The General Advisory Channel

The Demise of the Fiduciary Rule is a Bonanza for Advisors

The announcement that the Secretary of Labor must conduct a new economic and legal analysis of the fiduciary rule is a setback to those of us who care about investors. Hidden in this adverse development is a potential bonanza for advisors. Here’s why.

The Bromance that Turned Economics Upside Down

Who would guess that the modern sciences of behavioral economics and the psychology of decision-making owe their origin to a love affair (no, not sexual) between two men born early in the last century and so different that one could barely imagine them speaking to each other? Yet that is the story chronicled by the extraordinary nonfiction writer Michael Lewis in The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed our Minds, which, despite some quirks, is a compelling and worthwhile read.

On My Radar: Looking for a Good Bargain

Last week I shared a chart with you that’s done a good job at signaling inflation. We tend to react slowly to news and, over time, we wake up. Then we herd in and out. In the “waking up” category, we better keep rising inflation on our radar.

UN Sustainability Goals: A Road Map for Impact Investing

Equity investors are increasingly thinking about how their decisions affect society. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a good road map for identifying investments that can make an impact—and generate profits as well.

Moving Averages: January Month-End Update

Valid until the market close on February 28, 2017

The S&P 500 closed January with a monthly gain of 1.79% after a gain of 1.82% in December. All three S&P 500 MAs are signaling "invested" and three of the five Ivy Portfolio ETF MAs — Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI), Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU), and PowerShares DB (DBC) — are signaling "invested". In the table, monthly closes that are within 2% of a signal are highlighted in yellow.

Impact Investing and Donor-Advised Funds: Guidance for the Savvy Donor

Impact investing continues to grow in popularity. Donor-advised funds are a useful tool for impact investing, provided that donors and their advisors are aware of certain points before making these investments.

How a Border Tax Could Backfire on the U.S. Economy

In the past couple of days, I’ve led a pretty optimistic quarterly call for investors, given a couple of pretty optimistic TV interviews, and written some fairly optimistic pieces here on the blog. Although I stand by all of my statements, it occurs to me that, for someone known as Eeyore, I’ve displayed an unusual amount of optimism lately. Time for a reality check.

Four Certainties About Populist Economics

While few anticipated the British vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump's election as US president, neither outcome should have been all that surprising: disaffected voters were rejecting economic models that had produced high levels of inequality. The question now is what will replace those models.

Market Outlook

Greetings this New Year from our new office facilities in Westborough, MA. We hope you will find time to stop in if you are in the area!

As Seen on TV: Financial Products You Should Avoid – Ty J. Young

An ideal retirement product should provide steady, secure income and upside participation in the stock market. That’s why advertisements that promise performance that will be “up with the market and never down, forwards with your money and never backwards” are so tempting. That’s exactly what Ty J. Young claims in his advertisements. I’ll explain why investors should be extremely wary of the products his firm sells.

Caveat Investor? The “Fiduciary Rule” and Unintended Consequences

Who could argue with an advisor having to act in the best interest of his or her client? Well, I’m indeed going to argue that it’s at least less obvious than it first appears. Even if the rule turns out to be a net positive, I’m going to argue that there are potential large unintended consequences to worry about. This is not a screed against such a rule.

New Tools to Prove You Acted as a Fiduciary

This article, the first of two parts, is a review of some of the more prominent new tools that advisors can lean on as they prepare for the full DOL rule implementation on April 10. Each of them addresses a different aspect of the rule, and they all approach it from different angles.

What I Learned from Value Investor Guy Spier

Guy Spier published a book, The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment. It is not a traditional investing book. In fact, I’ll say that differently: This is the most untraditional book on investing you’re likely to encounter.

Forecasting with Friends

I gave you my own thoughts last week (see “Skeptically Optimistic”). Today we’ll review several other forecasts from people who deserve your attention. Of necessity, I must leave out some good ones, but I think the ones I cover will give you plenty of useful information.

Under Control: How a Disciplined Approach Can Keep Investors Focused

Investing for the long term is not a new concept, yet an increasingly large body of research suggests that investors are prone to short-term thinking. Although behavioral finance has identified the importance of taking emotion out of investing, for many this is easier said than done. While behavioral modifications can help, we believe that a risk-controlled investment approach can help limit rash decisions, while keeping investors focused on the long term.