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A ‘Flawed’ SEC Program [A Retrospective “April Fool’s Day” Analysis]

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SEC Failed to Rein in Investment Banks [April Fool’s Day – 2015]

By Ben Protess, ProPublica – October 1, 2008 5:01 pm EDT

Editor’s Note: This investigative report was first published ten years ago. And so, we ask you to consider – on this April Fool’s Day 2019 – how [if] things have changed since then?  

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The Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] last week abolished the special regulatory program that it applied to Wall Street’s largest investment banks. Known as the “consolidated supervised entities” program, it relaxed the minimum capital requirements for firms that submitted to the commission’s oversight, and thus, in the view of some experts, helped create the current global financial crisis.

But, the SEC’s decision to ax the program currently affects no one, since three of the five firms that voluntarily joined the program previously collapsed and the other two reorganized.

The Decision – 18 Months Ago

The decision came last Friday, one day after the commission’s inspector general released a report [1] (PDF) detailing the program’s failed oversight of Bear Stearns before the firm collapsed in March. The commission’s chairman, Christopher Cox, a longtime opponent of industry regulation, said in a statement [2] that the report “validates and echoes the concerns” he had about the program, which had been voluntary for the five Wall Street titans since 2004.

The report found that the SEC division that oversees trading and markets was “not fulfilling its obligations. “These reports are another indictment of failed leadership,” said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) who requested the inspector general’s investigation.

The SEC program, approved by the commission in 2004 under Cox’s predecessor, William Donaldson, allowed investment banks to increase their amount of leveraged debt. But, there was a tradeoff: Banks that participated allowed their broker-dealer operations and holding companies to be subject to SEC oversight. Previous to 2004, the SEC only had authority to oversee the banks’ broker dealers.

Longstanding SEC rules required the broker dealers to limit their debt-to-net-capital ratio and issue an early warning if they began to approach the limit. The limit was about 15-to-1, according to the inspector general report, meaning that for every $15 of debt, the banks were required to have $1 of equity.

But the 2004 “consolidated supervised entities” program revoked these limits. The new program also eliminated the requirement that firms keep a certain amount of capital as a cushion in case an asset defaults.

Bear Sterns

As a result, the oversight program created the conditions that helped cause the collapse of Bear Stearns. Bear had a gross debt ratio of about 33-to-1 prior to its demise, the inspector general found. The inspector general also found that Bear was fully compliant with the programs’ requirements when it collapsed, which raised “serious questions about whether the capital requirement amounts were adequate,” the report said.

The report quoted Lee Pickard, a former SEC official who helped write the original debt-limit requirements in 1975 and now argues the 2004 program is largely to blame for the current Wall Street crisis.

“The SEC gave up the very protections that caused these firms to go under,” Pickard said in an interview with ProPublica. “The SEC in 2004 thought it gained something in oversight, but in turn it gave up too much public protection. You don’t bargain in a way that causes you to give up serious protections.”

Pickard, now a senior partner at a Washington, D.C.-based law firm, estimated that prior to the 2004 program most firms never exceeded an 8-to-1 debt-to-net capital ratio.

The previous program “had an excellent track record in preserving the securities markets’ financial integrity and protecting customer assets,” Pickard wrote [3] in American Banker this August. The new program required “substantial SEC resources for complex oversight, which apparently are not always available.”

Asked if he believes the 2004 program was a direct cause of the current crisis, Pickard told ProPublica, “I’m afraid I do.”

The New York Times reported Saturday that the SEC created the program after “heavy lobbying” for the plan from the investment banks. The banks favored the SEC as their regulator, the Times reported, because that let them avoid regulation of their fast-growing European operations by the European Union, which has been threatening to impose its own rules since 2002.

SEC Spokesman

A SEC spokesman declined to comment for this article, referring inquires to Chairman Cox’s statement. In the statement, Cox admitted the program “was fundamentally flawed from the beginning.” But Cox, a former Republican congressman from California, offered mild support for the program as recently as July when he testified before the House Committee on Financial Services. The program, among other oversight efforts, Cox said, had “gone far to adapt the existing regulatory structure to today’s exigencies.” He added that legislative improvements were necessary as well, and has since told Congress that the program failed.

More Questions

So why did the commission not end the program sooner? Some say that the program’s flaws only recently became apparent. “As late as 2005, the program seemed to make a lot of sense,” said Charles Morris, a former banker who predicted the current financial crisis in his book written last year, The Trillion Dollar Meltdown [4]. The SEC “didn’t know it didn’t work until we had this stress.”

And leverage does not always spell trouble. In a strong economy, leverage can also be attractive because it can increase the profitability of banks through lending.

In his recent statement, Cox said the inspector general’s findings reflect a deeper problem: “the lack of specific legal authority for the SEC or any other agency to act as the regulator of these large investment bank holding companies.”

Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson has called for a refining of the regulatory structure to reflect the global and interconnected nature of today’s financial system. In any case, the program’s failure can be seen in the disappearance of the participating banks: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

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Assessment

Merrill Lynch’s leverage ratio was possibly as high as 40-to-1 this year and Lehman Brothers faced a ratio of about 30-to-1, according to Bloomberg [5].

The Fed and Treasury Department forced Bear Stearns into a merger with JPMorgan Chase in March. And the last two months, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and sold their core U.S. business to British bank Barclays PLC, and Merrill Lynch was acquired by Bank of America. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the two remaining large independent investment banks, changed their corporate structures to become bank holding companies, which are regulated by the Federal Reserve.

