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Life is Global October 23, 2017

Posted by bluedevil32 in education, experience, finance, global, Politics, questions, social.
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In just returning from Chile and having my 29th birthday, I did a ton of reflection over the last 2 weeks. Long flights, new places, peaceful heights & coming of age will force you to do this, if you don’t pause on your own to do it anyhow.

A word:
metacognition – dictionary.com has this as “higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning.” I prefer a simpler “thinking about one’s own mental processes” .

Why do we do what we do? Some just act instinctively. Others act and then question why they acted. Yet there are some who will think, then act. There is a process by which everyone goes about their actions and thoughts – very few reflect on this process. Even fewer that look to change it for the better. Learning to think, approaching problems, coming up with solutions. Producing insights that can push forward or analyze why processes should be different.

In visiting with neighbors on my flights, shoulder-to-shoulder in immigration lines, Chilean natives, South American transplants from neighboring countries and visitors from across the world, there was a different consensus among the lot of them. Everyone had someplace else to be. Each person as different as the next. It was peaceful to not catch a news segment, comedy remark, or overhear a conversation about the active politics of the day. It’s overwhelming in the states, needlessly – and more importantly, rampant with misinformation which makes the deluge of politics ripe with uninformed, unintelligent thoughts. 7 days away – I believe I caught a single newspaper that had Trump on the cover and CNN one morning at the hotel mentioning a brief, 2 minute segment. Granted, I wasn’t looking for the conversations or seeking newspapers/tv’s, but still – there was some peace. Friends who have traveled abundantly over the past year to Europe/Canada/others have anecdotally mentioned that as one of the first things that arise in taxis/Ubers/people that become aware of a US citizen in their presence. No such bad luck in Mexico (my layover) or in Chile once I was there. There were more entertaining or productive discussions to be had. I’m sure this is a part of where one can direct a conversation, as well. People should be more cognizant of this, though I’m afraid politics have now dropped into the pantheon of ‘effortless’ conversation along with “how’s the weather?”, “did you see X” and a general “how’s work”?

Hopefully, as people grow and become more successful and comfortable in their lives, they would want to contribute something back – knowledge, money, mentorships and more. Often, there’s a line drawn between impact and how large of one can be made. This is less important, however, than making an impact regardless. We can make an impact in your core community – neighborhood, town or city, business community. Expand that out to affect multiple cities or a region – think Elon with LA’s tunnels, subway/metro/public transportation, bag ordinances or green movements – smart cities will eventually become a larger look as we go forward, as well. Outside of bigger projects like mentioned above, we can start a group or meet-up that gains members from the community in question – contribution of ideas that can go beyond infrastructural concepts.

Thinking larger (but not in the sense that it has to be bigger impact-wise), connection across counties, states, or the nation is important but more difficult to scale. Industries or sectors can be defined and aided by any one group or person that makes an impact beyond the immediate cases and permeates the outreaches from there. Then we have global scales – whether it’s advancing some technology or standard and bringing it to areas that may be impacted greatly with progression. There are tons of examples of all of these scales. People have different passions and shouldn’t be restricted or forced into doing something that doesn’t spark a fire in them to improve their lives (and hopefully, helping some others that they have a connection to in the process).

We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, a swipe and drag away on our phones. Barriers to entry continue to fall across all spectra. Get excited, people! Help yourself to help others.

Some things that I am jumping into and ones that I would love to hear ideas/talk to others about:
– mentorship with high school / college-level students with finding a passion or question ideas for how to progress forward
– a fun application to make it easier to connect local restaurants/bars with customers about their happy hours using OCR / Image-to-text from menu photos to populate database
– starting an investment fund that focuses on avoiding the nearly unavoidable ‘home bias’ as well as matching risk tolerance with proper returns – focusing on international availability and risk profile of uncorrelated assets
– new thought: possible website/application that will take multiple starting points (friends that live apart from each other) meeting at some location / flight destination in between for reasonable prices — multi-optimized Skyscanner/Hopper
– Payments/Vendors/AP/AR organizing software that will reduce burden and difficulty for companies with nontechnical backgrounds / capacity for process to be so intuitive that it won’t require more personnel or capital invested

 

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Robo Push Progression August 28, 2017

Posted by bluedevil32 in experience, finance, Uncategorized.
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With my work in valuation, I have primarily explored the fintech industry and love seeing new companies, ideas and explorations of outdated methods. The next 5-10 years will be instrumental in defining the space for many Gen X entering retirements as well as planning centralized around the largest generation going forward.

Product pushing runs rampant among firms, despite DC’s attempts at regulation geared toward protecting consumers. We need not think very hard to recall the GS issues 8-10 years ago or more recently the WF scandal that ran roughshed over accounts to hit sales numbers. Even if they don’t end up in lawsuits or other sanctions, I cannot help but question fiduciary standards. When consumers are too busy with their own lives/work to be experts in finance/insurance/investing matters, regulations should actually protect them – and fortunately for the financial services industry, the current regulatory actions say that they are protected. Most consumers are none the wiser. Hell, some professionals may not be wise enough to think for themselves about what they’re presenting. Who gets to be responsible for saying that my present self is more or less important than my future self? For an individual on their own, few people are impacted in the present moment if you do not consider time value and future values.

