Posts tagged ‘CFA’

Sidoxia Adds 25-Year Veteran to Team

an aerial view of a rowing crew in action.

NEWPORT BEACH, CA – (Wire-Business) – Keith C. Bong, CFA, CPA, has recently joined Sidoxia Capital Management, LLC (“Sidoxia”) as Vice President of Investments and Financial Planning. Keith brings over 25 years of experience to Sidoxia’s investment team, having worked as a Financial Consultant with Merrill Lynch, before founding the investment firm Topper Capital Management in Irvine, California.  

Keith’s dedication to the financial planning field and his clients is evidenced by his impeccable credentials. In addition to achieving the esteemed CFA charterholder and CPA designations, Keith attained a Masters of Business Administration degree from Columbia University with a concentration in finance and accounting. Keith also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA with a double major in economics and political science.

Keith 5 (1 of 1)

“We are truly excited to bring such a high caliber individual like Keith on board,” stated Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®, President and Founder of Sidoxia Capital Management. “We’re confident that Keith’s unique experience and knowledge will bring tremendous value to Sidoxia’s clients as our firm continues to expand.”   

For over a decade, while managing his former advisory firm, Keith has worked closely with business owners, corporations, and individuals, assisting these clients with critical investment planning, tax planning, and financial planning goals.

“I believe my experience in building corporate retirement plan solutions meshes well with Sidoxia’s successful investment platform,” noted Keith. “I’m thrilled to join an independent firm like Sidoxia that places clients’ needs first, unlike some other financial institutions.”  

To learn more about Sidoxia and Keith Bong’s background, please visit http://www.Sidoxia.com and reference the “Investment Team” section.

Click here to download a copy of the press release.   

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

DISCLOSURE: No information provided here constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC Contact page.

March 3, 2014 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

Investment Credentials: The Letter Shell Game

Photo Source: Imetco.com

In most professional industries – whether you are talking about a doctor, lawyer, dentist, accountant, or other respected field – a comprehensive and rigorous multi-year schooling and examination process is required to gain entrance into the club. Unfortunately for those working with professionals (I use the term loosely) in the investment and insurance fields, all that most advisors need to do is have a pulse and spend a few hours or days studying for an exam. Our structurally flawed and loosely cobbled together financial regulatory system is like a shell game that is constantly moving and hiding different conflicts of interest.

Left in the wake of the financial crisis, the public has been left picking up the pieces from the rating agency conflicts, Madoff scandal, Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, AIG collapse, Goldman Sachs hearings, golden parachute bonuses, billions in fees, commissions, and investor losses. Rather than watch the backs of investors, the system has favored financial institutions and penalized investors with fees, commissions, transactions costs, fine print, and layers of conflicts of interests. Andy Warhol described the amassing of fees like the prices of art – under both circumstances you collect “anything you can get away with.” So unless investors do their own thorough homework, there’s a good chance they will end up with a failing grade.

One of the major deception components is the creation of many worthless, pathetic lettered credentials that in many cases are worth less than the paper or business cards they are written on. Now, I’m sure some of these multi-letter credentials are worth more than others, but as a practicing professional in the industry for more than 15 years, it feels like I come across some new three letter designation every week. I know I am not alone with my sentiments, because respected professionals and colleagues I work with chuckle at many of these lettered credentials, and like me, have no clue what they stand for. When receiving a new business card with some of these strange letters, I often don’t know if I should cover my mouth while I burst out laughing, or if I’m supposed to be genuinely impressed?

Perhaps for hardworking parents, like a Joe and Mary Smith, it may mean something, but unless a multi-year curriculum (for example, the CFA Chartered Financial Analyst or CFP® – Certified Financial Planning programs) is put behind the alphabet of letters on a business card, please do not be offended if I yawn. Investors deserve better and fairer representation from someone managing their life savings, much like they get from a MD performing a surgery, a JD protecting a proprietor’s business, a CPA shielding a tax return from the IRS, or a DDS performing a root canal.

