The Investment Scientist

The Investment Fiduciary’s Top Ten Reading List – August

Posted on: September 8, 2013

Image1. “The gross revenues for the financial services industry in 2010 were $1.129 trillion. That year, total US financial assets stood at $50.38 trillion, meaning that the financial services industry as a whole is skimming 2.25% a year out of everyone’s wealth.” This is an excerpt from a post on Wealthcare Capital entitled “Investment Expenses – The Other Millionaire You Make.” How about I help you cut those expenses by half?

2. Shocking! Shocking! Your elected representatives want the financial industry to continue ripping you off!

3. Ike Devji wrote a piece “Investment Fraud Red Flag for Physicians.” It is packed full of useful tips. I have one thing to add though, never work with a broker, regardless how clean his or her broker check record. These people are not legally obliged to watch out for your best interest.

4. A very succinct piece in Physicians’ Monday Digest about How Rising Interest Rates Would Affect You.

5. Taxpayers beware, AccountingToday has a piece on tax deductions expiring in 2014.

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6. Allan Roth wrote “The Good News Bears.” The moral of his piece: investors always get it wrong. As such, investor sentiment is a contrarian indicator.

7. Jim Cramer just invented another system to help you lose money even quicker. Here is a statistical look at his skill level. If your goal is to lose money, you can count on him!

8. Mandatory saving accounts like those in Australia and Chile may not be a bad idea given the dismal state of Americans’ retirement saving.

9. This is what Warren Buffet wrote in 1975 to preserve the Washington Post’s pension:

“If above-average performance is to be their yardstick, the vast majority of investment managers must fail … Of course. For some intermediate period of years a few are bound to look better than average due to chance — just as would be the case if 1,000 ‘coin managers’ engaged in a coin-flipping contest. There would be some ‘winners’ over a five or 10-flip measurement cycle. (After five flips, you would expect to have 31 with uniformly ‘successful’ records — who, with their oracular abilities confirmed in the crucible of the marketplace, would author pedantic essays on subjects such as pensions.)”

You can learn two things from his writings: 1) He was wise beyond his tender age of 34; 2) He humbly attributed his success to luck.

10. Bad 401k plans, mostly sponsored by small companies, are extremely costly. According to my own research, those plans are usually offered by insurance companies since they have boots on the ground to push them. Beware though, what you save in taxes, you will pay in hidden costs and then some.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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