The Virtue of Slowing Down

August 1, 2021

Time is an interesting dimension. It is a fixed measurement, yet our perception of time varies greatly depending on what we are doing.

It has been said that the longest eight seconds in life is riding a bull. I never rode a bull and have no interest in testing that statement for myself. So, I will take it as fact. But even so, eight seconds is eight seconds – regardless of what we are doing.

It's About Perception

Time seems to “fly” when we are engaged in a fun, exciting or stimulating activity. And it appears to stand still when we are scared, anxious or bored. In other words, the things we enjoy in life make it “go” quickly, while the things we dislike seem like they last for an eternity.

This means that when we are engaged in desirable activities, such as summer vacation with the family, it may be worthwhile to take a moment to slow down and reflect on the experience. This will allow us to relish the moments and the subsequent memories – which we can call upon during the more difficult times.

Slowing Down & Investing

Slowing down can also help us make better financial decisions. When information comes at us in an orderly rate, we can process the information just fine and draw logical conclusions. But when we get a ton of information all at once, our brain freezes – just like a computer when trying to process many things at once.

When the brain freezes, it can no longer process information and think critically. That part of the brain is offline. If we require a decision right away, the brain will transfer the decision-making to our impulsive brain. That means our decisions will be more influenced by intuition and how we feel rather than thoughtfulness.

One of the things I love most about being an advisor is helping investors decipher what information is worth considering and what isn’t. I’ve found that makes decision making easier, and can greatly improve the overall investment experience.



(c)2021 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

The Peril of Investment Fads

July 1, 2021

As we are midway through the year, it can be a good idea to take stock of what happened so far, and what we can learn about it. Looking back is an important activity as we seek to progress. It’s not about beating ourselves up for mistakes or feeding our ego for profitable decisions; it’s about learning and improving our thought and decision-making process.

The Fads of 2021

There are two dominant fads this year: “investments” in what are known as meme stocks and cryptocurrencies. Significant movements in both types of assets were driven by headlines and social media posts, not by fundamental changes in the businesses.

Hype is the primary force behind the making of a fad. This is one way to discern the wisdom of an investment. Positive hype often drives prices significantly higher and fuels overconfidence for “investors”. The lack of positive hype can deflate an asset and cause “investors” to dig in even deeper with their speculative convictions. Hype initiates a fad; our emotions keep the fad going.

Buyer Beware

“Investing” in a fad is not real investing, it is speculating. This is because price movement is driven more by what someone says or how a group of people feel than the underlying value or business the asset represents. Such stimuli are highly sensitive and may change radically on a daily basis without any foundation.

Fads can make or lose you a lot of money. A fad can be a fun and exciting way to “invest”. But beware, such excitement may be short lived. And the cost of the powerful, yet temporary, excitement may be significant.

Looking Forward

Expect to see more fads. There will be things that appear to work better than your strategy. There will be talks of “this time is different” and “paradigm shifts” to rationalize opinions and investment decisions.

The ultimate question is whether you want your portfolio to be exciting and hip, or whether you want it to be enduring. I suggest the latter.



(c)2021 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Improving Your Investment Skill

June 1, 2021

Portfolio returns and achieving financial goals are a largely a function of two inputs: investor skill and luck. Oftentimes, those inputs get confusing – identifying what is skillful and what is luck/chance.

A basic rule of thumb is that anything you cannot personally control is luck. Investors dedicate a significant amount of time, attention and energy to things beyond their control; in other words, we often confuse luck for skill. We should be focusing more on those things we can control – those things that are actually skillful.

Investment skill is often demonstrated through patience and discipline. These are not easy qualities to develop. The three tips below may make it a bit easier to improve your investment skill.

