Author Archives: Kevin Conard

Better Choice than Lottery Ticket

Is That Lottery Ticket Fleecing Your Retirement Savings?

It’s the year 2035. “Choice Chips,” a blooom proprietary form of artificial, individual consciousness to help you make better personal financial decisions – particularly around 401k management – has yet to be invented….

Sadly, We Still Have Fossil Fuels and Paper Lottery Tickets

Joe stopped by the same gas station nearly every day over the last 30 years. It was 7:00 a.m. He was late for work and the attendant was just setting out the coffee for the morning rush. Joe filled his coffee and proceeded to the counter to pay for it.

“That’ll be $9, sweetie.”

Joe pawed through his wallet and yanked out a $20 bill. “Here you go.”

She looked at him, “You want to add the usual Powerball ticket.”

Joe, “You know I do. Today is my lucky day. Here are my numbers, 5, 2, 23, 45, 33 and 12.”

Behind him the door chimes rang and in stepped Linda.

Joe, “Hi Linda, how are you doing?”

“Good Joe! It’s freezing out. Playing the lottery again?”

Linda and Joe had worked for the same company for 30 years. Joe had seniority since he was hired 10 days earlier. They’d both gone to the same high school, but then headed to separate colleges. Four years later they found themselves working at the same company.

Joe, “Sure am. I’ve got to run. I’ve got a meeting in 30 minutes. Maybe I’ll see you later.”

Whose Lottery Numbers Are Better – Joe’s or Linda’s?

Later that night, as Joe sat in front of the TV watching the evening news the Powerball numbers were announced. “And tonight’s winning numbers are 5, 18, 23, 25, 4 and 50.” Somberly Joe thought to himself, “Two out of 6. ‘Well, one of these days I’ll hit the lottery.’”

At that very same moment, in a modest house across town Linda was opening the mail. There were the usual bills and junk mail. But the first thing she opened was her 401k statement.

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Tired Financial Advisor

C’mon! Who Wouldn’t Want $10,000 and Free Breakfast?

Early in my career as a financial advisor I was sitting at a local restaurant waiting on a friend to have breakfast.

It was one of those little places where the tables are just a tad too close to each other. I was early and while I was sitting at the table I overheard the conversation occurring at the table behind me.

Seated were three people. Two of them had on three piece suits and were decked out in fancy jewelry (Rolexes, cuff links…etc.). These two young men looked to be in their late 20s…and I could smell “stock broker” rolling off their $3,000 suits. The third gentleman was clearly a prospect for these two guys – we’ll call him Jim. I could tell they were pressing him hard to move his accounts to their firm. And then came the most egregious thing I’d heard an advisor say in my nearly 20 years as an advisor:

Financial Advisor #1 leaned across the table lifts his head and looks squarely at Jim, “Do you like to make money.”

Jim confidently said, “Well, of course.”

Financial Advisor #2 tapping the table, “How about $10,000?”

Jim meekly replied, “Yea, sounds like a…good amount. That’s a lot of dough.”

Advisor #1 in a dead serious tone says, “Well, we do that for our clients in a single day.”

I almost fell out of my chair.

What a Load of Complete and Total B.S.

You see, Chris and I started our careers in the big brokerage firms. We learned a lot of things, including how many of the financial advisors only cared about hitting sales quotas — at almost any cost. (We never fit in there and subsequently left to start our own independent firm.).

So when I heard the two brokers next to me spouting this garbage, it infuriated me.

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Bad Boss Good 401k

That Son-Of-A-Bitch Boss Taught Me the Importance of My 401k

It was a Saturday morning and the creative team was huddled in the office of the Executive Creative Director. The night before, he’d scrapped all the work we’d done the previous two weeks. So all ten of us waited there in his office at 8 a.m.

Bob walked in and said, “Well, the creative work for the pitch sucked. I need three new TV campaigns, outdoor and radio by Sunday night for the pitch on Monday at 8 a.m.”

Poof. There Goes the Weekend

Ted, a budding Art Director asked, “Bob, what was wrong with the work we did last week?”

Bob responded, “There’s a toilet in every room, huh?” Insinuating Ted was a bowl of crap…or his work was. I’m not sure.

I knew at that minute there had to be a better job for me. Have you ever felt this way?

