Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Annoyed, irked, furious that some stockbroker, brokerage “financial planner,” or shill led you down the garden path? Here’s what they think of you.

Years ago, in the course of interviewing some commodity salesmen at a major brokerage house, Yours Crankily discovered the word that financial salespeople use for customers who complain that they’ve taken their advisors' advice and lost money.


Yeah, they can afford to put you down. After all, it wasn’t their money that got lost. It was yours.

Not to say that the buyer shouldn’t always beware just on general principals. Anybody who says he knows where a stock is going a week down the road ought either to have his head examined or get arrested for fraud or insider trading. A childhood friend of mine, who was a Senior Vice President at a couple of well-known banks once told me, “I made my entire career and a lot of money pretending I knew what the market would do. The truth is, I didn’t know s**t.”

All the same, people come to brokers, bankers, advisors and publications because they know they need to invest and they’re not sure what to do. They figure the “expert” knows more than they do. And these experts are more than happy to sell advice to them, and sometimes securities and wealth management plans as well.

So people who sell their expertise want you to believe that indeed, they are God.

Visit the web testimonials page of The Oxford Club, an organization that sells subscriptions to newsletters containing investment advice. The first testimonial you encounter says this, “"Alex Green is the one of the most creative investment advisors I have ever encountered. I've known him for over 25 years, and have been continually impressed by his thorough diligence and skillful timing on investments. Alex has a broad view of investment opportunities, from domestic to foreign." http://www.oxfordclub.com/Visitors/Testimonials.html

Oxford mail and e-mail promotion pieces talk not only about beating the Dow or the S&P 500, but also about doubling and tripling your money in short amounts of time. No wonder some naïve investors look on these people as God. And no wonder they cry like Job when the market drowns their hopes, and sucks away their savings. But at least God restored Job to his former state when Job cut out his praise-the-Lord stuff and turned crybaby. Don't expect that from the Oxford Club, or anyone having anything to do with Wall Street.

Listen, I happen to like the Oxford Club. Green has made recommendations that have made money for me in recent times. All the more reason why I get nervous when Green sends me an e-mail praising, of all people, the author Ayn Rand, and carrying on about John Gault, a fictional Rand character. Worse, he uses Rand's colossally ridiculous fiction as the basis for his latest round of investment advice.

Do I mean the same fiction that praises ruthlessly predatory capitalists? Yup. And that scares me. Green writes:

“First, take responsibility for your own trades. Whether you make money or lose money, you should relish the fruits of your labors when your stocks go up, and not blame others when your investments decline.

“Granted, you may have learned of an investment idea from a stockbroker, newsletter writer or TV personality, but only you can be blamed if the stock goes south. Ultimately, it was YOU who decided to use that broker, subscribe to that newsletter writer, or watch that favorite financial program. Wise investors use several sources and then make their own investment decisions.”

Wait a second, Alex! Wait just one damn second! Why didn’t you tell me this when The Oxford Club was selling your skills as a stock guru?

In fact, why is Oxford telling me, in a box full of lusciously purple prose about blue water, inserted right into the text of Green's e-mail about John Gault, “The 2007 Breakout Commodity Report: Make Up to 689% in the Next Few Months from ‘The BLUE Revolution’

“A torrent of water is about to let loose on thirsty Nevada, from rivers of water that lay 200 feet to 2,000 feet below the surface of some of the most barren-looking land in the world. And a single company owns the right to that water - more than a million acres of proven reserves - that will generate approximately 11.4 billion gallons per year!

“Investors who know about this secret network of underground rivers stand to almost quadruple their money (on this investment alone) when the water begins flowing in just months.

“And that’s just one of four water-related opportunities you’ll learn about in The Oxford Club’s new report: Profit From The Blue Revolution: Pocket 689% Gains Or More From The One Commodity More Precious Than Oil, Uranium And Natural Gas.”

Got that, folks? Six hundred and eighty-nine percent, Green's "club" says. “In the next few months” at that.

Holy cow! That’s what I call a bold attempt to grab me through my computer screen and massage my greed gland to financial orgasm.

Just remember that on the same page, Green is excusing himself from any liability if the Oxford prediction of almost septupling your money in a few months turns out to be as phony as a $3 bill.

What scares me even more is that people who sell advice – even the generally good advice the Oxford Club has been selling me – are beginning to get off specifics and into John Gault and Ayn Rand morality. Consider that a giant “uh oh.” What do they know about the state of the market that they don’t want me to know until I part with my subscription dollars?

Or do they really know anything at all?


New York Crank said...

"Bob from Brooklyn" comments via e-mail:

"Financial planners are the same as the good people who work on the various sports betting web sites. They will gladly take your money and tell you who will win every game and by how points."

Bob said...

An investor IS ultimately responsible for his/her purchases or sales. Most investors get into trouble by totally abdicating that responsibility to an "advisor" who 1) may or may not have the investor's best interest at heart, but 2) always gets paid!

If unwilling to take responsibility for specific investment choices, use a market index fund!

And re Ayn Rand, her novels were a method to launch an explanation of her philosophy in a form understandable by non-philosophy geeks. Cut her some slack!

Michael Rudy, CFP®, EA, LMSW said...

The Crank is right-on . . .again. No one has the crystal ball on anything financial. Having been a broker, the Crank is dead on in his entire essay. What is worth adding, however, is that not all financial planners are equal. In this age, just saying you're a financial planner effectively puts you in that business. Earning some of the professional designations, like the CFP(r), gives the consumer some assurance that the planner you're talking to knows something about money and its proper handling. But understand: a CFP designsant does not assure you that that person has a fiduciary relationship with you. This is critical, for the fiduciary promise is one that demands that your financial interests always have precedence over the planners goals, needs or ambitions. Secondly, all, that is, all conflicts of interest are disclosed up front.
Go to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (www.NAPFA.org) and do your own research on fee-only, fiduciary financial planning. It's where all the responsible national news people go to to get straight talk on consumer finance.
Ayn Rand is good. I liked reading Ayn Rand. Still, it's not so bad to pick a good advisor on your way to patting yourself on the back or being a crybaby.

Mason Gage said...

I am a member of The Oxford Club and I have subscribed to some of their VIP services and seen them win but I have also seen them loose the latter of which they do not post, advertise, or otherwise admit to in 'ANY' of their publications. My testimonial for this past week might read something like, “I lost $1,000 this week on one of my Momentum Alert plays as end of day price slid past my sell stop while the other remaining current Momentum plays were cumulatively down $500.” Do you think that would sell much popcorn? A little less than responsible but responsible and honest don't sell concessions...