President Obama Calls for a Stronger Fiduciary Standard. Should You Care?

Department of Labor Protect Your Savings

Do we need the government to protect us?

“…back-door payments or hidden fees for steering people into bad retirement investments that have high fees and low returns…”
–Barack Obama

On February 23, 2015, President Barack Obama threw his support behind a forthcoming (as of the writing of this article, it had not been released) Department of Labor fiduciary standard. According to a White House fact sheet, conflicted advice costs the average investor 1% every year.

The President’s Council of Economic Advisors further clarified what consisted of conflicted advice. It cited four areas:

  1. Revenue sharing agreements, or 12b-1 fees. Basically, it’s a kickback to the advisor that puts his client in a certain fund.
  2. Loads. These are commissions paid straight to the advisor who puts a client into these funds. Read more:Please Stop Paying Commissions for Loaded Funds
  3. Sales targets and payouts. This is when an advisor gets a bonus for putting clients into certain investments, most likely proprietary products (think hedge funds, closed ended REITs, etc).
  4. Variable commissions. The commission may be higher based on different products. Think indexed universal life insurance policies.

According to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, Section 211(g)(1),

…The Commission may promulgate rules to provide that the standard of conduct for all brokers, dealers, and investment advisers, when providing personalized investment advice about securities to retail customers (and such other customers as the Commission may by rule provide), shall be to act in the best interest of the customer without regard to the financial or other interest of the broker, dealer, or investment adviser providing the advice. In accordance with such rules, any material conflicts of interest shall be disclosed and may be consented to by the customer…

Pretty simple. Receive personalized investment advice, and you should be getting it from someone who lives by a fiduciary standard – meaning that they put your best interests ahead of their own.

Food in a Box

1967 Swanson TV Dinner Advertisement Life Magazine October 6 1967

Maybe not this type of food in a box

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
–Harriet van Horne

“When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.’”
–Yogi Berra

I grew up in a Southern family. My grandmother cooked the old-fashioned Southern dishes from scratch and they were excellent. My mom was a good cook too, though, as a teacher and a mother (she’d remind me of this combination, which apparently gave her something close to omniscience…I’m sure you mother/teachers agree), she didn’t always have time to cook from scratch.

Mom tried to teach me how to cook. As a hyperactive and inquisitive child, I normally didn’t have a long enough attention span to stand around and wait for the mise en place necessary to get ready to prepare what she was cooking. Thus, the passing down of knowledge of delicious cooking from generation to generation ended with Mom.

In college, I ate in a mess hall. OK. During my plebe year, I didn’t eat much in the mess hall because I was a perpetually screwing up plebe, so instead of being able to eat in peace, I was refilling water glasses, explaining why I screwed up, asking trivia questions, and the like. Thank goodness for the Boodler’s pizza shop a mere 500 feet from my barracks. When I was in the Army, I either ate at the mess hall or went out to eat. I occasionally tried my hand at cooking, but the best I could do was spaghetti.

After getting married and graduating from grad school, I finally got a grill and taught myself how to cook on it. I gradually improved my skills to where I could prepare passable meals via open flame.

A couple of years ago, Tim Ferriss published The Four Hour Chef, which I devoured (figuratively). I went from grilling chicken 5 times a week to cooking meals like feijoada and “sexy time steak.” My culinary range had exploded. Guy Fieri was watching over his shoulder waiting for me to overtake him like Julia Child attacking a glass of wine.

Then, we moved to an apartment complex. I lost my best cooking tool – my grill – as we are not allowed to have gas or charcoal grills on our balconies for obvious safety reasons. George Foreman must have made a deal with the complex for kickbacks, as his “grills” are still allowed.

In my mind, I was trying to cook with one arm tied behind my back.

I faced the problem that I’m sure all of you parents who are reading understand altogether too well. How do I…

  1. Cook a healthy meal (e.g. slow carb)
  2. That doesn’t take forever to prepare, and
  3. Doesn’t cost a fortune

After all, I can walk for 10 minutes and pick up two reasonably healthy Chipotle meals for under $20. So, the price point of a meal has to be such that it’s more economically feasible for me to cook rather than to go get something that someone else prepared and will have to clean up after.

I’d occasionally looked for meal preparation services that could fit the bill, but I hadn’t found any that were reasonably priced, much less that fit the slow carb requirements for food. Sure, their pastas and soufflés looked wonderful, but they were incompatible with my seemingly never-ending quest for sub-teen body fat percentages, and they were usually priced at $15-20 per meal.

However, recently, I stumbled upon a potential solution, and it’s right here in my backyard in Fort Worth (just in case Google didn’t realize it, I am a Fort Worth Registered Investment Advisor).

Is Food in a Box the Solution to My Cooking Battles?

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