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How can I pick a good financial advisor?
Ideas to help you identify an honest and capable investment professional.

Jason's Answers

The dark side of the muni
09/21/2004: Money Magazine
Municipal bonds seem safe, but buying or selling them is fraught with peril. Protect yourself.

Get Rich Slowly
07/01/2003: TIME Magazine (book excerpt)
The Intelligent Investor (1949), by financial giant Benjamin Graham, is more relevant than ever, in a new edition updated with analysis by Jason Zweig.

Online chat at Morningstar.com
03/01/2002: www.morningstar.com
Among other things, Jason discusses investment risk, diversification, index funds, market timing, and how the mutual fund industry should get its act together. (Note: free registration required.)

“Fat Tails, Thin Ice”
06/01/2001: Morningstar
In this speech, the keynote address to the 2001 Morningstar Investment Conference, Jason talks about how financial planners misunderstand and misuse the lessons of history: They cite academic studies “proving” investment theories without ever reading them; they extrapolate past data without questioning the quality and durability of the numbers; and they fail to communicate investment risk in terms clients can understand. Jason offers suggestions on how to do better.

If Your Clients Know as Much as You Do, How Can You Keep Them?
In this speech, Jason warned that money managers needed to build an emotional bond with their investors before it was too late. All too many fund companies rely on hot performance and marketing gimmicks, instead of building trust by managing risk and investing for the long term. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems a shame that more people in the fund industry didn’t take this speech (to the Association for Investment Management & Research) more seriously.

Alphabet soup
04/18/2000: money.com
B shares, C shares--even Q shares. Which class of fund should you buy?

The Star System
03/02/2000: Money Magazine, Vol. 29 No. 3
Are you sure you know what those Morningstar ratings really mean?

Carrying the load
12/21/1999: money.com
Jason cuts through some financial jargon and gives the straight dope on mutual fund charges.

The Tyranny of Style
12/01/1999: Money Magazine Vol. 28 No. 12 Special Double Issue
Is a mutual fund's label more important than its returns?

To weight or not to weight?
10/28/1999: money.com
Jason advises a reader who wonders if he should weight certain sectors of the market more heavily than others, and debunks the idea that small cap stocks tend to outperform large caps over time.

Behavioral Finance: What Good Is It, Anyway?
10/01/1999: Harvard University
Behavioral finance – the study of investing psychology – is getting tons of attention. The trendiest money managers all say they use behavioral finance to exploit the mistakes of irrational investors. In this speech to a conference at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Jason argues that behavioral finance is not a window onto the behavior of other people, but a mirror that shows our own shortcomings; we should use it not to take advantage of other stupid investors, but rather to make ourselves smarter investors.

Fund Wars
09/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 9
A secret battle is raging between fund companies and financial planners--and you may be caught in the crossfire. (The first major article to point out that the fund industry was being infiltrated by fast-trading market timers who could hurt small investors.) Pat Regnier and Jason Zweig

“Expert Q&A”
08/01/1999: morningstar.com
In this online chat, Jason fields questions from Morningstar users about everything from stock-picking “systems” to index funds, how and why to use a broker, investing in corporate bankruptcies, saving for college, the fine points of bond funds, and the ethics of financial journalism. [Conversation 676: in the “Jump to #” box, enter 676]

Should I trust my broker?
08/11/1999: money.com
Jason answers a reader who wonders whether her broker's telling her the truth about expense ratios.

Why Do Mutual Funds Cost So Much?
06/01/1995: Morningstar Investment Conference
In this speech, Jason told the history of rising expenses over the years and reviewed – then dismantled – the fund industry’s justifications for the ever-higher flood of costs. If you want to learn more about how high fund expenses are, how they got there, and what to do about them, you may find that this speech (given while Jason was the mutual funds editor at Forbes) remains a useful resource.

How Bernie Madoff Made Smart Folks Look Dumb
12/13/2008: The Wall Street Journal
Why `sophisticated investor` is such an oxymoron.

Investing Experts Urge ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’
01/03/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Even the best investing minds find taking even the best advice easier said than done.

Where Ezra Merkin Lost His Way
01/10/2009: The Wall Street Journal
How a famed value investor ended up ensnared in Bernie Madoff`s Ponzi scheme.