  1. Increase Conviction in Your Strategy. Many investors make security selections based on a “gut feeling”, expected quick gains or perhaps something they heard or read. If we don’t know why we own something, we are much more likely to be influenced by short-term news, market movements and our emotions. Having conviction in your strategy can provide the strength and courage to remain disciplined during difficult times.
  2. Know Your Emotional Limits. Everyone is different. Some people are more susceptible to uncertainty and loss than others. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not; a lot of money is lost because we act like the person we wish we were rather than the person we are. Once you identify your limits, we can tailor an action plan to give you the best probability of achieving your financial goals in the desired time frame.
  3. Create a “What If” Plan. The markets never go straight up. Significant pullbacks, recessions and even crashes are inherent features of capital markets. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when they will happen. During those times our emotions run high and making a thoughtful decision is very difficult. For that reason, it is helpful to create a “precommitment plan”. A decision plan of what you will do if X happens. That way when things are difficult, it’s not about deciding what to do, it is simply acting on what you have already decided to do.

Taking the emotion out of decision making helps us think more clearly and deliberately about our choices and their tradeoffs. Increasing your investment skill isn’t about brute strength. It is about thinking realistically about who we are, what we are going to face and having a plan to get us through the tough times.



(c)2021 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Don't Worry, Be Happy

May 1, 2021

These days it seems there is so much to worry about. The media is replete with news of shootings, civil unrest and the global pandemic. Financially, there are concerns about inflation, taxes and deficits.

Life, with all its trials and uncertainty, provides ample opportunities to worry. If we aren’t careful, we could be consumed with worry – crowding out the ability for us to experience happiness.

Be Happy

Telling someone “don’t worry” is not realistic. There are things we should worry about. A healthy amount of worry can influence us to plan better and take action to obtain better results. But there must be a balance. Worry and happiness are mutually exclusive. There is definitely a time to worry, but we need to make sure we make time and opportunity for happiness.

Power of Laughter

Young children are often the greatest examples of happiness; we can learn a lot from them. They are quick to forgive and they laugh - a lot. Studies show that the average four-year-old laughs 300 times per day. Any guess how many times the average forty-year-old laughs in a day? Only four times1.

Laughter causes our brains to release dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. These hormones not only make us feel good, but they create emotional bonds with others. In a world of worry and disunity, it sounds like this is a fantastic remedy. Good-natured and appropriate humor is uplifting and unifying.

Not Funny? Don’t Worry

You don’t have to be “funny” in order to benefit from laughter and levity. You can surround yourself and enjoy those that have a good sense of humor.

Even something as simple as smiling at someone or complimenting another can release neurotransmitters that elicit positive, unifying feelings. This may not be easy to do in a world filled with worry. But it will certainly be worth it – both for you and the recipient of your goodness.


1. Aaker, Jennifer & Bagdonas, Naomil. Humor, Seriously. Page 25. Random House, 2021

(c)2021 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Resolutions and Habits

April 1, 2021

We are three months into 2021 and there is a good chance that half of all the New Year’s resolutions have already failed. A long-term study by the University of Scranton found that less than 10% of resolutions become part of our lives1.

Such a high failure rate may be due to making bold resolutions we aren’t quite ready for. In other words, the resolution may be aspirational, but not realistic. Another reason may be because there is no plan to get from A to Z by way of systematic progression. We sprint right from the gate and burn ourselves out.

The key to real progress, be it personal or professional, is baby steps. Rather than big resolutions, it is better to focus on a few simple habits. You have habits of commission (I am going to do ABC) and habits of omission (I’m not going to eat XYZ). No matter the kind of habit, successfully forming and retaining them follow the same method.

Creating Habits That Stick

You begin with a resolution and identify the reason or purpose behind the resolution. The resolution is the goal, the purpose is the “why” and intentional habits become the “action plan” to get you there. To improve the likelihood of sticking with new habits, we should form ones that are not major deviations from our current lifestyle. Making a 1% change may not be noticeable or something to brag about, but they can be far more meaningful in the long run.

Once we master a new habit, we create another small habit that gets us one step closer to our resolution. This becomes a continues cycle of improvement that empowers and helps us become the person we want. A marathon is completed with many small steps, not a few giant leaps. We should view resolutions in a similar manner.