As these banks have folded or reorganized over the last several months, the Federal Reserve has largely assumed the SEC’s oversight responsibilities, though the commission will still have the power to regulate broker dealers.

Original Essay: http://www.propublica.org/article/flawed-sec-program-failed-to-rein-in-investment-banks-101

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The Computers are now Ruling Wall Street

The computers are now ruling Wall Street

By MIT Technology Review

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Over the past five years, human hedge fund managers have averaged 4.3 percent returns.

Funds that rely on algorithms to pick stocks, on the other hand—so-called quant-focused funds—have brought in 5.1 percent

Assessment: So, what gives?

More: The Massacre of Hedge Fund Business

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On Wall Street’s Suitability, Prudence and Fiduciary Accountability

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Financial Advisor’s are Not Doctors!

dr-david-marcinko1

Dr. David E. Marcinko FACFAS MBA CMP™ MBBS

THRIVE-BECOME A CMP™ Physician Focused Fiduciary

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Financial advisors don’t ascribe to the Hippocratic Oath.  People don’t go to work on “Wall Street” for the same reasons other people become firemen and teachers.  There are no essays where they attempt to come up with a new way to say, “I just want to help people.”

Financial Advisor’s are Not Doctors

Some financial advisors and insurance agents like to compare themselves to CPAs, attorneys and physicians who spend years in training and pass difficult tests to get advanced degrees and certifications. We call these steps: barriers-to-entry. Most agents, financial product representatives and advisors, if they took a test at all, take one that requires little training and even less experience. There are few BTEs in the financial services industry.

For example, most insurance agent licensing tests are thirty minutes in length. The Series #7 exam for stock brokers is about 2 hours; and the formerly exalted CFP® test is about only about six [and now recently abbreviated]. All are multiple-choice [guess] and computerized. An aptitude for psychometric savvy is often as important as real knowledge; and the most rigorous of these examinations can best be compared to a college freshman biology or chemistry test in difficulty.

Yet, financial product salesman, advisors and stock-brokers still use lines such as; “You wouldn’t let just anyone operate on you, would you?” or “I’m like your family physician for your finances.  I might send you to a specialist for a few things, but I’m the one coordinating it all.”  These lines are designed to make us feel good about trusting them with our hard-earned dollars and, more importantly, to think of personal finance and investing as something that “only a professional can do.”

Unfortunately, believing those lines can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of retirement. 

More: Video on Hedge Fund Manager Michael Burry MD

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Suitability Rule

A National Association of Securities Dealers [NASD] / Financial Industry Regulatory Authority [FINRA] guideline that require stock-brokers, financial product salesman and brokerages to have reasonable grounds for believing a recommendation fits the investment needs of a client. This is a low standard of care for commissioned transactions without relationships; and for those “financial advisors” not interested in engaging clients with advice on a continuous and ongoing basis. It is governed by rules in as much as a Series #7 licensee is a Registered Representative [RR] of a broker-dealer. S/he represents best-interests of the firm; not the client.

And, a year or so ago there we two pieces of legislation for independent broker-dealers-Rule 2111 on suitability guidelines and Rule 408(b)2 on ERISA. These required a change in processes and procedures, as well as mindset change.

Note: ERISA = The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) codified in part a federal law that established minimum standards for pension plans in private industry and provides for extensive rules on the federal income tax effects of transactions associated with employee benefit plans. ERISA was enacted to protect the interests of employee benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries by:

  • Requiring the disclosure of financial and other information concerning the plan to beneficiaries;
  • Establishing standards of conduct for plan fiduciaries ;
  • Providing for appropriate remedies and access to the federal courts.

ERISA is sometimes used to refer to the full body of laws regulating employee benefit plans, which are found mainly in the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA itself. Responsibility for the interpretation and enforcement of ERISA is divided among the Department Labor, Treasury, IRS and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.

Yet, there is still room for commissioned based FAs. For example, some smaller physician clients might have limited funds [say under $100,000-$250,000], but still need some counsel, insight or advice.

Or, they may need some investing start up service from time to time; rather than ongoing advice on an annual basis. Thus, for new doctors, a commission based financial advisor may make some sense. 

Prudent Man Rule

This is a federal and state regulation requiring trustees, financial advisors and portfolio managers to make decisions in the manner of a prudent man – that is – with intelligence and discretion. The prudent man rule requires care in the selection of investments but does not limit investment alternatives. This standard of care is a bit higher than mere suitability for one who wants to broaden and deepen client relationships. 

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Prudent Investor Rule

The Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA), adopted in 1992 by the American Law Institute’s Third Restatement of the Law of Trusts, reflects a modern portfolio theory [MPT] and total investment return approach to the exercise of fiduciary investment discretion. This approach allows fiduciary advisors to utilize modern portfolio theory to guide investment decisions and requires risk versus return analysis. Therefore, a fiduciary’s performance is measured on the performance of the entire portfolio, rather than individual investments 

Fiduciary Rule

The legal duty of a fiduciary is to act in the best interests of the client or beneficiary. A fiduciary is governed by regulations and is expected to judge wisely and objectively. This is true for Investment Advisors [IAs] and RIAs; but not necessarily stock-brokers, commission salesmen, agents or even most financial advisors. Doctors, lawyers, CPAs and the clergy are prototypical fiduciaries. 

