About Me

Carol ClarkCAROL A. CLARK, CFA

Hello and thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you become a regular reader. I’m a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 28 years of experience and I absolutely love what I do.

Whether managing a $2 billion bank portfolio, helping a small business owner offer the lowest cost 401K program to its employees or helping a college kid get started on the right track toward a sound financial future, I love to see people’s money grow and I hate to see them taken advantage of.

I love the expression on their faces as they witness the magic of compound interest and time turn a small sum of money into a small fortune. Compound interest is so powerful, in fact, that Albert Einstein referred to it as the 8th wonder of the world.

That’s why I got into the financial services business 28 years ago—to help people secure their futures. Too many people end up working for money instead of having their money work for them as investments. That’s always been my goal—to show investors how modest contributions to prudent retirement funds can—with time—become life changing.

I started in the financial services industry 28 years ago—the same year most of America was introduced to Gordon Gecko, the fictional villain from the movie “Wall Street”. In the ensuing years, truth mimicked fiction. We all came to know about real villains, like Bernie Madoff and Jordan Belfort, recently depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Not long before I entered this business, brokers and Wall Street investors had a very different reputation. They were considered staid, prudent and conservative. And this is what drew me into the profession: the timeless fact that wisely chosen and well-managed investments would grow steadily and, over time, generate significant wealth for people—including those of modest means. I loved this about my profession and still do.

But cheap money and bad policy turned Wall Street into a reckless casino. Soon, financial advisories and brokerage firms succumbed to the temptations of easy and fast profits. I remember very clearly my shock at my first job out of business school when I realized that brokers intentionally steered investors into high risk, high fee investment products and mutual funds for their own personal profit—not the client’s. Things have only gotten worse.

For much of my time in this business, I’ve been disgusted with the practices of many—not all—but many of those entrusted with the life savings of doctors, plumbers, nurses and small business owners. I was especially appalled about the way women were treated who may have only modest familiarity with financial markets, tools and processes.

I’m launching this blog because now—at long last—I finally see a very real opportunity for reform.
After announcing proposed regulation changes that would require all brokers to put their client’s best interests before their own—a vow I’m legally required to adhere to as a Registered Investment Advisor and a Chartered Financial Analyst —the U.S. Department of Labor released these new rules on April 14: Labor Department Set to Propose Tighter Broker Standards

One part of this reform requires that individual advisors sign a contract promising to act in the best interests of their clients.

Who would possibly resist signing such an oath, you ask? You’d be surprised. This oath undermines the very business model of many in the financial services industry today. A lot of profits are at stake so of course these changes won’t be implemented without a fight.

It’s not just the White House that wants to reform the industry. Many in Congress want the same thing. And, the Supreme Court recently heard a case about the alleged mismanagement of a large 401(k) retirement account. This ruling could help finally bring transparency and integrity to the entire industry.

So I’m hopeful. Consumers deserve better. I always treat my clients’ money as if it were my own. Investment decisions are always made with great care, diligence, research and focus on minimizing fees in order to maximize wealth. (In an ideal world, everyone in the financial services industry would live by this code, but our world is not perfect.) Hopefully, these pending reforms will help us move closer to perfect in the world of financial management and retirement planning.

So, welcome to my blog. Please bookmark this site and come back. I’ll be writing weekly about these reform efforts, transparency for consumers, smart investing and retirement planning.

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