John Lawrence Reynolds’ newest book, The Skeptical Investor, argues that Canadians were badly served by their advisors during the crash of 2008–09. The book has all the wit and outrage of his previous screed, The Naked Investor, which is a favourite of mine. In some of his best lines, he describes money market funds as “a place to waste your money by paying other people to put it in treasury bills,” and says that buying bonds from a broker is “like shopping blindfolded in a foreign flea market where you don’t speak the language.” There’s even a cameo appearance by Preet Banerjee, the Spork-wielding creator of WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com. So far, so good.
But I admit to being irked by the very first sentence of the book, which quotes a frustrated investor named Suzanne: “It seems to me that a financial advisor should be as good at telling you when to get out of the market as telling you when to get in.” Suzanne explains that in 2001 she poured half her retirement savings into just two stocks, both banks. The stocks soared until 2008, when she says she wanted to take some profits.