Today is the Best Day to Start

No matter what, today is the best day to start a habit that will improve your life. Why today? Because it isn’t tomorrow. When we are forming small habits, we don’t face uncomfortable or unnatural changes to our lifestyle. Hence, there is no reason to procrastinate the day of achieving our resolution.


(c)2021 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Intellectual Humility

March 1, 2021

Humility, or I should say the lack of humility, is quality that is easy to identify in others, yet difficult to see in ourselves. Humility is a difficult quality to develop because it may threaten our sensitive egos. Ego is important; we all have one. Our very survival depends on what “I” do or what happens to “me”. In addition, a healthy ego gives us a sense of purpose, value and confidence.

However, our ego oftentimes dominates our thoughts and decisions as the desire to be right becomes our main prerogative. And whenever our intellect is on the line, we become even more protective of our ego. This is a completely normal and natural response, but just because it is normal doesn’t mean it is beneficial.

Developing Intellectual Humility

The most important part of developing intellectual humility is to acknowledge and respect uncertainty. This is true in all aspects of life, especially within the investment realm. This does not mean we can’t have strong opinions; it just means we need to recognize we could be wrong.

Being wrong doesn’t mean we are ignorant or less of a person; it doesn’t have to hurt our ego. There are many things outside our control that may influence an outcome. There is the role of luck/chance in outcomes. Information we rely on may be incomplete or misleading. And sometimes we simply misinterpret or misperceive a situation (we are human after all).

Investing Humbly

Acknowledging uncertainty, that we don’t know it all and that we could be wrong, helps us take a more thoughtful approach to decision making. It encourages greater due diligence, conservative assumptions and sharpens our focus.

Humility can help us stay true to our personal investment plan and it reduces the likelihood of making costly mistakes. And in my experience as an investment advisor, the greatest risk to reaching financial goals is making costly mistakes.


(c)2021 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

The Lure Of Envy

February 1, 2021

The color green is attributed to many positive things in life. Green is often used as a symbol of prosperity and even represents life itself. But not all green is good. Being green with envy is a characteristic we should avoid like the plague. As Charlie Munger put it, “There’s an old saying, ‘What good is envy? It’s the one sin you can’t have any fun at’. It’s 100% destructive.”1

Envy is a feeling of resentment aroused by another’s circumstances, good fortune or outcomes. And it rears its ugly head frequently among participants in financial markets. It can creep up on any of us and can feel quite natural. But just because it may feel natural or an innate part of who we are, doesn’t mean it is advantageous.

In the past year there have been several securities and stories of quick wealth that may make us envious. Supersize gains, especially among people that don’t know what they are doing, can influence us to feel entitled to such gain. We may regret our “boring” investment strategy and envision how much quicker we can reach our goals by purchasing high flying securities. When we imagine significant gains, dopamine receptors are activated, which makes us feel good – as if whatever we do will be right.

Check Envy at the Door

Envy, when not checked, often leads to unhappiness and influences risky behavior as we seek what others have achieved, without respect to the role of luck in the initial outcome nor the probability that such luck will continue. We want it. We feel entitled to it. We are determined to get it.

The challenge is that there will always be someone, or some investment, that performs better than us. Hitting financial home runs and grand slams are exciting and activate many receptors in our brain. Building wealth through compounding is the financial singles and doubles – yawn inducing.

Envy is shroud in perpetual regret and disappointment. Sure, it may be exciting for a while. It may feel really good. But there is a cost to that feeling. Empirical evidence over decades shows that investors who chase what’s hot significantly underperform a more “boring” disciplined investment strategy.2

Feelings such as envy, which are natural, make investing difficult. It’s one reason why patience and discipline are the greatest virtues an investor can develop. It won’t be easy, but it is the best chance we have to achieve our financial goals.


(c)2021 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

1. Carlson, Ben. Don’t Fall For It: A Short History of Financial Scams. Page 69

2. JP Morgan. A Guide to the Markets. December 2020.

A Persistent Forecast for 2021

January 1, 2021

Persistent (def) - continuing to exist or endure over a prolonged period


Wall Street forecasts lack persistence. Their shelf life may only be a few weeks or months at best. 2020 was a great example; once COVID hit, existing forecasts became worthless. And this happens just about every year – excuses abound as to why the “experts” got it wrong…again.

