Not On My Nickel Introduces New Case Study Series

Almost a year ago, June 11, 2014, Market Watch wrote  “Here are Five Finance Bloggers You Should be Reading”   No, Not On My Nickel did not make the list.  We do not sell “advice”, as the five Market Watch selected Bloggers do.  We do not sell investment products.

Not On My Nickel empowers retirement investors to take charge to go direct to the best core retirement money manager who files audited performance at the SEC.  We streamline the distribution channel, through our soon to come digital platform and inter-active tools.

Nickel provides independent, unbiased information/reporting– a critical component for capitalism and price transparency.  In an attempt to distinguish between financial news that is simply “Sponsored Ads”, we encourage readers to take a look at Not On My Nickel’s review of what is presented as financial journalism and Blogs, through our new Case Study series.

Should these Blogs and news outlets all be labeled “Sponsored Advertising” so as to provide full disclosure? Is the average reader making retirement investment decisions based on financial journalists representing these sponsored ads as real news?

“About MarketWatch

MarketWatch, published by Dow Jones & Co., tracks the pulse of markets for engaged investors with more than 16 million visitors per month.”

Here is the Market Watch summary, from their article above, of the two Advisors/Bloggers for which NOMN presents Case Study Number One.

Market Watch Top Five Bloggers

In addition to their “finance blogs” Mr. Ritholtz is a regular contributor to Bloomberg, frequently endorsing his firm’s strategy and at his Blog.  Mr. Brown is a regular contributor to CNBC’s daily TV shows.

NOMN Case Study Number I of “Financial Bloggers to Read”

Nickel presents the first in our Series:  NOMN Case Study Digital Advice Platforms and Financial Bloggers- Lift Off.  Take a peak.

Market Watch’s Blogger list includes Mr. Ritholtz and Mr. Brown, who are in business together at Ritholtz Wealth Management and Lift Off.  Lift Off is Ritholtz and Brown’s digital solution as described here at Business Insider by Linnette Lopez on October 1, 2014

“A NYC Wealth Management Firm Created A Super Cheap Way For Young People To Get Professional Investment Help”

Lift Off and Ritholtz Wealth Management


Business Insider represents to the young this is a “superior cheap way for the young to get  professional investment help.” Really?

We attach our Flow Chart for you to determine if the young just starting out, are better off with the “first robo advisor for young people” according to Ritholtz and Brown, owners of Lift Off, and Business Insider?

Based on Not On My Nickel’s criteria for selecting who is worthy to manage retirement assets for the young, we find these two top Dow Jones Market Watch recommended Bloggers’ “digital platform”  lacking transparency and misleading:

  • They provide no publicly available historical performance or defined, published long-term investment strategy that has withstood the test of time given up and down markets.
  • They have not provided five year audited performance to the SEC.
  • Their selected custodian and brokerage firm have been cited by the SEC for trading in dark pools with retail retirement investors money and cross-examined by the Senate Banking Committee for conflicts of interest.
  • Fees are not transparent, in fact they take many hours to dissect.  Their website is misleading, as to fees.
  • Given the level of intermediaries, we cannot say the firm has truly shown they are operating in the best interest of their client.
  • Their “digital platform” increases the number of intermediaries, increasing all-in costs.

Is Lift Off’s Website Misleading?  See below.  Clients pay .4% fee to Lift Off and another .10% to Upside and .50% – 1.81% to Envestnet Asset Management’s sub advisors for all in fees of potentially 2.3%.  Portfolio turnover is not disclosed and brokerage fees are unknown, if TD Ameritrade trades in dark pools.  Four intermediaries cannot be deemed the “Next generation digital solution.”  Here is a shot from Lift Off’s home page:

Lift Off WebsiteConclusion

  • Lift Off is not using technology to streamline the “supply chain” for retirement investors.  They are adding an unnecessary complexity, that not only limits transparency to the retirement investor.  Lift Off increases fees through an increase in intermediaries. It appears that financial journalists, at both Business Insider and Dow Jones’ Market Watch are simply promoting the firms that provide them advertising revenue, to the detriment of the retirement investor, as the White House Economic Report warned last February.

“Conflicted investment advisors are costing retirement investors over $17 billion annually.”  These advisors and financial Bloggers thrive through less than ethical financial journalists, that put their profits over the safety and performance of America’s retirement investors.

  • The SEC is proposing that more data on holdings be gathered from Advisors, for both financial system systemic risk and protections of retirement investors, as outlined in this May 22, 2015 Reuter‘s article, “SEC proposes rules to gather more data on Funds, Advisors”.   The SEC states:  “Some of this new data would involve information about management of so-called “separate accounts,” or accounts that companies manage for individual clients, as opposed to pooled investment vehicles.” Lift Off places the young, through their online platform (Upside) in Envestnet Asset Management’s separate accounts.

The average 401k is $89,000.  If you give that $89,000 to Lift Off to manage, before unknown brokerage fees and other ETF/mutual fund fees, you have given your intermediaries over $2000 annually.  If interest rates remain low, with the stock market at record highs, the young might be actually losing money annually, with such high intermediary fees.


Dissect the news:  The financial reporting that impacts where and how you invest your retirement nest egg, has never been more complicated and apparently self-serving.

Today, most retirement investing news is sponsored by Wall Street, designed to deliver a message to change the individual retirement investor’s behavior, to sell more financial product, principally to retirement investors, now a $14 trillion market in assets under management.  Take a look at some of the headlines over the past year:

“Everyone Needs A Financial Advisor:  Financial Planning for the Masses.”  What if you could save money and have increased performance without an advisor.  It is possible.

“Active Investing is Dead”  Really.  Active mutual fund managers, that charge high fees and mimic index funds, should be thrown out, but hold the baby and don’t toss him out with the bath water.

