Fake News

Dan Danford

A CLIENT WAS IN OUR offices the other day, grilling one of my fellow financial advisors about some investments in his diversified retirement portfolio. He just couldn’t understand why we’d keep certain securities that hadn’t recently performed well. He kept citing “stuff I read” and “all the experts” as the basis for his concerns.

I wasn’t part of the conversation. But here are three points I would have made:

1. Those experts don’t know a thing about you or your situation. They don’t know your age, health, marital status or personality quirks. They don’t know where you live or how much your house cost. They don’t know how much you spend on groceries or hobbies, or that you were forced into early retirement by an ungrateful employer. They know none of this. Nada.

2. Virtually every expert you encounter online or on television is being paid for those opinions. If they’re discussing gold, real estate or master limited partnerships, you can be certain that their wallet or purse stands to gain from your interest in any of them. If they are recommending stocks, bonds or unit trusts, it is a sure thing that those products generate profits for them or their company. If they are discussing annuities, well, just run away as fast as you can.

3. Don’t be impressed by their purported qualifications. Not one of those so-called experts is any more expert than my colleagues and me. They’ve been in The Wall Street Journal? I’ve been in The Wall Street Journal. They’ve written articles for financial and trade industry magazines? I’ve written hundreds. They’re on television? I’ve been on television.

I may not be right all the time. But I’m just as much an expert as these talking heads—and probably more so.

Dan Danford is a Certified Financial Planner and founder of the Family Investment Center in St. Joseph, Mo. His most recent book is Stuck in the Middle.

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