Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

May 16, 2016

DOL fiduciary rule trips up robo efforts at BlackRock, Schwab

By Jeff Benjamin

The DOL fiduciary rule is throwing a wrench into the robo-advice efforts at BlackRock and Schwab. Some robo advisers may need to substantially change their business practices and how they operate. Jim Cramer, the TV personality known for rolling up his sleeves, honking silly horns, and analyzing stocks between commercials, is apparently less impressive when it comes to managing an actual portfolio. The “Mad Money” host, who's TV persona was air-brushed into the form of George Clooney for the new movie “Money Monster,” has been losing ground to the S&P 500 Index. Since 2001, investors would have been better off in the S&P 500 Index than in Mr. Cramer's Action Alerts Plus portfolio. Eight urban myths of personal finance. You don't need to start saving for retirement until you're 40. The Seven most common Social Security misconceptions. Your decision to file only affects you. ... Read full post

May 13, 2016

High-frequency trading has made the stock market better for investors

By Jeff Benjamin

If you're happy with the stock market, you can thank the existence of high-frequency trading. Creating the best market ever for individual investors. The appetite for gold is swelling once again. The ETF inflows are huge. A note for your empty-nester clients, have them clean out their stuff so their kids don't have to take on that overwhelming chore. What happens to my things? In the spirit of this weekend's Players Championship golf tournament, let's take a look at the best golfers in finance. As the saying goes, if you can't break 90 you've got no business playing golf, and if you're breaking 80 you've got no business. Bill Gross' handicap is 12.9. ... Read full post

May 12, 2016

Hillary Clinton's hedge fund ties get trimmed by one

By Jeff Benjamin

More proof that times are tough all over. Hillary Clinton's son-in-law is shutting down one of his hedge funds after losing 48% last year in a Greece-focused strategy. Whatever remains of the $25 million raised will be returned to investors. Hopefully, Marc Mezvinsky's wayward bets on a Greek economic revival will be enough to deter the Democratic frontrunner from considering her son-in-law for a future economic-advisor position. If you're holding your breath waiting for normal interest rates to come back you're just going to pass out. It starts with inflation, which remains stubbornly absent in this economy. Despite all the fuss and tantrums over the plight of those trying to raise a family on a minimum-wage income, the data suggests a less grim reality. There has been a multi-decade decline in the percentage of employed people working for minimum wage. Renowned oilman J. Paul Getty made his riches following the straight-... Read full post

May 11, 2016

Donald Trump's focus on U.S. debt could hurt retirement accounts

By Jeff Benjamin

The flip side of Donald Trump's focus on U.S. debt could hurt ordinary Americans who own more Treasury bonds than any of the better-known holders of our debt, including China, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Americans own almost $5 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds. Hedge fund investors had a generally disappointing 2015, but it was a different story for hedge fund managers. The 25 best-paid hedge fund managers took home $13 billion last year. Bernie Sanders proves once again to be big on talk, but short on the research in his rant against activist investor Carl Icahn. Setting the record straight. Making smart sense of smart beta. Watch out, active management. ... Read full post

May 10, 2016

REITs to get own classification on major indices

By Jeff Benjamin

Coming this August, major market indices will give REITs their own classification called "real estate." REITs currently are bundled inside of “financials." There's a growing consensus that pursuing a CFA instead of an MBA makes more economic sense. The math is pretty simple: an MBA can cost up $100,000 while taking the CFA costs just $1,000. Donald Trump has tapped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lead his transition team if he wins the White House in November. The Donald may want to unite the GOP first before looking ahead to post-election. A Florida man faces a charge of assault with a deadly weapon for, get this, throwing an alligator through a Wendy's drive-thru window. A contrite Joshua James says it was a stupid move and is asking for mercy. ... Read full post

May 9, 2016

Hedge funds face their Uber moment

By Jeff Benjamin

Expensive and exclusive is no longer enough to automatically attract investors to hedge funds. Hedge funds face their own Uber moment. The SEC says financial adviser, Louis Martin Blazer III, stole $2.35 million from his clients by convincing them to invest in two projects that never got off the ground. Making one client whole in a Ponzi-like fashion. Just because it's an option, does it make sense to claim Social Security at age 62? Take the money at 62 and invest it. It's no secret that the airline industry has been squeezing every nickel out of us weary traveling folk, but there are a few extra fees worth paying. Treat yourself to a one-day airline lounge pass. ... Read full post

May 6, 2016

Snoop Dogg takes the debate over Prince's lack of a will to a new level

By Jeff Benjamin

Snoop Dogg sums up why celebrities like Prince don't always have a will. You can't worry about something when you're dead, because you're dead. Stanley Druckenmiller sounds the alarm on China's economy. Describing China's debt level as “extremely rare and quite dangerous.” Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump picks a former crony of George Soros to head up his campaign fundraising effort. Strange bedfellows. In the latest victory for equality, the 'Martha Stewart of marijuana' helps women get into the pot-growing business. The marketing queen has been running the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club for 20 years. ... Read full post

May 5, 2016

Robo-advice is slowing, some even say it's dying

By Jeff Benjamin

Good news for all those living, breathing human financial advisers: The robo-advice movement is losing steam. Direct-to-consumer robo-advice may be dying. Here's what lit up the Google searches as Donald Trump became the last Republican candidate standing. Libertarian Party The junior mining company that has caught the eye of 11 of the largest gold funds. The fundamentals speak for themselves. Nine signs that your clients are not taking retirement saving seriously. No. 10, they have no interest in this list. ... Read full post

May 4, 2016

Bond funds get a pass in active-management debate

By Jeff Benjamin

In the constant banter over active-versus-passive management, fixed income is often overlooked, which could be a mistake.Any quick scan of the financial advice community will typically produce a raft of blunt sentiments on the downside of actively managed mutual funds. But most of that chatter is in reference to the equity fund space, where finding cheaper, index-based alternatives is as easy as it gets.The free pass that investors and financial advisers appear to give actively managed bond funds becomes obvious when you look at the net flows over the past decade.While actively managed U.S. equity funds over the 10-year period through March saw nearly $890 billion in net outflows, actively managed bond funds had more than $808 billion in net inflows.Some analysts put that glaring disparity squarely on the shoulders of financial advisers, who are largely critical of actively managed equity funds but somehow find comfort in active bond... Read full post

May 4, 2016

Gender diversity becomes an investment strategy

By Jeff Benjamin

Gender diversity becomes a hot ticket in the ETF space. In the wake of the March launch of the SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE), out rolls the Bloomberg Financial Services Gender Equity Index. The Bloomberg index, which is not yet linked to an ETF, includes 26 public companies that are “best-in-class in the financial industry in terms of providing opportunities for women.” Bank of America says investors are scared and heading for the hills like never before. “The longest uninterrupted selling streak in our data history.” Why and how Congress is messing with Social Security benefits. Blaming that Bipartisan Budget Bill of 2015. There's plenty of precedent for crazy lawsuits like the one charging Starbucks with using too much ice in its cold drinks. Maybe the real crime is how much some people are willing to pay for cold coffee. The misleading ad about fantasies coming to life. ... Read full post

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