Despite their propensity to mislead investors, forecasts are alluring because they provide an illusion of certainty. And our brain wants certainty. The problem is that we are looking for certainty in the wrong place.

My forecast is persistent because it is based on enduring investment truths and investor behavior. The news and markets change all the time; but this forecast does not. Not only is it reliable, it’s of immense value to help investors achieve their goals.

My 2021 Forecast

In full disclosure, this is nearly identical to my forecast for 2020 and years prior to that:

  • The economy/market will do something that surprises us
  • Investors who watch the market often will experience more stress than those that don’t
  • You will be tempted to abandon your plan at some point based on expert forecasts and/or short-term market performance
  • Investor behavior (discipline vs chasing what is hot/popular) will have a significant influence on total return – and is something in your complete control

Investing is simple, but not easy. It is difficult to stick with a strategy when it is out of favor. Patience and discipline are virtues because they aren’t easy, yet they are essential for your success. As your advisor, one of my most important roles is helping you decipher the noise from what really matters for your financial success.

I wish you a prosperous, fulfilling and happy 2021. Thank you for allowing me to be your trusted partner along the journey.


(c)2021 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Prospective Hindsight

December 1, 2020

The next twelve months may be an especially interesting time. There is hope, but there is still much unknown. Let’s mind travel to December 2021. Next year at this time, we may look back and say, “Of course, how did I miss that”? This activity of jumping forward to look back is known as prospective hindsight.

The 1999 Tech Bubble

This was a time when profits didn’t matter. We didn’t wonder whether a technology stock would go higher, we wondered how quickly it would double in price. There was little perceived risk in the market. Then came the great bubble burst. Looking back, it was obvious. How could profits not matter? “Growth at any price” was a short-term phenomenon. But it was near impossible to see that at the time.

The Financial Crisis

The financial crisis was another situation that is now obvious. The amount of leverage assumed nothing would go wrong. There were tranches of mortgage debt rated AAA by trusted agencies. What was there to worry about? Sure, the debt was enormous, but all looked good. Until it didn’t.

Our Current Situation

With vaccines on the horizon there is a lot of hope, but also a lot of questions. How long will it take to get back to normal? What additional stimulus will be provided? How much more economic damage will occur before we get out of this? The bulls refer to the high levels of saving and pent-up demand. The bears point to the amount of debt and uncertainty over vaccine distribution. We don’t know how this will unfold. We could grow out of this fairly quickly or we could face significant setbacks.

How Will We Miss It?

At some point in the future, we will look back and wonder how we missed something so obvious. If only we knew that now! This is why the best course of action is to ignore the predictions and follow your plan. There may be confident forecasts, but don’t kid yourself – no one really knows. Not even the “experts.”

There are cases, reasons, evidence and justifications for various potential outcomes. The present day will all make sense at some time in the future. We will wonder how we missed it.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Intentional Gratitude

November 1, 2020

Tis the season of gratitude. Thanksgiving is perhaps one of the most underappreciated holidays, but most needed. Given the year we have endured it may be difficult to be naturally thankful. This year may require us to purposefully and intentionally seek to be grateful.

There are so many things beyond our individual control – the virus, the vaccine, politics, the media and the stock market to name a few. These will continue with us, and soon we will be inundated with consumerism with all the Black Friday sales starting even earlier this pandemic year. With all that is going on, it may be easy to miss out on the spirit of gratitude this year.

Despite all those distractions, we are in control over what we do with our time, thoughts and energy. Do we take time this year to identify how we have been blessed, share a kind word and serve another - despite our individual trials? That is in our individual control.

Choosing to See the Good

The truth is we can think of a lot of things that have occurred that cause investors and “experts” alike to scratch our heads. Surprises and uncertainty are just about the only certainty in the financial markets.

