Taking a Load off My Mind

It’s that time of year when postal carriers across the land may be regretting their jobs. And consumers, too.

We’re bearing the burden of investment corporations who use the first day of spring in mailing out their annual reports. Like a lot of people, I have mutual funds and stocks that often drive me crazy when they don’t prevail.

Truth be told, I usually leave the portfolio to my agent and he either makes me or breaks me. So far, however, I’m holding my own.

One thing I’m not holding is the plethora of reports that have cropped up in my mailbox. Somebody had to put them there. Guess who?

I have a small nutmeg invested in a company called BlackRock. By the looks of what I have received, you might guess I’m a big player in the market. Reams and reams of reports, documents, analysis and insanity.

I would rather read the 12-volume set of astrophysiology in the 21st century. Here’s a sample of the text included within:

“The Trust’s discount to NAV which narrowed during the period, accounts for the difference between performance based on price and performance based on NAV.”


Now, I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, especially when it comes to the English language. I’m careful not to turn into an academic when I’m choosing words for my columns. Actually, my very first editor in the business gave me a solid piece of advice.

“Write for an 8th-grade readership,” he cautioned me. “When you send people to the dictionary, you’ve lost them.”

With these reports I’m receiving, I can’t even get to a dictionary. It’s like reading a Chinese menu with sunglasses on.

I trust BlackRock and whatever they want to report, I’ll buy it. I do not question their veracity. Okay, truthfulness.

Which brings me to my next barbell. This one came from New York Life. Subscribers know what I’m talking about here. It’s nothing short of a large telephone directory with over 500 pages of facts and figures meant to elucidate me. Okay, explain and make clearer.

Included within are graphic performance charts, asset valuation inputs, liabilities and other rhetoric to which I am not privy.

“The yield advantage of mortgaged-backed securities relative to comparable-duration U.S. Treasury securities contributed positively to the portfolio’s absolute and relative performance.”

My question is, “Who writes this stuff? I know there are people who follow the market a lot closer than I but given the choice of reading a James Patterson thriller and this gibberish, quite frankly there’s no comparison.”

I suppose there are those out there who are more acquainted than I am over such matters and follow it with a fine tooth comb. Let’s put it this way, had I not received these portfolios, I never would have missed them. And neither would my friendly postal carrier.

I think of the money they must spend preparing these manuals, never mind the postage. I think of how complicated the market can become. My only thought at the end of the day is whether the green arrow is facing upwards or the red arrow downwards.

Have you ever heard two oncologists discussing medicine? I have. And I thought they were speaking in a foreign dialect. Same would hold true of two engineers or anybody in the sciences. I am totally awed by their professional demeanor.

When journalists gather at a house party, the conversation usually surrounds stories of the day in common everyday vernacular. Our derelict spouses would rather see us circumventing the Common Market per se instead of bringing our jobs to a social interlude.

I can talk to my daughter as a newspaper editor. Usually, we’re on the same page. But the boys are an extreme with their jobs, one being in investments with Fidelity and another as an engineer with a company called Sensata.

I’m not boasting, just making a point. One day, I caught the investment guy on a conference call and even when I cupped my ear, I had no idea what was being said.

As to the engineer, while he was attending Tufts, I asked to review his engineering curriculum. He hemmed and hawed.

“If I showed you, dad, you wouldn’t understand it anyway.”

“If I’m paying your tuition here, son, I want to know where my dollars are being invested.” He showed me a textbook.

The more I perused through that volume, the more complicated it got. So very technical, indeed. But I caught his drift.

As to these portfolios, I shall put them to good use. They can serve as kindling for my fireplace. And then, I can join what’s aptly called the “Burning Man” investment plan.

Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West