I just returned from an annual investment conference in Florida—it is one of my favorite to attend, not only because it is oceanside in Florida in January, but also because of the great content and cutting edge investment strategies that are discussed.  This year was no exception—it was a great conference and I heard a lot of interesting information—like how the mind of a procrastinator works from master procrastinator, Tim Urban (if you feel like procrastinating whatever you should be doing for 15 minutes, watch his great TED talk here).  Here are a few other interesting things I learned:

  1. I am a nerd
  • I was sitting on this beautiful beach, under the warm Florida sun:
  • Reading about smart beta, currency hedges, and the economic outlook for 2017:
  • And loving it.
  1. The Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule is very unpopular with many advisors
  • In talking to many advisors, it was a little horrifying to realize how many are against the DOL fiduciary rule.  When I asked them why they hated it so much, they plainly told me that it would be much harder for them to make money now.  Currently, they are selling their clients complex financial instruments and wrapping their (exorbitant) fees in so that their clients never quite see how much they are paying.  One advisor told me that they charge as much as they can without the client feeling it on their performance.  Another joked that they charge the traditional hedge fund fee of 2% annually, and 20% of the outperformance only because their clients balked at 3% annually and 30% of performance.  YIKES.
  • I know that a few bad apples are in every industry, but I am very glad that Meridian has always willingly accepted fiduciary responsibility and we have always believed in full fee transparency.  It is simply the right thing to do.
  1. Smart beta, active management, and ETF use are leading edge ideas in portfolio construction.
  • The above are all technical investment strategies—if you really want a great discussion on each and why they are interesting, please call me and let’s have coffee.  As per Item #1 above, I love talking about that stuff.  But, if you are in the majority that don’t really care, the really interesting point is that all of these topics were covered ad nauseam at the conference—and in each case, we’ve been using each prudently in our Meridian portfolios since our inception.  We were pleased to have our core investment strategy validated by some of the top thinkers in institutional investment management.
  1. Connecting with millennials, women, baby boomers, and other demographic groups is a conundrum for many advisors.
  • Many sessions dealt with how to bring smart investment management to groups that may not have traditionally sought out an advisor.  Millennials and women were two of the most cited groups that have not sought out investment advice.  What I thought was interesting is that at Meridian, we have amazing clients from all sorts of groups—women, millennials, baby boomers, business owners, employees, parents, grandparents, college students…the list goes on.  I think the common thread between each of our clients is a genuine desire to make smart, educated decisions about their money.  And at Meridian, we want to help in that process—so to the extent that we can help explain options or strategies, translate some of the confusing industry jargon tossed around, or just simply listen and ask questions—we believe that our role is to help you make good choices with your money so that you are free to go and enjoy life.

So, if you want a deeper discussion of the topics in Item #3 or want some help in getting your financial life organized and working hard for you and your family, please connect with us–we love to hear from you!!

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