Thoughts From the Finance Factory

Legends and Legacy

Last month investors everywhere lost a legend. Jack Bogle the founder of Vanguard died at the age of 89.  I never had the chance to meet him, so I am not going to attempt to write some forced memorial.  But I am going to write about is legacy.

Jack Bogle made it his life and career to serve the best interest of investors.  He believed in creating a low cost investment vehicle for the general public to put their savings into.  He popularized the idea of low cost index funds and made investing accessible to millions while sacrificing 100s of millions if not billions in personal wealth.

Don’t get me wrong he died a wealthy man by most people’s standards but in the investment community where there are tons of billionaire investment and hedge fund managers he was not anywhere near as wealthy.  What he has is a legacy of service.  He served investors around the globe.  He drove down fees to a point where investors can create a fully diversified investment portfolio for just a few basis points not several percent.  This allows people to keep their money.

His legacy is not creating the $4 trillion dollar investment giant Vanguard his legacy is being a selfless servant.  So as we celebrate a life that has affected the lives of almost every one of us take a moment and think about what you want your legacy to be and begin doing that if you aren’t already and if you are do more.

Episode 23: Digital Marketing Advice for Business Owners

How should your business think about Digital Marketing?

In this episode I discuss what business owners need to know about digital marketing, how to develop a strategy for their digital marketing and what to expect from working with a digital marketing agency. My guest is Walt Spence owner of Enlab, a digital marketing agency in Richmond Virginia. (more…)

Prognosticators Suck At Predicting Stuff! So Why Listen?

We’re all going to die! I know that’s shocking but according to the headlines I read in December on CNBC we were heading to the worst December returns for the stock market since the Great Depression. You would think we were heading for impending doom.  Oh no! Not the Great Depression.  Let’s create all sorts of panic and despair. That’s what the media does.  They want to create fear, turmoil and despair. Fear sells plain and simple.  No one likes to read about all the great things going on in the world.  And trust me there are lots of amazing things going on.  Advances in science, technology, food, and medicine are literally changing the world as you read this.  So why all the doom and gloom about the markets and why do people care what they have to say.

Here is a dirty little secret:

I have no idea what direction the market is heading. There I said it! I am glad I got that off my chest. Now I am going to let you in on a dirty little secret. No one else knows if the market is going to go up or down either.  Really smart people will go on TV with plenty of charts and graphs and they will talk about Death Crosses and Moving Averages and will pretend to know which way the market is going to go. Investing requires taking a risk. There is a 50/50 chance the market will go up or down on any given day. But based the so called experts of prognostication they can tell you what to own, when to own it and when to sell it.  The reality is they can’t.

They are guessing!

They are taking an educated guess but at the end of the day they don’t know what direction the market is going to go over any short period of time much less any longer period of time.  And that is no more apparent than when you look back at stock market predictions from the prior year.  Barrons had 10 experts predict their returns for the S&P 500 for 2018 and all 10 were wrong.  And wrong by a lot.  The average of the 10 predicted approximately a 11% return for 2018. The S&P 500 returned -6%. The closet person predicted about a 4% gain.  No one predicted it to be negative.  And the experts were looking really good going into September and early October and then circumstances took over and this is what happened.  The markets dropped a lot.

2018 peak-to-trough drawdowns: (As of 12/24/2018)

S&P 500 -19%

Russell 2000 -25%

EAFE -25%

Emerging Mkts -29%

What are they saying this year!

The same 10 experts all say the markets may rally 10% in 2019.  Should we believe them? I am inclined to agree that conditions are pretty favorable for decent returns in 2019 especially if the trade war with China gets resolved and the Fed remains reserved in their interest rate hikes.  No one and I mean literally no one knows if the markets are going to go up this year.  If we look at it over the long term and you say yes, you are going to be right 75% of the time.  75% is a high probability so why is predicting so hard? Because predicting by how much it will rise is nearly impossible to get.  That makes predicting the markets a fool’s errand.  So, do yourself a favor and turn off the CNBCs of the world and stop listening to “experts” on TV because they don’t know if the markets are going to go up any better than you do.

Episode 22: Will The Night King Get His Wall? Talking Markets w/ David Lentz

Its 100 days until the start of Game of Thrones and its time to call your shot. Who ends up on the Iron Throne? Also, will President Trump get his wall like the Night King tore down the Wall with his Ice Dragon? Is the government being “shut down” a bad thing? Are we going into a Recession? Is This Bear Market gonna get worse?

We Tackle all of these topics and a few more as we discuss the recent market volatility.

Episode 21: Talking Markets With Arun Chopra, CFA, CMT

In this episode of the Finance Factory Podcast I talk with Fusion Point Capital Founder Arun Chopra about what is going on in the equity markets.  We talk about the recent volatility and what the Fed may do.  We also discuss tariffs and there impact on the markets.

Be sure to rate the podcast and subscribe on your favorite podcasting app.

The 10 Days of Tax-mas

With less than a month left in 2018, time’s running out for you to finish your wealth management and tax planning to-dos. Many tax opportunities have an annual expiration date of Dec. 31, and this year presents unique possibilities. Here are 10 items you can check off your lists before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.


Episode 19: 28 Things Everyone Needs to Know About The New Tax Law

This is a recording of the presentation we have been giving on the changes to the tax code and how its going to impact everyone. If you are interested in reviewing how the law will impact you and your personal tax situation you can reach out to us to schedule a complimentary tax action plan. Contact us at 336-310-4233 or to schedule your time. You can also visit to contact us.

What Would Homer Simpson’s Will Look Like

This is a guest folks from the folks at Fabric

One of the most important ways you can help protect your family is to write your last will and testament, which can do everything from distributing your estate to detailing who should take care of your kids if you were to pass away.

This process doesn’t have to be dry, boring or depressing!

To make it fun, we did a thought experiment using one of our favorite TV shows: What would Homer Simpson put in his will?

Here’s what we came up with:


Episode 18 – Don’t Be A Jerk w/ Tony Isola

A wide ranging conversation with Tony Isola about retirement planning for teachers. We talk about Tony’s time in the trenches as a teacher in NYC and the struggles teachers face. We talk about the conflicts in the public sector retirement space (FYI there are tons), the abuses we have seen and how to fix them. We also spend a few minutes talking about North Carolina’s Teachers Retirement Plan. (more…)