Thankfully, I believe robo-advisers will become a larger part of the future to come. There will be more value in what they present as the new norm: low or no fees, being aware of saving for later, and presenting more knowledge all while staying relatively easy. There is data out there that says most* robo-advisers may not beat the market, but many make investing and saving considerably less stressful/set-and-forget than an individual may feel if doing it on their own.

Even though I don’t see a market beater or a clear winner in the space going forward (just yet), what the COMBINATION of robo-advisers will do is make the whole environment better going forward. Firms are increasingly aware of the impact many fintech companies are presenting to the processes of old and their bottom lines. As a result, consumers should benefit as we go the way of easier access, more knowledge, lower fees and ultimately the best choices. Fintech and financial services affect us all, whether young or old, and consumers shouldn’t have to worry in such high-impact choices.

I’ll continue to follow what I have strong passions for and note key victories or losses!

 

Father’s Day Reflection June 19, 2017

Posted by bluedevil32 in experience, finance, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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Two years ago marked the start of the rest of my life where my father had been around for a minority of the time. My family was unlucky in that my father passed away unexpectedly of a major heart attack. I wanted to reflect on this today of all days because more and more often, I have to have an inner dialogue with myself hoping he’d respond. There are many things he could have taught me – constant reminders. I don’t mean for these to be strictly school-related, as I navigated that on my own fine. It is more about the massive learning curve one goes on an individual level when defining who they are, who you aspire to be, what defines success in your life. Some wait longer; some never even ask; others wonder at the end.

My aunt and uncle were in town last weekend and I had a long conversation with them. My uncle shared how much of an impact my father had on him in asking those same questions when they were younger, as our families were growing up. He had worked very hard providing for his family, often traveling for business and trying to spend all the time he had available thereafter with his family. It worked because he hadn’t particularly asked the question of what he wanted success to be and he was still doing what he thought was right to do. My father traveled minimally (bit more when I was very young), worked very hard, but a lot less hours. That provided him with the flexibility of being home for each dinner, play golf weekly and play basketball at least 3 times a week. All while providing for our family in a similar capacity. What drove him to that point, and how did he execute that transition? I listened intently to my uncle talk about the importance of his conversations with my father, as well as what he’s reiterated to my two cousins as reflections of the questions.

To avoid talking anyone’s ears off, I’ll try to connect this back to present. I believe the phrase is “single af” so I have merely thought of those primary questions in a goal-oriented manner – what to aspire toward. It seems that fewer people have goals in general and even less likely have long-term specific ones. More specific dreams allow for a reflection that can be adapted or changed, designed to figure a path out. Honestly, I think elementary or middle schools do better jobs of asking these questions than high school and college. They’re general but details get nailed down once more critical thinking skills are acquired.  Again, I’d say that the invites for thinking through these important life questions slow as they become ever more important.

I’m an advocate for asking and discussing the hard questions. What makes you drive forward?

To all the new and well-seasoned fathers alike, continuing teaching lessons, and Happy Father’s Day!

Notes from Hirschhorn & Cuban March 27, 2017

Posted by bluedevil32 in experience, finance, Politics, questions, social.
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Listening to the Jason Hirschhorn interview with Mark Cuban  from the end of February (just pre-$SNAP IPO) —

Many great resources in all the current tech-hubs: SF & Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Austin, and expanding those. Cuban makes a good point that people and ideas are easily created now in almost every area. There are places in the country that have MORE resources — events, companies, VC’s, funds, but building can be done everywhere (Cuban mentioned when he visits IU, he can stay in contact with them).

With less and less companies going public (mentioned ~9000 publicly listed in 2008, but < 4000 now), people are either scared of going public, or are getting their payouts directly from bigger companies (Cisco, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc…).

Digital ad revenue for FB and Google – 85%+ market share. NFLX and AMZN are 2 biggest shares – hasn’t sold yet. Content providers – Disney, Netflix, and Amazon…. not many others. CONTENT is very difficult (Cuban mentioned Enron doc and winning awards, along with Good Night and Good Luck — hasn’t done any successful since). Content is the most difficult to maintain – very difficult to get past that giant hurdle, and these companies have the money to get above it.

Eventually got into a political discussion – using news / reactions / tweets to respond. HOW do we respond? Communicate and be patient – tough to change minds or reason – noted 52% of eligible voters didn’t vote. Trolls and dealing with internet comments – control public/private responses on twitter? Twitter must be hard-coded otherwise. Cuban mentioned an app that he’s going with – soon, machine-learning or machines will deal with the curation of information and conversation in digital platforms.

