Black Hole Monetary Economics

Economic nerds are converging on Jackson Hole for their (our?) annual meeting and the big story of the event will be a controversial opinion by Larry Summers, which he laid out on Twitter yesterday. He is presenting a paper in which he argues [gasp] that monetary policy isn’t as effective as the economics profession has […]

Friday links: clear-eyed vegan climatologists

Did you know you can stay up-to-date with all of our posts via our daily e-mail newsletter? Sign up today! Quote of the Day “I have zero problem with a clear-eyed vegan climatologist buying a financial product to express something about themselves. I have zero problem with the person on the other end of that […]

Podcast links: branded podcast boom

Fridays are all about podcast links here at Abnormal Returns. You can check out last week’s links including a look at a podcast-centric search engine. Chart of the Day The podcasting boom illustrated. ( The biz Finance Venture Non-finance

Stressful Events

At times in our lives, we may be faced with sudden events, occurrences, or outcomes that we never expected to happen. Such events may cause us to react, even overreact out of emotion rather than taking time to think things through. Granted, this is easier said than done. The death of a loved one can […]

Income Share Agreements–The Solution to Paying for Medical School?

I recently learned about Income Share Agreements (ISA). These are sometimes touted as an alternative to student loans and are being used as such. However, in my view, they are something completely different and an option I would like to see expand at medical schools across the country–for the students, for the schools, and for […]

Vanguard social-investing error prompts funds to check controls

Managers overseeing trillions in exchange-traded funds have been quietly meeting around Wall Street this week to check the quality controls on their funds, rattled after Vanguard Group Inc. mistakenly added shares of 11 companies, including a gun manufacturer and a private prison operator, to its $578 million socially responsible ETF. Vanguard apologized to investors, citing […]

How a Venezuelan immigrant built a flourishing financial advisory firm

Bellaria Jimenez was just 7 years old when her family left Venezuela for North Bergen, a New Jersey township just across the Hudson River from New York. Ms. Jimenez, who heads three MassMutual brokerage branches in New Jersey, remembers her parents planning a short-term stay, just long enough to study art in Manhattan. But political […]

Wealthfront buys hybrid robo Grove in quest to automate paychecks

Wealthfront Inc. said Thursday it had acquired hybrid robo-adviser Grove Advisors as it tries to bolster the development of technology that would automate clients’ paychecks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Wealthfront’s acquisition appears primarily focused on Grove’s personnel, primarily members of its product and technology teams, which encompass roughly two dozen people. In […]

Muni-bond refinancing surges as yields hold near a record low

Municipal-bond refinancing is back with a vengeance. Like homeowners racing to lock in lower interest rates, state and local governments in August sold $8.5 billion in bonds to refinance outstanding debt, the fastest pace since October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. [Recommended video:​ How the 2020 elections could impact ESG investing]​ That’s because the […]

Dawn Bennett appeals conviction of running $20 million Ponzi

After being sentenced to 20 years in prison at the end of last month, former financial adviser Dawn Bennett is seeking an appeal to her conviction on 17 federal charges related to a $20 million Ponzi scheme. Her attorney filed the notice last Friday. Ms. Bennett is asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals […]

UBS hit with $4.4 million arb award over Puerto Rico bonds and funds

A group of investors who bought Puerto Rico bonds and closed-end funds won a $4.4 million arbitration claim against UBS Financial Services Inc. and its related business in Puerto Rico. The three investors and related trusts and businesses initially sought $7.3 million in damages. Instead, the three-person arbitration panel, which operates under the sanction of […]

ETF providers quietly dial back production

When it comes to exchange-traded funds, the asset management industry has been experiencing what sports franchises might call a rebuilding year, as some of the most prolific ETF providers have been dialing back on new product launches. reports that between June 1 and August 21, there were just 35 new ETF launches compared with […]

How to Make a Thousand Bucks an Hour

Another summer evening skate-n-scoot outing with Mini Me It’s Back to School time here in Colorado, which means both my son and I will be hanging up the swim shorts and kayak paddles and getting back to more serious business for a while. It has been a slow and endlessly sunny and leisurely summer, and […]

Thursday links: more time and clicks

Did you know you can stay up-to-date with all of our posts via our daily e-mail newsletter? Sign up today! Quote of the Day “On a regular basis, Google makes changes to their UI and algorithm that destroy companies or industries in order to keep more time and clicks from the person who was expecting […]

The Secret To Your Success: 10 Years Of Unwavering Commitment

I strongly believe if you do one hard thing for 10 years in a row, you will achieve results far beyond your expectations. Don’t quit before giving your effort a chance to produce amazing results. My belief of working on something for 10 years to achieve mastery first came from going to high school for […]

