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Retired from Wall Street; mountain climber, RIA, and real estate investor
Old 02-10-2008, 11:19 AM   #1
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Retired from Wall Street; mountain climber, RIA, and real estate investor

I began to confront the various issues of early retirement in 2004 when I left Wall Street after engineering the merger between Prudential and Wachovia Securities.

It is a significant life change to go from large-company employee to unaffiliated individual ... things like where to find health insurance and what to do with yourself for the next 30 or 50 years suddenly become very significant.

As well as how to manage your own portfolio to produce the income you will need to live on comfortably without running out of money.

At the urging of several people who wanted me to advise them I have formed a financial planning LLC but of a different sort than usual ... I accept no commissions, I do not manage anyone's money directly but my own and I encourage people to take charge of their own affairs. A close association with Wall Street taught me where its incentives lie, and they are not often aligned with those of their clients.

I have written several internet pieces on this general subject

Asset Allocation and Portfolio Rebalancing

Retirement Planning

You would be right to be suspicious of my motives, but perhaps what I've written will allay your concerns.

/grf
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Old 02-10-2008, 11:31 AM   #2
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Hi and welcome

Interesting blogs. Good that you don't accept commissions, it sounds like your attitude, that people need to take charge of their own financial affairs, meshes with most of the people on this board. We look forward to your contributions.
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Old 02-10-2008, 11:35 AM   #3
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OK, I'm impressed so far, although I sense you may be going through the ER.ORG gauntlet soon. It's an antibody of sorts, but it means well.

After that, if you decide to stick around for the next few months or years, I think you are the type of person from whom we might all be able to learn something.
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Old 02-10-2008, 11:57 AM   #4
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Welcome grfiv!

Just wondering about the mention of a Philadelphia physician on your websites. Are you an MD?

Meadbh (MD)
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:10 PM   #5
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Welcome grfiv!

Just wondering about the mention of a Philadelphia physician on your websites. Are you an MD?

Meadbh (MD)

No, I'm not an MD. I built that website for my father who is a retired Endocrinologist. He majored in English at Yale but WWII valued doctors more highly than English professors. After 60 years he retired and was dissatisfied with the commercial blog sites as a place to write about Shakespeare, etc., so I built a PHP system to meet his needs.

It turns out to be a very convenient way to publish anything on the web; so, being lazy, I used it too; my son also uses it for his schoolwork.

I am building another website for my LLC and I have a personal website for my photography but neither is as far advanced as what I have built so far for my father.

Sorry for any confusion.

Cheers,
George Fisher
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:18 PM   #6
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Hey grifiv,

Welcome here.

VERY nice links. Love the graphics.

Can you explain what you are refering to by this?
Quote:
you might consider spreading your total portfolio across both firms to reduce the risk of calamity,
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:25 PM   #7
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Hey grifiv,

Welcome here.

VERY nice links. Love the graphics.

Can you explain what you are referring to by this?
Both Fidelity and Vanguard are large and well managed but it is not unheard of for financial firms to get into trouble. I don't expect it of these two but my money is very important to me and I want to reduce my risk ... if I split my portfolio between the two firms and one gets into trouble, only 1/2 of my portfolio is at risk.
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:48 PM   #8
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Both Fidelity and Vanguard are large and well managed but it is not unheard of for financial firms to get into trouble. I don't expect it of these two but my money is very important to me and I want to reduce my risk ... if I split my portfolio between the two firms and one gets into trouble, only 1/2 of my portfolio is at risk.

I agree with this. It's also why I still have my traditional IRA rather than convert it to a Roth (tax diversification).

Where have you climbed? I'm going to the northwest this summer and then probably heading down south in the fall/winter.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:03 PM   #9
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I agree with this. It's also why I still have my traditional IRA rather than convert it to a Roth (tax diversification).

Where have you climbed? I'm going to the northwest this summer and then probably heading down south in the fall/winter.
I'm not clear on what you mean by "tax diversification". I believe that a young person is unequivocally better off in a Roth; conversion becomes more problematic for older people because they've built up more taxable assets.

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Old 02-10-2008, 01:14 PM   #10
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I'm not clear on what you mean by "tax diversification". I believe that a young person is unequivocally better off in a Roth; conversion becomes more problematic for older people because they've built up more taxable assets.
Unless Congress changes their mind and decides to tax Roth withdrawals, force withdrawals at 70.5, institutes a national sales tax, or does any of a number of other things that would make Roths less attractive.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:18 PM   #11
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Unless Congress changes their mind and decides to tax Roth withdrawals, force withdrawals at 70.5, institutes a national sales tax, or does any of a number of other things that would make Roths less attractive.
Yes
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:39 PM   #12
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Welcome. Glad to have you here. I've sometimes wondered about a "second career" in financial planning after I FIRE. Many of my co-workers are very smart people but completely clueless about personal finance. I wondered about thei idea of being a fee-only planner with $0 fee. It would certainly resolve the conflict of interest question if I cannot take remuneration. I suppose if I'm making no money it would also be incentive to make sure I keep it in balance as a fun hobby and not let it turn into a j*b. Glad you found this place.
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Old 02-10-2008, 02:24 PM   #13
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Welcome. Glad to have you here. I've sometimes wondered about a "second career" in financial planning after I FIRE. Many of my co-workers are very smart people but completely clueless about personal finance. I wondered about the idea of being a fee-only planner with $0 fee. It would certainly resolve the conflict of interest question if I cannot take remuneration. I suppose if I'm making no money it would also be incentive to make sure I keep it in balance as a fun hobby and not let it turn into a j*b. Glad you found this place.
Overall, don't you feel that volunteer "helpers" are substandard helpers? Almost every field requires a lot of time and effort just to stay current. Would this be a fun hobby? Basic utility theory tells us that people don't do arduous tasks for no reason. If not money, in what currency is the bill being paid?

