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  • Kyle Grevengoed

The parable of the Shrewd Manager can be a confusing one to read. It seems a crooked person is being praised for stealing from his boss out of revenge. I think we can all agree that this is not good! I am including this story as told in "The Message" version below. This version really helps paraphrase this passage in a more clear and understandable way. Once you read this version go back and read it in another version (I personally read from the NIV). This passage in found in Luke 16:1-9.


Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a rich man who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. So he called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.’

“The manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job as manager. I’m not strong enough for a laboring job, and I’m too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I’ve got a plan. Here’s what I’ll do . . . then when I’m turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.’

“Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

“He replied, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’

“The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now—write fifty.’

“To the next he said, ‘And you, what do you owe?’

“He answered, ‘A hundred sacks of wheat.’

“He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’

“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”


Is this passage not fascinating! The dishonest behavior is wrong, but the creativity used to "look after himself" is not wrong. I like the line, "using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival." Be like the shrewd manager by thinking creatively to survive, and even prosper. Do not be like the shrewd manager using your creativity dishonestly.


A lot of people struggle with this creativity, especially in times where it seems all the normal avenues for success have been taken away. I am a financial counselor and investment adviser. Sometimes my job is to help you find financial relief. Most of the time my job is to help you find financial self-sufficiency, by thinking creatively with what you have. This takes time. Some can do much with what they have now, while others can do very little now, but EVERYONE can do something NOW. Remember verse 10 immediately following this passage (taken from the NIV):


Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.


Be honest, trustworthy, and shrewd, pursuing every angle, with even the little you may have. Contact me at 320 Life and I can help you see those angles and opportunities. If you do this the next time the government sends you a stimulus check to help you survive you will likely be wondering what to do with this surprise money! But do not worry you will have a plan and a financial adviser. These two things make these decisions much easier.

  • Kyle Grevengoed


I love to read. Some have asked me what books I am reading. This is what this post is all about. I am going to give 5 books I have read recently that I thought were particularly good. I naturally read a lot of finance-type books but this list will also include books from other categories. Enjoy!

1) "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free" by Ernie Zelinski

This is a non-financial book about retirement. My personal favorite quote is, "You can retire early and go back to work. You cannot retire late and go back to early retirement." You will be encouraged and challenged to rethink your retirement plans for the better.

2) "Rejection Proof" by Jia Jang

Remember I said not all of these would be financial-type books? Well this is definitely not financial in nature. In fact it relates to just about every area of life. It can be applied to just about any job or even simply calling customer service departments. It could also be highly beneficial to the world of sales, including military recruiting!

3) "You're Not That Great: A Motivational Book" by Daniel Crosby

Daniel Crosby is a personal favorite author and speaker of mine. He is a clinical psychologist in the world of finance and he does not write in psycho or financial jargon. This particular book has a fantastic title and will make you think about how you go about your daily tasks.

4) The Financial Wisdom of Ebeneezer Scrooge - by Ted Klontz

Did you know that Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol" was actually a financial workshop? Everyone tends to relate financially to Scrooge or Cratchit. And before you think you know which is right and wrong you may want to read it. Often married couples will relate to opposite characters. It is this opposite tendency that makes therapists and financial counselor crucial in your marriage and in your finances. These differences, not properly managed, can destroy your finances. Conversely, when managed well, these seemingly contrary viewpoints can help propel you to greater heights than you ever thought.

5) "Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counter-Intuition" by Michael Mauboussin

Our intuition is not as good as we think it is. That is all.

These are not ordered in a particular ranking. In fact, I could have given you so many more incredible books but for now this will do!

Happy reading and learning!

  • Kyle Grevengoed

Summary


A Multi-Fractal Walk Down Wall Street is an article that appeared in the February 1999 issue of the “Scientific American.” The title is in reference to a book entitled, “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton G. Malkeil. If you are unfamiliar with this book it can be summed with a quick little journey.


Imagine yourself riding the scrambler at the fair or amusement park. You are sitting in a quickly rotating chair AND that chair is rotating around another axis. When you get off you are most certainly a little dizzy (and if you are like me, feeling sick, if not actually sick, for the rest of the day). Now imagine that in the state of dizziness you throw a dart at a wall covered in every stock you could possibly buy. This book, summed up, says you have an equal chance to make money as someone who researched all those stocks and carefully selected one.


As you might imagine this is a hotly debated subject, and “A Multi-Fractal Walk” counters this theory, saying you can use a form of technical analysis to predict the performance of an investment.


First, if you do not know what a fractal is, it is reductionism, or breaking down the whole into individual parts. The smaller parts are then evaluated to determine what the whole is likely to do. If you ever watch CNBC you have seen them show the performance of an investment over a set time period. Sometimes this time period is a few hours, sometimes it is many years. Either way this is a fractal.


The multi in multi-fractal is in reference to forecasting. The analyst will take the fractal and “squish” it so that the final return is the same, but the gains/losses occur faster. The analyst will also expand the fractal, slowing down the speed of the gains/losses. This gives the analyst multiple versions of the same pattern believed to occur in the market, of which the analyst can use to make a projection.


The essay argues that Modern Portfolio Theory (using historical averages to project future investment growth does not account for extreme movements in the market, such as the 2008 crash, and therefore your projections are likely to be inaccurate.


The author concludes the essay with some applications of multi-fractal use, stating the best way to project future returns is to use the actual historical returns, rather than an average return. Essentially, he promoted running a Monte Carlo simulation.


My Takeaway


Samuel Clemons (AKA Mark Twain) said, “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”


The human brain naturally seeks patterns. We want order and structure in our lives and we often find patterns and create explanations with little to no real basis for such claims. There are essays, blog posts, and books that tackle this research topic. Even the author of this article starts with a quote on this subject, “The geometry that describes the shape of coastlines and the patterns of galaxies also elucidates how stock prices soar and plummet.” The bulk of this theory is based upon looking for patterns in the market which is a manmade thing, constantly changing as new investment theories and approaches are designed. "Fooled By Randomness" by Nassim Taleb is an excellent book that demonstrated why the market is not a collection of predictable patterns.


One item that this idea is correct is that Modern Portfolio Theory does not always do a good job of considering pro-longed and large ups and downs.


For example, lets pretend it is the beginning of 2018 and you are evaluating investing in the S&P 500. You decide to use the period of 1998 to 2017 to estimate a projected return. If you average the returns you will project an average return each year for 20 years of 8.83% leading you to estimate a final value of $54,356.55.


If you instead use the actual returns for each year you would project a final value of $40,301.56. This $14,054.99-dollar projection difference is close enough that a quick average is enough for general planning, but large enough that you should probably get more detailed in your projections.


This whole thing may sound complex, that is why a Accredited Financial Counselor and Investment Advisor are important. The professional can do the complex work and give you a simple process.

 

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