Category Archives: Wiser Blog

Dream Planning

dream-800xIn working with financial planning clients, one of the questions we ask is “What are your dreams during retirement?”  About half the people will say they want to travel.  About one in 20 will say something beyond that:  “I want to by an RV and cruise the country”, or “I …

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Pay Yourself First

A recent survey by the American Savings Education Council indicated that Americans of all wage levels are having a hard time saving. Its seems that the old saying “you grow into your income” just might be true. The recent study as reported by CNBC shows that 31% of consumers have $0 non-retirement savings.
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Your Advisors Interest May Not Align With Yours

iStock_000032784774SmallWhen individuals are choosing an investment advisor, it can be a very confusing process. After all, to most people, we all look the same, just different firm names; however, there are many differences. At the core, there are advisors that are legally bound to work in the best interest of …

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5 Ways Your Brain Can Sabotage Your Investing

The stock market is a great brawl in which minds with opposing views battle over whether prices will go up or down. Unfortunately, investors are often their biggest foe in this arena because our brains have biological mechanisms to screw us up.

Here are five reasons the self-sabotaging brain does this. Continue reading

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2014 – Interview with SeekingAlpha.com

This is the fourth piece in Seeking Alpha’s Positioning for 2014 series. This year we have once again asked experts on a range of different asset classes and investing strategies to offer their vision for the coming year and beyond. As always, the focus is on an overall approach to portfolio construction. Continue reading

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2013 in Review

The US stock market produced a record year in terms of performance, increasing over 34%. This was all despite some market headlines that seemed to be doom and gloom. The key events were as follows:

Looking back at 2013 through key market indicators we see that there was relatively low

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Legal: Partnership Agreements

Forming a partnership, even when with a trusted friend or colleague, should be done so with the foresight to protect yourself and your new joint venture. By formally setting the rules of the partnership at the formation of the business, you are setting your business up for success. Continue reading

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2014 IRS Limits – Saving For Retirement

It’s 2014, and the new IRS limits have kicked in. Here’s what you need to know concerning your 401k, IRA and other limits. Continue reading

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Early Retirement – IRS 72t – Avoiding the 10% Penalty

What happens, though, if because of health or company early retirement mandates, you are forced to retire before age 59 ½? How can you access your retirement savings without paying penalties? The answer is 72(t). Continue reading

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Retooling Your Bond Portfolio

Many investors, especially retirees and conservative investors are investing in bonds either individually, through a bond mutual fund or a bond exchange traded fund (ETF). Investors seem to associate bonds with safety, but this may not be the case going forward. How can you protect your bond portfolio in these uncertain times? Continue reading

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Don’t Chase Returns

Very often individual investors choose mutual funds based on the historical performance of the fund. To many individual investors it seems logical that past great performance would only indicate a tendency for future great performance. According to a July 2013 report from S&P, this may not be the case.

Twice …

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Who Needs Long Term Care?

Having a long term care policy in place can help you preserve assets that would otherwise be diverted to custodial care, and give you peace of mind that your care needs will be addressed should the need arise. Continue reading

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Payoff that Mortgage Prior to Retirement

If your house was paid for, would you take out a loan to invest it in the stock market? Amazingly many people reading this would actually pause to think about it. The answer should be no. Continue reading

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2013 IRS Saving, Gifting and Other Limits

It’s 2013, and the new IRS limits have kicked in. Here’s what you need to know concerning your 401k, IRA and other limits. Continue reading

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Wiser Wealth’s 2013 Outlook – Interview by SeekingAlpha.com

Casey Smith is President of Wiser Wealth Management, a Marietta, Georgia-based fee-only fiduciary wealth management firm offering asset management, tax preparation, estate planning and financial planning services. Wiser’s unique investing techniques have earned Casey speaking engagements at top ETF conferences around the world. When not running Wiser Wealth, Casey doubles as a pilot for an Atlanta-based commercial airline. Continue reading

