Paladin began providing services to investors in 2003 when its book, “Who’s Watching Your Money?” was published for the first time. This book set the standard for vetting financial advisors to determine if they are using deceptive sales tactics to gain control of investor assets. Any financial advisor who uses deceptive sales practices cannot be trusted to provide competent, ethical financial advice. In fact, investors should avoid these advisors because they represent hidden risks that could be catastrophic. Continue reading
As long as there is no mandatory disclosure for financial advisors, Wall Street is free to determine what is communicated to you and how it is communicated (verbal versus documented). And, it would be naïve on your part to assume Wall Street will volunteer any information that damages its revenue and profitability.
A great New Year’s resolution for Wall Street would be to come clean with you and the millions of other investors who depend on its competence and ethics. For the first time, financial advisors and their firms would voluntarily provide the facts you need to make informed decisions. But, don’t hold you breath. Wall Street, like the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, cannot afford to adopt business practices that include full disclosure. Continue reading
Prior to 1975 stockbrokers were called Customers’ Men. Their role was to help clients achieve their financial goals. They did this by performing duties that in modern times are provided by money managers. For example, they helped clients develop strategies and build portfolios. They recommended investments based on company research. And, they bought and sold securities for their clients.
This hundred year-old relationship changed when trading commissions were deregulated. The new regulation created discount brokers and severe price competition between established firms. Stockbrokers could no longer make the money they were used to so they had to change their role. They became salesmen whose primary role was to sell investment and insurance products (mutual funds, annuities) to their clients. They were and still are compensated with commissions that are based on the amount of products they sell. Continue reading
Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman had the partial fortitude to admit his firm belongs in the doghouse. Unfortunately, he also used two forms of standard Wall Street spin to dilute the impact of his comment when Bloomberg News quoted him saying, “Wall Street’s reputation will remain “in the doghouse” as long as trading scandals continue to plague the industry.” He went on to blame UBS for the latest scandal when he said, “The good works of the industry are ignored when some trader does some stupid thing like this guy at UBS did and goes to jail”.
Gorman is right about the doghouse. According to a Gallup poll last Summer, Americans’ confidence in U.S. banks fell to a record low of 21 percent; about half of what it was in 2007 before the Wall Street initiated crash in 2008. This was supported by Edelman Public Relations survey in January of this year that showed Financial Services & Banking were the least-trusted industries in America. Continue reading
Would you believe there are seven layers of investment fees that can be deducted from your investment accounts? It would be rare to pay all seven, but four or five are fairly common. The more you know about investment fees the less likely excessive expenses will impact you.
Every dollar of investment fees is one less dollar you have for reinvestment and your future use. Long-term goals, like secure retirements, can be severely impacted by excessive expenses. Continue reading
By now you probably have a pretty good understanding of the Fiscal Cliff and how it may impact you. In essence, it is a combination of expiring tax cuts and proposed budget cuts that if implemented as is, could tip the U.S. economy back into recession. The Fiscal Cliff also has a lot of implications for investors who are impacted by increased taxes on dividends, interest, capital gains, and estates. Virtually every personal tax reduction since 2001 will be rolled back to previous, higher rates.
Can you afford to wait for politicians to legislate some type of compromise or should you be taking a more proactive approach? Continue reading
There is a large number of investors who believe anything their advisors tell them because they have personal relationships. They like their advisors and they inherently trust people they like. And, investors do not question the advice of people they trust. This is a license to steal for unscrupulous advisors who take advantage of investors who trust them to maximize their own incomes.
It is unfortunate, but a lot of investors have trouble believing people they like will take advantage of them to make more money. Ask yourself this question. Do you really believe your current advisor would voluntarily provide information that would get him fired – for example, bad performance, high expenses, excessive risk, or conflicts of interest? The answer is absolutely not! His income would stop and you might file a complaint with one of the regulatory agencies. If the abuse was bad enough, it could cost the advisor his job. It is much safer and rewarding for the advisor to withhold this information from you. Continue reading
If your answer is yes, you may be in serious financial trouble and not know it. Read on if your answer is no. You are about to learn some nasty tricks of the trade that have been engineered by Wall Street.
A high percentage of investors believe financial advisors have to tell the truth because they work in a regulated industry. It’s true, they are supposed to tell the truth, but there is no way the regulatory agencies (FINRA, SEC, State Securities and Insurance Commissioners) can protect you from unscrupulous advisors. Continue reading
How about this for a start? Financial advisors may be money managers, but money managers may not be financial advisors. Or, does this make it even more confusing. The solution is to develop clear definitions of the professionals’ various roles so you select the right advisor based on the services that they provide.
Money managers have two distinguishing characteristics that describe what they do:
- They invest your assets in the securities markets. Therefore, Separate Account Managers, mutual funds, and hedge funds are different types of money managers
- They provide the same service to multiple clients. Their services have very little variation by client. So when you invest in a mutual fund, you get the same service and results as other people in the fund Continue reading
Most investors are confused by the roles of financial planners and financial advisors. In fact, over 75% of investors say they do not know how they differ. They believe these are two roles that provide the same services. Not exactly!
One source of the confusion is anyone can call themselves financial planners whether it is true or not. There is no regulation that prevents this deceptive sales practice. Not too long ago, 70% of planners were actually insurance agents who called themselves financial planners for two reasons. First, the role of the planner was more acceptable to people than the role of agent so there was less sales resistance. Second, they used the financial plan to sell large amounts of insurance products (annuities, life insurance, long term care). Again resistance was lower because the clients’ financial plans recommended the products not the agent/planner. Continue reading