Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Percentage of Investment Advisers are Women?

After reading that only 16 percent of brokers are women, one wonders whether the ranks of registered investment advisers are more gender neutral.

The answer seems to be yes, but the data are elusive. This 2014 article indicates 30 percent of RIAs are women, and you would guess the percentage is higher today. 

But counting RIAs proves difficult. Do you include hybrids who work for fees but also collect commissions? What about hedge fund managers? 

Even the fuzzy figures indicate that the hundreds of thousands of brokers (aka financial advisers) vastly outnumber RIAs. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Google Finance

Now in beta, Google's financial site offers easy access to investment news and basic market data. Special Google twist: Google domestic trends, a feature that charts the rise and fall in the number of searches in various categories, including financial planning.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Scammed by a Scot

How venture capitalist William Icon, who probably doesn't exist, fleeced international investors.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Irene in Blue

Irene Heitzman (1938-2017) in client-entertainment mode, at a trust conference in San Diego.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Irene Heitzman, R.I.P.

Irene Heitzman, the wife of Merrill Anderson's superstar salesman Sam Heitzman (also President and Chairman), died yesterday. Irene worked briefly in our Stratford office, but her major contribution to the firm was as hostess or co-hostess of our customer events at sales conferences.  She and Sam were well matched—outgoing, friendly, well read, insightful, never at a loss to carry a conversation.  A great sales team.

Here is Irene's obituary:

Irene Angi Heitzman resident of Charleston passed away peacefully on April 19, 2017 at St. Francis Hospital in West Ashley.
Irene is preceded in death by her parents William and Priscilla Angi, sister Betty Gabriel, brothers Tom and David Angi, and brother Desi Racz all of Dayton, OH. She is survived by her husband of 58 years Sam (Hud) Heitzman, her son Jordan Heitzman, daughter Darcy Guthrie and her husband Chris Guthrie and triplet grandchildren Ethan, Charlotte and Will Guthrie all of Charleston, SC.
Irene enjoyed her teaching career in Piqua, OH, but longed for the warmer weather in California and South Carolina; she lived in both of these states three times each through the course of her life.
Irene was an avid Duplicate Bridge Player and played regularly in Westlake Village, CA and Hilton Head Island, SC while her husband travelled for work. After Sam retired and they moved to Charleston they became full time duplicate bridge partners. Irene achieved Silver Life Master.
Irene always said she never met a cruise she did not like. She travelled the world on different cruises, but her all-time favorite cruise was taking the triplets along with Darcy and Chris on a cruise.
Irene also enjoyed reading and crossword puzzles. Irene was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She never knew a stranger and always had a kind word and a smile for everyone she met.
Services will be private at the request of her family. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation in her memory to the Charleston Bridge Center, 1740 Ashley Hall Rd., Charleston, SC 29407.
Arrangements in care of Charleston Cremation Center And Funeral.
To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Irene Angi Heitzman please visit our Sympathy Store.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Massacre of the Stock Pickers

Investors who use index funds to invest in the stock market usually do better than stock pickers. That's become conventional wisdom.
According to new 15-year data in SPIVA's 2016 scorecard of stock fund performance, "usually" should be changed to "almost always."


Fewer than one large-cap stock fund in ten matched or beat its benchmark over the last fifteen years. More than 92% underperformed. 

Some say indexing itself has dulled the price moves of large caps, making stock pickers' job harder. Perhaps the pickers did better with mid caps? No, they did worse. A whopping 95% of mid-cap funds underperformed. So did 93% of small-cap funds.

Note that some mid-cap and small-cap funds may have beaten the S&P 500 even though they fell short of their more challenging benchmarks.

If actively managed mutual funds can't  beat the market, can highly-compensated hedge fund managers do better? That's the theory Warren Buffett put to his now famous test.  He bet that, over ten years, Vanguard's low-expense S&P-500 index fund would outperform a portfolio of five funds of funds, invested in more than 100 hedge funds. After nine years the results are clear: Another massacre of the active investors.


Buffett observes that the defeat was virtually pre-ordained. Some 60% of the funds-of-funds' gains were paid to the hedge fund managers and fund-of-fund packagers.
As long as "nobody wants to be average," active stock picking will live on. Hope springs eternal, as The Wall Street Journal($) reports: Active Managers Stage a Comeback.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Happy Blogiversay!

This blog was started on this day in 2005.

Many thanks to JLM for his persistent erudition.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

An Annual Report Worth Reading

JPMorgan's CEO, Jamie Dimon, offers frank comments on the state of our nation in the company's annual report. American education, for instance, is "a national emergency."

The annual report is also worth skimming as a guide to banking trends. On the wealth management front, JPMorgan Chase plans to offer "inexpensive" automated advice and digital transactions to both retirement and personal investment accounts.

Ordinary investors really need investment help, according to this graphic from the report.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Cross Selling at Bank of America

Megabanks want customers to use more of their financial products and services. They emphasize cross selling (to a fault, in the case of Wells Fargo).

Why then would a big bank go out of its way to trash its reputation and stink up its brand?

Latest example, Bank of America and a couple who were unfortunate enough to have the bank buy their new mortgage, which they hoped to modify.

For torturing the couple, Bank of America has been fined $45 million by Judge Christopher Klein of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. His decision begins like this:
Franz Kafka in 1910

Franz Kafka lives. This automatic stay violation case reveals that he works at Bank of America. 
The mirage of promised mortgage modification lured the plaintiff debtors into a kafkaesque nightmare of stay-violation foreclosure and unlawful detainer, tardy foreclosure rescission kept secret for months, home looted while the debtors were dispossessed, emotional distress, lost income, apparent heart attack, suicide attempt, and post-traumatic stress disorder, for all of which Bank of America disclaims responsibility.
The Great Recession triggered the couple's woes. Most likely they'll recover their financial footing and return to prosperity, and one day a Bank of America broker from Merrill Lynch may ask for their wealth management business.

Will they welcome him with open arms?

Or will they pick up sticks and  beat him like a piƱata?