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The Low Volatility Effect

In any market, your portfolio should be constructed to meet your risk tolerance. But what does this really mean? Advisors should know the historical volatility of their portfolios; many on the selling side of this business don’t have a clue, they just want to sell you a product. For the individual investor there are tools to measure portfolio volatility. Continue reading

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Vanguard Changing Index Benchmarks

Vanguard shocked the investing world today by announcing that they are changing the benchmark of 22 of its funds from MSCI to FTSE indexes. Continue reading

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ETFs are Getting Cheaper

One of the many benefits of using Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) is cost. An investor today can build a complete portfolio using all ETFs for less than 25bps (0.25%). The low cost leaders in ETFs have been Vanguard, State Street and Blackrock’s iShares.

Recently Charles Schwab entered the ETF business …

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Europe – ETF Investment Strategies

Buy and hold investors should always focus on long term healthy asset classes. In regards to investing in Europe, the key question is whether or not Europe will be a financially healthy asset class over the next ten years. Continue reading

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Global Real Estate in Your Portfolio

With the impact that the European debt crisis is having on portfolios, many people are looking for ways to diversify from this impact. Adding real estate to your portfolio is one way to do this. Continue reading

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Indexed Annuities, Better Read the Fine Print

So you purchase the annuity and tie it to the S&P 500 index. This year, the index grows 20%. You would expect to see a 20% return in your annuity, right? Wrong! Continue reading

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Your Financial Future – Can You Fill in the Blanks?

I need to save ___% of my paycheck to reach my financial independence goal to make working optional at age___. My retirement nest egg needs to be built to $_____ to achieve this goal. Continue reading

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Why You Need an Estate Plan

Many people think estate plans are for the rich and not necessarily famous. After all, most of us don’t have millions of dollars sitting around, with heirs who fight with murderous intent. But you would be surprised at how useful – even essential – an estate plan can be for the average citizen. Continue reading

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The Burden of Debt

If interest rates are too high such as to make your minimum payments too onerous to allow much wiggle room, do not be shy about calling the debt provider to ask for a reduction in the rate. They don’t have to honor your request, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Continue reading

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ETFs in a 401k: The Wave is Building

There has been a lot of discussion concerning the use of exchange traded funds (ETFs) as the primary investment vehicle within 401k plans. The barriers that once stood in the way are being removed by innovative record keeping and the growing use of ETFs in private and institutional accounts. Continue reading

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ETF Capital Gains 2011

IndexUniverse.com recently published a report with all the ETFs that pass though capital gains to its investors. Apparently in 2011 only 93 ETFs made this list. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Vigilant Investor

You can go with your gut when choosing between steak or chicken. Use knowledge to choose an advisor. This book will help you do that. Continue reading

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The Stretch IRA

A stretch IRA is not officially in the IRS code. It is a wealth transfer method that allows you to potentially “stretch” and even grow the IRA assets over several generations. The strategy involves adjusting beneficiary designations to minimize so-called required minimum distributions (RMDs) over a long period of time. Continue reading

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4 Tax Saving Ideas

It’s almost 2012. Your business has done better than expected. Here are a few things you may consider to help lower your tax liability before year end, but you had better hurry! Continue reading

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Individual Stocks and Diversification

No matter how aggressive an investor you are, investing in one company, or even a few companies, is not a wise move. Continue reading

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Hedging a Falling Dollar

We often get questions about what can be done in a portfolio to protect from a falling dollar. Often many people refer to gold for this solution, especially with every other advertisement on Fox News from companies trying to sell you- guess what- gold! Continue reading

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Retirement Plans for the Self Employed

So you quit the corporate rat race to start your own business.  It’s hard work, but you enjoy the freedom and the thrill of being your own boss.  There is nothing that you miss about your old job.

Except maybe your 401(k). 

