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The rise of robo-advisors

The San Francisco Bay Area is a hot house for the so-called "robo-advisor" industry. These are the firms that offer to manage money at a fraction of what investors would pay if they hire individual financial advisers, mutual fund companies or brokerage firms that offer similar services. The holy grail of the industry is the reality of having an Internet-based algorithm succeed at allocating a mix of investments productively so that the outcome is clearly better than average over a sustained period of time that includes several economic cycles.

The rebalancing act with stocks and bonds

The wisdom of rebalancing a portfolio tends to peak investor interest during and after a stock market down draft --- after it’s too late. The basic idea is to sell incremental amounts of our winners as they are going up and add those dollars to our relative losers --- because today’s winners tend to be tomorrow’s losers and vice versa. The problem is that we love our winners and can’t stand to give up even small amounts of them. Those winners, unfortunately, have no idea how much we love them, so they often drop like stones caring little for the damage they do to our self esteem.

DOL 'walks the walk' with judiciary rule

The Department of Labor "talks the talk" when you walk into its Washington office building and are confronted with a 50-foot-long bronze statue of workers tugging on wrenches and shoveling coal. Beneath the sculpture is the motto, "Protecting the Rights of American Workers." Now, finally, after almost 20 years, they are on the verge of "walking the walk" with regard in further protecting workers' retirement assets from financial industry predation.

Weathering the storms of a volatile stock market

OK, let’s get a grip. While the recent stock market performance is bringing the doom and gloom purveyors out of the woodwork, it doesn’t mean we have to avoid wood paneled rooms. It’s reasonable to question our commitment to being long-term investors when most of those running for president are trying to make the case that the country is going to hell in a hand basket. It isn’t, but a stock market experiencing a long-overdue correction just throws gasoline on a perceived fire.

The big short

With my daughter working as a new media journalist for Thompson Reuters in New York City, I have taken a special interest in films depicting the crash of 2008. Young people don’t read anymore. They get all their information from TV, computer and movies screens, so live content is more important than ever.

Seniors helping seniors in 'village' system

Attention all seniors over 55. Self-help is on the way!

Lamorinda Village in Contra Costa County has now opened its doors to establish a resource for people who want to grow old without having to leave their homes. The "business model" calls for seniors helping each other as much as possible in what amounts to a closely-knit support group -- like a club. Beyond volunteer efforts, the village operates as a social center and clearing house for negotiating costs and providing services to facilitate in-home living.

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