Financial Illiteracy Epidemic & Opportunity to Serve
Financial problems have reached epidemic proportions in our country, a crisis that causes major problems at both the community and national levels. Financial issues contribute to a variety of troubles many people face today: from crushing debt to retirement shortfalls. And the stress associated with financial issues can have devastating emotional impact. This epidemic hurts not only individuals, but the community as a whole.
Current statistics clearly indicate that many Americans are suffering greatly from a lack of practical financial knowledge. Reading these statistics and research is like looking into a crystal ball. Learning that as many as 75% of college students lack money handling skills tells us that those students are likely to run into credit problems in the future. Reading that the majority of U.S. adult workers have no savings or retirement plan tells us that those people will be unable to retire.
The U.S. economy is consumption-based. As people become unable to afford purchases- that reduces the country’s GDP. The whole world will feel the effects. But according to the NFEC, the country’s leading financial education providers, simply raising people’s personal finance knowledge empowers them toward secure futures.
“Finance is a broad term that describes two related activities: the study of how money is managed and the actual process of acquiring needed funds. Because individuals, businesses and government entities all need funding to operate, the field is often separated into three sub-categories: personal finance, corporate finance and public finance”.— Daniel Kurt
After watching The Wolf of Wall Street, living through Enron, and the Madoff Scandal, it’s apparent that every investor needs to know a little something about how well the companies they are putting their hard-earned dollars into are doing, and the company the brokers are employed with. It’s quite easy to get lost in the numbers, acronyms, and financial jargon. However, as events from the past prove, it’s more important than ever to understand the lingo and how these terms help investors understand the way companies make money in their respective genre. Financial analysts use tools to determine whether or not a company is a good investment. These are terms you should pay attention to when speaking with your financial planner/advisor: Earnings Per Share (EPS), Return on Equity (ROE), and the Efficiency Ratio.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to learn the job of your broker, financial planner/analyst, so that you can bypass them, they are our eyes and ears on the stock market. What I’m saying is, do not leave your nest-egg unguarded, and they are human (prone to make mistakes). So, know what the terms mean and how they are calculated so you are not in the dark about how your money is being managed. Remember, financial analysts work for you, but they also work for their employer. So, when you sit down with your Investment Banker/financial analyst/broker, make sure to have a copy of your portfolio, and have them explain why they think your current investments should remain as they are. Include the key terms mentioned above and in my book (Journey Into Finance), have a writing pad with you and jot down notes as you go along. You’ll be surprised at how they spill their guts, trying to impress you. Not only that, you can see how sincere and committed they are to your portfolio.
So, over the next few weeks, I’d like for you to read over a prospectus, and set up an appointment with your banker for about an hour. Have them explain how well each stock is doing. Before leaving that meeting, set up another appointment in a month, to see what progress the portfolio has made. In the meantime, look over your finances, and see where you can make some adjustments with your spending, to invest it in your future goals (retirement, a trip to Disney World, that luxury vacation, etc). Pick up a news paper and look at the financial section, familiarize yourself with the DJIA and NYSE. Pay close attention to the EPS. In part 2, we will discuss Return on Equity (ROE) . Please be sure to let me know how your meeting turned out.
Peace and prosperity,
P.S.- My daughter wants to take acting classes. I’ll let you know how I plan on paying for that huge investment. Live your dreams.