“High Net Worth Women Love Liquid Alternative Investments”  Really?  We have discussed that before here:  “Liquid Alts, Wall Street, and Media Frenzies that Drive Retirement Investors’ Behavior.”

“Retirement Investors Love Advisors that are Both Broker and Advisor:  The Dual Registrant Model”  The dual model is a recipe for disaster, if a retirement investor is ever harmed.  Fees are higher and roles of the broker and the advisor are very confusing to the retirement investor. Wall Street has it engineered through FINRA’s arbitration process that if an investor is harmed, FINRA will simply say they were wearing what ever “hat” that protects them, not the retirement investor.

Not On My Nickel is pleased to help our retirement investors dissect most of the articles that are simply pushing Wall Street product.

Today’s example is from The New York Times, “How Many Mutual Funds Routinely Rout the Market: Zero”, March 14, 2015 by Jeff Sommer.

Yes, it is indeed true, very few active managers outperform their relevant index. However, there are some that have, they are dedicated professionals, that operate in the best interest of their customer, with low fees and a very transparent consistent style.

There are some active managers worth investing your retirement nest egg with.  ZERO is simply a hyperbole to push a product.

What is the issue with this article?  This article appears to be written by a Wall Street firm selling Wall Street product.

Jeff Sommer writes in his article, which should be, but is not, marked “Sponsored Content”:

“I wrote about the initial findings of that study last summer. It is called “Does Past Performance Matter? The Persistence Scorecard,” and it is conducted by S.&P. Dow Jones Indices twice a year. The edition of the study that I focused on began in March 2009, the start of the bull market.”

Mr. Sommer concludes:  “The study seemed to support the considerable body of evidence suggesting that most people shouldn’t even try to beat the market: Just pick low-cost index funds, assemble a balanced and appropriate portfolio for your specific needs, and give up on active fund management.”

Who did the study?  S.&P. Dow Jones Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices, a division of McGraw Hill Financial, sells Index product.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.11.14 PM

Unfortunately, the article does not provide any links to the actual study to determine what funds were in this study.  The periods they were looking at, were not clear.

Why does it matter to the retirement investor? This article is simply pushing a portfolio of index funds and there are no links to the actual study.  However that raises several questions for the retirement investor:

How does one know what index funds to include in the portfolio?  Are they filing their annual audited performance, with the SEC, of their portfolio of index funds?

Who can one trust to manage your nest egg in an index portfolio that does not provide audited returns to the SEC?  What is that individual’s track record of assembling a portfolio over a minimum of five years?

How does the return of this index portfolio after all fees, from portfolio manager fees, to embedded ETF fees, to custody and administration fees, compare to the top active fund portfolio managers, after all fees?

Time to filter the news and not be sold a theory, promoted with no actual data for the reader, that is designed to sell product.  A picture is worth a million words. Sure looks like an active fund outperforming the S&P in our picture below.  We would not label this “Zero” as Mr. Sommer did at The New York Times.


Active Management V S&P 500



The media and Wall Street have a new campaign going on to save the intermediaries that the Executive Branch has clearly acknowledged are fleecing billions of dollars from American’s nest eggs.  The intermediaries, the salesmen, who have distributed product since the advent of 401k’s and IRA, who call themselves “trusted advisors” have now been outed for what they are. As a January 13 White House memo wrote: “studies generally find that investors using financial advisors pay excess fees and that their returns are lower…”  The White House memo estimates Americans could be losing in excess of $17 billion to these conflicted intermediaries.

We all know the phenomenal savings through direct models, from Expedia, to Amazon. Technology also eliminates the need for these conflicted “advisors” or salesmen that distribute investment product, but will not tell you about the more cost effective, prudent options that are now available, such as Not On My Nickel.

Bona Fide Retirement Advocacy Groups, such as The Derivative Project, Push for Real Consumer Transparency and Change with Cost-Effective Private Sector Solutions

After over six years working for retirement investor protections with the SEC, the Department of Labor and Congress, The Derivative Project realized Congress, the Department of Labor and the SEC are captured by Wall Street money.  We learned the “advocates” work for Wall Street.

The only solution is for Americans to take charge, which they can, with the proper tools, direct platforms and transparency.  The Derivative Project launched Not On My Nickel to empower every American to take charge to ensure their retirement was invested with the best money manager, who files regular performance with the SEC, at the lowest cost.  “Advisors” do not file their performance with the SEC, but they take an annual fee, without any responsibility. Why pay twice for the same service? The White House memo is an alert, these fees are worthless and harming the average American’s nest egg.

“Save Our Retirement” Promotes this Notion “This is So Complicated You Must Have an Advisor”

Here is an excerpt from their website:

“With so many complicated investment choices to make, Americans need reliable advice they can trust.”

Not On My Nickel research demonstrates the retirement investor is fully capable of selecting a SEC performance filing money manager with the proper platform, education and tools.  To counter act Not On My Nickel’s message, Wall Street began a media campaign, from the New York Times, to Huff Post, stating “everyone needs a financial advisor”, as the website proudly displays, below.

What “Advice” Does the Average American Retirement Investor Need Concerning Investment Selection? 

None:  The average American needs independent, targeted education. The average American needs, like the consumer of any product, the transparency and the ability to understand what option is in their best interest.  They need the tools, information and platform to make an informed choice.  Workplace education on investment selection, provided by Wall Street, for a fee, is like hiring a Ford or Chevy car sales person to tell you what truck is in your best interest.  10,000 poorly performing mutual funds, that Wall Street and employers have stuffed full with American’s life savings, is confusing.

