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Grateful

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

This month marks three years since the inception of our Insights column, and we’re celebrating.


I wrote our first Insights with the idea that we wanted to go on the record about certain matters in order to build a track record with prospective clients, and that was due to the weirdness of this investment advisory industry where we’re prohibited from using testimonials in advertising. Even now, three years later, I still figure that RG will always live and die by personal referrals, but I confess to being surprised with how the column has grown. And the part about building a track record has worked out extraordinarily well.


Since its inception, we’ve called tops, and we’ve called bottoms. The most significant of those were probably recommending “shock absorbers” in Q1 of 2020 and to “Get Long America” on the very day of the March 2020 low. However, it was last May when we explained our rationale for maintaining increased allocations to commodities and energy stocks and overall caution, and that may very well have proven for many investors to be The Money Shot.


Since that writing and over the last year, the S&P 500 has come full circle, starting in May 2021 at 4200 and now, nearly a year later, sitting at 4175. Over that same period, the Energy Select index fund (XLE) is up 49%, and the Dow Jones Commodity Index is up 34%.


We warned of pending inflation, supply chain disruptions and higher interest rates, and we were early to recommend increased allocations to commodities and private credit. We’ve provided information about ESPP’s, donor advised funds, backdoor Roth IRA’s, funding long term care, life insurance and finding the right financial advisor, and we’ve poked a good deal of fun at Silicon Valley oligarchs and ripped regularly on the Chinese Communist Party along the way.


I suppose this is why Insights has come to have this life that’s all its own—it’s not just portfolio advice or planning strategies. Insights was meant to simply fortify the advice that we provide to clients on a day-to-day basis, but its readership now extends well beyond our existing clientele. I don’t expect that it will ever generate the sort of traffic that Jim Cramer’s or Josh Brown’s Twitter accounts do, but it gets way more eyes on it than I might have initially anticipated.


Plus, I don’t use Twitter. There’s that.

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“If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”

--Thomas Sowell


This probably won’t be where you thought I would go with this, but that sounds a lot like the financial services industry. I can tell you that if you suggested to investors thirty years ago that they should pay 1% a year to an advisor who didn’t trade more than a handful of times a year, they would have looked at you like a murder just happened down the street and you were carrying a bloody knife. Fast forward a few decades, and I don’t think anybody even batted an eye over that 1% in 2019 when even an empty Bingo card made you 30%.


But one of the most interesting things about Insights over the years is the feedback we get, and I’ve been talking to a lot of people who have come full-circle this year, just like the return on the S&P 500, and have come to question the value of their financial advisors.


I credit Insights for tickling the thought process and for documenting these last few years how investors could do better financially. The reality for many of these readers of Insights is that they don’t really need an advisor to hold their hands and tell them everything will be alright; they want a professional team that will generate meaningful returns, manage their risk and keep them appraised of their progress.


Therein lies another reason why Insights has been so wonderful over these last few years-- while Insights is frequently blunt, it actually softens my personal edges. It has been suggested that I have the bedside demeanor of House. Remember Dr. Gregory House from the old Fox series House MD?



I don’t even dispute the characterization. I’m trying to do better-- I really am-- but even if I don’t, I know we’re doing better than the advisors who charged their clients 1% to lose them 10% over the last year. …Nothing against those advisors, of course. It’s just as Neel Shah—another MD with a slightly warmer demeanor than House-- said recently, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”


Besides, it’s not just other financial advisors; investors following Insights are killing the hedge fund guys charging two and twenty (2% advisory fee plus 20% of profits), too. Bloomberg just reported results for the mighty Tiger Global, and it performed just as badly as expected, suffering a catastrophic plunge in April when it dropped another 15%, bringing its loss in 2022 to 44%. Tiger Global’s long-only fund was hit even worse, tumbling 25% last month and extending its drop for the year to 52%. You read that right; one of the world's most respected funds has lost more than half of its value in four months.


And so it would appear that a whole generation of investors has no idea what to do when the Fed isn’t there to bail them out. In the meantime, we started jumping up and down on our desks here at RG the week before Christmas, practically screaming here in Insights to use the last week of the year to trade big tech and the S&P 500 for energy and financials.


The Energy Select index fund (XLE) is up 79% since the beginning of the year, and the Vanguard Financials index (VFH) is up 16% year to date.

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I appreciate that Insights is a reflection of my personality, and I write it with the wholehearted intention of opening the kimono to share my company’s authentic, practiced and viable methodology, which seems only fair given the abundance of deeply honest feedback we receive from readers. I don’t think any new clients transfer their assets to us without having a very, very good idea of what to expect.


So, here, three years later, Liz, Eymani and I are celebrating. We hope it feels the same to you as it does to us, that Insights is fulfilling its mission. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your referrals. Insights has tens of thousands of readers these days, but referrals continue to be the air that we breathe. We don’t sell advertising on our page, and we don’t sell research to other financial advisors. We put this out strictly to embolden you to pursue your goals with us.





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