Although I prepared by studying evenings and weekends for two years to meet the coursework and exam requirements of the Certified Financial Planner process, leaving my friends both at the University of Kentucky and in Frankfort wasn’t easy. After doing the same thing professionally for over 20 years, though, I was ready for a new challenge that would engage my brain in a new and different way. So, after 25 years’ experience as a client of Moneywatch Advisors, I joined the firm. After my first year in the financial planning profession, here is what I have learned – about our clients, about the financial services industry and, most important, about myself:
If you looked at Twitter or Facebook after UK lost two games in a row last week – on the road to South Carolina and, even worse, at home to Florida – you would think the season was over. Distraught exclamations like, “I’m off the bandwagon”, “Cal’s one and done system doesn’t work” and “We’ll never make the tournament now” dominated the comments. There is a psychological term for this called Momentum Bias. Simply put, we tend to believe when things are going poorly they will continue to go poorly. Similarly, when we’re on a roll, we expect that to continue too. This same behavioral bias affects people’s views of the stock market. These emotions are quite normal and explains part of the value a good financial planner provides – we help remove the emotion from saving and investing by helping clients focus on their long-term goals.
2017 was an amazing year for the stock market with the S&P 500 gaining over 19%. Even more amazing was the lack of volatility in the market – the swings in prices that make your stomach lurch like the Mystic Timbers roller coaster at King’s Island. For the first time EVER, the S&P 500 did not decline more than 3% in one day for an entire year!
I have a distinct memory of my 7th Grade Social Studies teacher, Reva Hoyt, telling our class that there would never be, nor should there ever be, a female president. Now, this was the mid-1970’s so, clearly, times were different back then. But, I remember being taken aback by her statement even then. She reasoned, in part, that women didn’t have the emotional temperament to lead the country. While I disagree with her reasoning, Ms. Hoyt’s prediction has certainly held true for the last 40 years.
I recently read about a 28-year old New Jersey man who typed the wrong address into his rental car’s GPS in Iceland and drove six hours in the wrong direction – SIX! – from the airport to a fishing village in the north of the country….when he was just trying to get to his hotel. Now, his first mistake is quite understandable. I’ve been to Iceland and they are apparently too cheap to buy a vowel because every word is virtually unpronounceable. But, despite the long drive and “poor road conditions” he plowed on because that’s, ahem, what the GPS told him. And he never questioned that Reykjavik’s airport would be 6 hours from, well, Reykjavik. That’s like assuming Lexington’s airport is in Detroit.
Don’t read this blog post now – save it for the week between Christmas and New Year’s and read it then. Let’s face it, you’re running around like your hair is on fire trying to finish work projects, attend parties and finish your gift buying. But that week after Christmas is usually pretty slow. If you’re working, there aren’t a lot of phone calls. If you aren’t working, outside of a movie or maybe ice skating, there’s plenty of free time. Take one hour during that week and 1) Read this blog post; and 2) Review the following items:
I have a distinct memory of sitting on a tractor on my grandfather’s Nebraska farm as an adolescent and telling my father and brother that I was going to be a millionaire someday. My Dad laughed out loud and asked how I was going to manage that? I shrugged and said, “I just will.” I never had a get-rich-quick scheme or a vision to create the next Pay Pal, I just kind of had a gut feeling that I would go to college, get a good job, and save. In fact, I already had a good track record of saving, reaching my parents’ stated threshold of $1,000 before they would allow me to invest in the stock market. Fortunately, my wife is also a good saver and – with advice as clients of Moneywatch Advisors for 25 years – that has resulted in an accumulation of wealth greater than we imagined possible.
Have you ever dreamed about going back in time? What would you do if you could? Other than telling Rick to guard Grant Hill to prevent the pass to Christian Laettner during the 1992 NCAA tournament, I would buy Apple stock. Why Apple? Because in the history of the markets since 1926, Apple has generated more profit for investors than any other American company – $1 Trillion. Hendrik Bessembinder, a name built for Pig Latin if I ever saw it, is a professor of Finance at Arizona State who has studied stock return data and concluded that most stocks aren’t good investments at all – many don’t even beat the paltry returns of one-month Treasury bills. What?
Back in late September the Lexington Financial Planner blog wrote about how President Trump’s tax proposal would affect you. Now, the House Ways and Means Committee has revealed their tax bill so let’s take another look. No talking points, no politics, just math. Uh, fun math. No, seriously.