A Fund Isn’t an Index (and Why That Matters) In our last post, we covered how not all indexes are created equally, which means that results may vary, even when they are supposedly tracking the same market. In today’s post, let’s look at how and why a fund’s performance may deviate from its closest benchmark index. Indexes vs. Evidence-Based Funds: Similar But Different Take one more step away from the real-life market,...

In recent posts (part I and part II), we covered some of the ways people try to determine how their investments have been doing, and how mismatched measures can generate misguided views. Determining your portfolio’s Time-Weighted Rate of Return (TWR) is one way to reach a relatively accurate sense of how your portfolio is doing compared to its most appropriate benchmarks during particular periods of time. One good two-part series deserves...

Well, speaking of the devil. Or, in this case, the devilish ways that some financial representatives make investment recommendations that may or may not be in your best interest. It depends on whether they are in a fiduciary relationship with you … or not. No sooner had we wrapped our own post explaining why the term may be as important as it is unfamiliar, Dimensional Fund Advisors published its own handy...

So, have you heard about the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) new fiduciary rule, now governing the advice you receive for your retirement plan assets? If so, congratulations, you’re in an elite group. Maybe the news would have received wider coverage if the election year weren’t in full swing. Maybe not. As one of my colleagues observed, “Sad to say, ‘fiduciary’ is boring.” The word alone causes eyes to glaze and...

The credentials alone may say it all about Michael Kitces and his Nerd’s Eye View on financial planning. With two master’s degrees in financial services and taxation, a CFP® mark, and five other financial certifications to his name, that’s some serious nerd power. But what’s decidedly cool about Kitces is his passion for sharing his “journey of continuous education” with fellow advisors as well as with investors looking for a...

Part II: Your Portfolio and Its Parts In our last post, we discussed why it’s best to avoid comparing your own investment returns to “the market” or the latest popular portions of it. There’s one more misleading measurement that can trip up an investor: [message_box title="Your Portfolio" color="gray"] = Pursing the market’s expected returns (by investing in asset classes with higher expected returns but higher volatility) + Managing the risks involved (by investing in asset classes with more...

Part I: Coveting Your Neighbors’ Returns It’s ironic. One of the biggest questions we ask ourselves as investors is: “How am I doing?” While the question is a good one, if the answers are off-base, you risk changing course when you should be sitting tight, or sitting tight when you should be considering a change. This is not only frustrating, it can detract from … how you are doing. It’s a...

“2016 Reading Challenge” Update This year I set a challenge to read 38 books in 2016 by reading at least 25 pages a day (Fast Company’s Stephanie Vozza thinks I should Read 50 Books this Year. Maybe next year.) So far I’ve read 15 books.  Some Young Adult fiction. (Yes I’m a YA fan along with the likes of Gretchen Rubin, the author of “The Happiness Project”.) I re-read “The Remains of...

One of the reasons I read as much as I do is to be inspired by others. There’s nothing I love more than discovering an intriguing new way to frame an old idea, and then sharing what I’ve learned, hoping to inspire others as well. On the flip side, there’s nothing more demoralizing than falsehoods or opinions being spread as facts. They remind me of a shopping channel infomercial. Watch it...

Whether or not the weather is entirely on board with the program, the calendar never lies: Spring has sprung! As we prepare to shed a layer or more of winter-wear, let’s take a moment to peel back the layers of your busy life as well: Do your financial plans include making time for some playtime? The subject may seem lighthearted, but I’m very serious about this. It’s a question we pose...