Anyone ever consider a volunteer surgeon?

Ha
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Old 02-10-2008, 02:56 PM   #14
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Overall, don't you feel that volunteer "helpers" are substandard helpers? Almost every field requires a lot of time and effort just to stay current. Would this be a fun hobby? Basic utility theory tells us that people don't do arduous tasks for no reason. If not money, in what currency is the bill being paid?

Anyone ever consider a volunteer surgeon?

Ha
Well, if the 'volunteer surgeon' was involved in performing the surgery on themselves several times a week, every week (equivalent to someone on this forum keeping abreast of their investments several times a week), and the surgeon knew everything there was to know about the surgery both from their own personal experiences and being open to learning the pluses and minuses from other surgeons.....I might.
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Old 02-10-2008, 03:10 PM   #15
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I think my thoughts were more along the lines of volunteer teacher. Showing people how to understand the choices and make decisions themselves. No way I want to be a volunteer account manager or expect anyone to have me make decisions on their behalf. Too much like w*rk. Too much like liability. I'd think a volunteer teacher with real world experience would be a valued helper.
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:03 PM   #16
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Like G.O., I am hoping to teach basic principles of financial security to young people some time in the future. I already use the skills and qualifications I have gained in my career to teach at a university, on a volunteer basis, certain skills that students will need for their future. The reality is that I am only giving them the basics, planting seeds of knowledge for them, so they can take it to their own next level. Anyone with an internet connection can do a tremendous amount of study and learning on their own. The only problem is that some do not know where to start, or the idea seems daunting to them. By the time I FIRE, in a couple years +/-, I will have gained enough skill to be able to do something like this, i.e., help people get a start on their own investigation and learning. If I can save even one person from a life of abject poverty when they are a senior (16k +/- avg income noted on another thread), then my service will have been worthwhile. But, I will not make decisions for them, I will not manage their money, I will not take a fee. (If I have to rent a hall to do the teaching, we would of course split the fees...but not likely). Even now, many of my students ask me what they should do...to which I always answer that they need to study the issue, determine their own goals and what they must do to achieve them, then execute. It is their choice.

To anyone who is doing something like this in their community, I applaud you. It is a worthwhile act of service.

R
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:42 PM   #17
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Glad to hear there are others out there considering this. I think the need is real and actually growing. A few months ago my employer engaged a "volunteer" speaker for some basic financial planning seminars. Turns out there is a network of financial planners who founded a "volunteer" organization for these kinds of talks. While they are volunteers during the seminar, outside they are paid financial planners. Much of the talk was about how complicated financial products are and how everyone needs to seek help from a qualified planner. Very self serving and confusing for much of the audience. Which is probably what they really wanted.
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:53 PM   #18
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if I split my portfolio between the two firms and one gets into trouble, only 1/2 of my portfolio is at risk.
Not true. Mutual Funds are owned by the shareholders in each fund. The mutual fund family (Fidelity, Vanguard) have no financial stake in the shares of the fund. If Vanguard went belly up, their MFs would still be worth the value of all of the underlying stocks/bonds and the shareholders would not lose anything. Thus, you are no safer having split between Fido and VG than if you had 100% with either fund family.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:37 PM   #19
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George,

The most comprehensive summary of investment theory and asset allocation I've ever read in one article. Thanks. Welcome to this humble board. Your expertise is welcome.
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Old 02-10-2008, 09:54 PM   #20
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Overall, don't you feel that volunteer "helpers" are substandard helpers?

...

Basic utility theory tells us that people don't do arduous tasks for no reason. If not money, in what currency is the bill being paid?

Anyone ever consider a volunteer surgeon?

Ha
Well, I can answer part of that from my perspective. I find that the prep 'work' required to teach someone something forces me to focus my own thoughts. I've found that I really don't know if I really understand something until I can teach someone that thing, and make them understand. I can benefit from that. So yes, I think there is a 'payback' received, but not a monetary one (at least not a direct one).

Now, the second part - shouldn't someone view services that were offered for free as sub-standard? In some cases, but I think forums like this are a good example. I often find better info on a variety of topics than I can get from the 'pros' (with their own agenda). Which doesn't mean that forum people don't have an agenda, but pretty soon you figure out which ones are posting to share their expertise (and maybe hope to receive in kind). It seems to work pretty well.

Poster A knows about subject X, Poster B knows about subject Y. They share experience, and everybody wins.

I've thought of doing an 'investment club' kind of thing, and do a little 'teaching' as part of that, for the reasons I gave.

-ERD50
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