Julie Jason: Financial advice worth 1,000 columns, with more to come

By JULIE JASON November 17. 2017 7:59PM

This is it - my 1,000th column. You might ask, what drove me to write a weekly column for the past 20 years while running a portfolio management practice (and writing a few books along the way)? And I'm guessing that you might want to know what's in store for the future.

This is how all of this writing started: I had a client, a lawyer, who did not participate in his 401(k) plan at work. Since I knew that any investment he could make on his own outside of the 401(k) was not company-matched and tax-advantaged, I encouraged him to rethink his 401(k).

To give him a hand, I walked over to a local bookstore to buy a book on 401(k)s for him - and I found none that told the true story behind its compounding potential. So, very simply, I decided to write the book for him, and everyone else who needed to think of a 401(k) as an investment alternative as opposed to a passive employee benefit plan. The book, "You and Your 401(k)," was published in 1996.

The column came in 1998 after another book I wrote on 401(k)s, this time for sponsors ("The 401(k) Plan Handbook"). Bill Rowe, who was the publisher of two Connecticut newspapers, The Advocate in Stamford and Greenwich Time back then, gave me my start.

Because I started my Wall Street career as a lawyer, I was used to writing (prospectuses and proxy statements) and spending late nights at the financial printer. As I moved into money management, I acquired an understanding of investments from a number of different perspectives. I experienced "Mr. Market" from my time on the floor of the COMEX. I saw investment products manufactured and sold through the firm's retail sales force. At my own investment counsel firm, I experienced direct client relationships, leading to an appreciation of the complexity of financial decision-making.

That's the backstory. The drive behind continuing my writing and speaking is this: How to make good investment decisions is not something humans pick up easily on their own. Through my dialogue with readers, I want to share a message of both promise and watchfulness.

"Promise": In today's fast-moving financial world, a family's attainment of financial security is always a work in progress, and there is always room for improvement.

"Watchfulness": It's far better to develop healthy skepticism than wishful thinking.

If I can help my readers with insights and reference material that expands their knowledge and helps them gain a strong financial footing, that's a huge payoff for me personally.

So, here is my plan for the future. I will continue to share:

1) Readers' experiences. My dialogue with you, my readers, makes the column more meaningful.

2) Developments from regulators, such as FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor and the IRS. Regulatory alerts, changing laws and proposed legislation can make your life easier or alert you to potential traps to avoid.

3) Market data and news from my expert sources, such as CFRA Research, Morningstar, Steele Systems, Value Line and associations such as the Investment Company Institute and the American Association of Individual Investors.

4) Additional resources outside of the column, such as white papers produced by my firm or expert sources, and material that is out of print but still relevant, such as College Scorecard from the U.S. Department of Education, a list of more than 4,000 colleges that I sorted by "net price."

Thank you to all the readers who have written to me, all the sources who have offered their expertise, and all the people behind the scenes who make the column possible.

I look forward to continuing our dialogue over the next 1,000 columns - write to me at readers@juliejason.com.

Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager at Jackson, Grant of Stamford, Conn., and award-winning author, welcomes questions and comments to readers@juliejason.com.


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