Expert Advice

Beware Of The Investment ‘Expert’

Jay Vivian, former managing director of the IBM Retirement Funds, cautions against accepting investment advice from a self proclaimed expert.

Jay Vivian: I talk a lot to people that want to talk to me about investing, once they hear about what I’ve done and what I do. And one thing that always surprises me is that everybody is convinced that the person that gives them advice is “the guy.”

Just like everybody’s convinced that their knee surgeon is the best. Just like everybody who has eye surgery is convinced that their guy is the guy who did Tiger Woods. Just like everybody’s convinced they’re a better-than-average driver. Now this can’t be. Everybody can’t be a better driver than average. Everybody’s eye doctor can’t be the guy or gal that did Tiger Woods.

I was visiting my mother-in-law in Springfield, Missouri one time and an electrician came over to make a repair. And he found out what I did and he was really interested and he said, “Oh, you know about markets. Well, I got to tell you about this great tip that I just got on French bonds.”

And he was going to put, like, a quarter of his portfolio into some French bond that somebody had told him about. You know, his hairdresser’s granddaughter’s, you know, brother’s lawn mower or something. And I realized that when I was getting advice on French bond purchases from my mother-in-law’s electrician in Springfield, Missouri, that maybe this was a sign that this person wasn’t getting the best advice possible.

So what I can say is, be careful on who you get advice from. Be careful on being convinced that you have the latest inside track on things. Your mother-in-law’s electrician in Springfield, Missouri, is not likely to be the one that should give you that kind of advice.

People at Rebalance may have a slightly better chance of giving you good advice than that. So we have good construction of portfolios, we have good portfolios, and we have good people that can help you make decisions better than that electrician can.