There are so very few top performing fiduciary money managers.  They need to be transparent and accessible to every American.  Competition must become robust, if the best cannot take on any more assets.  New managers must evolve and be in the pipeline.  Women must be encouraged to engage in this profession, not be a “financial advisor” that delivers no value to society.  The trend, written about today in the Financial Times, “Female Fund Managers Decline”, should be the focus of retirement investor advocates, not promoting conflicted intermediaries that cost taxpayers billions to regulate and skim from American’s life savings, while adding no value.

Not On My Nickel has a message:  End the “learned helplessness” Wall Street has created over the past forty years.  If you want more money at retirement, take charge, spend a few minutes to learn how to empower yourself to go direct.  You are very capable. Your fees will be lower, your performance will be better and academic studies estimate you will have at least $155,000 more at retirement.

Not On My Nickel Believes Every American Deserves Fiduciary Advice, From an Investment Company, Registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, that files regular Performance with the SEC

There is a crucial difference on who is providing the “advice” and if the advisor files regular performance with the SEC, so the retirement investor can determine if the advice is any good. Without accountability as to performance and proper benchmarks, there can be no “fiduciary” relationship.

Not On My Nickel believes every American needs advice from a SEC fiduciary Investment Adviser registered under the Investment Adviser Act of 1940, however, that “Adviser” does the actual investing, files regular performance with the SEC, does rebalancing, picks the stocks or bonds. The investor knows first hand who their manager is, what their investment strategy is, and what their fees and performance are. – Wall Street’s Campaign to Save their Lucrative Business Model – Obsolete Intermediaries

Consumer Advocates in Sheep's Clothing

Investment Company Act of 1940 Adviser or Intermediary Advisor, Salesperson

These conflicted advocates, operating in Wall Street’s best interest, have launched their latest campaign, a fervent attempt to save these redundant, costly intermediaries that serve to strip billions from the already stagnant wages of the middle class. states:

“The reality is that—

1)Many advisers are providing investment advice that pays them handsomely but doesn’t serve their clients’ best interest;

2)Those conflicts of interest are taking a huge toll on the retirement savings of millions of workers and retirees; and…”

However, Better Markets’ solution simply perpetuates the excessive costs of the current situation: so-called “fiduciary advisors” who are not subject to existing securities laws.  Just who is the “fiduciary advisor” that Better Markets proposes?  Brokers that took a simple SEC test to say they are now a “fiduciary”, who sell a product, a Wrap Account, with high redundant fees and questionable legal recourse for the consumer. They have no additional experience, they have no higher standards, just a new filing with the SEC.

“Consumer advocate” Better Markets tweeted a recent Huff Post Money article by Paladin Registry:


Better Markets Endorses Paladin Registry


Better Markets promotes a solution that is in the best interest of Wall Street, not middle class retirement savers.

Most Concerning Is a Consumer Advocate- Recommended Registry that Promote Advisers with Criminal Histories

However the most egregious push by Better Markets is promoting to retirement investors Paladin Registry’s listing of “fiduciary advisors.”  Better Markets’ referral implies they are fiduciaries, ethical and will operate in your best interest, as the Paladin Registry states on their website.

A random selection of Paladin Registry “fiduciary advisors” and inspection of their SEC filings, shown below, revealed advisors that provide no transparency, charge excessively high fees and many who have criminal records.

The Solution -Transparency, Empowered and Informed Consumer, Robust Investment Company Money Manager Competition 

Ask your employer to give you the opportunity to try Not On My Nickel’s tools, direct platforms and transparency.  If they say “no”, what does that tell you about their concerns for your future retirement savings?

There is a better solution.  Join us at Not On My Nickel.

 A Paladin Registry Advisor’s Firm SEC Filings – “Felonies” are deemed Criminal Offenses

Charged with A Felony - Fiduciary Advisor

  A Paladin Registry Advisor’s SEC Filings – Admits Fales Statements, Dishonest, Unethical Behavior

Omits False Statements Unethical


A Paladin Registry Advisor Firm Had Past Felonies and is Continuing to Be Subject to Ongoing Civil Proceedings

Ongoing Civil Proceedings

Millennials do not be fooled. 21st century investing requires benchmarks and tools to make an informed choice to achieve the best returns for retirement.

Ok, last week was indeed volatile.  That is what dark pools love, lots of volatility to trade ETF’s, with lots of volumes provided by millennials’ retirement assets shoved into ETF’s, conned into the concept of a “passive revolution” where cheap means better. The more the new passive robo-advisors trade, the more they get paid for their volume by dark pools, on your nickel.

Portfolio turnover and brokerage trading costs matter.  Is your robo-advisor giving you returns after all fees, including portfolio turnover statistics and all brokerage trading costs?  It is time to look at the hard data, the analytics, to determine what money manager is in your best interest, active or passive.  Accepting that passive is better, without the raw data, is like buying a Tesla without a test drive or jumping into an Uber without looking at the Uber driver’s ratings data.

How Did Your Portfolio Perform Based on Computerized Modern Portfolio Theory(MPT), last Month?

Whoops!  The concept of modern portfolio theory(MPT) is to be in various asset classes because they will not all go down at once (of course as the 2008 the financial crisis demonstrated and many economists have long found this theory, efficient market hypothesis and modern portfolio theory are clearly flawed).

Here is a chart over the last month of the computer driven algorithm selections of one of the largest online “robo-advisors”.  Compare the MPT computer generated returns to to Not On My Nickel’s core retirement benchmark funds.  72% of the robo advisor’s portfolio was in the asset classes, taken from their  recommended chart, shown below, for a 31 year old’s retirement portfolio, demonstrated in the chart below vs Not On My Nickel core retirement benchmark funds.

Modern Portfolio Theory Selections at Robo Advisor

Note that the blue and purple lines, in the chart below, represent Not On My Nickel benchmark funds that can be accessed directly, without brokerage fees, or mandatory arbitration restrictions, such as the robo-advisors charge and mandate.  This is in a down market, over the last month, but the data holds up for over fifteen years, where the low-fee active managers have outperformed the low-fee, modern-portfolio theory based passive strategies.  These are Not On My Nickel’s platform benchmarks– Why?