The Fight Over Who Will Guard Your Nest Egg
03/28/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Will brokers ever agree to be held to a higher `fiduciary` standard of caring for clients?

Investors Face Tough Duel When Fighting Brokers
04/11/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Why arbitration can be so arbitrary from the investor`s point of view.

About Time: Regulation Based on Human Nature
06/20/2009: The Wall Street Journal
At long last, behavioral economics comes to Washington.

Inside the Madoff Scandal
03/12/2009: The Wall Street Journal Online
An online video investigation of Bernard L. Madoff`s Ponzi scheme.

This Is Your Brain on Investment Advice
03/31/2009: The Wall Street Journal Online
A blog post on the neuroscience of taking financial advice from an `expert.`

Keeping Bad Brokers from Fading into the Background
09/26/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Should the disciplinary record of brokers disappear two years after they leave the field?

Brokers Win, Investors Lose Key Reform
02/27/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Why isn’t Congress holding brokers to a higher standard of fiduciary duty?

Screen Savers: Will Online Financial Planning Catch On?
08/07/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Could your next financial planner be a batch of online software and a web conference?

The Credentials Racket
10/16/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Those fancy initials after your financial adviser`s name might not be as impressive as they seem. With Mary Pilon.

Have You Herd? Your Adviser Is Scared to Set You Straight
10/30/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Do financial advisers rebalance their clients` accounts -- or unbalance them?

Who`s Advising Your Adviser?
11/20/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Some of the organizations that train financial advisers put the ``vice`` in ``advice.`` With Mary Pilon.

Will Shaking Up the Watchdogs Take a Bite Out of Crime?
12/04/2010: The Wall Street Journal
What to watch for as states take over regulating many financial advisers from the federal government.

Will New Rules Help Investors Win Disputes With Brokers?
12/18/2010: The Wall Street Journal
If you think your financial adviser treated you unfairly, getting satisfaction can be an ordeal.

Granny and Clyde: When Seniors Scam Seniors
12/18/2010: The Wall Street Journal
A look at the disturbing incidence of elderly financial advisers ripping off elderly clients. With Mary Pilon.

Will New Rules on Fees Slow Down Eager-Beaver Brokers?
03/26/2011: The Wall Street Journal
How the ``markups`` on stocks and bonds can skin you out of up to 5% of your money.

The Next Google -- or the Next Debacle?
04/09/2011: The Wall Street Journal
Regulators are loosening the rules under which private companies can reach out to investors. Watch out.

Conflict of Interest? Moi?
10/6/2012: The Wall Street Journal
What will the first examination of conflicts on Wall Street in a decade turn up?

Here`s One Way to Beat the Market
06/04/2011: The Wall Street Journal
How some managers, including Jim Cramer, get to say they outperform: by comparing themselves to a benchmark with one hand tied behind its back.

In Real Estate, Simple Wins
10/29/2011: The Wall Street Journal
A look at so-called tenancy-in-common deals, a real-estate wrinkle gone bad.

Meet Suze Orman`s Newsletter Guru
01/21/2012: The Wall Street Journal
Is the investing partner of personal-finance diva Suze Orman really No. 1 in performance?

Should Robots Replace Regulators?
05/05/2012: The Wall Street Journal
With regulators vastly outnumbered by the humans they oversee, could machines do a better job?

New Ways to Weigh an Adviser
06/30/2012: The Wall Street Journal
It`s high time financial advisers measured their own performance, not just the returns of funds. But it`s trickier than it sounds.

Want to Buy a Private Stock?
09/08/2012: The Wall Street Journal
Private companies, for the first time in decades, can pitch their securities to the general public -- just as new studies document the financial illiteracy of the general public.

Protecting Your Bucket
09/15/2012: The Wall Street Journal
What`s in the `Buckets of Money` that well-known financial planner Ray Lucia recommends?

The Vulnerable Older Investor
11/10/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
A new survey shows the alarming risks of fraud faced by aging investors.

A Mini-Boom in Financial Planners Going Bust
11/23/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
As the recession keeps hitting home, bankruptcies among financial planners -- not just their clients -- are on the rise.

