The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


You’ve spent months preparing for this moment. You’ve missed backyard BBQs, given up vacation days and blown off the family to devote time and effort to research, analyze and make predictions. And now, you’re fairly confident that all your hard work will pay off to make this “your year.”

You guessed it — It’s time for Fantasy Football.

At this time of year, Thursday through Monday means only one thing to many Americans: football season is back in full swing. Fans will be glued to their computer screens for the next four months as they track plays and performances while … Read the rest

Capital Vices: The Seven Deadly Sins of Retirement Mismanagement


Perhaps not now, but at some point, you’re going to have to survive on the dollars that are stashed away in your retirement account. That 401(k) is fun to watch when you’re in your early working years because it doesn’t seem like it’s real money. It’s just a paper statement that arrives every month with a whole bunch of numbers on it that usually gets thrown into a drawer.

But as the years fly by, reality sets in and it suddenly dawns on folks that one day they’re actually going to need that money. That’s when people start paying a … Read the rest

A Day at the Races:
Stepping Up to the Betting Windows of Investing


With the 140th “Run for the Roses” fast approaching, my thoughts have turned to the Kentucky Derby and horse racing in general. During “Derby Week” the city of Louisville comes alive with the sights and sounds of rabid horse racing fans. If your only familiarity with horse racing is a weekday afternoon at your friendly neighborhood racetrack (many of which sit empty even on the weekend) then it’s probably difficult for you to picture exactly what the Kentucky Derby is like.

The place is filled to capacity. “Millionaires Row” is crowded with A-list celebrities. The grandstands teem with cigar smoke, … Read the rest

Understanding the Risk-Reward Sides of Investing


It’s April and spring is in bloom. For many of us spring means the much-awaited arrival of crocuses, green grass and, of course, the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National in Georgia. This very exclusive event represents the Holy Grail for the golf world. And where every major golf course around the world has its promoted signature hole, Augusta National boasts a signature corner consisting of not one, but three very tough — but stunning — signature holes.

“Amen Corner” was the term coined by Herbert Warren Wind in his 1958 Sports Illustrated article chronicling that year’s tournament. It’s the … Read the rest

The Times They Are A-Changin’ the Case for a “Structural Bull Market”


As we roll into 2014, our theme for the U.S. Equity market is we are in a “Structural Bull Market.” This is a change from the past 12½ years. Since early 2001, I believed we were in a “Structural Fair Market.” In a Structural Fair Market there could be several periods where the stock market can run up 20% and several periods where the stock market can drop 20%. And when the dust settles — you’re usually right back where you started. And that’s essentially what happened. Now we believe we have entered a Structural Bull Market. The last Structural … Read the rest

How Much is an Investment Manager Going to Cost Me?


I know I need a new driveway. My present driveway sports a host of large cracks that make driving on it akin to traversing the surface of the moon. But I’ve been putting off getting a new driveway because I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to pay to have one poured, and I really don’t have the time to make phone calls to driveway companies to compare prices. And since those companies don’t generally list prices in their ads, I’ll remain in the dark and put up with the daily bump-filled ride to my garage.

Most people I … Read the rest

Investment Advice From a Wise Man


As the bartender delivered our appetizer dish, my friend Steve glanced up from his recently opened retirement statement and quipped, “Roger, where did you learn all of this stuff about investment strategies? I’ve known you since your college football days, and I know you’re not smart enough to make this stuff up on your own.”

Steve was right. (Even about the intelligence part.) In the 30 years that I’ve been in this crazy, erratic business, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn a trick or two about investing. But his question took me back to my early apprentice days working as … Read the rest

Mutual of “Oh My Gosh!” —
The Wild Kingdom of Selling Mutual Funds


When it comes to stock brokers pushing mutual funds and investment advisors pushing those same mutual funds, the feeling is definitely not mutual.

OK, that’s a serious overuse of the word “mutual,” but I feel it’s in your best interest as a responsible investor to know the difference between the two worlds of selling mutual funds. And you may be surprised at what you discover.

A few weeks ago I had a very interesting conversation with a colleague, and he shared this story with me.

Watson sits on the endowment committee for his local church in Cleveland, and they work … Read the rest

Is Your Financial Advice Coming From a Butcher or a Dietitian?


The difference between a stockbroker and a financial advisor can be equated to a nice meal today vs. a long-term healthy diet.