They outperform the relevant index, they are diversified, the managers are fiduciaries, act in your best interest, they do not trade with dark pools, have over five year track records exceeding their index and you do not have to agree to mandatory arbitration, or be subject to conflicted intermediaries–what more would you ever want or need to grow your retirement assets–low fees and top performance.

Not On My Nickel has nothing against passive strategies, if the selections of ETF’s outperform the active managers, after all costs for a minimum of five years, they will make it to our platform.  However, they just do not make the cut as these charts show.  It is clear none of the current computerized passive strategies do out-perform the top active managers.  It is Wall Street hype, as the data clearly indicates.  Yes, the average active manager underperforms, but why wouldn’t you invest with the few that do outperform?  Yes, Wall Street never says all active managers underperform, some do and Not On My Nickel can show who has outperformed the passive modern portfolio theory passive strategies.

Data does not lie, yet, words can misrepresent or deceive, as you can clearly see from the chart below.  Hard to believe that you have been duped? Take a look.  You have.  The “passive revolution” is but hype created by Wall Street to benefit Wall Street.


Asset Allocation and the Robo Algos



As this chart indicates, the greatest percentage of holdings all did go down at once, miserably under performing top-performing low-fee, actively managed balanced funds, not only for the month, but for over 10 years running.

Yes, but isn’t this robo-adivsor option cheaper than traditionally actively managed funds?

Actually, no.  Once one adds the management fee of .25% and the cost of the ETFs, rebalancing fees, and portfolio trading costs, the costs are comparable to the “online robo-advisor” option are more expensive, after all costs and the performance of the passive computerized ETF’s underperform, miserably, the low fee active managers.

How Do Modern Portfolio Theory selections compare to traditional balanced funds and a simple aggressive growth fund, with an overweight on an American technology superstar?

Take a look at this chart.  You be the judge.  You might want to reevaluate the concept that cheap doesn’t necessarily mean better. Yes, performance matters after all fees. Investment selection by trained experienced money managers make a significant difference.  The green, blue and purple lines represent active management, after all fees.  The purple active fund (PRWCX) underperformed the ETF, VTI, since it held bonds, not just stocks.  The ETF’s on the charts below are before advisor fees and trading costs!


Compare active to passive

The data speaks for itself.  Passive management based on modern portfolio theory is harming your retirement nest egg.  Media and Wall Street are all a buzz about the “passive revolution”.  Why?  It benefits them.  Time to look at the data.  Come join us at Not On My Nickel.  We believe in informed choice— our charts and tools empower you with the data to take charge based on data analytics, not based on Wall Street spin.

Contact us and we will add you to the list to receive our tools and platform first.  Do not let your portfolio be dragged down by the pink, red and yellow lines in the chart above.  It is not 21st century investing.

Informed Choice is 21st Century Retirement Investing

An informed choice, with NOMN’s inter-active cloud-based tools and platform, that empower you to take charge of your retirement assets to access the best active or passive SEC performance filling money manager, without Wall Street hype, is the 21st Century retirement investing revolution.



Uber Proof your Portolio

It is time to Uber your retirement portfolio.  What do you get when you Not On My Nickel?  You are in the driver’s seat.  You get a road-map. You have the tools to choose what is in your best interest.  It is a pretty picture, not to mention empowering and pleasurable to take charge.  No more headaches of Ponzi schemes or being duped or needlessly sacrificing over 1/3 to 1/2 of your nest egg for the pleasure of having your hand held by a salesman.

There is something new under the Sun.  We spent the weekend in San Francisco. Wow.  Uber is a bona-fide disruptor and a pleasure.  Let’s start with ease of use, followed by cost and a more pleasurable experience.  One appreciates transparency, beauty and cost.

Not On My Nickel delivers transparency and tools — a pretty, sunny, real-time picture:

  • Performance measurement with transparency of returns and costs – In simple, clean charts, you quickly have Performance, updated daily, after all fees.  For the very first time you are able to measure your performance, something your financial advisor has yet to provide you, after all fees. Not On My Nickel believes in evidenced-based investing.  Show me the money, the performance and the actual results, after all fees, not some fancy sales pitch.


  • You are in the driver’s seat.  You do not have to wait.  You know exact where your money is, how it is being invested, since you are no longer dependent on an intermediary.  You have direct access to the money manager’s investment philosophy and learn first when there are any changes.  There is no more dependency on an intermediary who filters what you see.


  • Crowd sourcing – Our website is a social hub.  Did your advisor testify to the Financial Stablility Oversight Council about the systemic risks of money market mutual funds?  Not a one did!  Not On My Nickel’s advocate did on your behalf.  Advisors will not tell you about the critical issues, nor fight for what is in society’s best interest,  if it detracts from their revenues. As you Not On My Nickel, you know the issues that advisors do not tell you about, before they detract from your performance,  such as:
  1. Why a money market fund might not be in your best interest.  How do they pose systemic risk?
  2. Has your Advisor told you about the SEC’s proposed changes and new exit fees in money market mutual funds?  You may have limited access to your cash in money market mutual funds for over ten days if Wall Street causes another run on your money, as in 2008, with the Reserve Money Market fund.
  3. What is voluntary recapture in a money market fund?
  4. What are the issues with Target Date Funds?
  • Access to superior money managers, based on the most critical Not On My Nickel seven criteria.  Not On My Nickel shows you how to know if you are paying more, in trading costs, if your advisor’s firm is trading in dark pools.  Is your Advisor?