There are people who are thankful for the smallest things – you probably know a few. They are like magnets. We want to be around them because they exude love and joy. And then there those who are impossible to please, those we can’t wait to get away from. We can each choose who we want to be this holiday season.

Thank You

I am grateful for you. Thank you for your trust and confidence in me. Thank you for the privilege to know and work with you. Thank you for taking my advice, even when it goes against what may feel right. Thank you for being a patient investor, I know it’s not always easy, especially this year. And thank you for choosing me as your partner on this journey.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Uncertainty, Outcomes & Our Decisions

October 1, 2020

The brain has a lot of gray matter but hates gray areas. As a planning machine, the brain needs information that is certain so it can figure out the best course of action. And when we don’t get certain information, we get agitated. Perhaps you have said, “I don’t care if the news is good or bad, just tell me what it is. Not knowing is the worst.”

Probability Problem

Whenever there is uncertainty (almost always) we must rely on probabilities to help us make the best decision. But considering probabilities requires a lot of thought and analysis. It means we have to think statistically, which most of us prefer not to do. Instead, we simplify probabilities whenever possible.

Remember the election of 2016? It was said that the election polling was wrong because Trump won. But the polls were giving Trump a 28% chance of winning. The problem was that our brain took that probability and simplified it to zero.

We all want to know what is going to happen in the markets. In the face of uncertainty, we seek out some degree of certainty – even an illusion of certainty. We are attracted to forecasters and market experts who will tell us what is going to happen. And we confuse their popularity and confidence with their ability to predict the future.

Investing Takeaway

The truth is we can think of a lot of things that have occurred that cause investors and “experts” alike to scratch our heads. Surprises and uncertainty are just about the only certainty in the financial markets.

We can’t control the markets or the economy. We can’t rely on expert forecasts, no matter how confident they sound. Even those forecasts with low or high probabilities aren’t sure things – sometimes the unexpected happens.

But we can control how we respond…the choices we make. A financial plan provides guidance and structure. It needs to be coupled with a behavioral plan – how we will respond to the uncertainties and surprises. That’s what I am here for. Let’s focus our time and energy this election season on those things we can control – the financial and behavioral plan.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

The Allure of Pessimism

September 1, 2020

As we enter emotionally charged presidential campaigns, we should prepare ourselves for an onslaught of pessimism. Election talking points tend to be more slinging mud about the other candidate than a candidate’s outline for future prosperity. Why do they focus so much on the negative?

The bottom line is that pessimism is an effective communicator. It results in a greater emotional response, which gets us to tune in and makes information easier to recall. You better believe politicians want us to tune in and remember their message – so really it is a way to be more effective.

Pessimism is also influential because it relies on more immediate need than optimistic viewpoints, which often take a longer time to unfold. “Policy XYZ must be changed right now or else something really bad is going to happen.” Any sense of urgency, even if it is just an illusion or “fake news”, gets us to tune in.

So, how can we rise above the negativity? There are two ways to help us avoid getting caught up in the pessimism and negativity we find all around us. One is an avoidance strategy; another is filtering the information.

We can avoid the negativity by simply turning it off. Taking a break from social media and avoiding sources that get you emotionally charged may not be easy but are effective “strategic ignorance” strategies.

We can filter the noise by changing our time frame. Since negativity and pessimism is most influential over short periods of time, we can filter it by focusing on long-term outcomes. Sure, we may make policy mistakes in the short term, but we will correct them and make adjustments to achieve prosperity in the long term. This strategy can help us remain mentally sane and financially rational.

Investors that are influenced by short-term market moves can easily get caught up in it all. Those who focus on the long term don’t care if the market goes down X% over the next few months because they are looking far beyond that. This is one reason why I implore you to take the longer view – it’s better for your psyche and encourages more thoughtful and deliberate financial decisions.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Focus on Truth

August 1, 2020

As we face increased uncertainty about our lives, work and the markets, it can be easy to become anxious and fearful. We may face more surprises as we learn to live with the pandemic and figure out how to manage the economy through this.

The best way to prepare ourselves and combat feelings of fear and anxiety is to focus on important truths that are constant in our lives, regardless of what goes on around us.

