When Out of Order Works Just Fine

When meeting with clients, the first item on our agenda is to ask if there are any pressing issues, concerns, needs or major changes they have experienced since the last time we met. These questions often lead to discussions that relate to some other part of the agenda or take us on an entirely different tangent.  It is not uncommon for clients to apologize for getting us off topic or pulling us away from what we had planned to discuss. We always insist that no apologies are necessary, but that’s an incomplete response.  There’s more… [read more]
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Talking Money with your Honey

My husband and I talk about money all the time.  It usually goes something like this “Did you pay that bill?” or “How much are we going to spend on Mom’s Christmas present?” or “Look at this new pair of shoes that I bought.” Follow that last one up with a raised eyebrow from my husband – not because of the cost, but because he is amazed that I will find a place for the new shoes in an already overcrowded closet.  I’ll write about my trip to shoe rehab in a future blog post… [read more]
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Frustrations of a Fiduciary

What’s the best way to find a great restaurant? You ask friends for their recommendations, or you go to on-line resources like Yelp or Trip Advisor to read reviews of diners who post their opinions. Obtaining recommendations and unbiased feedback is even more important when you are trying to find an excellent attorney, CPA or financial advisor. The recommendation of a friend or other trusted advisor who knows and has used their services is a much more reliable resource than an advertisement. When we’re asked to recommend someone, we do our best to match the… [read more]
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Best for Whom?

Since the middle of last year, we have been refining The Asset Advisory Group’s (TAAG) mission and vision and creating a strategic plan for the future.  We want to ensure we continue to add value to the lives of our clients with the same level of service and care we’ve given them for the past 24 years.  This has made me even more aware of the treatment I receive as a client, as I mentioned in my last blog “Do You Want Fries With That?” 
Last weekend, I was reminded once again of how not [read more]
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Is My Money Safe? Part II

In my last blog I discussed the safety of investment custodians such as Fidelity and Schwab, after I received a concerned email from a client.  After watching Jon Corzine, the former CEO of MF Global, trying to explain how $1.2 billion was missing from their clients’ brokerage accounts, he was worried about his own.
The next important question to ask is whether you can trust your advisor.  Research indicates most investors believe their advisor is very trustworthy, even if the evidence shows otherwise.  It’s great to have an advisor you feel you can trust, [read more]
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Is My Money Safe?

That’s the question a client asked me last week, after he watched Jon Corzine, former CEO of MF Global, testify to a Congressional committee about the $1.2 billion missing from MF Global client brokerage accounts. He wanted to know if his investment account at Fidelity was at risk. The MF Global collapse is similar to that of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns that occurred during 2008, when brokerage companies traded to make profits for themselves and made poor decisions that led to their undoing. During the same time we watched Bernie Madoff’s long- term Ponzi… [read more]
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How the Mighty Have Fallen

This year has not been kind to mutual fund managers – at least the ones who try to predict the future. First, Bill Gross of Pimco warned everyone that they should cash out of Treasuries or “get cooked like frogs in an increasingly hot pot of water.” Gross manages the largest bond mutual fund and sold completely out of Treasuries earlier in 2011, only to have the performance of his Pimco Total Return Fund fall to the bottom 20% of bond funds for the past year. As Treasury yields continued to fall, prices went up… [read more]
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Accountability

Have you ever noticed how much better people behave when they know they’re held accountable? My husband and I belong to a dinner group that holds events at independent restaurants, and for each dinner, we are asked to bring a bottle of wine to share. At first some folks were bringing wine that no one wanted to drink, so we began labeling the wines with the name of the person who brought it. Immediately, the quality of the bottles brought to share improved significantly! During the last several years of economic and stock market gyrations,… [read more]
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A Morality Litmus Test For Your Broker

(from Dan Solin’s Huffington Post blog, 7/12/2011 – click here for the original post) It’s bad enough that Ponzi schemers continue to thrive. The limits these schemers will go to get your money know no bounds. According to a recent report, three former members of the PTA used their connection with a grade school in Los Angeles to bilk investors out of $14 million. The women allegedly represented they had the exclusive right to sell products from a local dairy to various Disney enterprises and others. They promised returns of up to 100 percent. 40… [read more]
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Peeking Behind the Curtain

Peggy Noonan wrote an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal recently framing the coming November elections as a battle between, as she puts it, the enraged and the exhausted. Part of her argument is that much of the growing distaste for our elected officials on both sides of the aisle stems from the almost constant access to information about the goings on in the government. As Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is quoted, “The more they (the public) know, the less they like Washington.” I won’t begin to suggest that I can sort out our… [read more]
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