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Same Planet

By Jeff Spears | June 29, 2016

Comedian Pete Holmes uses a punchline that will make you laugh but will also stay with you and make you think.  His observation is “we live in a planet and I’m tired of not talking about it!”


The statement is a challenge for us all to have more meaningful conversations that go beyond “how about this weather?” or “I’m so mad at United Airlines”.  It’s a difficult challenge but we all need to channel our inner Oprah and get started.  I think it can help us in several different areas.

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Wrong Scorecard

By Jeff Spears | June 01, 2016

It is a magical time to be a sports fan in the Bay Area.  The Sharks are in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Warriors won a record 73 regular season games and it is an even year for the World Champion Giants.  While sports analogies can help wealth advisors make difficult strategic points, they are too binary and will set you up for disappointment.  There is only one champion each year in each major team sport and the win or go home attitude creates more disappointment than euphoria for 29 of the 30 teams.  The same can be said for wealth advisors who keep score versus the S&P 500 Index.  We are not advocating a participation trophy but we do think that using a goal - based approach can increase your chances of success and satisfaction.  What is Goal - Based Investing?  There are several thought leaders who have embraced this approach and they have all arrived at a similar conclusion of organizing your portfolio into three categories (buckets).

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Timing is Everything

By Jeff Spears | April 26, 2016

Good timing is an essential component to most successful endeavors.  While that is an enduring fact, technology has shortened the window to make good decisions.  We will look at the importance of timing in our business and personal lives and suggest how we can increase our odds of success.  I realize that good timing and luck can be considered kissing cousins but both are essential components of our success.

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By Jeff Spears | March 28, 2016

The financial services industry is engaging in a fierce debate regarding full adoption of the fiduciary standard.  The friction to adopt this standard, which is very client friendly, is confusing.  To help eliminate our confusion we look at other professions and the standards that they have adopted and the impact it has had on their business.

Professionals are our trusted source for expertise and advice in areas that we don’t possess the required knowledge or experience.  While the internet has challenged some of the profession’s historic monopoly on advice we believe the Big Four Professions will survive if they hold themselves to the higher standards they proclaim.  We examine each standard:

1.) Educational requirements 2.) Licenses 3.) Oaths


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Tocqueville  we need You

By Jeff Spears | February 23, 2016

Have we reached a tipping point with the US citizens and US investors?  It is difficult to watch the political campaigns with their populist mantras to win votes and not come to the conclusion that we have.  The same can be said about money management firms when you watch their commercials and read their blogs that claim if you invested with them you would feel safe despite the vumultuous moves in the markets.

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Looking For a Good Coach

By Jeff Spears | January 27, 2016

The Super Bowl is upon us, and the Oscars are just around with corner, so it’s natural to think about what it takes to be a top performer, whether it’s in professional football, the entertainment industry or the wealth management business.

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2015 Greatest Hits

By Jeff Spears | December 18, 2015

We often find refuge and comfort in old and new media. 

With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of my favorite secret hiding places in 2015, which turned out to be a challenging, if not disruptive year, for many in the wealth management business. 

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An Epic Reunion

By Jeff Spears | November 27, 2015

Reunions are always an interesting experience, whether it’s with your family, schoolmates or former colleagues. 

The personal dynamics at play are at once fascinating and entertaining. 

I was reminded of that on November 4, when I attended a reunion of Montgomery Securities that commemorated its acquisition by NationsBank 18 years ago. 

I was looking forward to this epic gathering to see my colleagues, many of whom have gone on to achieve even greater accomplishments. It was going to be fun to relive the glory days – even momentarily – of when Montgomery was the big daddy investment bank in San Francisco. 

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Segmenting Your Life

By Jeff Spears | October 31, 2015

Segmentation is a very powerful strategy in the wealth management business, as it is in any industry. Numerous cases studies demonstrate the effectiveness of market segmentation to narrow your focus and achieve your goals.

The intriguing question is whether that same segmentation strategy can be applied to our personal life. 

Let’s try it out. 

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The Winding Road To Authenticity

By Jeff Spears | September 29, 2015

From an early age, our society promotes a very well-defined path to success in our personal lives and in our careers. 

Problem is that the well-defined path creates more problems than it solves. 

When we meet someone who appears to have taken a direct line to a perfect life, we have one of two immediate reactions: We either don’t trust them or we hate them. 

Keeping It Real
It’s taken me 53 years to realize that the straight-and-narrow path is more fiction than fact. More authentic is the road most of us take – one full of surprises, joy, disappointment and completely unpredictable outcomes. 

That’s the good news. Not taking the well-worn path – doing it your way – is incredibly liberating and ultimately satisfying. 

Sharing that idea with friends and family is also very liberating, and it is heartening for them as well. That’s because the cultural conversation about success is drowned out by the deafening chatter of people talking about the road successfully traveled. 

As I continue along my own path, now more than ever I want to share my authentic journey in the hope it will help others, as well as me. 

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