Captrust acquires $3.7 billion San Antonio-based RIA

Captrust Financial Advisors, a Raleigh, N.C.-based registered investment adviser managing more than $9.6 billion in assets, will acquire South Texas Money Management, a San Antonio-based RIA firm managing $3.7 billion in assets. [More:​ MAI acquires insurance-oriented RI] South Texas Money Management (STMM) has 60 employees and operates offices in Austin, College Station, Corpus Christi, Dallas […]

Startup links: lightning fast processes

Thursdays at Abnormal Returns are all about startup and venture capital links. You can check out last week’s links including a look at the most active VCs by state. Quote of the Day “I have never understood why founders want to run a lightning fast process to select business partners who they may have to […]

Medical Mission Work in Honduras- Podcast #120

Podcast #120 Show Notes: Medical Mission Work in Honduras Ever thought about doing a medical mission trip? My 15-year-old daughter and I went to Honduras this summer to spend a week assisting in a local hospital. This episode I interview her about that trip and what effect the experience had on her. I also share […]

DOL readies proposal for more digital 401(k) disclosures

The Department of Labor is close to proposing a rule that would boost digital delivery of employees’ 401(k) statements, a prospect that has drawn excitement from the retirement plan industry but concerns investor advocates worried that a shift away from paper may prove harmful. The Labor Department has sent its proposal — titled “Improving Effectiveness […]

Learn to love delegating

As a planner and adviser for almost three decades, I’ve become good at delegating. But I sure didn’t begin that way. Like many of you, I started with a desk, a phone, and a manager who gave me a lot of encouragement, but no leads or clients. I worked my tail off for a few […]

SEC affirms its authority over proxy advisory firms that CEOs hate

The Securities and Exchange Commission took an initial step Wednesday to lay out legal limitations for a powerful industry that’s known for questioning companies’ decisions on executive pay and business strategy. At a meeting in Washington, commissioners voted 3-2 to issue guidelines for fund managers’ responsibilities in dealing with so-called proxy advisory firms and clarifying […]

Canton, Ohio-based RIA to acquire $240 million crosstown firm

Beese Fulmer Private Wealth Management, a Canton, Ohio-based registered investment adviser managing about $675 million in discretionary assets, will acquire MacNealy Hoover Investment Management, an RIA also based in Canton and managing about $240 million, in October. [More:​ Calif.-based RIA acquires firm managing $250 million] The move will make Beese Fulmer one of the largest […]

ESG data getting better as the market matures

As management consultant Geoffrey Moore has observed, “Without big data, you are blind and deaf in the middle of a freeway.” Historically, that’s been the most challenging part of investing using environmental, social and governance factors, but the data are getting much better. Data replace opinions with knowledge, and it is increasingly clear that ESG […]

Charles Schwab lawsuit win has big implications for all 401(k) plans

Charles Schwab Corp. has won its appeal of a 401(k) lawsuit that could have broad implications for all 401(k) sponsors by reducing the number of employee class action lawsuits. The firm was challenging a 2018 ruling in California district court that said Schwab could not arbitrate the claims of plaintiff Michael F. Dorman, a former […]

SEC bars Financial Sherpa head for cherry-picking trades

The Securities and Exchange Commission has barred James L. Beyersdorf, founder and sole owner of Financial Sherpa Inc., a state-registered investment adviser in Angels Camp, Calif., for cherry-picking options trades in client accounts and pocketing more than $232,000 in trading profits. [More:​ SEC bars unregistered adviser attempting to serve professional athletes] In a cease-and-desist order, […]

Why advisers should eliminate the B word

In our professional and private lives, our days seemed to be filled with the question, “How are you?” Colleagues, family, friends — we’re all asking each other this auto-pilot inquiry. And many of us respond with a robotic, “Oh, I’m good … it’s been busy,” followed by either an exasperated sigh or, “But it’s OK, […]

California-based RIA acquires $200 million RIA

EP Wealth Advisors, a Torrance, Calif.-based registered investment adviser that manages almost $4.4 billion in assets, has acquired Personal Financial Consultants, an RIA in Lafayette, Calif., which managed $200 million in assets. [More:​ RIA rundown 2019: Top fee-only RIAs by state] The acquisition bolsters EP Wealth Advisors’ presence in the San Francisco Bay area, the […]

Wednesday links: a comforting impression of control

Did you know you can stay up-to-date with all of our posts via our daily e-mail newsletter? Sign up today! Quote of the Day “Complexity gives a comforting impression of control, while simplicity is hard to distinguish from cluelessness.” (Morgan Housel) Chart of the Day How bad can things be if Target ($TGT) is chugging […]

Fixed indexed annuity sales rise 14% to $20 billion in second quarter

Fixed indexed annuity sales totaled $20 billion in the second quarter, 14% higher than prior year results, according to data compiled by the Limra Secure Retirement Institute. [More:​ Indexed annuity sales projected to grow nearly 40% by 2023] “The second quarter’s FIA sales total represents the highest quarterly sales for FIAs ever,” said Todd Giesing, […]

