Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Great Escape - 2016

I have been escaping my work every Friday for 17 years.  2016 was a bad year for me and an average year at the movies.  While average, the 84 movies I saw in 2016 were a good way to disconnect from the real world in a dark, quite Movie Theater.  Choosing my Top 10 movies is more difficult in an average year than it is in a blockbuster year as the difference between movie 10 and movie 30  is a close call. For those of you looking for Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea they are 11 and 12.

The envelope please:

10. Jackie - Get your gold statues ready! This film is amazingly acted by Natalie Portman and well directed by Pablo Larrain. It mixes three compelling story lines with historic footage that keep you engaged in a familiar story.
9.  Hacksaw Ridge - An inspiring story of a person who is guided by their faith but also has the courage and tenacity to be a great solder.
8.  The Innocents - There are so many items this film deals with I don't know where to start and I'm still processing most of them. The main subject that was dealt with at a deep and often disturbing level was the religious thought process of the nuns and their celibacy. The female director did a great job addressing this. The line that I can't forget. "Faith is 24 hours of doubt and one minute of hope"
7.  Sing Street - Great characters with surprising and real relationships.
6.  Tower - The perfect mix of animation and actual character interviews were hard hitting and poignant. Oscar worthy!
5.  Hell or High Water - Captures the crazy like a fox spirit of Texans. Glad to see Post get some recognition.
4.  La La Land - This movie takes an ordinary plot and transforms it into a great movie thanks to the trifecta of song, dance and acting! Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone prove they have deep artistic chops. 
3.  Captain Fantastic - What if we didn't shelter our kids from the harsh topics of the real world? What if we home schooled them too. This movie shows why that might be a good approach.
2.  Hidden Figures - All three characters are compelling on their own but together their contributions to our space program are heroic. The spontaneous applause from the sold out theater confirmed that my feelings were shared
1.  Fences - Santa and Hollywood make us wait for their gifts! Fences adopts many great aspects of the play it is based on, Incredible actors given the scene format from the play shine! Great dialogue and great performances make this worth the wait.

After a tumultuous year I hope these movies help you escape and start 2017 with a fresh and optimistic outlook

Saturday, December 17, 2016

You're Fired!

Our president-elect rode this phrase to astounding heights.  Recent news reports indicate that he still wants to ride the wave by continuing as the Executive Producer.  Why are we so enamored by this gut wrenching statement?  Is it schadenfreude or a power play?  Rather than brush it off we have decided to examine how this mindset has manifested itself in four major areas of our personal and professional lives.
Our wedding vow of “until death do us part” is proving to be too high of a bar.  Divorce statistics show that 50% of marriages end in divorce after less than 8 years.  Are we too quick to pull the divorce rip cord?   I propose that we supplement til death do us part with let’s bring in an experienced professional to help us work out our problems.  An experienced professional will help you understand that your struggles are not that unique and they will establish a detailed plan to get you out of your rut.

At the end of every season we watch as coaches are given their walking papers.  Is this another area where we give up too fast?  Upon further review I vote yes.  Seems like the most successful teams the San Antonio Spurs, the New England Patriots and the Alabama Crimson Tide all have tenured head coaches.  Might be worth further review.

Financial Advisors
Warren Buffet invests in companies with no intention of ever selling them. Compare that to the average holding period for other “investors” which has dramatically fallen from eight years in the 1960s to five days currently. Our hair-trigger approach has insured poor performance and guaranteed disappointment.   Most wealth managers establish policies for their clients based on the long-term (defined as 10+ years).  My anecdotal experience over my 28 year career is that much like the decreasing investment holding periods wealth management clients are prone to firing money managers and ultimately firing their wealth advisor before their 10 year plan can run its course.  We have also noted that tracking the number of times a client checks their account balance online, using Google Analytics, is a good indicator of how nervous a client is and a good reminder to give the client a call to address any concerns before the concerns grow to a level that needs to be addressed by firing the advisor. 

Our Jobs
Looking at our own LinkedIn profile and our friends’ profiles shows an average three year tenure at each job.  This reality is confirmed by a BLS study showing that the average person will change jobs 12 times in their career.  Most of the changes are instigated by the employee but some are the result of being fired.  Looks like our restless nature rears its ugly head in this area of our life too.  The outlier, a Wall Street stock broker, has a significantly longer job tenure of seven to nine years.  What is Wall Street’s secret?  Big money and restrictive employment contracts.

How can we exterminate the ants in our pants?  Our advice is to start by examining our behavioral mistakes and establishing timelines that can help you avoid quitting too soon or even worse yet getting fired.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Whole New World

In chaotic times like these I revert to Disney movies and channel my inner child to visit “The Happiest Place on Earth”.  Come join me as the three main characters from Aladdin reveal a Whole New World.  In our story the characters will be played by Goldman Sachs (The Genie), President - Elect Trump (Aladdin) and you (Princess or Prince Jasmine)

Love our hate them we all can agree that Goldman is smart and makes decisions based on where the puck is going not where it has been.  The firm’s recent decision to be middle men and offer many of their internal services to other firms is brave.  The new Goldman initiatives are named Marcus, Symphony, Simon and Kensho.  The “Old Goldman” would have never attempted these projects and wealth management firms should emulate not condemn these bold moves.  Goldman is also working on a robo investment banker that will automate the 146 steps involved in an IPO. It is a whole new world!

The DOL ruling and the FAQs shocked the financial services world and just when we had adapted our business models the presidential election results rocked our world again.  As any experienced pilot will tell you when you hit turbulence you need to relax and not make any hasty decisions.  Nobody knows what a Trump administration will do with the DOL rule.  What we do know is that the cat is out of the bag on the topic and while the DOL ruling might be modified we and our clients will never forget how shocked we were by the rule.  That feeling should guide our business decisions going forward.   Don’t wait for an updated DOL ruling with the hope that its loop holes will allow for business as usual.

Aladdin asked Princess Jasmine if she wanted to go for a ride and leave the castle and see the new world.  She asked is it safe?  He replied “do you trust me?” The DOL and the new president are definitely leading us to a new world.   Since we might not trust the yet to be named regulators and our new president we need to make sure our clients will continue to trust us. 

Let’s jump on Aladdin’s Magic Carpet and sing a song to help us pass the time and calm our anxieties. 
                It’s a whole new world
                A new fantastic point of view
                I’ve come so far
                I can’t go back to where I used to be

I feel better already. Thank you Disney.