There's been a lot of coverage about financial advisor/guru Bernie Madoff, and how a whole lot of folks, many of them real rich, have now gotten burned:
... “The level of devastation, both financial and on a human level, is astounding,” said Robert J. Ivanhoe, a lawyer who is representing 10 developers and investors who lost $5 million to $50 million each with Mr. Madoff ...
“They knew him from golfing in the Hamptons. They knew him from the locker rooms,” [lawyer Jerry] Reisman said. “He was considered a wizard.” ...
See, there's the problem right there. Wizards exist in "Harry Potter" novels and other books, but they aren't real. Anytime somebody thinks they've come across a wizard, what they've actually encountered is something too good to be true.
You can't really go on earning 10% or 15% a year when everything is tanking. It's just not possible. I have a friend who's a big believer in Bob "Market Timer" Brinker, a knowledgeable but fallible financial advisor who dispenses investment wisdom on the radio. Good old Bob, who's shtick is getting his followers in and out of the stock market with their money stash intact when things get dicey, completely missed the Fall meltdown of the stock market.
And his followers, many of whom thought he was the end-all and be-all, ate it.
So how is this possible? What with old Bob's proprietary systems for gauging where the equity markets are going? With his vast knowledge of how everything fits together and works?
Because nobody, not a living soul, can predict with certainty what hundreds of millions of people will do with their money on any given day. Oh, they can consult past economic histories and models and make educated guesses, but they can't know.
So what does this have to do with the animation community? Simply this. Many artists out there have built up assets over the course of lengthy careers, and a lot of them say:
"I don't know a thing about investing. I'm an artiste. Show me a good financial advisor who will take care of my 401(k), IRAs, and investment money for me. Show me somebody who will handle all this icky money stuff."
So here's my two cents: Don't rely on outside "wizards" who claim to have the stock market wired and know what you should do with your loot. Educate yourself. Spend a half hour every day boning up on investing, looking at the business section of the paper or intertubes. Give yourself an education on investing. It's cheap and not particularly strenuous. You don't have to end up being Warren Buffett, you just need to own some basic knowledge of market fundamentals and different investment classes.
Then make your own investment decisions. Ask for outside opinions when you need them, but make the calls about where your money goes by yourself. If you're most comfortable putting everything in CDs or money market funds because you freak out at the idea of losing money in the stock market, go do it. If you're okay with the higher risk of stock markets to get higher returns, then do that.
But know what you're about and why you're about it. Rely on yourself. Don't buy into magic pie in the technicolor sky, because that stuff is, in the end, fantasy fiction.
As people who believed in Bernie Madoff's wizard potions and spells are now finding out. Because "wizards" all too often end up being crooks.