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More formally, a financial advisor who is a fiduciary is legally bound and authorized to put the client’s interests above his or her own at all times. The Investment Advisors Act of 1940 and the laws of most states contain anti-fraud provisions that require financial advisors to act as fiduciaries in working with their clients. However, following the 2008 financial crisis, there has been substantial debate regarding the fiduciary standard and to which advisors it should apply. In July of 2010, The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mandated increased consumer protection measures (including enhanced disclosures) and authorized the SEC to extend the fiduciary duty to include brokers rather than only advisors, as prescribed in the 1940 Act. However, as of 2014, the SEC has yet to extend a meaningful fiduciary duty to all brokers and advisors, regardless of their designation.

The Fiduciary Oath: fiduciaryoath_individual

Assessment 

Ultimately, physician focused and holistic “financial lifestyle planning” is about helping some very smart people change their behavior for the better. But, one can’t help doctors choose which opportunities to take advantage of along the way unless there is a sound base of technical knowledge to apply the best skills, tools, and techniques to achieve goals in the first place.

Most of the harms inflicted on consumers by “financial advisors” or “financial planners” occur not due to malice or greed but ignorance; as a result, better consumer protections require not only a fiduciary standard for advice, but a higher standard for competency.

The CFP® practitioner fiduciary should be the minimum standard for financial planning for retail consumers, but there is room for post CFP® studies, certifications and designations; especially those that support real medical niches and deep healthcare specialization like the Certified Medical Planner™ course of study [Michael E. Kitces; MSFS, MTax, CLU, CFP®, personal communication].

Being a financial planner entails Life-Long-Learning [LLL]. One should not be allowed to hold themselves out as an advisor, consultant, or planner unless they are held to a fiduciary standard, period. Corollary – there’s nothing wrong with a suitability standard, but those in sales should be required to hold themselves out as a salesperson, not an advisor.

The real distinction is between advisors and salespeople. And, fiduciary standards can accommodate both fee and commission compensation mechanisms. However; there must be clear standards and a process to which advisors can be held accountable to affirm that a recommendation met the fiduciary obligation despite the compensation involved.

Ultimately, being a fiduciary is about process, not compensation.

More: Deception in the Financial Service Industry

Full Disclosure:

As a medical practitioner, Dr. Marcinko is a fiduciary at all times. He earned Series #7 (general securities), Series #63 (uniform securities state law), and Series #65 (investment advisory) licenses from the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD-FINRA), and the Securities Exchange Commission [SEC] with a life, health, disability, variable annuity, and property-casualty license from the State of Georgia.

Dr.Marcinko was a licensee of the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Board of Standards (Denver) for a decade; now reformed, and holds the Certified Medical Planner™ designation (CMP™). He is CEO of iMBA Inc and the Founding President of: http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

More: Enter the CMPs

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[PHYSICIAN FOCUSED FINANCIAL PLANNING AND RISK MANAGEMENT COMPANION TEXTBOOK SET]

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

[Dr. Cappiello PhD MBA] *** [Foreword Dr. Krieger MD MBA]

[Two Newest Books by Marcinko annd the iMBA, Inc Team]

Conclusion

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[PRIVATE MEDICAL PRACTICE BUSINESS MANAGEMENT TEXTBOOK – 3rd.  Edition]

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  [Foreword Dr. Hashem MD PhD] *** [Foreword Dr. Silva MD MBA]

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Walking Around the Financial District in New York

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FinFair 2015

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Great Depression versus Great Recession 2020? [A Poll]

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Yesterday versus Today?

The Great Depression is often compared to the 2001-08  Great Recession. There are some interesting facts when comparing the Great Depression to the Great Recession. It may even be considered scary when laid out directly in front of you.

The cause of the Great Depression was because people were borrowing too much money, unlike the Great Recession where the banks were lending too much money irresponsibly. Don’t forget that what was once a recession turned into the Great Depression because of unemployment rates reaching 25%, bank failures covering half of all banks, and more.

Both Roosevelt and Obama have used “wall street bankers” as a scapegoat.

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View more interesting facts about the Great Depression and Recession by viewing this infographic presented by Payday Loan.

Assessment

Do you think we are going into another Great Depression for 2020?

Conclusion

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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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Health 2.0 Financial Planning for Medical Executive-Post Members

A By-Product of Health 2.0?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko FACFAS MBA CMP*

[Founder and CEO]

www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

Dr David E Marcinko MBAA decade ago, Editor Gregory J. Kelley of Physician’s MONEY DIGEST and I reported that a 47 year old-doctor with $184,000 annual income would need about $5.5 million dollars for retirement at age 65. Then came the “flash-crash’ of 2007-08, the home mortgage fiasco and the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act [PP-ACA] of 2010; etc.

No wonder that medical provider career panic is palpable. Much like the new medical home concept, the idea of holistic life planning was born.

Life Planning

Life planning has many detractors and defenders. Formally, life planning has been defined in the following way. 

Financial Life Planning is an approach to financial planning that places the history, transitions, goals, and principles of the client at the center of the planning process.  For the client, their life becomes the axis around which financial planning develops and evolves.

But, for physicians, life planning’s quasi-professional and informal approach to the largely isolated disciplines of medically focused financial planning, was still largely inadequate.

Why? 

Today’s personal financial and practice environment is incredibly more complex than it was in 2007-08, as economic stress from HMOs, Wall Street, liability fears, criminal scrutiny from government agencies, IT mischief from hackers, economic benchmarking from hospitals and the lost confidence of patients all converged to inspire a robust new financial planning 2.0 approach for medical professionals.

Example of a financial planning mistake 

Recall the tale of Dr. Debasis Kanjilal, a pediatrician from New York who put more than $500,000 into the dot.com company, InfoSpace, upon the advice of Merrill Lynch’s star but non fiduciary analyst Henry Bloget.

Is it any wonder that when the company crashed, the analyst was sued, and Merrill settled out of court? Other analysts, such as Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter and Jack Grubman from Salomon Smith Barney, were involved in similar fiascos.

Although sad, this story is a matter of public record. Hopefully, doctors now understand that the big brokerage houses that underwrite and recommend stocks may have credibility problems, and that physicians got burned with the adrenalin rush of “self-directed” investment portfolios.

Example of a medical practice management mistake 

Just reflect a moment on colleagues willing to securitize their medical practices a few years ago, and cash out to Wall Street for perceived riches that were not rightly deserved

Where are firms such as MedPartners, Phycor, FPA and Coastal now? A recent survey of the Cain Brothers Physician Practice Management Corporation Index of publicly traded PPMCs revealed a market capital loss of more than 95%, since inception. 

Another Approach?

This disruptive narrative shift was formally noted by the Institute of Medical Business Advisors Inc [iMBA, Inc] and introduced to the medical and financial services industry. This research and corpus of work resulted in hundreds of publications in the Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Library of Congress, along with related publications, a dozen textbooks and white papers

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog?term=marcinko

The iMBA approach to financial planning, as championed by the www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org professional charter designation, integrates the traditional concepts of fiduciary focused financial planning, with the increasing complex business concepts of medical practice management.

The former ideas are presented in our textbook on financial planning for doctors: Financial Planning for Physicians and Advisors

The later in our companion book: Business of Medical Practice [Edition 3.0]

A textbook for hospital CXOs and physician-executives: Hospitals & Healthcare Organizations

While most issues of risk management, liability and insurance are found in Risk Management and Insurance Strategies for Physicians and Advisors

And, for the perplexed, all definitions are codified in the dictionary glossary Health Dictionary Series

Health 2.0 Paradigm Shift

And so, the ME-P community now realizes that a more integrated approach is needed.  The traditional vision of medical practice management, personal physician financial planning and how they may look in the future are rapidly changing as the retail mentality of medicine is replaced with a wholesale philosophy.

Or, how views on maximizing current practice income might be more profitably sacrificed for the potential of greater wealth upon eventual practice sale and disposition.

Or, how Yale University economist Robert J Shiller warns in “The New Financial Order” [Risk in the 21st Century] that the risk for choosing the wrong healthcare profession or specialty might render physicians obsolete by technological changes, managed care systems or fiscally unsound demographics. 

Physician-Executive

My Assessment

Yet, the opportunity to re-vise the future at any age through personal re-engineering, exists for all of us, and allows a joint exploration of the medicine, business and the meaning and purpose of life.

To allow this deeper and more realistic approach, the advisor and the doctor must build relationships based on fiduciary trust, greater self-knowledge and true medical business and financial enhancement acumen.

Are you up to the task?

Conclusion

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What are the Prospects for US Recession? [A Voting and Opinion Poll]

Is Wall Street Driving Main Street?

By Staff Reporters

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Concern is high that the US economy may be close to or entering recession, yet the fundamentals lend little support to such a projection. There has been no decline in jobs, while corporate health is very strong.

So, the recession concerns appear to be driven more by the decline in stock prices than by economic developments.

IOW: Is Wall Street pessimism driving Main Street gloom?

What do you think? Please vote and be sure to add your comments below.

Conclusion

And so, 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.

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On American Health Care and Financial Services Competitiveness

A MEMORIAL DAY OPINION – EDITORIAL

[Innovation – Not Nationalization – Can Again Lead]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Managing Editor]

Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive-Director]

American Flag

On this 2010 Memorial Day weekend, please allow us to directly reflect for a moment on the decline of the healthcare, banking and financial services industry in America. And; then somewhat indirectly comment on the hopeful emergence of the web 2.0 phenomena of which we all are a part. The competitive applicability to these sectors should be appreciated by the insightful ME-P reader.

Collapse of Command and Control Monopolies and Oligarchies   

Old monopolies everywhere are crumbling because of tougher new competitors and the transparency wrought by electronic connectedness. For example, our old newspaper has to compete with the internet, your electric utility company battles low-cost local start-ups, telephone companies must begin installing fiber optic lines to fend off cable companies; and RIAs and fiduciary focused financial advisors [FAs] will supplant BDs and stock brokers in the financial services sector.

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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The airline industry collapsed a few years ago, the banking industry has just collapsed, and the auto industry is recovering as we pen this post. [We have a particular affinity for the auto sector however, as the son of a UAW member and step-daughter of Michiganders]. Regardless, the rush to more intense competition cannot be stopped. As a doctor, FA or other business competitor; you either keep pace or get crushed by quasi-oligarchic organizations like the American Medical Association [AMA], American Podiatric Medical Association [FPMA], American Dental Association [ADA], American Osteopathic Medical Association AOMA], Financial Planning Association [FPA], Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards [CFP BoS], College for Financial Planning [CFP] or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors [NAPFA], etc. What have they, and Wall Street, done for you … lately? Scandal, taint, doubt, lost-credibility, a business-as-usual ennui, lethargy and ruin! Enter www.Sermo.com

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/calling-for-cfp%c2%ae-fiduciary-status-real-education-and-higher-duty/#comment-4136

Health Insurance Companies

In the last-generation of health insurance companies and related fraternal medical organizations, patients exercised great control over physician selection, had quicker access to specialists and encountered fewer restrictions on care. The reverse was true with financial services. But, because of advancing technology, aging demographics, intense R&D, global manufacturing, and escalating domestic HR costs – competitive market forces against traditional and structured staff model managed care companies – many industry analysts [like us] predicted growth would decline [Yes, greed was also involved as healthcare was presumed a recession-proof sector; and didn’t we all own behemoth big-pharma and HMO stocks in our 401-K, and 403-B plans]? But now, many former stock-brokers and FAs are going rogue; er – independent!

“Although inefficiencies in any business often open up in the short term, and can be greatly exploited by creative and visionary entrepreneurs – as in most business structures – market forces will prevail in the long run”.

Leo F. Mullin, MBA

[Former CEO – Delta Airlines]Shadows

Next-Gen with “Fly”

Fortunately, a new generation of enlightened physician and FA entrepreneurs is coming “out-of-the-shadows” as new-wave web 2.0 corporations and RIAs are becoming more flexible, competitive and market responsive. Simultaneously, monolithic and collectivist political ideas keep trying to regulate the medical and financial services workplace with rules, regulations and contracts to control entire populations. Yet, in the new healthcare economy, this new generation of doctors and FAs with “fly,” is headed toward more competition; not less – with more collaboration with patients and clients – regaining self autonomy.

Physician and FA Advocates

Meanwhile, as medical professionals, FAs and patient advocates, we must all choose between staying flexible to ride out tough times – or – adopting a hard, brittle line that will crack under the pressure of competition. We know where we stand at the ME-P, do you?

Flexibility and Virtual Reality

In recent years, many large corporations and top-down business models were not market responsive and change was not inherent in their DNA. These traditional organizations represented a rigid or “used-to-be” mentality, not a flexible or “wanna-be” mindset; according to business columnist Alan Webber. Some financial advisory corporations, and today’s emerging health 2.0 initiatives, may possess the market nimbleness that cannot be recreated in a controlled or collectivist [nationalistic] environment. And so, going forward, it is not difficult to imagine the following new rules for the new financial and virtual medical ecosystem.

[A] Rule No. 1

Forget about “SEC suitability and FINRA rules”, large office suites, surgery centers, fancy equipment, larger hospitals and the bricks and mortar that comprised traditional medical practices or financial product delivery systems. One doctor or niche focused FA with a great idea, good bedside manners or competitive advantage, can outfox a slew of public servants, the AMA, SEC, ADA or FINRA “faux copy-cat examiners”, while still serving the public – and patients – and making money. It’s now a unit-of-one economy where “Me Inc.”, is the standard. Physicians and FAs must maneuver for advantages that boost their standing and credibility among patients, peers, payers, customers and clients. Examples include patient satisfaction surveys; outcomes research analysis, evidence-based-medicine, physician economics credentialing and true integrated fiduciary-focused financial planning.

However, we should also realize the power of networking, vertical integration and the establishment of virtual RIAs or medical practices, which come together to treat a patient, or help a client, and then disband when a successful outcome is achieved. Job security is earned with more successful outcomes; not necessarily a degree, automatic AUMs, certifications or onsite presence. In fact, some competition experts, like Shirley Svorny PhD, a professor of economics and chair of the Department of Economics at California State University, wonder if a medical degree is a barrier – rather than enabler – of affordable healthcare.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/medical-licensing-obstacle-to-affordable-quality-care

Others even presume the establishment of virtual medical schools and hospitals, where students and doctors learn and practice their art on cyber-entities that look and feel like real patients, but are generated electronically through the wonders of virtual reality units. The same can be said for the financial services industry, although much farther down-line given its current slow rate of real education and quasi-professional acceptance.

[B] Rule No. 2

Challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the traditional box, recapture your dreams and ambitions, disregard conventional gurus and work harder than you have ever worked before. Remember the old saying, “if everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking”. Do collective-nistas and nationalized healthcare advocates react rationally; or irrationally? [THINK: Wall Street, medical unions]

[C] Rule No 3

Differentiate yourself among your healthcare and financial advisory peers. Do or learn something new and unknown by your competitors. Market your accomplishments and let the world know. Be a non-conformist. Conformity is an operational standard and a straitjacket on creativity. Doctors and FAs should create and innovate, not blindly follow organization or political “union” leaders [shop stewards, BDs, etc] into oblivion.

[D] Rule No 4

Realize that the present situation is not necessarily the future. Attempt to see the future and discern your place in it. Master the art of the quick change with fast but informed decision making. Do what you love, disregard what you don’t, and let the fates have their way with you. Then, decide for yourself if you are of this ilk – and adhere to any of the above rules? Or, just become an employed [government, BD] doctor or FA shill. Just remember that the political party, or monopoly that can give you a job, can also take it away [THINK: LB, ML, Wachovia, national healthcare, etc].

