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jerryking : grand_falloon   1

Wealth Matters - The Rules That Madoff’s Investors Ignored - NYTimes.com
January 6, 2009 | | By PAUL SULLIVAN.

THE 10 PERCENT RULE The saddest Madoff stories are the ones about life savings lost. These were people who had, say, $5 million in one of his funds and now have nothing. Honestly, the people themselves need to bear some responsibility for this. The most basic book on investing will tell you never to put more than 5 or 10 percent into any one investment, particularly one meant to preserve wealth…Having a concentrated stock position when you’re working for a company is sometimes unavoidable. If you were a senior executive at Lehman or Bear Stearns, a part of your bonus was paid in shares, and such restricted stock needs to be held for a period of time, generally two to seven years. Having a concentrated position in other circumstances, however, is foolish. Any responsible wealth manager works to reduce or hedge a person’s concentrated stock position. With Mr. Madoff, investors went the other way and added money year after year. Discipline is key: stick to 10 percent or less and remember that any investment can go bust.
CONSISTENCY IS BAD - Consistency at the highest level isn’t bad; it’s impossible. There are too many variables that inhibit being great on a regular basis.
THE GRAND FALLOON Kurt Vonnegut coined this phrase in “Cat’s Cradle,” and never did it have a more devastating application than in the Madoff scheme. In Vonnegut’s world, a grand falloon was a false association mistaken for friendship — two people from the same town, same university, same company meet somewhere and believe that coincidental connection has significant meaning. It doesn’t, no more so than belonging to the Palm Beach Country Club or the Fifth Avenue Synagogue did for those who used their proximity to Mr. Madoff to coax him into taking their money.
This is a crucial point particularly in opaque investments, from hedge funds to private equity partnerships: just because someone is a good golfer does not mean he should be trusted to invest your money. Private bankers are forever telling their clients not to try to get into someone’s hedge fund just because you enjoyed their conversation on the course — or, worse, want to play with them again. Like taking care of your health, picking an investment adviser should be done with the utmost rigor.
‘DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL’ - Ask questions and don’t assume the person who brings an investment to you has vetted it. Nothing in which you are putting millions of dollars is so wonderful that it cannot withstand scrutiny.
PUT MONEY IN BUCKETS - follow the popular wisdom of private bank investment strategists: divide your money into buckets to insure the money you need to live on will always be safe. Most strategists advise putting your riskiest assets into your philanthropy bucket.
Bernard_Madoff  high_net_worth  fraud  mistakes  opacity  friendships  trustworthiness  diversification  biases  personal_finance  financial_planning  grand_falloon  wealth_management  concentrated_stock_positions  high-risk  philanthropy  due_diligence  passions  passion_investing  impact_investing 
october 2011 by jerryking

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