Dying Investment Banker dispenses advice

It is indeed generous for a Banker to use his last days to help people to understand the financial system of which he was a part. Thank you Mr. Banker and I wish you a safe journey to a better life. You have done the right thing and many will thank you for it. We know someone who faces his mortality the way you are will not lie to us. You will speak the truth.

A Dying Banker’s Last Financial Instructions – Your Money – NYTimes.com

And so he has tried to use his condition as a way to get people to pay attention. The book asks readers to make just five decisions.

First, will you go it alone? The two authors suggest hiring an adviser who earns fees only from you and not from mutual funds or insurance companies, which is how Mr. Goldie now runs his business.

Second, divide your money among stocks and bonds, big and small, and value and growth. The pair notes that a less volatile portfolio may earn more over time than one with higher volatility and identical average returns. “If you don’t have big drops, the portfolio can compound at a greater rate,” Mr. Goldie said.

Then, further subdivide between foreign and domestic. Keep in mind that putting anything less than about half of your stock money in foreign securities is a bet in and of itself, given that American stocks’ share of the overall global equities market keeps falling.

Fourth, decide whether you will be investing in active or passively managed mutual funds. No one can predict the future with any regularity, the pair note, so why would you think that active managers can beat their respective indexes over time?

Finally, rebalance, by selling your winners and buying more of the losers. Most people can’t bring themselves to do this, even though it improves returns over the long run.

This is not new, nor is it rocket science. But Mr. Murray spent 25 years on Wall Street without having any idea how to invest like a grown-up. So it’s no surprise that most of America still doesn’t either.

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