While it may sound like I am demonizing the broker/salesmen/advisors that are swimming around in the investment waters looking for commission opportunities (see Financial Sharks article), I understand some of them have genuine intentions and do not purposely misrepresent their credentials. As a matter of fact, many of the brokerage firms that hire these individuals require them to add funny letters to their business card for marketing purposes.

Here is a list of finance-related credentials other than the aforementioned:

  • AAMS (Accredited Asset Management Specialist)
  • AFC (Accredited Financial Counselor) 
  • AWMA (Accredited Wealth Management Advisor)
  • CAIA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst)
  • CASL (Chartered Advisor for Senior Living)
  • CCFC (Certified Cash Flow Consultant)
  • CFS (Certified Fund Specialist)
  • CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst)  
  • CIMC (Certified Investment Management Consultant)
  • CMA (Certified Management Accountant)
  • CMFC (Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor)
  • CMT (Chartered Market Technician)
  • ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant)
  • CCFC (Certified Cash Flow Consultant)
  • CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst)
  • CEBS (Certified Employee Benefit Specialist)
  • CDP (Certified Divorce Planner)
  • CLTC (Certified in Long Term Care)
  • CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter)
  • CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter)
  • CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor)
  • CTFA (Certified Trust and Financial Adviser)
  • FRM (Financial Risk Manager)
  • MSFS (Master of Science in Financial Services)
  • PFS (Personal Financial Specialist – awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA))
  • QPFC (Qualified Plan Financial Consultant)
  • REBC (Registered Employee Benefits Consultant)
  • RFC (Registered Financial Consultant)

When it comes to these and other industry credentials I am open to being enlightened on the relative merits…I’m all ears. And even if you trust the CFP® and CFA designations as the gold standards in the investing field, holding those credentials alone are not sufficient to make someone a good adviser. However, until I gain a better understanding of the dozens of other confusing credentials, I will continue to scratch my head and wonder which ones are worth more than the others, and which ones are not worth squat.

Healing the Wounds

It will take a long time for the financial industry to gain back the trust of investors, but it will require a multi-prong effort from regulators, financial industry executives, and investors themselves (who need to do better homework). If we want to more specifically dissect the professional service industry, then why not form one certification for each segment –not dozens.

What’s more, rather than pulling the wool over the public’s eyes with meaningless titles and credentials, let’s establish a fiduciary duty and designation that is demanded of all investment professionals. Moreover, let’s make the filtering process more rigorous in weeding out the dead-weight before handing the precious keys over to a professional. Unless changes are made, the corrupt system will remain structurally flawed, ripe with conflicts of interest, and aggressive salesmen calling themselves professionals –even if meaningless credentials are flaunted around to garner fees and commissions from the unsuspecting public.

Not everyone in the industry is a crook, but make sure you follow the ball very closely, so you do not lose in the investment shell game.

Read the Partial List of Financial Service Credentials on the CFP® Website

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®    <— Don’t worry if you are not impressed by these letters…my wife and friends are not either!

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

www.Sidoxia.com

*DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds, but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct position in Lehman/Barclays, GS, or AIG (but do own derivative position in subsidiary) or any security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

August 9, 2010 at 1:23 am Leave a comment

Beating off the Financial Sharks

There is blood in the water and financial sharks will do their best to consume any weak, floating prey. Now, greater than ever, investors are looking for answers in these perilous economic waters, so it behooves investors to arm themselves with the knowledge and questions necessary in dealing with financial predators.

Unlike other professions, like medicine, law, or accounting, the hurdle in becoming a “broker,” “advisor,” “financial consultant,” or other glorified title is much lower than some other professions. Basically, if you pass an exam or two, you are ready to do business and handle the financial future of virtually anybody.

Not all practitioners are evil, and there is a segment of investment professionals that take their craft very seriously. Separating the wheat from the chaff can be very challenging, so here is a list to follow when reviewing the management of your finances:

1)      Experience Matters: Find an advisor with investment experience. Someone who has actually invested money. Don’t partner with a financial salesperson good at shoveling high-cost, high-commission products and strategies. When you fly in a plane, do you want an inexperienced stewardess or veteran pilot flying the plane? If you were ever to need surgery, would you want the nurse using the knife, or a trained, educated surgeon? Your investment future is a serious proposition, but many investors do not treat it that way.

