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The best investment advice you never get

Barry Ritholtz ripped this whole post just in case it went missing from the original site. I thought it’s a good long read so I shared it here.

The best bits for me in the article was the tale of Patrick Geddes, a former CFO of Morningstar, which is a mutual fund research house.

One of the company’s founders, Patrick Geddes, aged 48, is a renegade from the top echelons of his field. For several years he served, first as director of quantitative research, then as CFO, at Morningstar, the nation’s leading company for researching and appraising mutual funds. But when he left, not only was he disenchanted with his own company’s corporate environment, he was also becoming uneasy with the moral underpinning of the entire industry. “Let’s be straight,” says Geddes in his soft-spoken but zealous way. “Being unethical is a good precondition for success in the financial business.”

There are always exceptions, of course, Solli says, “a few funds that at any given moment outperform the indexes.” But over the years, he explains, their performances invariably decline, and their highly paid cover-boy managers slide into early obscurity, to be replaced by a new hotshot managing a different fund. If a mutual-fund investor is able to stay abreast of such changes, move their money around from fund to fund, and stay ahead of the averages (factoring in higher commissions and management fees) it will be by sheer luck, says Solli, who then offers me pretty much the same advice John Bogle and his colleagues offered Google. Sell the hyped but fee-laden funds in my portfolio and replace them with boring, low-cost funds like those offered by Bogle’s Vanguard.

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