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A Tale of Risk and Reward

There is no room for greed in investing. In the investing world you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If you want the reward you have to take on the risk as well. Put another way, you have the potential to be rewarded for the amount of risk that you take. Notice I said “potential”. Reward is not a guarantee. The reason is risk. Continue reading

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The Lure of Debit Cards

But is a debit card really better than a credit card? Studies have shown that we spend more when using a credit card. You’d think that using a debit card would alleviate this problem, since you know that you’re using your own money to make the purchase. This isn’t true. Some smart college students I know have figured out they do indeed spend more using a debit card, and now use cash for most purchases. Continue reading

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When Markets Go Crazy

Worry much about your investments? In volatile markets, it’s easy to feel uneasy. Memories of 2008-2009, when the market lost more than half its value, are still fresh in everyone’s mind. So when the market swings widely nowadays, investors get concerned. Sometimes concerned enough to act.
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Wiser Research – Emerging Market ETFs

Emerging Markets should be a part of every portfolio. With many ETF choices this post dives into Emerging Market modeling. Continue reading

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Save Early for Retirement

At what age is it better to save for retirement? In your early years of working, money is probably tight. It’s hard to find the extra money to save towards such a far end goal, when the rent needs to be paid, and you have a more immediate need to build emergency savings. You might think that waiting until later in life to save for retirement, when your income is likely higher and you can more likely afford to do so, would be the best option.
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How to pay for College

It’s a blessing and a curse. After much nagging about grades and extra-curricular activities, your beloved Junior or Juniorette has made it into college. Your first thought is how proud you are of your child’s achievement. Your very next thought is, “How in the world do I pay for this?” Continue reading

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Best Execution in ETFs, how much do you really pay?

***Originally published in the July 2011 edition of NAAIM’s “The Active Manager” By Scott Freeze.

Best Execution is a very difficult metric to measure since it is such a subjective benchmark. In a “thinner” ETF with a wide spread, such as MNA (IndexIQ Merger Arbitrage), you have a 20 cent …

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IRA Charitable Rollovers

You have done well for yourself. You’ve watched your pennies, saved aggressively, invested wisely, and now, in your golden years, you have a retirement nest egg that is more than you need. You have a philanthropic bent – an alma mater you’re fond of, a charity that is near and dear to your heart. How can you donate to these worthy causes without sacrificing to the IRS more than you think it deserves?
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Emerging Markets VWO vs DEM

The research staff here at Wiser Wealth recently analyzed all the broad based ETFs that track emerging market indices. The staple in Emerging Markets is currently Vanguards VWO and iShares’ EEM. The comparison articles on these funds are endless. One fund that filtered to the top of the Emerging Market ETF list that might be less known is Wisdom Tree’s DEM. We compared it in this article to Vanguards VWO. The following report helps compare the DEM and VWO Emerging Market strategies as well as the results of the last few years. Continue reading

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Play Defense with a Solid Portfolio

The pictures and stories from Japan have shocked us all. The human aspect of this country’s struggle to cope with the earthquake and tsunami tugs at our hearts. The same applies to those in Middle Eastern countries crying out for freedom and democracy only to be responded to with bullets …

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Where’s the Yield? Generating Income in Your Portfolio

Portfolio yields are under pressure due to the worldwide flight to safety over the last few years, making conservative and income growth portfolios more difficult to manage. While bond investments made a few years ago have done historically well, new investments have greater principal risk with low historic yields. Continue reading

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Egypt – A Better Understanding

“The problem with freedom and democracy in the Muslim world is that it is a figment of the imagination that only exists in the minds of Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.” Continue reading

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An ETN to replace the Variable Annuity?

A new exchange traded note (ETN) has come to market offering a well-known approach to investing found in active investment strategies, but new to the exchange traded products. The US RBS Trend Pilot ETN (ticker TRND) tracks the total return of the S&P 500 (actual return plus dividends), but provides safety in that if the S&P 500 drops below its 200 day moving average, then TRND will “sell” the S&P 500 and “purchase” short duration US treasury bonds. Looking back to 2008, TRND would have been in treasuries during the financial crisis, missing the worst decline in the S&P 500 in decades and benefiting from treasuries climbing to record prices. Continue reading

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2010 Tax Relief Act – Estate Implications

The 2010 Tax Relief Act has been passed. What does this mean for your estate plan? Continue reading

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A Random Act of Christmas

Chris Ciulla, a client here at Wiser Wealth Management is organizing support for our troops through his program A Random Act of Christmas. Chris is raising money to purchase gift cards that he and his family will hand out to our troops as the pass through the Atlanta Airport. The gift card will be used by the troops online to pick out a gift of their choosing. You can contribute with a little as $32 to purchase one gift card. Continue reading

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Why do they keep trying to sell you that annuity?