Should Suze Orman`s Newsletter Partner Be Pumping His Ratings?
01/23/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
A look at how the money diva`s partner represented his Morningstar ratings.

Suze Orman Zaps Newsletter Returns
01/23/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
The money diva takes down reported results after questions from The Wall Street Journal.

`We`re No. 1,` Says Suze Orman`s Newsletter Guru. Is He Right?
01/25/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
A look at the complicated rationale used by Mark Grimaldi to claim a No. 1 performance ranking for his newsletter.

Suze Orman Parts Ways with Newsletter
04/24/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
After calling him `ethical` and `a genius,` Suze Orman ditches her former partner, Mark Grimaldi.

BlackRock: The Fund Manager and the Family Business
06/15/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
More details on the potentially conflicting interests of BlackRock money manager Dan Rice.

How Green Is BlackRock Fund Manager`s Family Business?
06/15/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
The unusual environmental impacts of BlackRock manager Dan Rice`s outside interests.

Who Needs Financial Planners, Anyway?
11/29/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
New analysis of demographic data shows who is most likely to use financial advice.

Wasted Away in Margaritaville
12/09/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
The latest investing scam: tequila shares.

When Cheap Funds Cost Too Much
10/13/2012: The Wall Street Journal
How to shop wisely among the increasingly popular `ETF managed portfolios.`

What Brokers Call Clients Behind Their Backs
03/16/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
Why is anyone surprised that bankers at Goldman Sachs call clients `muppets`?

What Would Graham Say About Goldman?
03/20/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
In the ruckus over conflicts of interest at Goldman Sachs, a look back at the views of Benjamin Graham.

The Managed Rankings of ETF Managed Portfolios
10/15/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
A look at how the firms that assemble exchange-traded funds can tinker with rankings to make their portfolios look better.

Should You Go to an Adviser or an Advisor?
07/05/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
The law spells it one way; most practitioners spell it another.

Why Buy and Hold Is Still Gold
11/06/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
A look at the leaky logic that underlies some of the beliefs about `tactical` allocation.

How Practical Is `Tactical`?
11/03/2012: The Wall Street Journal
`Tactical Asset Allocation` funds are being promoted as the cure for market crashes. Look before you leap.

Who Sold You That Bad Hedge Fund? Ask for a Refund
04/27/2013: The Wall Street Journal
If the person you bought a hedge fund from wasn\'t properly registered, you might be able to get your money back.

Risky Business: The Quiz That Could Steer You Wrong
05/04/2013: The Wall Street Journal
The typical `risk-tolerance quiz` is garbage. Here`s why -- and what to do about it.

Buying a Piece of Your Adviser
05/18/2013: The Wall Street Journal
Some investors aren`t just investing with financial advisers; they\'re investing in them.

The Big Corruption in Small Gifts
12/21/2012: WSJ Total Return Blog
Don`t let any financial adviser or journalist tell you that accepting presents `of minimal value` is harmless.

Buying a Piece of Your Adviser: Not for Everybody
05/22/2013: WSJ Total Return Blog
Individual investors aren`t the only ones who invest in the companies that manage their money. But you still should proceed with caution.

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JasonZweig.com is my place to tell you what I think about a whole lot of investing stuff. I’m the only one responsible for my opinions, but I can’t guarantee they’ll always be right. If you don’t like what I say or it turns out to be wrong, I’m sorry; you can’t sue me. The material you find here is not meant as specific investing advice for you, and if you use it that way and something goes wrong, that’s your problem, not mine. To get individualized investing advice, you need to do your own homework or else hire a financial advisor, a tax professional, or a lawyer to do it for you (and even then, you’d better watch like a hawk!). If you think anything on this website is an invitation for you to buy or sell any investment, you need to get your head examined. What’s more, I’m not soliciting business of any kind, because I don’t have any business to solicit. (Believe it or not, I don’t want your money.) I’ll do my best to avoid any conflicts of interest in running this website, but I don’t have silvery wings and a halo, and somebody might manage to corrupt me. If that happens, it’s your job to notice and to be disgusted by it. In short, none of my best efforts to be honest, sensible, and trustworthy exempt you from your constant duties to treat what I say with the same skepticism you should treat anyone’s pontification about investing. I wish you good luck!

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