Issue 1

1.

To open, a great article by Ben Carlson about why every investor needs a personal financial plan. Because there is no one-size-fits-all investment strategy, financial planners are going to have to get better at understanding where their clients want to go (even if clients aren’t able to articulate their goals clearly) before helping them to create a financial map. Those who can do this effectively won’t need to worry about “robots”.

2.

If you have the time, listen to the Bob Veres interview mentioned in the above article, hosted by Michael Kitces. They discuss Bob’s long history in the industry and end with where Bob sees the industry going.

3.

Angie Herbers outlines a few of the fears which she has seen holding advisors back. All financial planners would be better off realising that most of their colleagues face the same fears, and that the first step in overcoming them is by admitting them. Michael Kitces also interviewed her recently, if you’re interested.

4.

Meetings. Spreadsheets. Meetings. Phone calls. Meetings. The 40-hour work week was only invented 101 years ago when the Adamson Act introduced the change to keep the railroad workers from striking during WW1. It was another 20 years before the New Deal standardized the eight-hour, five-day workday for all industries. Morgan Housel argues that it is crazy that this convention has gone mostly unchallenged, and that most of us have thought jobs without much time to think.

“There’s never going to be an Adamson Act for knowledge workers who need time to think. It’s up to you to figure it out. The first step is realizing that taking time in the middle of your day to do stuff that doesn’t look like work is the most important part of your work day.” As most financial planners are spending their days rushing between client meetings, calls, and emails a way needs to be found of making time and space to think.

5.

How would you like to die? Rob Macdonald has written a thorough piece examining our responsibility to ensure that clients accept that death is inevitable. Besides the legal and financial tools available to us, through the relationships we have with clients we can also discuss how a client would like to die. Many people face trauma, cost, and extended periods in hospital during their last days. He argues that if a client can accept that death is inevitable, it opens the possibility for a conversation about how they would like theirs to play out. How patients would like to live their last months, weeks, days and hours have often not been the first priority for medical staff, who inevitably seek to help clients avoid or evade death, almost at all costs. Atul Gawande deals with this dilemna in his book, Being Mortal. Go read the article, and then Gawande’s book.

6.

Lastly, Michael Batnick looks at the rise and fall of Amazon’s share price over the course of its 20 year listing. The lazy view is that the company’s unprecedented returns should have been easy to predict ahead of time. As Batnick points out, to earn the returns being mentioned by the headlines investors would have needed to hold the shares during periods of extreme drawdowns. The graphs are a good reminder that to earn above average returns you might need to endure a few few sleepless nights.