“Who cares? I’ll tell ya: Me. I’m not your best friend. I’m your only friend. I don’t make anything? I’m makin’ you money. And lest we forget, that’s the only reason any of you became stockholders in the first place. You wanna make money! You don’t care if they manufacture wire and cable, fried chicken, or grow tangerines! You wanna make money! I’m the only friend you’ve got. I’m makin’ you money.”
— Larry “the Liquidator” Garfield (Danny DeVito)
That quote is from one of my favorite movies… Other People’s Money.
Let me set up the context for you… he’s addressing shareholders of a company that’s in denial about its financial situation.
They think they can *somehow* make money and turn things around.
The reality is… they can’t.
And they never will.
At least not on their own.
They’re not stupid people… they just have their head in the sand and are overconfident about their own abilities.
And this dood Larry Garfield comes in and wants to buy the company, break it up… sell it off… and make the shareholders a bunch of cashola.
But the owners of the company don’t want that.
They want to live in the past… a fairytale… where somehow, some way, things will all work out.
How will they work out?
They don’t know.
They just believe… magically… SOMEHOW it will.
And here comes Larry… “I ain’t your best friend… I’m your ONLY friend.”
And he BEGS people to take the money… BEGS THEM.
You’ll have to watch the movie to see how it all turns out.
But I can tell you this…
…. in some ways… I’m sorta like that Larry the Liquidator guy (a slightly deranged, shenanigan-filled, version of him, anyway).
Sometimes…. sometimes… people come to me and just plop their 401(k) statements in front of me…
… show me their savings account balance…
… show me all the fees they’re paying on their investments…
… show me the debts they incurred for their business…
… show me all this stuff and… I give them advice and…
THEY DO NOTHING.
They want to BELIEVE in their heart of hearts that somehow… SOMEHOW… it will all work out.
They want to believe their financial advisor isn’t screwing them over (which, sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not).
“But you’re not making any real money,” I’ll argue.
“But I have to stick with it because [insert their favorite financial gew roo] said this is a great investment,” they’ll retort.
“But do you UNDERSTAND this thing?” I’ll ask.
“No, but [insert their favorite financial gew roo] said I should be doing this,” they’ll cry.
“BUT YOU’RE NOT MAKING ANY MONEY AND IT’S NOT CLEAR YOU’LL EVER MAKE ANY MONEY DOING THIS!” I’ll plead.
“But [insert their favorite financial gew roo] says blah blah blah,” they’ll insist.
And so it goes.
Now, I’m not arguing that you should never be patient (I often argue the opposite, in fact). And I’m not saying you should dump an asset that doesn’t immediately pay off. The best assets take time to earn a healthy return.
But… if you own something you don’t understand… and you’re doing something just because some financial geew roo told you it was a good move…
… THEN, my friend, you’re in serious trouble.
Unless of course your savings is well and truly insured.
When that risky asset crashes…
I won’t be your best friend.
I’ll be your only friend.
If you likey, then come hither and let me teach you the basics: