Financial Long Shots

I was reading a very interesting piece on “Chico” (actually Leonard or “Chicko”) Marx and his lifetime (and his gambling addiction). The most telling statement about this addiction was:

Chico’s gambling was actually a very serious addiction. When the Marx brothers were filming their movie A Day at the Races in 1937, Groucho noticed Chico placing a bet on a horse that was scheduled to lose a race in the film’s script. “Are you crazy?” Groucho asked incredulously, “That horse is going to lose the race. The script says so.”

“I know,” Chico replied, “but I couldn’t resist. The odds were fifteen to one.”

A Day at the Races

A Day at the Races at Amazon

You might laugh at that, but I have spoken with investors who have had the same odd views on “long shot investments”. If you invest in enough of them, they will eventually pay out, is their credo. That kind of a “system” is what built Las Vegas (on the money lost using those same systems).

You think I am mistaken? How does one explain Pets.com or some of the other interesting “Internet bubble” stocks of the 90’s ?

Some people are simply adrenaline junkies, they want to feel “alive”. If you want to feel alive, run marathons, help the poor, volunteer, but don’t make stupid decisions because you have a hunch things might turn out big (unless of course you are willing to lose all the money you are using).

Do you know why long shots, are long shots? Mostly, due to the fact that they are not supposed to win.

Anybody have any stories of long shots gone wrong? Any gone right ?

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Up Selling in Banking

My wife went in to our Bank last week (the brick and mortar version), to cash a cheque, so she decided to do it at a teller, and she stood in line for this privilege. As she got to the teller, suddenly she was accosted by the teller, asking about how our family investments were being handled, and whether we had an investment advisor.

Upselling financially

You want fries with your GIC?

Mrs. C8j has learned the answer to give, and she simply stated that we take care of our own investments and we were happy with that, however, evidently that was not good enough for this teller. My wife came home with a glossy brochure, and, a flyer about Financial Planning Week, along with the name of a “Financial Planner” who could help us out. I realize this is the bank attempting to “drum up some business” for their Financial Planning income stream, but it is another reason (for me) to stay away from my local branch.

As usual, I should thank TD for giving me more content to rant about, since without them I am not sure what I would be writing about.

Given I feel I have a smart and sophisticated readership, I’d like to give you folks some homework. I do plan on sending an e-mail to this planner and possibly going to visit with him to research how the system now works, however, what kind of questions should I be asking?

So far, I have a couple of obvious examples:

  • How do you get paid? What is the difference between you and a fee-based financial planner?
  • What licenses, credentials or other certifications do you have?
  • Could I see a sample financial plan?
  • What makes your client experience unique?
  • Given I have a pension, what kind of a retirement plan do you think I should have?
  • Do you still make money if I lose money?

Am I missing other great questions to ask?

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Active Investors Fight Back

At an undisclosed “family eatery” in Ottawa an argument broke out between warring factions of the Financial Blogging world, when Active Investors felt they had been pushed over the edge and fought back against the “… oppressive no fun antics of passive investors…”. What was supposed to be a civil discussion about current events and economic trends dissolved into a “Pier 6 Donny Brook”, when the subject of whether Active Investors could “beat the market” consistently.

One combatant stated, “I have had enough of all this, invest carefully, and grow your wealth safely stuff that is being espoused.  Did Buffett passive invest? Did JP Morgan? Did my Uncle Ralph? NO! they bought individual stocks and they got filthy stinking rich!”.

The staff at the local “watering hole” were taken aback by the antics of these alleged “Money Experts” and their crude commentaries such as:

  • “… active investors calculate their growth using slide rules!”
  • “… passive investors drive below the speed limit on the highway because they are satisfied not using the full speed potential!”
  • “… why would anyone not want to have the exhilaration of buying high and selling low?”
  • “… you need to lose money to make money”
  • “… passive investing is for losers who just can’t make a decision!”

And many other comments that cannot be included as they are far too crude in nature.

April Fools Alert!

Well part of the story is true, the N.C.F.B.A. did have a lovely dinner.

April Fools!

 

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Quicken and Transfering Mutual Funds?

So I tripped across an interesting feature in Quicken’s investment tracking feature where, in one transaction (well, it does the delete and add transaction for you from what I can see), you can transfer the proceeds of one mutual fund into another mutual fund. Big deal you say? Well for me over the past few weeks, this has made my life simpler tracking my TD Mutual Fund Savings Accounts.

Next question, why do you have TD Mutual fund accounts, aren’t you a TD Waterhouse dude? Well I didn’t initially start with TD Mutual Fund accounts (remember there are 3 different sylos in TD, the Banking Side, The Mutual Fund Side and TD Waterhouse (there is also insurance and a few other sides, but I shall leave them out for discussion purposes)). When I first opened RESPs, and an “Emergency” account I was a customer of Canada Trust, and they didn’t really have an “Investing Wing” (and I wouldn’t have known what to do back then).

TFSA How To

Another intricate Dance to Change Things at TD

When TD purchased CT many moons ago (a transaction in terms of the TD computer systems is not complete, I’d like to point out), all my CT Mutual Fund accounts became TD Mutual Fund accounts. All of my CT mutual funds turned into I-series TD Mutual Funds (again, before I really understood the problems with higher MER Mutual Funds).

I finally got off my lazy derriere and have transferred all of those I-Series funds to E-series funds, using the same models as outlined in Ideal Portfolios  :

TDB909 – TD Canadian Bond Index (e-Series)
TDB900 – TD Canadian Index (e-Series)
TDB902 – TD US Index (e-Series)
TDB911 – TD International Index (e-Series)

To be able to use these Index Funds in your Mutual Fund account you must Mail (by Canada Post, no Faxes allowed) the following:

Your TD e-Series Funds account will be opened after your original, signed application, and TD e-Series Funds Understanding and Consent form are received by TD Investment Services Inc. (TDIS). Unfortunately, we are unable to accept applications by fax.

This is assuming you already have an account. If you don’t have an account, might I suggest going straight to TD Waterhouse (and not worry about opening a “TD Mutual Fund” account)?

Once you get all of your “OK you can use them” confirmations, you can simply go on-line and transfer the associated I-series fund to an E-series fund (and thus save on MERs and such).

Finally we have reached the Quicken part of the discussion, if you have your Mutual Fund savings account set up in Quicken (and why wouldn’t you?), you would go to the account and simply choose Enter Transaction .

If you search down the list of possible transactions (once the dialog box comes up), select Mutual Fund Conversion, and the dialog box will then only ask you for:

  • Date of the Transfer
  • The Mutual Fund it is coming “from”
  • The New Mutual Fund to use (you may have to create that in Quicken)
  • How many shares were created of the New Fund
  • How much the price was (per share) of the new fund

And let it run it’s merry way. Quicken removes the holdings of the old security and adds the new security holdings to your account, and you are now tracking the right funds.

I have always been pretty lazy when it has come to tracking my investments, but I am trying hard to keep a closer track of all of my various investment vehicles (as I close in on retirement).

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The Next Big Stock Market Crash ?

Today, October 29th is the anniversary of the First Major Crash of the Stock Market, which was a large contributing factor to the great depression of the 30’s, and that begs the question, when is the next Big Stock Market Crash, and how can I prepare for it?

How bad was the crash of 1929? The following useful 10 year graph might help:

The Great Crash of 1929

The crash and it’s follow on

Amazing stuff eh? I looked at this and was astounded what I didn’t know about this period.

  • There was a short recovery in January 1930, and then everything went down from there
  • It took a long time to get back to 1929 levels
  • There was still a great deal of market volume along the way too

What can this teach us about today’s market? Not much.

The Economic situation back then has about as much to do with today, as it did with the great Tulip Bubble Burst, the world is a very different place. Don’t get me wrong, this kind of catastrophic drop will happen, just that comparing 1929 to now is foolish, so many things are different, not much can be learned from 1929 (other than, this can and will happen again). If you’d like PBS supplies this Useful Timeline Leading up to the Crash, if you think you can find any parallels there.

Is this another “fire and brimstone” rant about losing money, and such? No, in fact, if you are an Index’er or Couch Potato I would give the same advice as I gave many months ago (and stole that advice from our friend Preet), Live With It and Don’t Look. You will most likely have to re-balance in a while, but do that when you normally would and go back to your regular life, is the only advice I could give. Let the Hedge Fund Managers, Active Mutual Funds and Day Traders deal with it all, not much that can be done, and panic’ing isn’t going to change things.

Stock Market Crash Newspaper

Will we wake up to a Newspaper like this? No, because it will be on a News Website for one

If you “timed” the market right, good for you, it is most likely through blind luck, but good on you, if you dodge the “big one”, but it was luck (unless you are part of the inner sanctum of traders who knew it was coming, in which case you are most likely guilty of Insider Trading).

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