I share with you three important truths with respect to investing. There is a lot we don’t know, but there are several constant truths. And if we focus on those truths, we can be in a better position to make thoughtful and wise financial decisions.

  1. The Media Sensationalizes the News. They need to in order to make money. It’s often urgent (breaking news), it’s about getting us emotional. If they were to deliver news in an unbiased, factual manner, few would tune in. Given this fact, we have to ask ourselves why we even tune in. Yes, it’s good to be informed. But not when the information is skewed and may influence us to make unwise decisions.
  2. Investor Behavior > Investment Knowledge. How you behave and respond to news and market movements have a much greater impact on your wealth than market knowledge. Spend more time thinking about your actions and reactions to market events. Afterall, it is your financial decisions that directly impact your wealth.
  3. Investor Behavior is Predictable. Because thinking and responding are largely habitual practices, investor behavior is quite consistent. Voltaire said, “History never repeats itself, but man always does.” As emotional beings, we overshoot both on the upside and the downside. Our moods and limited views drive most of our decisions – which is why investors often make the wrong decision at the wrong time. Individual investors can improve their investment behavior by learning correct perceptions and following a set of investment rules, but those require effort. We will do that, but the majority of investors will not.

My goal is to be a constant reminder of those things we need to pay attention to, and those things we need to ignore. There is so much noise out there. The anxiety and fear that is permeating our lives is very real. But it need not affect you. Let’s talk about what truths, both personal and financial, you can focus on to get you through this most difficult time. I am here for you.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission

Make 2020 a Great Year

July 1, 2020

We are halfway through the year, and already people say “good riddance” to 2020. This has been a difficult year!

There is uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out and whether we will go back to “normal” ever again. There are many important events and future outcomes that are outside of our individual control.

Trials are always painful to go through. But there is little human progress without trial. It’s like the dumbbell we use to strengthen a muscle. Trials have the potential to strengthen us and help us become better and more capable than we thought possible. They are the refiner’s fire.

While we may not be able to control the trial itself, we have significant control over how we respond and what type of person we become.

So how do we do it? It’s all about what purposeful habits we create. I am not referring to existing habits we do without thinking. I’m talking about purposefully doing specific things each day so that they become habits, and ultimately become our identity.

What character trait do you admire in others that you want to develop? Maybe you notice a friend isn’t as bothered by what’s going on and has a great sense of peace. Find out what that person does. Speak with a religious leader. Research what psychologists say can help you find peace. Then figure out what you can purposely do each day to develop such quality.

One of the most challenging things about New Year’s resolutions and habits in general is that they take a long time to cultivate. A lot longer than 30 days or even 90 days. A habit is not about crossing a finish line; it’s about changing who you are. Your future self is largely dependent on the purposeful habits you do today, tomorrow and every day thereafter.

Several years in the future, when telling your story of 2020 to your kids or grandkids, what will you say about 2020? Will it be the year you forever want to forget? Or will you tell them about the difficulty of the pandemic, but how it was a catalyst for your personal growth – that through it you became a better person. The good news is that story is 100% in your control. It’s going to be based on your purposeful habits.

2020 is only half over. There is still much to do. Make it a great year!


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission



Beware of the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

June 1, 2020

The Holy Grail in investing, if there was one, is an investment that provides equity-like returns without the discipline and stomach often required to achieve such returns. This is what every investor hopes for. We want the short cut. And Wall Street knows this!

There are investments that allege to provide growth and income while protecting or limiting the downside. As investors, one of our biggest nemesis is volatility, so these types of investments are very alluring. They tend to perform satisfactory in good markets, but they can fail miserably in bad markets – the very conditions we expect them to do well. And a few blow up completely.

Buyer Beware

Risk management isn’t about finding the Holy Grail (it doesn’t exist). It is about having the right allocation for you, knowing what you own and transparency in execution. Investment success isn’t about owing the “best” fund. It’s about having the discipline to stick with your plan when times get tough.

There will always be something more attractive than what you own. Investing is a constant battle of tradeoff such as Risk/Return and Feeling/Rationality. Beware of investments that sound so good we are willing to abandon our own investment plan.

Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission


The Virtue of Optimism

May 1, 2020

The current pandemic breeds a lot of uncertainty and fear. The media actively participates spreading the fear. Headlines often accentuate the negative because that is what gets us to tune in.

Pessimism and cynicism are weirdly addictive. While addictive, they can also be destructive – both mentally and financially. Most of us don’t seek them out, but when we encounter them, we just can’t turn away. They can consume our thoughts and affect our mood. It is easy to be a pessimist. It is more difficult, yet more virtuous, to see the good - even in bad times.

Get All the Facts

We seldom get unbiased and complete information. Our knowledge of current events is largely driven by the news sources we frequent. Have you ever wondered why the media printed “that story”? Have you thought about why they reported a story in a certain way and not another? The news we receive is filtered through their lens.

In difficult times like these, we can step back and see the good. We can choose to see the same facts in a different light. We can be optimistic. While it may not change reality, it can improve our perspective and ultimately our decision making.

See the Good

From this crisis, and as well as those in the past, we see much good in humanity. Religious, political and other differences are put aside in a sense of unity:

  • Many are donating time and resources making masks for front line workers
  • Drive by parades for first responders, teachers, students and high school graduates
  • Sending notes, dropping off gift baskets, chalking uplifting messages on others’ driveways
  • Families having time together – parents and children connecting on a deeper level

We Will Come Out Better

We humans are great at adapting and adopting. We will learn from this crisis and come out stronger and healthier. Our health habits will improve. Surfaces will be sanitized frequently. People will wash their hands more. And hand sanitizer will be the new American Express card – we won’t leave home without it. These habits will improve our overall health and well-being.

What a great time to be alive! We are living in a significant period of mankind’s progression. We are learning to live smarter and safer, both for our own health and for generations to come.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission


Preserving Your Mental Health

April 1, 2020

The challenges we face today are unique and significant. The Coronavirus has unleashed uncertainty, economic pain and shelter-in-place for much of the population. Any one of those alone can impact our mental health; the combination of all three can wreak havoc on us.

It is completely normal to experience feelings of loneliness, fear and anxiety during these unprecedented times. We may not be able to control the initial feelings, but we control our internal dialogue. What we tell ourselves and what actions we take can either alleviate or intensify the negative feelings.

We protect our mental health by focusing on things we can control. There is no sense worrying incessantly about those things we cannot control. We accept our situation as fact and figure out what we can do to make the most of the situation. Finding joy isn’t so much about our circumstance as it is in the actions we take.

Choosing to act, rather than be acted upon, supports a healthy mindset. I have included a list of actions that may be helpful:

  • Turn off/take a break from the news and social media
  • Continue your daily habits/routines to the extent you are able
  • Exercise, walk, stretch – get the blood flowing
  • Perform an act of service for someone else
  • Think purposely about today; accomplish something each day
  • Appreciate the simple things in life, count your blessings

I included several actions that have to do with our individual self-care. Yet, one of the most powerful ways we can feel good is to forget ourselves and do something nice for someone else. Whether that is mailing a card, dropping off some cookies or just talking with someone and lifting their spirits. For some reason whenever we serve another person, we are usually the ones that benefit the most.

Stay healthy – both physically and mentally!


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission


Investing - Simple, Yet Difficult

March 1, 2020

Warren Buffett said, “Investing is simple, but not easy.”  Sounds like a contradiction, but in real life simplicity has little to do with ease. Take losing weight. Very simple. Burn more calories than you take in. Not so easy! 

The Challenge

The path to our long-term goals is often filled with conflicting short-term desires. As investors, we want to achieve good returns with minimal fluctuation. We want to maximize return in good times and prevent the chance of loss in the short term. This desire is heightened even more during periods of crisis and uncertainty.

We have the best of intentions. We want to provide for our family and not have to worry about money so our efforts can be on those things that matter most to us. But our emotions can get in the way. Sometimes we make financial decisions that satisfy our short-term emotional urges at a significant long-term cost.