  • Dynamic rebalancing – Let the pros do it. Do not let sales personnel, with no investment management experience or some computer algorithm, a so-called “disruptor”, based on historical trends, decide when it is time to rebalance, Not On My Nickel your portfolio and let the pros, the experienced money managers, do it for you.

Remember every “trusted adviser” must file with the SEC in their ADV:

 “Registration of an investment adviser does not imply any level of skill or training.”

As Neil Irwin wrote in The New York Times today:  “Why Can’t the Banking Industry Solve its Ethics Problems?“,  “The complexity of modern finance, the greed and gullibility of individual financial consumers…and financial sharp practices that fall short of fraud…”,

There is a reason why financial advisors’ profits are sky high, as reported in Investment News today:

Ameriprise Advice Unit Reports 29% Increase in Pretax Profit”

There is a reason why financial advisors select the mutual funds that pay them the most:

“DFA, American Funds Retain Top Spot — and Most Money Fund Advisors”

Advisors skim from your retirement nest egg, without adding any value, after all fees.

You can access superior money managers to DFA and American Funds, without paying an Advisor one percent, such as DFA Advisors. One distributor of DFA Funds, Buckingham Asset Management LLC charges 1.25 % (portfolio up to $500,000) to sell DFA Funds. American funds charges a 5.75 % up front-end load.

Every Nickel You Pay to an Advisor is a Nickel that is not Invested in Your Retirement

It is time to DIY your retirement savings and go direct to the best portfolio managers, without a conflicted intermediary.

On a $25,000 retirement account, to purchase a DFA small cap fund, one would pay Buckingham Asset Management $313, annually, or and American Funds, $1437.50, upfront, in addition to their 12B-1 fee, that goes to the Advisor annually–for an additional $60.  Note, the American Fund’s advisor, has no requirement by law, to monitor the investment for you (Non-discretionary portfolio.)  Yes, it is annual income to the Advisor for doing absolutely nothing.

Time to Uber-proof your retirement portfolio.  Learn how to access superior performance, at less cost, with an upfront investment of your time, that will pay dividends each year in greater returns. Take charge with the tools that show you the picture that you have been waiting for:

Look at the Performance Chart Below

The green line is what you could have chosen, on your own, if you had Not On My Nickel’d earlier this year.

The blue line is what your Advisor will sell you for one percent.

The red line is what the so-called Silicon Valley “disruptors”, like Wealthfront or Betterment, will sell you–an Index fund that is cheap, but under performs seasoned money managers.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 12.42.31 PM

Do not be greedy and do not be gullible.  Take charge, as you have the power of compounding on your side.  If you wait, the advantage of time is gone.

Time to Uber – proof your portfolio and take charge, where you are in the driver’s seat.  It is time to Not On My Nickel on our soon to-be released retirement platform.

Time to end the learned helplessness and dependency on conflicted sales personnel, whose objective is their bottom line, not yours.



Wall Street, through its bullhorn (CNBC) has anointed the “Disrupters” to Wall Street.  Remember CNBC is pure entertainment and books the guests that will simply sell their show, it is just that simple.  The CNBC Disruptors are in turn all Wall Street “broker- dealers”, making money off of trading, unfortunately in venues, with inherent conflicts of interest, that are destabilizing the markets for all of us.  We hardly call that disruptive.

We like the concept of one of the “CNBC disruptors”, lowering financial intermediary costs.  Wealthfront is Number 20 on CNBC’s list.  Yet, we don’t want the average retirement investor to fall prey to the new Wall Street/CNBC hype that these firms are bona fide “disruptors”, if they are actually providing lower returns and contributing to market instabilities.  We have concerns with the actual performance and all in results from these new online firms are providing for retirement investors. Here is Wealthfront’s CEO Adam Nash’s comment (in red below) to CNBC,on being selected a “Disruptor”:

Wealthfront Comment to CNBC

Concern Number One – Wealthfront (Betterment and Motif – also on CNBC’s new list) Questionable Broker-Dealer Practices

The Senate Securities, Banking and Insurance Committee held a hearing today, “High Frequency Trading’s Impact on the Economy” and the Senate Committee on Permanent Investigations held a hearing yesterday, “Conflicts of Interest, Investor Loss of Confidence and High Speed Trading.”

Andrew (Andy) M. Brooks, Vice President and Head of U.S. Equity Trading of T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. spoke elegantly in defense of a regulated market structure to protect the average retirement investor.  In his written testimony he stated:

‘We are supportive of genuine market making; however, we acknowledge that there are predatory strategies in the marketplace that have been enabled by our overly complex and fragmented trading markets. Those parties utilizing such strategies are exploiting market structure issues to their benefit and to the overall market’s and individual investor’s detriment.

Market participants utilizing such strategies are essentially making a riskless bet on the market, like a gambler who places a bet on a race that’s already been run and for which he knows the outcome.”

Wealthfront Takes Payments for Trade Routing and Takes No Responsibility for Obtaining Best Prices -Is this Inappropriate?

Wealthfront’s broker-dealer deals with “market participants” described by Mr. Brooks above. Why? Wealthfront is involved with one’s retirement dollars in the payment of fees for “order” flow, where one might get a lesser price than available at the time.   Payments to broker-dealers, such as to Weathfront’s brokerage, was a topic of concern at both Senate hearings this week.  As Wealthfront’s Customer Agreement states:

(1) “Wealthfront shall not have any responsibility for obtaining for the Account the best prices or any particular commission rates. Client recognizes that Client may not obtain rates as low as it might otherwise obtain if Wealthfront had discretion to select broker‐dealers other than Broker.”

