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Lessons from the Financial Crisis

Ten years ago, we were in the middle of the Financial Crisis. Between October 2007 and March 2009, the S & P 500 lost 50% of its value. Home values plummeted. Banks and mortgage companies went from boom to bust seemingly overnight, and our entire financial system seemed to hang in the balance. I’ve often […]

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Step off the Curb

By Beth Baer   Those of you who have known me for awhile know this is an expression I use frequently. Often it’s in the context of encouraging (some say pushing) someone to leave the safety of their known universe and courageously move into new possibilities in their lives. Is there usually risk? Maybe, but the […]

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The Three Things You Can Control in Retirement Planning

  I wrote this article for Nerdwallet.com  “Advisor Voices”  When markets are “volatile” — a euphemism for saying markets are lousy — investors long for a way to gain control and restore equilibrium. We want to create order amid chaos and uncertainty. No one can predict the markets, but financial planners can help clients look elsewhere for […]

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Everything is Horrible and it Always Has Been

When I was much younger and new to the world of investment advising, I was very conscious of my age and lack of experience. Clients, all of whom were older than me – in some cases by 50 years – would come into my office at a small town bank, and they would recite the […]

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What Does Penelope the Cow Say About Stock Prices?

On 8/20/2015, National Public Radio’s Planet Money segment reported on a simple experiment they conducted that is designed to illustrate how the stock market works: They posted a picture of a cow on the internet, and asked viewers to guess the cow’s weight. What were the results? Journalist David Kestenbaum reports, “We got over 17,000 guesses, and […]

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Evaluate Your Portfolio While Markets Are Good

On 8/14/2015, in his “Intelligent Investor” column for the Wall Street Journal, Jason Zweig wrote about the need to “Reassess Your Investments Before the Next Panic.” There is wisdom in his approach: most investors only take action when it is too late. They sell their investments after the damage has been done, and then are […]

Real World Risk Tolerance

When investment advisors talk to you about how to structure your portfolio, they usually spend a lot of time talking about your “risk tolerance.” While most investors understand what this means on a literal level, translating the concept – how much money are you willing to see your portfolio drop at any given time – […]

Life Expectancy: A Practical Approach

Recently a friend of mine in the insurance industry told me he could calculate exactly how much insurance my clients should have. All he needed was for me to provide their exact date of death. He was, of course, being tongue in cheek, but his joke highlights the fundamental problem we face when clients ask […]

Math vs. Reality

One of the first topics covered in the curriculum to become a Certified Financial Planner professional is how to do time value of money calculations on a trusty financial calculator. These calculations are the compound interest formulas that everyone first saw in middle school algebra, and are the heart and soul of the analytical side […]

Who is a Long-Term Investor?

Financial planners and investment advisors are famous for telling clients that they need to focus on the long-term, tuning out the day to day chatter and market volatility. Stick with the plan, we urge. But clients might reply, and justifiably so, “Well, that’s fine and good but I’m not a long-term investor… I’m retired” or […]