2)      Education and Relevant Credentials Matter: Find an advisor with credible, relevant investment credentials. Not all investment letters are created equally, and interpreting the alphabet soup of financial industry designations can be thorny. Two credentials in the investment industry that rise to the top are the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) designations. Less than 10% of the industry has one of these credentials and less than a few percent have both. An advanced degree like a master’s degree wouldn’t hurt either.

3)      Low-Cost & Tax Efficiency: Find an advisor who uses a low-cost, tax-efficient strategy, including the integration of passive investment vehicles, such as exchange trade funds (ETFs), index funds, and/or individual securities that are invested over long-term investment horizons (read more about passive investing). Not only are low-cost products important, but low-cost activity is vital too – meaning there should be no churning of the account with high commissions or transaction costs.

4)      Find an Advisor Who Eats Cooking: It is important to find an advisor who eats his/her own cooking (i.e., he/she is invested in the same investment products and strategies as the client). Commissions can often be the number one motivation for the advisor, rather than what is best for the client’s future. When offered a new investment product, one way to cut to the chase is by asking, “Oh, that’s great you will make an immediate $10,000 commission off the sale of this product to me, but do you own this same investment in your personal portfolio?” It is crucial to have someone in the bunker with you as you invest.

5)      Fee-Only – The Way to Go: Find a “fee-only” advisor with a transparent fee structure who can honestly answer what fees you are paying. A fee-only investment advisor mitigates the conflict of interests because if the client portfolio declines, then the investment manager’s compensation is also reduced. There is a built-in incentive for the advisor to preserve and grow the client portfolio in accordance with the client’s risk-tolerance and objectives.

6)      Find an RIA (“Fiduciary Duty”): Find out if the advisor is working with an RIA advisory firm (Registered Investment Advisor), which is required by law to have its advisors make investment decisions in the sole interest of the client. Most brokers/advisors/financial consultants (or other euphemism) – working at firms such as UBS, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo/Wachovia, Edward Jones, and Morgan Stanley/SmithBarney, have a much lower “suitability” standard in managing client money.

7)      Don’t Become Chopped Liver: Find out how many clients the advisor serves. Some brokers attempt to service a client list of 100 or more (many brokers have hundreds of clients). Typically the highest revenue-generating clients are given service, and the smaller accounts are treated like chopped liver or swept under the rug.

8)      Get References: You will likely not be forwarded bad references, but see if you can get beyond, “Johnny is such a nice broker” talk and find out how the portfolios have performed versus the relevant benchmarks. Getting this data can be difficult, but you can ask the advisor for an anonymous sample of an appropriate portfolio that you would be invested in.

9)      Background Check:  With proper research, investors can become more comfortable with the professional chosen and the status of the firm employing the manager/professional. Several government and professional regulatory organizations, such as the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), your state insurance and securities departments, and CFP Board keep records on the disciplinary history of the investment and financial planning advisors. Ask what organizations the professional is regulated by and contact these groups to conduct a background check.

Getting all this information may take time, but protecting yourself from the masses of financial predatory sharks is imperative. Compiling data from the checklist will act as a shark cage, helping safeguard you from potential harm.

Remember, it’s your financial future, so invest wisely!

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds, but at time of publishing had no direct positions in UBS, Merrill Lynch (BAC), Wells Fargo/Wachovia (WFC), Ameriprise (AMP), Edward Jones, and Morgan Stanley/SmithBarney (MS). No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

February 9, 2010 at 11:00 pm 4 comments

Slome Takes Pre-4th of July Pitstop

Slome on the Airwaves with Dare to Dream

Slome on the Airwaves with Dare to Dream

President and Founder of Sidoxia Capital Management, Wade Slome CFA, CFP®, recently sat down for an interview with Dare to Dream radio host Deborah Dachinger. Slome spoke about his book, How I Managed $20,000,000,000.00 by Age 32, along with life experiences that shaped his career and financial trends occurring in the marketplace.

Click Here to Listen to the Radio Interview

July 3, 2009 at 9:25 am Leave a comment


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