My day job deals with investments. I’m licensed to sell securities and insurance and whatnot – the rules and regulations that apply when you’re licensed are practically endless.
I have to disclose this web site, my Twitter account, my FaceBook page – anything I do that’s personal, but still public. My emails at work get saved for 5 years, searched for key words; and everything gets copied, scanned, approved, filed, and documented…
Once a year, we get a visit from our Compliance Department. They come through, look at customer files, ask us questions, make sure everything is on the up and up. Usually we get visited by Tom and Rex – our 2 Compliance Gurus. It’s pretty natural to dread these visits – they must know that their names don’t always elicit a whole lot of excitement (poor guys)… yet they are 2 of the best guys you could know.
I’ve tried to adopt a motto over the years of “Compliance Is My Friend.” They don’t want to bust me – they want to keep me out of the ditches. Sometimes they do end up busting me, but fortunately it hasn’t happened too often.
So last week when we got our annual visit from Compliance, I decided to invite them to lunch. We had a good time! Well, I had a good time, I hope they did too. They told me that they don’t get invited out that much but I think they still manage to eat pretty well while they travel. (And WE’VE never been invited out by THEM, ahem…)
Tom and Rex are 2 really nice people. I share some common experiences with each of them, and we’re all fairly particular about our record-keeping; in some ways we have similar personalities.
During our lunch, we talked about movies. I asked them what some of their favorite movies are – and got really different responses from both of them…
North By Northwest
Star Wars, episodes IV, V, VI
The first 3 Raiders of the Lost Ark movies
He even admitted to liking romantic comedies…
So, now you have a brief introduction to the Compliance Department. Remember, they are your friend.
OK, today we’re going to go over some basic investment theory. Wait! Don’t leave yet! I promise, this is interesting. OK I can’t really promise that. But stay with me here and see what you think.
One of the basics of investing is what’s referred to as “Modern Portfolio Theory.” In a nutshell, MPT states that you can reduce the volatility, or risk, of your investments through diversification. If you had $100,000 to invest and you put it all into Apple stock, for example, this is considered risky, because you have all of your eggs in that proverbial one basket. If you took that same $100,000 and bought 10 different stocks of companies in different sectors of the economy, you would be spreading your risk over a broader area. This is considered safer.
Are you with me so far?
Modern Portfolio Theory also states that one’s investments are subject to 2 different kinds of risk – systematic risk and unsystematic risk. Systematic risks are things we can’t necessarily protect against with diversification – they affect everyone, such as recessions, interest rates, etc. Unsystematic risk is risk that’s associated with a particular investment. Like, Apple stock is subject to a different set of risks (tech spending, cost of electronic equipment) than, say, McDonald’s (unemployment, the cost of potatoes).
There is one more piece to MPT, but we’ll get to that another day. OK, so you’re asking yourself, why did she tell me this?
Well just like looking at relationships in the context of tattoos, we could also look at them in the context of investment theory.
Would you say that diversification in relationships is good? Do you prefer to diversify to reduce risk within one relationship, or diversify across several relationships? Should I find a man for each facet of my personality? The most culturally acceptable route is the two-person approach. I could argue that this is definitely “putting all your eggs in one basket” – but most of us find a way to make it work (however don’t get me started on the “buy and hold” approach…). So maybe instead of investing $100,000 in shares of Google, you could invest in an Allocation Fund – one mutual fund that holds many other mutual funds within it. For diversification. You’ve got your Large Cap, Mid Cap, Small Cap, International, REITs (real estate), etc. All in one fund. Well if I could only invest in one thing, this is what I would go with. Someone who has a little of everything I’m looking for. There isn’t one person who will fill ALL your needs, but why not get as close as you can? Maybe if I’m wanting to invest more in Mid Cap, I’ll look for someone who’s more heavily weighted to this area…
You can always scrounge up a few extra bucks to invest in a few other “satellite positions” to fill other needs (friends, co-workers, etc).
As for systematic risk – well that’s never going to go away. There are always those pitfalls that come with dealing with other human beings. But we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we? And unsystematic risk – stick with that allocation fund approach and you reduce it a little… but it’s up to you to make your choices wisely…
At the end of the day, there is always risk, when you are looking for reward, so deal with it. We might be risking a lot sometimes, but the payoff is huge – beyond calculation.
(In the next installment, there will be GRAPHS! Wooooooo!!!!!)
In the first installment of this series, I introduced you to Murray. Strong, silent Murray – my trusty companion.
I also mentioned the fridge in the garage, and told you that I hadn’t named the fridge. Well, I got called out on that one. I have actually named the fridge. It doesn’t have a proper name, like Bill or Wallace (but if it did, it would be a masculine name for sure…)
The fridge is named Man Fridge.
There are several reasons why it’s the Man Fridge – but the primary reason is because X2 would keep his beer in that fridge. Sometimes he’d have quite a bit of beer – we sometimes received presents from his brother-in-law, and sometimes he would brew his own and we’d have beer all over the place… so he got his own fridge, the Man Fridge.
After X2 moved out, the Man Fridge got a little bored, maybe felt a little left out even. It saw some action over the holidays, when we had 5 people living here for 2 weeks, and maybe a little action after that when my dad would make soups and whatnot and freeze everything and put it out in the Man Fridge. But since April, the Man Fridge has held some apples, and one container of frozen split pea soup.
So yesterday, I said goodbye to the Man Fridge. I donated it – they loaded it up in a matter of seconds and just like that – the Man Fridge was gone.
So now Murray has a little more leg room in the garage. And I will keep my apples in the house.
Sad to see it go, there were memories frozen in that fridge – but it feels good to let go and travel light.
Mathijs, the “true optimist,” has gotten me to change the name of this series of posts. But, being the unflagging optimist that he is, he didn’t want to stop there. He actually took the time to re-write my last haiku, with the idea of making it more positive.
Now, we need to cut Mathijs some slack on his first attempt – he is an exceptional computer programmer, but wrote his first haiku before looking up what a haiku actually was.
As a reminder, here is my original poem:
King sized bed, empty…
No snoring either, hooray!
Damn cat keeps me up.
And here is Mathijs’ poem, the happier version:
King sized bed, all by myself…
No snoring either, Hooray!
Cat loves this huge cuddle space with me.
Well, there’s my problem! I haven’t been thinking of my bed as a cuddle space lately! Thank you Mathijs for changing my perspective.
Now, anyone want to take a crack at #3??? This one is inspired by the anticipation of cooler weather & being a single homeowner:
Who cleans the gutters?
Could someone help with my sink?
Don’t all speak at once…