will show the results of all their predictions and give me a percentage number that displays how many times they were accurate. I understand winning percentages when I follow my favorite sports teams. I can tell a winner from a loser with this number.
9. Gift Certificate for one hour of common sense advice. I have been told that there are lots of really good people out there who really are trying to help people with their money. A friend told me about some websites like Abnormal Returns, The Big Picture and a Wealth of Common Sense. He also mentioned someone named Morgan Housel who seems to know a lot about this kind of stuff. I also heard about a guy named Josh Brown who did some bad stuff in the past and now really wants to help people instead. I would really like to meet this guy. I know they are very busy but if you get a hold of one of these guys to speak with me, it may just change my financial future.
10.Perspective. Family, friends, and good health are what really matters. Please send me some sort of text to remind me of this when I get upset about crazy things that go on in the markets. When I hear these guys on TV talk about things like 5-day moving averages and the price of Go Pro stock, I realize they mean nothing. I don’t want to use irreplaceable time on stuff like this anymore. Keep reminding me when I go off the deep end about silly stuff said by silly people.
Thanks a lot, Santa; I will have some cookies and milk waiting for you when you come. If you are kind enough to give me these things, I promise I will share them freely and make this a gift that keeps on giving. It might end up costing some people their jobs but maybe they should be doing something more productive anyway.