Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lacing Them Up Again

Willis Reed: Phil Jackson is

When I first started writing a blog several years ago, fellow bloggers warned me about burnout. As someone who has the attention span of a hummingbird, I am guilty of being susceptible to burnout. I felt repetitive in my message, and so blogging was moved to the back burner.

Well, I’m back and giving it the old college try once again. The fans have asked for more, so I am lacing up the Chuck Taylors and making my way back to the court à la Willis Reed.

My financial message has been clear from the get-go: keep it simple, ignore what Wall Street and the financial talking heads are saying, keep your costs down, diversify, save as much as you can, and live your life. That message ain’t changing!

I recently went to see the new George Clooney movie Money Monster and thought it was pretty good. Is Clooney ever not good? The movie was a little bit dated, post financial crisis, but still relevant. It's about an angry investor who shows up on the set of a financial news show and takes it over. I am still amazed when I go into a bar or restaurant and they have CNBC on in the back ground. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say, “Did you hear what stock Cramer was talking about last night?” In that respect the world of investing has changed.

When I think back to my days at Smith Barney and Bear Stearns, it was a different era. Thousand-dollar suits, suspenders, Gucci loafers, and slicked-back hair. The message of an advisor wasn’t important. What was important was: can you sell, and what stock are you pitching today? At the Smith Barney training program we didn’t discuss retirement planning, social security, and tax strategies. It was, “Pitch me a stock, and convince me to buy Lucent in 60 seconds.” What a disservice to all of us.

There are still many dishonest salespeople out there who disguise themselves as advisors, but for the most part this industry has changed for the better. It is a rare occurrence when a client calls up to buy an individual stock. Technology has made investing better and easier. We can build diversified portfolios using ETF’s and index funds and rebalance with one click on the computer.

My concern after seeing Money Monster was that the general public would be concerned that the stock market was still rigged or fixed. It is, but for those who don’t trade often or pay no attention to the Cramers of the world, it doesn’t matter. The market gives you what the market gives, and as long as you still have faith in capitalism and free markets, you can safely assume that companies will be doing all they can to grow their earnings and move the price of their stock upward.

Hard to believe that Memorial Day is upon us. If you live here in the Northeast, it still feels like winter. Like the stock market, the weather can be unpredictable, but I sure hope it starts to warm up quickly!