This situation I was sitting in wasn’t anything new. Bob would call and tell me to get to the office for the next client pitch on a regular basis — always after hours. And – of course – it was always due yesterday. I’d work nights and weekends. I’d pulled all-nighters. And as a young 22 year old, I took the beatings and berating. And I produced.

As much as I wanted to quit, I also had to put food on the table, pay the bills, and try to keep my head above water. The bills were still coming and I couldn’t afford to leave. Plus, even if I jumped to another job, I could end up with the same or worse problems.

Have you ever felt stuck? You’re not alone. Many people stuck are in “dead-end” jobs. In fact, 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work.

There Are Solutions to Getting Out. For Most: It’s Your 401k

I wish I could say some bolt of lightning hit me and I knew that my 401k was my path to salvation. But the truth is, I just signed up for it because my dad had always told me “pay yourself first, son.”

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Sir Isaac Newton…astronomer, mathematician, physicist…and super crappy investor.

Newton made a huge impact in the 1700’s with his contributions on the Law of Motion, gravitation and inventor of the first reflecting telescope. Stay with us here…he was also a fellow of Trinity College, a member of Parliament, and was knighted by the Queen in 1705.

By all accounts, the man was a freaking genius.

But, Boy Oh Boy, Did He Suck at Investing.

Think about that? How is it even possible that a person this smart could be bad at investing? Simple. And here is the story:

Enter the South Sea Company. This was a company that was established in the early 18th Century. In exchange for assuming England’s war debt, the company was granted a monopoly on trade in the South Seas.

Bingo. Investors loved this. They smelled a huge money making opportunity.

Sir Isaac Newton was no different than any other investor. He too had been charmed into purchasing shares of the South Sea Company and by 1720 after seeing the stock rise rapidly without reason at a fever pitch he rationalized, “I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.” So, he cashed out. And profited big time from his investment.

Then he watched as the stock continued to soar THREE times higher than when he sold his shares. We can only imagine the regret he was feeling. As evidence, he went on to repurchase South Sea Company. Only this time he was buying it THREE times higher than when he last sold it.

Briefly, the stock continued to rise. We’re sure Newton was feeling wonderful about his decision. And then things started to go awry. The stock peaked weeks later and then cratered. Newton ended up losing £20,000 (nearly his life savings) which in today’s dollars equates to roughly $3,000,000.

Let That Sink In. Astronomer. Mathematician. Physicist. And….Broke.

Newton, a genius by all accounts, couldn’t pull off investing without letting his emotions get the best of him. Where does this leave you?

Simple. You need to find a professional that can help you navigate the emotional ups and downs of investing. We don’t care where you get help, just get help! Many traditional advisors have $1,000,000 account minimums before they’ll talk to you. Luckily for our clients, we don’t have a minimum and we focus on the ever confusing 401k that you might have set on “auto-pilot”.

Look, this isn’t about your IQ score. 1000s of folks using blooom are super smart people – doctors, teachers, fireman…shoot, we even have financial advisors using blooom for their own accounts! Yes, they are all smart. BUT they’ve come to the realization that it’s best to have someone hold your hand through the inevitable ups and downs you will see as an investor.

Don’t let your investing experience become a history lesson for someone else.

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Something about Mary…

When the 60-something woman walked into the office I could see her fighting back the tears.

From time to time this happened to me as a financial advisor. After all, once you’ve counseled 500+ families about retirement, you’re bound to see some tough situations.

But on that day in April of 2009, it turned into a situation I’d never forget. The kind of situation that would make me sick to my stomach.

As I came out to introduce myself to her (let’s call her Mary), she thanked me for my time. I’d never met Mary before. She’d been referred to us by her husband’s co-worker.

We made our way to the conference room and as I always started off meetings, I asked her, “What can we do to help you today?”

Mary replied, “I’m in trouble. And I don’t know what to do.”

“Okay, what’s the situation?”

“Up until last Friday, I worked at a small regional bank for 32 years. On Friday, the Federal Government came in and seized the bank. They locked the doors. We are officially out of business. Which means I lost my job.”

“I’m really sorry to hear about that. That’s definitely not an easy thing to digest…”

“Yeah, well my job is my last concern. The problem is that I had my entire retirement account invested in the private stock of the bank. The valuation last year said it was worth $750,000. Is there anything I can do?”

I already knew the answer and I suppose deep down she did too…the simple answer was there’s nothing she could do. And the stock was virtually worthless. 

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