CP 1

Memorial Day Considerations

Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, consider that life and career is a journey, and that in this country we have the choice to ponder or pursue any, and all of the above options, and more. We have the ability to think, cogitate and ruminate, as we have done here today. So – please – thank those who have helped turn this idealistic philosophy, into pragmatic daily reality.

For us personally, we thank Bonze Star Medal Winner Captain Cecelia T. Perez, RN. Now – ponder and consider – who do you thank? If no one has impacted you up-close on this Memorial Day weekend and national holiday, please visit our military channel to reflect, comment and opine.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/category/military-medicine

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Video on Hedge Fund Manager Michael Burry MD

In The Subprime of His Life – My Story

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA, CMP™

[Editor-in-Chief]

I am a long time fan of financial industry journalist Michael Lewis [Liars’ Poker, Moneyball and others] who just released a new book. The Big Short is a chronicle of four players in the subprime mortgage market who had the foresight [and testosterone] to short the diciest mortgage deals: Steve Eisner of FrontPoint, Greg Lippmann at Deutsche Bank, the three partners at Cornwall Capital, and most indelibly, Wall Street outsider Michael Burry MD of Scion Capital.

They all walked away from the disaster with pockets full of money and reputations as geniuses.

About Mike

Now, I do not know the first three folks, but I do know a little something about my colleague Michael Burry MD; he is indeed a very smart guy. Mike is a nice guy too, who also has a natural writing style that I envy [just request and read his quarterly reports for a stylized sample]. He gave me encouragement and insight early in my career transformation – from doctor to “other”.

And, he confirmed my disdain for the traditional financial services [retail sales] industry, Wall Street and their registered representatives and ‘training’ system, and sad broker-dealer ethos [suitability versus fiduciary accountability] despite being a hedge fund manager himself.

I mentioned him in my book: “Insurance and Risk Management Strategies” [For Physicians and their Advisors].

http://www.amazon.com/Insurance-Management-Strategies-Physicians-Advisors/dp/0763733423/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269254153&sr=1-2

He ultimately helped me eschew financial services organizations, “certifications”, “designations” and ”colleges”, and their related SEO rules, SEC regulations and policy wonks; and above all to go with my gut … and go it alone!

And so, I rejected my certified financial planner [marketing] designation status as useless for me, and launched the www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org on-line educational program for physician focused financial advisors and management consultants interested in the healthcare space … who wish to be fiduciaries.

And I thank Mike for the collegial good will. By the way, Mike is not a CPA, nor does he posses an MBA or related advanced degree or designation. He is not a middle-man FA. He is a physician. Unlike far too many other industry “financial advisors” he is not a lemming.

IOW: We are not salesman. We are out-of-the-box thinkers, innovators and contrarians by nature. www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

From a Book Review

According to book reviewer Michael Osinski, writing in the March 22-29 issue of Businessweek.com, Lewis is at his best working with characters and Burry is rendered most vividly.

A loner from a young age, in part because he has a glass eye that made it difficult to look people in the face, Burry excelled at topics that required intense and isolated concentration. Originally, investing was just a hobby while he pursued a career in medicine. As a resident neurosurgeon at Stanford Hospital in the late 1990s, Burry often stayed up half the night typing his ideas onto a message board. Unbeknownst to him, professional money managers began to read and profit from his freely dispensed insight, and a hedge fund eventually offered him $1 million for a quarter of his investment firm, which consisted of a few thousand dollars from his parents and siblings. Another fund later sent him $10 million”.

“Burry’s obsession with finding undervalued companies eventually led him to realize that his own home in San Jose, Calif., was grossly overpriced, along with houses all over the country. He wrote to a friend: “A large portion of the current [housing] demand at current prices would disappear if only people became convinced that prices weren’t rising. The collateral damage is likely to be orders of magnitude worse than anyone now considers.” This was in 2003.

“Through exhaustive research, Burry understood that subprime mortgages would be the fuse and that the bonds based on these mortgages would start to blow up within as little as two years, when the original “teaser” rates expired. But Burry did something that separated him from all the other housing bears—he found an efficient way to short the market by persuading Goldman Sachs (GS) to sell him a CDS against subprime deals he saw as doomed. A unique feature of these swaps was that he did not have to own the asset to insure it, and over time, the trade in these contracts overwhelmed the actual market in the underlying bonds”.

“By June 2005, Goldman was writing Burry CDS contracts in $100 million lots, “insane” amounts, according to Burry. In November, Lippmann contacted Burry and tried to buy back billions of dollars of swaps that his bank had sold. Lippmann had noticed a growing wave of subprime defaults showing up in monthly remittance reports and wanted to protect Deutsche Bank from potentially massive losses. All it would take to cause major pain, Lippmann and his analysts deduced, was a halt in price appreciation for homes. An actual fall in prices would bring a catastrophe. By that time, Burry was sure he held winning tickets; he politely declined Lippmann’s offer”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Link: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_12/b4171094664065.htm

My Story … Being a Bit like Mike

I first contacted Mike, by phone and email, more than a decade ago. His hedge fund, Scion Capital, had no employees at the time and he outsourced most of the front and back office activities to concentrate on position selection and management. Early investors were relatives and a few physicians and professors from his medical residency days. Asset gathering was a slosh, indeed. And, in a phone conversation, I remember him confirming my impressions that doctors were not particularly astute investors. For him, they generally had sparse funds to invest as SEC “accredited investors” and were better suited for emerging tax advantaged mutual funds. ETFs were not significantly on the radar screen, back then, and index funds were considered unglamorous. No, his target hedge-fund audience was Silicon Valley.