The Cost of Following Urges

Markets can move quickly in both directions. Did you know that over the past 20 years six of the ten best days occurred within two weeks of the ten worst days? Just missing a few days in the market can be very costly.



There is a cost to feeling comfortable. Uncertainty and discomfort are the price we pay to achieve greater long-term returns. We may understand this, but it still doesn’t make it easy. We cannot predict the market, but we can counsel together to ensure your decisions are made with the correct perspective and in line with your long-term goals.

Source: JP Morgan, 2019 Guide to Retirement. Page 41.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission


The Coronavirus: A Healthy Perspective

February 1, 2020

We have our first surprise of the year: The Coronavirus.  Just last month I wrote in my annual forecast that we will be surprised by something this year. This is likely the first of several unexpected, unpredicted events we will experience in 2020.

It’s a good time to take a step back and identify what we know, what we don’t know, what we can control and what we can’t control. Those types of thinking exercises can help us make good decisions.

The Coronavirus is still in its infancy. We don’t know how much it will spread nor the economic toll it can take. It could be over in a few days with little economic impact or it could go on for some time and affect global economies. We have had similar health scares in the past 20 years: SARS, Avian Flu, Swine Flu and Ebola. All of those elicited similar panics in the media and temporary economic impact. As far as the stock market goes, the market has done quite well in the past 20 years despite not one, but several global health care scares

If the flu worsens, corporate earnings could be impacted, and the stock market may sell off. But, if it is anything like the past, it would be temporary. Therefore, if the market sells off, we should be looking at good entry points to buy high quality stocks on sale. Economic and stock market crises may be scary in the moment, but they provide lower prices for investors that actually want to “buy low”.

Turn on any media today and the headlines are dominated by Coronavirus and impeachment. What if neither was happening? What would they be talking about? And what happens when impeachment and Coronavirus run their course? What will the media talk about then?  I don’t know – except, I know they will find something and make it seem like a very big deal.

We can’t control the news. We can’t control how other investors behave. But we are in complete control of what we choose to pay attention to and how we choose to respond. Choose wisely.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission


A Reliable Forecast for 2020

Jan 2, 2020

If you read my forecast for 2019, you will notice it was spot on. This is because it was not a forecast of the economy or markets (which is like trying to predict a casino game). No matter how much we wish, no one can predict the market. No one will know when to go to cash and when to go all in. Like a broken clock, sometimes forecasts can be correct, but they lack persistence.

My forecast is persistent and reliable because it is based on how we feel, and temptations we face as investors. Not only are these more predictable than market outcomes, they are also more important to investor well-being.

While we cannot control the volatility and outcomes of the stock market, we can control how we behave and respond to market outcomes. Financial markets are only one side of the investing equation, the other side is the choices you make. Best to focus on the part we have control over. And understanding what we may face can help us improve our decision-making process.

My 2020 Forecast

In full disclosure, this is nearly identical to the forecast I had for 2019 (and years prior to that).

  • The economy/market will do something that surprises us
  • Investors who watch the market often will experience more stress than those that don’t
  • While we can’t predict the future, all will seem obvious in hindsight
  • You will be tempted to abandon your plan at some point based on expert forecasts and/or short-term market performance
  • Investors that focus on those things they can control will have a better investment experience than those that focus on what they can’t control nor predict
  • Investing with your gut, or feelings, will result in lower returns and higher stress than if you remain disciplined to your financial plan
  • Not looking, aka “strategic ignorance”, will result in less stress and greater personal enjoyment than watching the market

Investing is simple, but not easy. It is difficult to stick with a strategy when it is out of favor. Patience and discipline are virtues because they aren’t easy, yet they are essential for your success. As your advisor, one of my most important roles is helping you decipher the noise from what really matters for your financial success.

I wish you a prosperous, fulfilling and happy 2020.  Thank you for allowing me to be your trusted partner along the journey.


(c)2020 The Behavioral Finance Network. Used With Permission