Have you ever been a part of one of those trusted conversations where you become privy to powerful information that – information that would be disruptive if others were to know?

Think of the conversations that occur behind closed doors at the White House, corporate boardrooms or U.S. Central Command. We all understand that there are elements of those conversations that are deemed, for whatever reason, unsuitable for public consumption. They are tucked into the classified file, sworn to secrecy and solemn oaths. But every now and again, some of the untold story leaks out – finds its way to the common person. Sometimes the information is so unbelievable, that it is marginalized as ridiculous. Other times it is corroborated with such credibility that all we are left with slack jaws and nodding heads.

Below are three brief but shocking behind-closed-doors accounts about Wall Street and investing that left me stunned. (Discover the secrets of the wealthy).

CEO of a Top Publically Traded Tech Company: Having participated in the Silicon Valley for years, I come into contact with a broad network of technology leaders and professionals.

Recently, I became part of a stunning conversation with one of the top executives in The Valley. 

This individual, while surprising humble, is also profoundly wealthy. For years he used the “top” wealth managers who have access to elite money managers who in turn “outperform” the market to justify their fees. After years of high cost and poor performance and tens of millions lost, this executive was seriously underwhelmed. He pulled his money out, embraced a simple indexing strategy and global diversifications.

Now, it takes him only a few hours a year to manage the money himself. He save hundreds of thousands if annual fees and achieves a much better result. Why don’t we ever see that ad during Wimbledon?

Former Banking Firm Top 500 Producer: Imagine being an investment advisor who has built a dream business – over $1B in assets under management (AUM) and a coveted Chairman’s Club member. Making just over 1% a year on AUM, this wealth manager was grossing over $10MM annually in fees.

Unfortunately, he had a huge problem – he still had a conscious. The more he study active money management, the more he learned that it not only failed to add value to his customers, but was in fact deleterious. When he approached management about this problem and sought an indexing approach, he was run out of town. After a legal battle and negotiations, the firm and the manager struck a settlement. He left his customers in the hands of the banking firm and he had to move on. I guess someone is now making money “the old fashion way – earning it.”

$750 An Hour Tax Attorney to the Uber-Wealthy: I was once invited into a private conversation with the uber-wealthy about tax management. The strategy was architected by top legal minds in the country. Profoundly expensive to set-up and maintain, this apparently legal and sophisticated offshore strategy would result in profound tax reduction. Imagine most of your wealth free to compound without tax consequence. These uber-wealthy could invest in the most sophisticated and elite products.

When I asked the attorney what the majority of his clients were investing in, he just snickered. Over 60% of their dollars were dedicated to simple and diversified indexing strategies. There was no Wall Street, no active managers, or Jim Cramer – just hundreds of millions, even billions, going into a simple, proven approach used by those in the know.

I hope you are doing the same.

 

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