There are several types of annuities with the most popular being the variable annuity. The bank salespeople, often falsely referred to as financial advisors, make the sales pitch sound as if these products are the best things since the Wright Brothers took flight. I say buyer beware. Continue reading

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Can An ETF Collapse? The Study that was proven false.

Can an ETF Fail? A study by two PHD’s makes one believe that ETFs are unsafe investments. Continue reading

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Free ETF Trades at TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers 100 commission free ETFs. Continue reading

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How to Choose a Financial Advisor

The title “Financial Advisor” has a myriad of meanings. To most, it probably means a financial “expert” to guide you through important decisions and help manage investment assets for the present and future.

However, all advisors are not the same. So, how do you pick one? Below are five factors …

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Vanguard Lowers the Cost of Investing… Again

Vanguard has lowered the floor on S&P ETF index investing. Continue reading

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Mosque vs. Capitalism

It really comes down to symbolism. The World Trade Towers symbolized American Capitalism created from a free people. The Towers reminded us that Americans have the freedom to invest. The freedom the innovate. The freedom to take risks and earn great rewards. The freedom to learn. The freedom to live…. a free people.
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Active Management Comes To Emerging Market Bond ETFs

WisdomTree has introduced an addition to the ETF landscape with an active ETF in the emerging market bond category.

Emerging market bonds are a unique asset class with extraordinary characteristics which many ETF investors have made part of their portfolios for many reasons. Emerging market bonds have high absolute returns with low correlation to other markets and are high yielding vehicles. Continue reading

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How Poor Investments Happen

Investors tend to do poorly when they react to what the market does instead of preparing for what may happen and taking advantage of long-term forecasts. With a reactionary attitude, investors will rarely do well. Continue reading

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2nd Quarter Market Landscape

First-quarter gains have taken a huge hit against large declines in the second quarter. According to Morningstar’s ‘super sectors’ reports, Information is down 10.46%, Service 12.23%, and Manufacturing 10.92%. Some market data would suggest that an underlying cause of these losses is uncertainty in the market. Continue reading

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Top 5 Estate Planning Mistakes

Top 5 estate planning mistakes

I recently read a report that suggested that only about 20 percent of the population has a formal estate plan. After reviewing the points below, please take a minute to consider whether it’s time for you to create or update your estate plan.

Here are

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Lower Duration For Better Inflation Protection

TIP Securities have been around only since 1997, placing them a time period with only relatively tame levels of inflation. That being said, the need for inflation protection is very relevant, and investors now have access to five TIPS ETFs. They give investors a choice among broad based, intermediate, short-term, and long-term durations. Continue reading

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American Debt

Debt, while once viewed as a negative for the average American, now seems to simply be a part of life. Using credit and having debt outstanding is normal now not only for the most people, but for the government as a whole. The US federal government deficit is currently over $13 trillion and is growing by about $4.09 billion each day. To put this amount into perspective, with a $13 trillion debt obligation, each person in the world owes almost $2,000. That is $2,000 for 6.7 billion people. Continue reading

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Financial Reform Freedom?

The Senate sweats this week over the self imposed July 4th deadline for President Obama to sign the Financial Reform Overhaul Bill. The bill is reported to be over 2,000 pages, and reaches into every corner of the financial industry from credit card transactions to advisors.