Picture in your mind that you’re making a special guest appearance on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. The first question out of Jay’s mouth asks you to explain the difference between you and everyone else in your industry.

Could you do it? What would you say? Could you fire an answer back to Jay without grasping for the right words or “winging it” as most folks would be prone to do?

I’ve gone through this exercise a … Read the rest

Two Beers, One Napkin and a 401(k)


What would you do if you found out your investment was earning less than one percent a year? Would you review your investment and make some changes or would you take a “wait-and-see” position?

The reality is that lots of good folks are sitting idly while their retirement plans wallow. The tragedy is that a good portion of these folks aren’t even aware of just how badly their plans are performing, or even worse, that they have the ability to alter their plans with some basic information.

Here’s a discussion I had recently with a close friend that proves my … Read the rest

The Benefits of Position Sizing


The financial markets have been challenging recently, to say the least. Strategies that worked in the first part of the year had little impact weeks later. Still other segments of the market have experienced tough sledding for a year or longer.

In summary, it’s been hard to gain traction with any of your investments.

But as investors, we must play the hand we’re dealt. And right now that hand is one that offers short-term (and oftentimes fleeting) gains. Put another way, there are small pockets or sectors where strategies are working, but the time horizon requires a slight adjustment. One … Read the rest

Out With the Old, In With the New: Themes For 2013


A question I’m most often asked at the beginning of each year is, “Where do you see the Dow Jones Industrial Average heading this year?” The New Year always brings wild predictions from “experts” who have allegedly figured out what this market is going to do.

Some people have developed theories that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will close the year above 15,000, while others are positive that the market is doomed to fail, so it would be better to pack up and pull out. And the financial pundits and news media appear to be trying to tell the market … Read the rest

Is Your Portfolio Worthy of Olympic Gold?


With the Olympic Games just behind us, interest and memories are fresh of London, where world-class athletes went head-to-head in a lifetime quest to win gold medals. Now a couple of months later, back home investors continue to chase life-long dreams in hopes of someday striking gold with their investments. So in honor of the 2012 London Games, here are five “rings” of advice (one for each Olympic Ring) to help you build a portfolio worthy of Olympic Gold.

Blue Ring: Analyze the Market

The first question you must ask and answer before you invest in the stock market is … Read the rest

Ways to Sabotage Your Portfolio


image of bombPsst! Want to lose a lot of money?

While there are no foolproof ways to accurately predict the market, there are several foolish ways in which investors can successfully subvert their portfolios and reap big losses. Here are several examples of how unknowing investors can unwittingly sabotage an investment portfolio.

Neglect the Driving Force Behind Any Business: Supply and Demand

Business success (or lack thereof) boils down to two simple words — Supply and Demand. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about the oil market, iPods, golf courses, lemonade stands, or the stock market. Simply put, … Read the rest

Pearls of Market Wisdom from Savvy Investors


There is an old saying that children don’t come with instructions. Instead, we rely on the wisdom and knowledge we’ve gleaned over the years to teach our children what they need to create a happy and fulfilling life. So where does that wisdom come from? It comes from years of personal experiences and the experiences of our friends and loved ones.

Just as we’ve learned our lessons on how to raise children, we can learn some important lessons from savvy investors on how to succeed in the market. So without further ado, I bring you my “Ten Pearls of Market … Read the rest

How Are Your Investments Seeded?


The spring daffodils poking their heads up is a clear sign that the college basketball season has wrapped up and the celebrated NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament — often nicknamed “March Madness”— has seen its last highlight. In anticipation of that month-long event people all over the country scrambled to fill out their brackets and cheered on their favorite teams.

For the uninitiated, the tournament begins with 68 teams and operates in a knockout format, concluding with just one team left standing after three emotion-filled weeks and 67 exciting games.

It’s also the foundation for recreational office pools and

Read the rest

The Silver Bullet of Investment Success


You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you receive your investment statement in the mailbox. You worry that it might contain disturbing news. You anxiously let the package rest on the counter wishing it would just vanish. Finally you rip the envelope open and there it is in black and white. “Statement-shock!”

Instead of that monthly statement shock, wouldn’t it be great to discover a “silver bullet” — that one piece of information that can help you improve the performance of your investment and retirement portfolios?

I’m happy to share with you that … Read the rest