And, much like his value-hero Warren Buffett [also a Ben Graham and David Dodd devotee], his start while from the doctor space, did not derive its success because of them.

Moreover, like me, he lionized the terms “value investing”, “margin of safety” and “intrinsic value”.

Co-incidentally, as a champion of the visually impaired, I was referred to him by author, attorney and blogger Jay Adkisson www.jayadkisson.com Jay is an avid private pilot having earned his private pilot’s license after losing an eye to cancer.

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Mike again re-entered my cognitive space while doing research for the first edition of our successful print book: “Financial Planning Handbook for Physicians and Advisors” and while searching for physicians who left medicine for alternate careers!

In fact, he wrote the chapter on hedge funds in our print journal and thru the third book edition before becoming too successful for such mundane stuff. We are now in our fourth edition, with a fifth in progress once the Obama administration stuff [healthcare and financial services industry “reform” and new tax laws] has been resolved

http://www.amazon.com/Financial-Planning-Handbook-Physicians-Advisors/dp/0763745790/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269211056&sr=1-1

Assessment

News: Dr. Burry appeared on 60 Minutes Sunday March 14th, 2010. His activities with Scion Capital are portrayed in Michael Lewis’s newest book, The Big Short.  An excerpt is available in the April 2010 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, and at VanityFair.com 

Video of Dr. Burry: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6298040n&tag=contentBody;housing

Video of Dr. Burry: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6298038n&tag=contentBody;housing

PS: Michael Osinski retired from Wall Street and now runs Widow’s Hole Oyster Co. in Greenport, NY http://www.widowsholeoysters.com

And, our www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com related books can be reviewed here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=david+marcinko

Assessment

Visit Scion Capital LLC and tell us what you think http://www.scioncapital.com.

And to Mike himself, I say “Mazel Tov” and congratulations? I am sure you will be a good and faithful steward. The greatest legacy one can have is in how they treated the “little people.” You are a champ. Call me – let’s do lunch. And, I am still writing: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com for the conjoined space we both LOVE.

Conclusion

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[Dr. Cappiello PhD MBA] *** [Foreword Dr. Krieger MD MBA]

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Selecting Financial Advisors the Risky Way

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Physician Due Diligence is Important

[By Daniel B. Moisand; CFP®, and the ME-P Staff]Tall Shadows

While the merits of hiring the right financial advisor [FA] may be clear, hiring the wrong one can be devastating. Medical professionals still tend to have higher incomes and are an attractive target for most financial institutions and scam artists. This fear is a poor excuse for not getting the assistance necessary. Advice about who to engage for financial assistance comes from a hodge-podge of disjointed sources. This leads to good intentions and bad results. Take caution when using the following as sources of advice.

Relying on Family and Friends

By far more people seek financial advice from trusted family members and friends than any other source.  This is only natural. It is essential to trust that you are getting advice from a source that means well. It is also important that you get along well with your advisors. Hesitating to communicate with your advisor, even a great advisor, can cause problems even more problematic that getting bad advice from someone you like. While these sources have a good handle on the essential elements of trust and rapport, it is the competence of the advice that is most often the issue. The life and money experiences of those who are close to you certainly have value, but they are not necessarily relevant to your unique goals and circumstances. THINK: Bernie Madoff.

Media

A few years ago, the dominant media force in consumer oriented financial matters was the print media.  Magazines and newsletters proliferated with the bull market. More recently however, television has supplanted print even in the bear market. For example, a study now estimates that 80 percent of what the average American knows about current events comes from TV. Why wait three weeks for the next issue when you can get a commentary instantly on the television? There is nothing wrong with watching shows that cover the markets or subscribing to a consumer finance magazine. It is certainly a good idea to be informed. However, be wary of the quality and applicability of information put out by the media.

The Internet

It is easy to run across an ad for prescriptions drugs on television. Images prance across the screen followed by a litany of potential side effects and the obligatory, “Ask your doctor about”. With the expansion of the information superhighway, more and more companies are going direct to the consumer in some manner or another.

Financially speaking this information can be of great benefit but should also generate more concern. It is very easy to project a particular image via the web. The webmaster controls the interaction from what you see to what you hear. One of the results of this is that the Internet has already garnered a reputation as a breeding ground for new scams. More prevalent, however, is the presentation of information meant to be useful that is simply wrong, misinterpreted, or misapplied. The most terrifying source of misinformation on the net is the chat rooms. Here the entire interaction is clouded by anonymity. Some people enter chat rooms because there is a comfort in anonymity when asking a question. There is also a danger in an anonymous answer. When it comes to something as important as your finances or your health, the prudent course should be to take all the advice with a grain of salt. A great deal of consideration to the quality of the source is in order. It is also essential that one understand the level of accountability a source may possess.   fp-book2

Assessment

Much has been written on financial advisor selection, here on the ME-P and elsewhere; but little on how not to select an advisor. We trust this information will be of assistance to the medical professional in some small increment. Send in your FA stories; both good and bad.

Channel Surfing the ME-P

Have you visited our other topic channels? Established to facilitate idea exchange and link our community together, the value of these topics is dependent upon your input. Please take a minute to visit. And, to prevent that annoying spam, we ask that you register. It is fast, free and secure.