Wealthfront, Betterment and Motif all use a relatively new broker, clearing firm, custodian – Apex, that receives payment for order flows and deals in dark pools, where there is no price transparency.  Wealthfront’s customer agreement states it also accepts payments for trade execution:

“Apex or Wealthfront may receive compensation or other consideration for the placing of orders with market centers…”

As the testimony at the two Senate hearings revealed,  these new automated trading systems and high frequency trading firms are creating conflicts of interest, higher costs, market instability, potentially such as the May 6, 2010 Flash Crash..  Quite possibly, volume for their trades is being funneled to them by Wealthfront, Betterment and Motif. You have agreed to this order flow in your Customer Agreements and it in no way benefits the retirement investor.  It strictly benefits Wall Street.

Increased regulatory costs to monitoring their destabilizing “conflicted” behavior may be costing the U.S. retirement investor in higher trading costs and most definitely wasted tax revenues to fund the regulation and studies to determine how to stabilize our capital markets.  This money could be better spent on sustainable economic development, to benefit society overall.

What is a retirement investor to do to bring about change, better returns, less risk and lower taxes?

  • Remove your money today from any “money manager” that has or utilizes a broker-dealer that is receiving money for routing retirement dollars for payment and/or to dark pools, where there is no price transparency.
  • Obtain your one and two year trailing annual returns from Betterment and Wealthfront  for your retirement account. Are there better options?  Are these online “advisors” adding value after all costs? Are they really “disruptors” or actually new “parasites” generating profits through a lower fee on passive investments combined profits from direct payments for trade executions, hiding your actual performance after all costs, resulting in guaranteed returns below the relevant index?

The selection of this years Nobel prize winners’ beliefs reflect the Committee’s respect for both active and passive strategists, Shiller and Fama.. Are you leaving too much on the table by simply letting computer algos decide what passive strategy may work for your retirement nest egg?  How do you know this computer algo is any good? Despite these firms statements these are “new” computer strategies, they have been used for over 30 years in managing retirement dollars for small accounts.

Remember these firms have no published performance history with the SEC.  They have changed their “strategy” and investment objectives frequently.  They have flipped flopped from being a “non-discretionary” to “discretionary” investment manager overnight.

These are significant red flags.

After all fees, analysis shows the new “disruptors” are not only fueling dark pools and excessive trading with “maker-taker” that is costing the stability of our markets as several experts testified this week to Congress, but also delivering passive returns, below the index, after their fees and the relevant ETF fees.  There are many market “experts” that still support active investing.  It may be best to hedge your bets, as this years Nobel Prize committee did.

So are the new “disruptors” contributing to lower returns and greater market instability for the retirement investor?







Do You Know Where Your Retirement Dollars Are?

A custodian is a financial institution that holds customers’ securities for safekeeping so as to minimize the risk of their theft or loss. Traditionally retirement custodians have been commercial banks, but with the significant increase in retirement dollars, more and more brokerage firms have set-up their own custodians, with the advent of defined contribution plans (401k’s).

In the case of some of the newest entrants to managing retirement money, online investment management firm, Wealthfront, for example, surprisingly uses a two-year old brokerage firm, APEX, to do clearing, execution and custody.  Not On My Nickel believes with examples of significant market abuses, such as Madoff and MF Global, it may make sense to have segregation of function. Further, are these relatively new firms adequately capitalized?  This article from Marketwatch, from 2008, when fears of failures were high during the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression, reveals some of the issues with using brokerage accounts as your custodian.

Further, the SEC has issued a detailed and complex answer on their “Custody Rule.”  What firm that is safekeeping your retirement assets is a very complex issue, that should not be ignored.

The issue of custodians typically arises only when there is fraud or significant systemic risk, such as in the 2008 financial crisis.  However, there may be a reason why SEC Commissioner Kara Stein warned about brokerage firms and systemic risk in her speech, June 12, 2014 to the Peterson Institute.  Until brokerage firms that are “safekeeping” retirement assets shore up with more capital, it may be better to be safe, than sorry.

Not On My Nickel has added a seventh criteria for the selection of any money manager for your retirement assets.  Where does that money manager safe keep your retirement nest egg?

As the New York Times finally reported today, that “advisor” in your workplace may not be acting in your best interest.

Ask you employer to include us in your workplace financial education plan.  We are the first and only independent financial education service that provides the tools, transparency and technology to empower anyone to finally understand the investment selection process.  Whether it be a Target Date Fund, a new fangled “robo-advisor” pushing passively managed portfolios or an actively managed fund, one now has the tool to make an informed decision on what investment selection is in one’s best interest, after all fees.



Chris Farrell, Economics Editor at Minnesota Public Radio (Marketplace Money) writes today,  New Thinking on When to File for Social Security“.  This is more media-induced nonsense Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 11.24.35 AMsimply to get you to pay more for Wall Street’s advice services, promoted through media shills, in this case the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, a leader in promoting expensive financial intermediaries, on your nickel.

Why Financial Literacy Efforts Failed:  Wall Street Wrote the Curriculum and Spread the Message with the Help of Public Radio.

Remember, Minnesota Public Radio obtains “sponsorship revenues” from Wall Street firms, such as Financial Engines and the Minneapolis Star Tribune prominently places “financial advisor” ads, next to Chris Farrell’s article.  We would label this piece by Mr. Farrell, “Paid Advertising” and think it only proper for the Star Tribune to do so.

Wall Street’s latest push —”everyone needs a financial advisor” is now a PR Blitz that everyone needs an advisor to understand social security’s complexities.  It is their way to get you in the door and cross sell all their other expensive intermediary services.

Listen to Financial Engines 2/20/14 Analyst Call, in the upper left box..  In this call you will hear Financial Engines describe their strategy to increase the American retirement investor’s dependency on their service: “The social security” strategy.  We aren’t making this up. The facts are on the Analyst Call (2/20/14) linked to above.

You might also want to listen in this afternoon to see how Financial Engines Q1 results are with their new social security entrapment strategy for workplace retirement investors.

