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Last-Gen” Financial Planning Concepts

[By Steve Schroeder]

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP]

DEM 2013

Welcome to this op-ed piece where we take pot shots at commonly accepted financial planning industry standards to sharpen your investing skills and stimulate your mind. With the recent sub-prime mortgage fiasco, and Wall Street’s problems and shenanigans with banks and investment houses like Bear-Stearns, Lehman Brothers, USB, Wachovia, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, WaMu, Merrill Lynch, SunTrust and AIG, etc, rethinking strategy and “conventional wisdom” seems a prudent idea. What about Wells Fargo, more recently.
 And so, what is the physician-investor to do? Select help from fiduciary–liable and physician focused consultants; suggest some pundits http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org
 ***
We suggest you now take a minute to think “outside the box”?
In this post, and as a physician-investor, we want to take a crack at all of your favorite themes, including:
  • Buying low and selling high
  • Staying in for the long haul
  • Asset allocation
  • Automatic portfolio rebalancing
  • Fees vs. commissions
  • Institutional money managers
  • Market timing
  • Personal capital gains inside of mutual funds.
  • Reinvest those dividends.

Buying Low and Selling High

What a silly concept this is! First of all, what is “low” and what is “high”?  If a stock is at an all-time high—like Apple was recently, for example—does that mean you should not buy it? Of course not! It probably means you should; there are good reasons when the stock is at an all-time high. So, the real statement should be changed to: “buy high and sell higher.” All you need do is sell it higher than the price you bought it. Don’t worry about all the weird definitions of low, high, and medium; that’s all conjecture. Next time you meet with your financial advisor, tell him to buy high and sell higher!

Staying in the Market for the Long Haul

What does this mean—to ignore problems like the perennial ostrich? What if you see events in the world that could lead to serious decline? Does that mean you just stand pat and ignore everything? This sounds absurd to me! I think this mindset should be changed to staying in for the “U-Haul.”

In other words, as soon as it looks like a good time to move, I pack my stock blanket and go elsewhere. Now, does this mean to leave stocks; altogether? Maybe; or maybe not! There are all kinds of investment options, ETFs, etc, other than mutual funds. With all the new technology and research available, we should be looking at strategies, sectors, styles, methods, shorts, puts, options—all kinds of different things; rather than a mindset to sit and ignore news as it happens. Yes, we are in for the long haul, but we are going to change our long-haul strategy many, many times throughout the trip. This sounds obvious, but many doctors and financial planners sit with the exact same strategy for 30 years when the game has obviously changed. Staying in for the long haul does not have to mean staying with the same strategy.

Asset Allocation

This is like betting on every horse in a race to win. Are you guaranteed to have a winner? Yes, you have to have one because you are holding a winning ticket on the entire field. The key is targeting risk and reducing asset allocation. Go with the sectors that are hot, and get rid of the ones that are weak. We are telling you, a blind dog can find good sectors with all the information we have at our fingertips. Tell yourself to forget every horse to win, do good research, bet on the best ones, and target their risk. If you have too many “horses,” you avoid too much loss, but you also limit your gain by huge margins.

Automatic Portfolio Rebalancing

Wow, do we hate this one! Portfolio rebalancing is the Robin Hood of investments: it takes from the profitable to feed the losers. Doctor-investors may have some good sectors making large gains until an automatic rebalance program their profits to buy more losers! What’s up with that?

Counsel yourself not to be in certain sectors that have much greater risk with much less chance of return. Do you know how many investors were invested in Japan two decades ago or the financial sector today; and don’t even know it? And when you find out that your money was automatically pulled from large cap US funds to be the financial sector; you will not be happy.

Fees vs. Commissions

Do you realize how much more a fee-based Financial Advisor [FA] takes from the doctor-client than a commission-based planner?

Look at 1% of $100,000; this comes to $1,000 per year. If a client is in “for the long haul,” we can see why: you want his money for the long haul. Twenty years of this philosophy comes out to nearly $50,000 in fees!

If a FA was going to stick you in some investment and leave him alone, would it not have been better to take $5,000 from the company, not from the doctor’s account? This way you keep the $50,000.

Now, don’t try to argue that this puts FAs on the “same side of the fence as the client”, and allows FAs to take better care of them. It may foster excessive risk taking. Remember, the “advisor” gets less money for bonds or cash, so s/he will not encourage these asset classes under this payment system. And, don’t think for a moment that this service is customized for you. It is not! Why do you think it’s called a “turn-key” asset management program in the business? Automation! Or, can you say; mass-customization thru technology, for “masses-of-asses?”

Q: To financial advisors.

A: Why not give all your clients a choice? Why not explain two ways you could get paid and let them decide?

Institutional Money Managers

Here is a great idea—as long as doctors are institutions; and they are not! I work with people, not institutions. Institutional money managers, for the most part, have a pre-tax mindset because they are used to dealing with large amounts from 401(k)s, 403(b)s, annuities or pension plans. This means they manage in a preservation-of-capital mentality, rather than a growth mentality. Now, I’d guess that most doctors are not institutions and need a much better investment philosophy than holding thousands of stocks with numerous money managers. By selecting an institutional money manager, you have assured them of mediocrity.

Market Timing

Can you time the market? Of course you can. It opens at a certain time and it closes at a certain time. “Seriously”; what is market timing?

We often hear this term bantered about when somebody wants to change his or her investment strategy. Changing investment strategies is not timing the market. In 2008, maybe you ought to make it a goal to initiate a new strategy, rather than waiting for the declining manufacturing industry to kill you financially? Should you have done this a few years ago when the mortgage industry began to implode? How about September 2017.

Mutual Funds

Let’s wrap this up with one of our favorites. I hate mutual funds and so should you. Everyone gets to share in the gains and losses together. How sweet. How democratic; or is it socialistic? Can you imagine telling your patients to buy all kinds of drugs at a price that was paid three years ago even though he or she has never used them a day! Who would take that advice? Why leave yourself vulnerable to the whims of someone he or she does not even know? How about having control over what stocks are bought and sold? Can you imagine an investment option that does all of these things? The mutual fund was good when we did not have computers or discount brokerage houses. Today, you would be much better off buying a few bellwether stocks, or whatever, and just holding them forever.

As simple as this sounds, at least the client is buying something and paying tax on the price he or she paid, not what someone else paid three years ago. Times have changed. Understand how mutual funds work and select 15 or 20 of their diversified stocks and hold them. That is much better than any mutual fund.

Reinvest those dividends

Many folks believe that the markets advance two steps, for every step it retreats; sort of a truism. If you are of the same ilk, then reinvesting dividends automatically only assures that you will buy high, 66.67% of the time. It will also be tax inefficient and not allow you to have some dry powder [cash] available cash for extra-ordinary opportunities [i.e., buying low].

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Assessment

Well, we hope you have enjoyed this op-ed piece. As always, we’re happy to debate the issues we address here.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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