Personal finance links: spending preferences

Wednesdays are all about personal finance here at Abnormal Returns. You can check out last week’s links including a look at why your flashy spending is unlikely to impress. Quote of the Day “Money will make you happier only if you choose to spend it in accordance with your values and your preferences.” (Michael Laurence) […]

SandP 500 ETF separates truth from turbulence

The next time it seems as if the sky is falling, pull up the trading volume in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) for a reality check. Last Wednesday was one of those days. The S&P 500 Index was nearing a 3% drop, and it looked as if maybe this could be the Big […]

Fidelity says number of 401(k) millionaires hits record high

Fidelity Investments said the number of retirement savers with at least $1 million in their account hit a record, as did the employee savings rate, according to data from 401(k) plans that it administers. The average employee contribution rate reached 8.8% in the second quarter, up a full percentage point from a decade ago, Fidelity […]

How Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds Create Unique Estate Planning Challenges For Beneficiaries

Executive Summary The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made substantive changes to the Internal Revenue Code and in the process, created several new provisions, including “Qualified Opportunity Funds” (QOFs), which were designed to encourage taxpayers to invest in certain low-income (and also newly created) “Qualified Opportunity Zones” (QOZs) by offering some particularly unique […]

Via Chicago

My wife and kids have never seen Chicago and it’s one of my favorite cities in America and they have another week before school starts so off we go! I’m really excited to share my favorite sights and neighborhoods and restaurants and tourist attractions with the babies. They got to see Boston for the first […]

Top 6 Tips for Refinancing Your Student Loans

[Editor’s Note: As part of our 2019 WCI Medical School Scholarship program, we offer a sponsored post to each of our Platinum Level Scholarship Sponsors. Today is the first of those sponsored posts from student loan refinancing lender, Splash Financial. Splash is launching a new resident and fellow program today available starting at 9 a.m. […]

Kestra Financial's new rollup lands its first RIA

Bluespring Wealth Partners, an RIA rollup firm launched by independent broker-dealer Kestra Financial Inc. just last month, has acquired its first firm. Hickory Asset Management Inc. of Concord, Ohio, which has $152.6 million in client assets, is Bluespring’s first acquisition. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. [Recommended video: How the client experience will be […]

Genworth, GE and Unum need to shore up long-term care business: report

A new report questions the health of several insurers’ long-term-care insurance businesses, including those of Genworth Financial Inc., General Electric Inc., Unum Group, Aegon Americas and Senior Health Insurance Co. of Pennsylvania. The situation could have implications for financial advisers and clients because these companies may try to offload their liabilities. Ratings agency Fitch Group, […]

Makeover at Wells Fargo Advisors well-received

Wells Fargo Advisors continued a reorganization of its wealth management business, cutting about a dozen market manager positions last week. And for some, it couldn’t have come sooner. “Wells Fargo Advisors has been top heavy with management and the back office for years, and as the firm made big acquisitions, it hired more people instead […]

Faith-based funds attract loyal investors

Applying religious screens to mutual funds and ETFs is sometimes compared to investing with one hand tied behind your back, but that’s just fine for a large and growing number of investors. “If people are really interested in faith-based investing, a difference of 10 or 12 basis points is not that much if you’re avoiding […]

HighTower makes 'significant' investment in Lexington, Mass.-based RIA

HighTower has made what it calls a ‘significant’ strategic investment in Lexington Wealth Management, an RIA based in Lexington, Mass., that has $1 billion in assets under advisement. [More: Bob Oros opens up about HighTower’s aggressive growth strategy] Lexington, founded in 2000 by Michael Tucci and Kristine Porcaro, has 17 employees, including 11 advisers. The […]

Finra bars no-show former Vanguard rep in communications inquiry

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. has barred former Vanguard representative Gregory John Braccili for failing to take part in a Finra investigation of his activities at the firm. [More:​ Finra bars no-show former Cetera rep] In May 2018 Mr. Braccili was discharged by Vanguard for “violating the firm’s professional conduct policy by engaging in […]

LPL expects its tech improvements to give advisers back an hour or more a day

LPL Financial president and CEO Dan Arnold says time is one of the biggest challenges facing financial advisers today. More specifically, a lack of time. Advisers spend 40% of their time on average on administrative and office tasks rather than high priority work that can differentiate their practice or engage clients, Mr. Arnold said, citing […]

Finra fines former Morgan Stanley rep for impersonating a client

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. has fined former Morgan Stanley broker John Tillotson $5,000 and suspended him for 15 days for impersonating five clients in five phone calls to a mutual fund company so that he could transfer the clients’ retirement funds to his firm. [More: Finra bars broker accused of stealing $1 million […]