The bill ventures into some places where legislation has previously left alone. In many ways, the financial system needs some changes, however, for the most part, the Independence Day bill is more confusing than freedom-promoting. Continue reading

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International Corporate Bond ETFs Have Arrived

PowerShares listed the second-ever international corporate bond ETF for trading this week, behind State Street Global Advisor’s international corporate bond product, falling right in step with the unfolding of the debt crisis in Europe. The PowerShares ETF provides a broad exposure to international, investment-grade corporate bonds issued in developed countries. Continue reading

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Efficient Market Theory and ETFs

One of the most popular ideas in the investing world, the Efficient Market Theory, argues, very simply, that a stock’s price equals its value. This would mean that a stock’s price reflects all publicly known data, including future expectations of the stock’s performance. Continue reading

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ETF Fixed Income Assets Climb in April

ETF cashflows have climbed despite worries about rising rates in fixed income ETFs. Investors also seem to be pouring money into global ETFs even though overseas markets continue to abound.

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Letter to Clients – Crisis in Europe

“Because major developed markets are now so highly linked, there is no way for problems in Europe to remain isolated there; we will see a ripple effect here in the US.” Continue reading

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The Unemployment Report – 5/7/10

The amount of jobs added went up in April even well above what is expected, adding 290,000 jobs to the market. Up from 200,000 added in March. Continue reading

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Goldman Sachs – Not the Real Problem

The government allows companies like Goldman and other brokers to act under suitability rules. This means that a client has to be suitable for the investment, but does not mean that the product is the best for the client. Continue reading

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ETFs in Europe – Amsterdam ETF Conference

ETFs in Europe are starting to get some interest. This is my journal from the ETF Conference in Amsterdam. Continue reading

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Wills and Trusts – In the Box or Off the Web

Dawn Levine an Attorney in Marietta, GA often gets asked what she thinks about Wills done over the internet. Continue reading

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Wiser Helps Those Out of Work – Free Tax Prep

Wiser Wealth Management offers free tax preparation services to those currently out of work. Continue reading

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A Dollar Hedged ETF; How To Allocate Around The Falling Euro

The end of 2009 saw the entry of a new ETF in the already dense ETF landscape:  a currency hedged ETF.  This new feature is of interesting significance due to its packaging inside an ETF.…

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Active vs. Passive – Morningstar’s Second Half 2009 Report

Morningstar has released their Box Score Report looking at active vs. passive investing strategies over the second half of 2009.…

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Faith Based ETFs: Investing with Conviction

Faith Shares launches the first faith based ETFs. Continue reading

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The Cruel World of Financial Advice

You expect that your banker or broker will always do what is in your best interest. Can they? It’s a mixed up world when your financial advisor is your salesman. Continue reading

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Should you put ETFs in your 401k?

ETFs are empowering individual and professional investors with the power of transparency, diversification, low fees, and, compared to many of active fund managers, better performance. …

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My Boca Experience – Inside ETF Conference 2010

I was recently privileged to be on a panel at the Inside ETF Conference in Boca Raton, FL last week.  The event was a great success with over 800 attendees, and was broadcasted live by CNBC.…

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Indexing Inspiration + Gold

Irving Kristol, “an indexer is stock-picker who has been mugged by reality.” Continue reading

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Fiduciary and the “B”

Is the “lack of demand” for the ‘B’ share mutual funds because brokers are cleaning up their act and ditching one terrible product to show that they really don’t need to be fiduciaries to have the client’s best interest at heart? Continue reading

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Closet Indexer

There is an old joke that financial news journalists write about the hot stock or mutual fund by day and privately invest in long term healthy index funds by night. Could this be true of active fund managers as well? Continue reading

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House Makes Death Tax Permanent Today

Despite Republican efforts to do away with the Death Tax, the House voted to pass H.R. 4154 with a final vote of 225 to 200. H.R. 4151 will extend the 2009 3.5 million personal exemption (7.0 million per couple) and the 45% tax rate above those levels through 2010.…

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Indexing Thought Brought to you by Today’s Mail

A look at look at 401k Maximizer, a active trading platform for airline employees and how this pie in the sky approach may leave some grounded in the long term. Continue reading