Talking about video – 7 year old son wanting to play flag football / baseball and how different it is now. Esports / watching vs watching tv (sports). His son didn’t want to watch sports / baseball / football, but wanted to play. There’s no indoctrination or religion for it anymore as we grew up on (and Cuban’s era earlier). Gaming as a big advantage in expanding NBA reach – NBA 2k and professional aspect of them since players have a deeper involvement / knowledge of the league with gaming.

The overall theme for today (not just this interview) – how can we get more young people interested in building out great ideas? The future of technology is rapidly accelerating but ideas will still be needed from the smartest people. Education seems to nerf expansive ideas – boxes people in that may be more capable, restricting opportunities. In my opinion, this is a huge flaw in the system overall.

Flawed Financial Decision? February 28, 2017

Posted by bluedevil32 in finance, Uncategorized.
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This article has brought praise: SingleMomPaysRentforYearUsingTaxReturn. However, a basic understanding of future/present value is skipped in this story. I believe she’s choosing to be “responsible” in paying rent vs spending it on vacation or unnecessary items for her kids, but it also illustrates a lack of understanding for fundamental financial details (that should be MUCH more important to learn early on). Opportunity cost of losing the money for the year, or going into details of how she received so much for her return in the first place (lent FAR TOO MUCH money over the previous year).

About 5 years ago, there was a larger push in the financial services industry to bring an analyst/advisor to every high school to have “qualified” (debatable, but at least licensed) experts (this word is becoming annoying, as well) teach fundamental financial information to the future masses. I cannot attest to generations before me, but as far as my high school career went, CHEE (child, health, and something) and economics were the extent of in-school teaching. I was lucky enough to have a family that provided me an environment of numbers, games, and finances, as well as schools that pushed early for branching out. That doesn’t mean I have been without my own transgressions in a monetary realm, but can say that the high school classes didn’t scratch the surface of what I learned previously.

From students I talk to and teach in school now, I don’t believe the basic individual finances are taught, still. It could be a flawed forum in economics (as opportunity costs are discussed), and business courses go over concepts, but neither focus at an individual level. It needs to get better, and I’m not sure when anyone is or will be required to take these courses. I have friends out of MBA’s/Law School and Med Schools that never took courses on it. Luckily, for the curious and responsible ones, there is a wealth of information available now online, and as more people see larger and larger parts of networks, you hopefully become more comfortable to discuss them. For those that don’t, hopefully trial and error occurs earlier than later.
And people wonder how the debt continues to rack up…. That topic I’ll leave for another day. SingleMomPaysRentforYear

Fiduciary Standards – ’bout time April 8, 2016

Posted by bluedevil32 in finance, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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Well, it’s a start. The US has passed a law that is set to go into effect by, *drum roll, please!*, early-2018 for fiduciary (client’s best interest) standards for some 300,000 financial advisers who deal with retirement plans (401k’s, IRAs, Roths, etc…). So, come 2018, your adviser may now only legally act in your best interest and give objective advice on your options – you know, what lawyers and bank trust officers have had to do for decades.

Don’t hold your breath just yet, however. It seems that this will be fought, as appeals are thought to be in the works. Why would advisers want to act in your best interest if that doesn’t make them the most money?? Currently, advisers are only limited to giving advice on products/plans that fall into ‘appropriate age and risk-tolerance’.

So basically this means you cannot get straight sleazy sales – any adviser would have to produce all of the options and give an objective opinion on what would be the best – cost and plan-wise. How that will be determined is anyone’s guess since it’s their job to know all of the options. I do not expect someone that works and is an expert in their own field to also know about finances and everything that goes into them – which is all the more reason to make sure you vet the experience and practice of any adviser that you wish to go with.

The Time article that mentioned this article Fiduciary Standard approximated that it could save $17 billion for retirement investors. In a country that holds a dumb amount of debt in the form of student loans / credit card debt, this seems small (Trillions of debt vs billions saved), but it’s certainly not insignificant.

Something around 3-5% of people currently retired have more than $60k a year. I would hope that this action helps that poor statistic, and that in the near-future, with the amount of knowledge and technology available, that costs come down and everyone can either automate or receive the pointed help that they deserve.

Note: Licensed Life, Disability, LTC Insurance

Thoughts of the Day – GenY finance, Daily fantasy ‘expert’-testing, other questions September 17, 2015

Posted by bluedevil32 in Altucher, DFS, experience, finance, gym, PGA, questions, Scutify, social, training.
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Every day I receive a post from James Altucher @jaltucher – he’s an author of one of USA Today’s “12 Best Business Books of All-Time” Choose Yourself, which describes at length the power of one’s self, as well as a successful (and that does not mean he hasn’t failed) entrepreneur, hedge fund manager, asset manager, columnist, as well as podcast producer. His valuable insights, podcasts and publications enlighten us to choose yourself and your passions to create revenue streams aplenty. He simply asks a lot of questions of many people to see what has driven them, and in turn, learn for himself.

In my recent conversations, I have noticed that this is a skill that is falling out of favor very easily of many people – and more so, whether they’re just more of who I come into contact with, but Gen Y and Millennials. So, in light of my observations, I would like to go over what I observed/questioned today.

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