Cause and Effect

Something we tell all prospective clients is we will never ask you to break something so we can fix it because our experience lends to a good understanding of the cause and effect of doing so. We don’t need or want our clients to sell investments, close accounts, or fire other advisors that are working efficiently for them and fit well with their short and long-term strategies. When we identify relationships and areas that have a place in the plan, we don’t have to bash these other firms or advisors to make ourselves look better.

I know I don’t have to tell you this is not the case in many places.

Generally speaking, one of the ways the financial institutions make money is by moving ours around. So, many advisors are trained and compensated to convince clients that the other investments and relationships they have are bad, and the client should break them, so they can fix them. It’s an everyday occurrence and millions of people end up paying taxes and fees they didn’t have to as a result. Cause and effect.

Here’s an example on a larger scale. American and foreign politicians have weakened their currencies in an effort to make the goods and services they export to other countries more competitive. This too is a very common sales practice. Sometimes openly; other times more subtly.   When the dollar is weak compared to other currencies, the goods American manufacturers export to the country with the weaker currency become cheaper relative to the same product produced domestically. There is a trade-off, naturally. There is with every financial decision. To make the dollar weak, the Treasury can borrow and spend more, or cut taxes, which by design, causes inflation. Cause and effect.

Then of course, there are the effects from changing trade policies—expected and unexpected. Over the past couple of weeks, the Argentine peso and Turkish lira have crashed, putting pressure on emerging markets worldwide. When trade policies impact the Gross Domestic Product in other countries, they have to take steps to support their currencies and exports. Cause and effect.

One of the biggest problems, in my humble opinion, with our current political and economic structure is that politicians can hold their seats in government for long periods, and transition to comfortable positions in the industries they have curried favor with in their policy implementation afterward.  This engenders very short term thinking as the sole focus becomes re-election in the next cycle.

Most financial or policy decisions we make, good and bad, have intended and unintended consequences. Shortening the term for the cause dramatically increases the likelihood of more, and worsening, unintended effect.

I think sometimes the best way to help is by giving credit where it is due and leaving things that are working well alone, to continue working well.  Even if it doesn’t provide an immediate gratification of one sort or another.