Conclusion

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Medical News of Arkansas Interviews Dr. Marcinko

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Current Status of Hospitals and the Economy [Op-Ed]

[By Steve Brawner]

atlanta-skylineWhat: An exclusive telephonic and email interview.

Who: Dr. David Edward Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA [Editor, administrator and health economist]

Topic: The recession and economy, hospital operations, and the Obama administration.

Where: The telephone and internet virtual ME-P ether.

Why: To forecast informed opinions and pontifications on the healthcare industrial complex.

Among the dilemmas in healthcare, we seek answers to queries like:

• When will the recession end, and how will it affect hospitals and physicians?
• What operations and organizational policies can hospitals pursue to survive?
• How will the Obama stimulus affect hospitals and healthcare organizations?

Now, in as much as this controversy affects patients, administrators, politicians, Wall Street, nurse-executives and physicians alike, we went right to the source for up-to-date information regarding this current topic.

Assessment

Get ready for this controversial [unedited] interview and Q-A session, with Dr. David Edward Marcinko; Publisher-in-Chief, of this ME-P.

Arkansas Medical News Interviews Dr. Marcinko

Read it Here: interview-dr-marcinko1

Sponsored Link: www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

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.

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The Herd Mentality of Wall Street [Advice or Avarice?]

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Understanding the Channel-of-Distribution Follies

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

Former Investment Advisor and Reformed Certified Financial Planner™dem23

As a former surgeon, insurance agent, physician-executive who took an honest run at Wall Street’s PPMC infamy in the late 90s; a board certified financial advisor and stock-broker; and current writer, editor, publisher and speaker-consultant on health economic topics – I am not your typical citizen journalist or blogger. Although, I am the founding editor-in-chief of a successful peer-reviewed 1,200 page, quarterly print journal, our companion on-ground publication

For example, I’m not crusty; honest! I don’t often wear – but do have – a fedora, and only occasionally look like I just slouched out of Ben Hecht’s circa,1928 play, “The Font Page.”  I prefer stubble to a shave, and ooze skepticism. OK; call it cynicism, if you will. I do however, reckon myself a professional and independent journalist; as well as one heck-of-a-health economist, personal financial consultant and certified “doubting Thomas.”

Independent Means Un-Bossed and Un-Bowed

Yet, I don’t belong to the American Medical Association [AMA], the Financial Planning Association [FPA] or the American Management Association [AMA]. Actually, I’m not really a team player at all; although my wife does call me one who is “carefully selective”. She is aware of the few teams I’ve successfully played for in my career.

And, I am not afraid to write about the financial services industry; in print or online [see The Financial Services Industry Explained].

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2007/11/28/the-financial-services-industry

The Implosion

And so, it is with much repetitive irony that I watch supposedly independent and credible Wall Street firms stagger from one mistake to another, every few years, goading their retail financial advisors to promote – dare I say it – “push” – one flimsy financial product or strategy [CDOs and sub-prime home mortgages] that doesn’t work anymore for the sake of lucre.

And then, the same firm’s clean-house after imploding like they have recently done, by rounding up folks to blame, and firing them for having a herd-mentality.

Shame on them; their advisors [really non-fiduciary brokers and salesmen], naïve clients; and especially the clients that are medical colleagues. Shit-aki, mushrooms for brains; all!

This time however, it was the well known CEO heads that were lopped off. To use a financial medical-metaphor, these guys were “de-capitated”:

  • Merrill Lynch = Stan O’Neal
  • Citigroup = Charles Prince
  • UBS =   Peter Wuffli and Marcel Ospel
  • Wachovia = Ken Thompson
  • AIG = Maurice “Hank” Greenberg
  • Bear Stearns = James Cayne 

Of course, I wrote, called and tried to contact several of these “star CEOs” several years ago, to no avail. For a while, I was probably even on their secretarial email radar and telephone block lists.   

Mary’s Lamb to Slaughter

Now, one must wonder if/when the CEO slaughter of Kerry Killinger at WaMu will follow-much like Mary’s little lamb? So far, it hasn’t completely; but he has been stripped of his role as Chairman of the Board.

Remember, Executive Post readers, it was Kerry who oversaw the star-crossed folly into the sub-prime credit-lending fiasco that haunts us all. But, rest assured, I won’t try to contact him. He is very busy at the moment.

Reputations Lost?

So, will these Wall Street firms lose their pristine reputations as kings-of-the-universe? Nope, not a chance! Some pundits even say that in 2-3 years, the public will have forgotten the shenanigans of these guys and their investment banks and wire-houses [broker-dealers]. It’s called the science of “reputational-risk-management” and these firms coldly calculate it into their business plans.

Just Say No

I say, don’t let them. I say, never-forget. I say, ask for and demand a fiduciary financial advisor next time. It wont’ indemnify you from all financial mischief, of course, but it’ll be a good start. Use an independent registered financial advisor and dis-intermediate the broker-salesmen.

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Or, don’t be surprised when, not if, something similar happens again.

Assessment

To see how staggering the recent write-downs and credit-loses some firms have written-off, per wholesale banking employee [non-retail brokerage or private client wealth management staff],

Just visit this website: www.HereIsTheCity.com

The site’s findings are amazing.

Full Disclosure

I was a “financial advisor” for SunAmerica/AIG more than a decade ago. I saw the industry “inside-out” with developing problems; back then.

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