As Chris Farrell is telling you, on behalf of Financial Engines,  Social Security is so complicated you now need a financial advisor, such as Financial Engines, to run it through their computer, to determine when you and you spouse should take the benefits.  This is Wall Street’s ongoing push to create brain-dead Americans who are incapable of thinking or feeling, without paying Wall Street a fee.

Financial Engines has moved into your corporate 401k and now are pushing your employer to take greater and greater fees from you for Financial Engines paid “advice” services. 90% of the services Financial Engines offers, one can obtain on the Web, for free. One of the supposed new “value-added” services is when you should take social security.  You are fully capable of determining this on your own.  Take out your annual Social Security statement and you can calculate yourself how much you and your spouse get under varying scenarios.  The puzzle is quite easy to determine, based on your own needs and desires, particularly when many couples have worked their entire lives and may be close to getting the max from social security.  That limits the options and quickly reduces the “8000″ permutations for most people.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Farrell’s, New Thinking on When to File Social Security – his latest syndicated piece, promoting Financial Engines:

“Here’s the thing: Social Security is immensely complicated. The program has been revised ever since it was signed into law in 1935. For example, married couples have an estimated 8,000 permutations for deciding when and how to file for their Social Security benefits, according to Christopher Jones, chief investment officer at Financial Engines, the online 401(k) adviser.

The U.S. retirement system is like a pyramid. The base is Social Security. Additional layers are homeownership, employer-sponsored retirement plans (private and government, defined benefit and defined contribution plans), IRAs, and other assets such as bank deposits and savings accounts. In an interview, Jones emphasized the importance of understanding how all these assets affect each other during retirement.”

Mr. Farrell, as Minnesota Public Radio’s economics editor, we would expect more.  (Star Tribune, lets label articles “paid advertising”, when it should be labeled such). Tell the average American how they can analyze their social security statement on their own to make this determination.  It is possible without a computer and without going to an Advisor. Don’t push the already stretched middle class American to pay more intermediary fees, that they simply cannot afford on stagnant wages, as you are well aware.

Let us know if you would like Not On My Nickel to do a follow-up education on the five easy steps to determine when to take social security, without paying onerous fees to do so. That adds value, not another Wall Street wolves’ scheme to extract more …from a turnip.


Professor Shiller Says Everyone Needs a Financial Advisor and the Government Should Help Pay for Them  

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 7.42.39 AMProfessor Shiller received the Nobel Prize for his work in behavioral economics.  On October 15, 2013, the Washington Posts Neil Irwin interviewed Professor Shiller, as described here:  “On Monday, the Nobel Prize committee awarded three American economists, Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, and Robert Shiller, the world’s leading economic prize. Shiller won for his work explaining some of the limits of the hypothesis — advanced in no small part by Fama — that financial markets are efficient. Shiller, a professor at Yale, spoke with me by phone on Monday afternoon”.

What Does a Real 401k Investor think of Professor Shiller’s views that the government should provide everyone a Financial Advisor?

The first comment to the Washington Post article linked to above is, verbatim:

“Excuse me, but this talk about 401Ks has me very interested… If anyone wanted to know what REAL people do and how they act if they’re “fortunate” enough to have one, they’d ask REAL people. It isn’t that REAL people aren’t “interested” in managing “their portfolios.” It is that most REAL people don’t even know what a portfolio is. Or what it’s supposed to do. They’re intimidated by financial talk. They’re too busy working all the time or trying to figure out how to survive and pursue happiness, the little bit of time they’re not working. 401K? We have one. Used to have two. In 2008, we had $50K stolen in the middle of the night! And you want to talk about we need “financial advisors?” Ha! There’s NO ONE we can trust, and we are not economists, we are human beings. We just want to live, survive, eat real healthy food, have roofs over our heads, love and nurture our children and have something to smile about once in awhile. But that just seems like too much to ask anymore. Instead, we give and give and give our lifeblood, everything for the grind that takes more and more and leaves us depleted and defeated. There’s so much expected of us, not by the poor or the sick, or the downtrodden, but by those who exploit us. There’s some real life behavior for you. All you had to do is ask.”

Not On My Nickel was created for the “real” 401k investor, who has limited time, energy and just wishes to spend their precious time with their family and not give every last penny to aggressive, selfish intermediaries. They are devastated by their children drowning in student debt and unable to find a job. They scared about their future job prospects. They want to trust someone.  They want real tools and education, no more hidden fine print disclosures of never-ending conflicts of interest.  Of course, they want to be in the lowest cost and best performing blue chip investment.  They honestly believed that is what their employer would choose for them.  Why wouldn’t their employer give them the best investment alternatives?  They are not.  It is what the economists call lack of “price transparency.”  If you have more interest on the ins and outs, you may read more here from our retirement investor advocacy group, The Derivative Project.

Look hard at the chart, below. If you are a retirement investor would you choose:

Option A – The Department of Labor mandated Target Date Fund (HLHAX) option in your 401(k) that automatically deducts a fee for “financial advice” from your savings, without your prior approval? Your Employer places you in this Department of Labor selection, Target Date Fund, if you did not have the time to choose, or

Option B – The Not On My Nickel researched balanced fund (PRWCX) that meets all Department of Labor standards, but provides you $20,000 more on the average 401(k) balance ($80,000) after 5 years. Yes, better performance, lower fees and a long-term track record with a well defined investment strategy you can understand.

Hint:  Your 401(k) does not currently provide you Option B – Not On My Nickel tools, reserach and education to make an informed choice.  In reality, you are stuck with Option A.  Ask your employer to give you the Not On My Nickel option to understand what is the better alternative that places your limited time and needs ahead of the old type of defined contribution plan designed by Wall Street, not designed for the 401k investor.