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Unpacking Global Sectors

Recently, many have reasoned that sectors drive market returns. Using the complete lineup of global sector ETFs from iShares, an investor can utilize the power of sectors within the US while reaching into developed and emerging international markets for simple to complex asset allocation strategies.…

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The Debt Problem in Bond ETFs

This article was written for www.etfmarketpro.com

International bond ETFs are an asset we can no longer ignore, but as some industry experts have brought up in the past, bond ETF construction has many inherent flaws.…

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What Moves a Currency

We have been bombarded with spam emails claiming that the dollar is falling and that we must purchase their strategy to save our portfolios.…

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Passive vs. Active: 1,3 and 5 Year Comparison

Morningstar has released their BoxScore Report covering actively managed mutual funds to Morningstar indexes.…

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Stock Picker to Indexer

Recently, Jason Zweig, in his Intelligent Investor column, discussed data mining and proprietary trading on Wall Street, and the unreliability most of these strategies have on predicting the future.…

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Death Tax Changes Uncertain

I recently received an Estate Tax update from The Estate Plan (TEP). TEP cited Leimburg Associates, Inc as the source of the following information. Here is my summary.…

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ETF Index Optimization

The article was created for www.etfmarketpro.com.

Investable indexes are designed to be realistic representations of actual market spaces (the S&P 500 index represents the securities in the S&P500); however, in some asset classes, indexes are too idealistic to be managed as ETFs in a cost effective and efficient manner.…

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Why Commodities are Different

This ariticle was also posted at ETFMarketPro.com

Commodity ETFs are different than traditional, plain vanilla ETFs and investors need to be made aware of the risks.

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Commodity ETFs Having Problems

Recently, some commodity ETFs have been forced to stop the creation process of ETF creation units, meaning that the funds and trusts are being forced to act like closed in funds. …

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Correlations of the Crash

Correlation is generally defined as “the strength and direction of a linear relationship between two random variables.”…

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Run..Run.. from the Salesman with the Annuity!! UPDATED

I had a email conservation today with an old friend who just purchased an annuity.…

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Leverage ETFs in the News…Again

Leveraged ETFs Under Investigation

The Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Galvin, is looking into the marketing of leveraged ETFs and has reportedly written letters to the three biggest players in this market, ProShares, Direxion and Rydex.…

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The Currency Effect in Foreign Investing

This article was written for and also appears at ETF Market Pro.

Currencies are different than any other type of investment. …

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Another Advocate for Indexing

Yesterday, I met with a Captain from Atlantic Southeast Airline (Delta Connection). As soon as he walked in the door, he handed me an article from USA Today about a new book by Justin Fox. Justin Fox was unknown to me but the title of his book, “The Myth of …
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Harvard Endowment Looks to Become More Liquid

The managers of the Harvard Endowment have long been hailed as innovators. Their alternative investments include commodities like timber (famously employing lumberjacks), private equity, and hedge funds.…

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John Bogle Endorses Wiser Wealth, Well…Sort of

Our friends at indexuniverse recently interviewed John Bogle. Mr. Bogle is the mutual fund indexing pioneer that started Vanguard.…

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Georgia’s Failed Banks

Georgia’s banks made the front page of the Wall Street Journal yesterday (6/10/09). The article notes that Georgia is home to 4% of the banks in the United States, but is responsible for 20% of the US bank failures since August.…

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Trading ETFs

Trading ETFs

When investing in mutual funds, the investor is handing his money over to a mutual fund manager, giving him or her full discretion in trading the asset as he or she sees fit.  …

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Mutual Fund Lending of Your Money!

A Wall Street Journal article caught my eye today. Jason Zweig’s article “Is your Fund Pawning Shares at Your Expense?” covers a unknown regular occurrence that Mutual Fund Managers often loan out shares of the fund’s stocks to other institutions. …

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Switching to ETFs

In an environment where the stock market recovers and the credit crisis is in the rearview mirror, will your investments recover with the stock market, lag behind or remain at today’s levels? The investment tool you are using will make the difference.…

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