Does this Chart Give you A Headache?

Does the Chart, below right stress you out?  Now our readers know where the Washington Post comment comes from.  Exhaustion from an industry that keeps taking and taking without delivering any value.

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 5.34.26 AM

Yes, this chart is exhausting. In fact it is beyond outrageous that over $1.75 billion dollars of retirement savings have actually been invested in this fund, NLHAX, a State Farm Target Date Fund.  Please, if you know anyone that is so unlucky to be in this Fund, let us know.  They have options!

The performance of NLHAX is abysmal. The fees are excessive. And we are not done.  You are being automatically charged by your employer a fee that goes directly to pay for “financial advice” fees to help you retire–without your prior approval!  Whoa, that is aggressive.  We honestly cannot think of any other industry that has convinced the government to take money directly from your paycheck without your prior approval.  Can you?  If so, please send us an email at

You Now Have a New Choice!

Retirement Investing Defined Contribution Plan 2.0 at Not On My Nickel

Everyone has a choice. It is a small investment in time, but once you understand the process, your time will be limited, you will understand what is of value and the never ending fees will be eliminated.  You will be able to measure the good from the bad, as to performance.  You will protect your self from Ponzi schemes and rogue advisors. You will be empowered and the clouds and confusion, the unhealthy dependency on Wall Street, will all disappear.  You will begin again to trust.

Not On My Nickel is completely independent from all financial services providers.  We give you the tools, education and research to end the dependency on an industry that places their profits ahead of your family and financial well-being.  We designed this new service for investors such as the Washington Post commenter.  We tried for five years of meeting after meeting with the SEC, Department of Labor, FINRA and Congress to change the abysmal chart on the right.  They refused.  It is called “regulatory capture.”  Money gives Wall Street the access to the government officials to keep their profit model that is in their best interest, not yours, flourishing.  The Derivative Project would need millions upon millions to match their access and influence.  We do not have that. Only you can make the change to end the current cycle.  It can be done.

Your only choice is to take charge and not be a victim.  The tools, training and research are now available. It is a small investment of time in your future, that research has shown will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The tools will get you excited to finally understand the simplicity of selecting the best portfolio manager, on your own.  Come take a look. Email us today and we will get started.  We look forward to hearing from you.

An Exception to the Free Market Economy – Something Just Doesn’t Add Up with So Many Poorly Performing Mutual Funds

Many studies repeat the theory that there are approximately 10,000 mutual funds and 75% under perform their relevant index.  We all know a free market economy is based on free choice and competition. If a free market is based on free choice and competition why is anyone investing in these perennial under performers?  Wall Street has some explaining to do–why are there so many poorly performing mutual funds if there is a competitive marketplace?

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 3.35.33 PMWho is investing in all the poorly performing mutual funds?

  • Who are the advisors recommending these funds to their retirement clients?
  • Why hasn’t anyone given retirement investors the tools to make an informed choice and not select the poorly performing/high fee funds?
  • Why do employers put poorly performing Funds in their 401(k)’s?
  • Why do paid CFP’s and other Defined Contribution Plan consultants recommend these poorly performing funds to employers?
  • Why is the Department of Labor allowing poorly performing/high fee funds in your 401(k) plan?

Listen to this video interview with a Financial Advisor, conducted by the Financial Times’ Financial Advsor IQ, on how an Advisor selects a mutual fund.  The reality, as the last financial advisor in this interview told the Financial Advisor IQ, is one needs an Advisor to sort through all these poorly performing funds.  The industry, “Wall Street” has created the need for a “financial advisor” by stuffing thousands of poorly performing mutual funds with retirement investor assets and into 401(k) Plans.

In the article linked to above, Michael Rosen, Financial Advisor told the Financial Times Financial IQ:

“Hey, you could just throw a dart at a board. No, realistically, there’s a million of them out there, but there’s plenty of tools that you can break them down, like tenure of the manager, the volatility of the fund, then doing a fact-find on what the client’s looking to do and then you try and put it together and make the best decision. But, again, that’s why you need a financial advisor, because there are a million different choices out there and you try and simplify it for the client.”

Not On My Nickel’s concept is simply you select the one or two portfolio managers that will do all the work for you, with top performance and low fees.

Your results:

  • Less Fees to the mutual fund manager
  • Proven investment strategy from top portfolio manager, that has a 10-15 year track record of out-performing their relevant index
  • No Fee to a Financial Advisor, who you do not know if they are any good at selecting Funds for you or if they may have conflicts on what they select for you
  • The tools and training for you to decide what portfolio manager/mutual fund is in your best interests.

Remember, just because Wall Street has created over 10,000 poorly performing mutual funds, you do not need to pay an Advisor to select one of these poorly performing funds for you, as they have in the past. Not On My Nickel gives you the tools and the confidence to select the portfolio manager, the investment style and a top performing Portfolio Manager to manage your retirement nest egg.

Further, how do you know if the financial advice you have been given is any good, in terms of investment selection?  You do not know unless you can compare the Advisor’s recommendations against a benchmark.  Chances are you are losing thousands of dollars in worthless fees and poor performance.

Not On My Nickel is the education service that shows you how to evaluate the investment selection advice you are given, through tools and the benchmark.  When there are a few top portfolio managers that have demonstrated they can out perform the relevant index, why would you ever settle for an index fund or a passive investment or poorly performing fund. You are guaranteed to under perform the index, if you pay an Advisor for a passive investment or a package of passive ETF’s, based on a computer model.

Help Us Return to A Free Market, A Competitive Market Place for Mutual Funds

Once you exercise your informed choice and select the top performing mutual funds, the poorly performing funds will disappear. It is call free and open competition. You are in charge of restructuring this flawed marketplace, littered with thousands of poorly performing, high fee mutual funds.