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Savings tools to prepare for a rainy day

Posted on January 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm

The trick to saving for a rainy day is that you have to do it before the rains come…

That means putting short-term gratification aside (skip the extra latte, push of the vacation, put in more hours at work) in favor of the long term.

Investors understand this process as well as anyone. Putting money away long-term into a 401(k) or IRA means removing it from daily circulation. This seems much tougher to do in strenuous economic times, like today.

So, this tweet from Mint.com caught my eye yesterday:

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  • Who are the top marketers in online finance?

    Posted on January 20, 2012 at 9:37 am UTC

    The real story behind growth of online finance companies is that growing true Internet investment firms has moved from an exercise in mass-market brand building to true Internet marketing — including building sales funnels, conversion, and monetization.

    So, who do you think are some of the most talented marketers in finance? I’ve put a few down in the list below.

    Feel free to vote . Who else belongs on this list?

    2.24k views 8 items
    Zack Miller

    Who are the top marketers in online finance?

    Who do you think belongs on this list? Who's doing the best job with marketing in online finance: messaging, branding, and bringing new prospects/clients to their firms?

    Source: http://www.tradestreaming.com/2012/01/20/who-are-the-top-marketers-in-online-finance/

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    1. 1  Mark Bufalini (LearnVest)

      Mark Bufalini (LearnVest)

      Mark is the director of user acquisition at LearnVest.

    2. 2  David Frankel (EDGAR Online)

      David Frankel (EDGAR Online)

      David Frankel is the CMO at EDGAR Online. Previous, FirstRain, Jaywalk, FactSet

    3. 3  Greg Isenberg (Wall Street Survivor)

      Greg Isenberg (Wall Street Survivor)

      Greg is steeped in the ethos of social media and startup culture. Greg, a digital jack of all trades, has spent the last decade building consumer-web startups that have been featured on Mashable, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, AOL and more.

    4. 4  Hilary Fetter (DailyWorth)

      Hilary Fetter (DailyWorth)

      Strategic marketer with online and offline experience, from start ups to big 'ole household names. The entrepreneurial, in-the-trenches start-up environment is what energizes her most, with runners up including smart ideas, crisp messaging, tight ROI, creative genius, good cheese, cute beagles, and deep powder days.

    5. 5  Sam Yount (Personal Capital)

      Sam Yount (Personal Capital)

      VP of Marketing for Personal Capital

    6. 6  Stephanie Sammons (Wired Advisor)

      Stephanie Sammons (Wired Advisor)

      From time to time I write about personal wealth and investing. I was a financial advisor for 15+ years after all, so it's a part of who I am.

    7. 7  Ramit Sethi (I Will Teach You To Be Rich)

      Ramit Sethi (I Will Teach You To Be Rich)

      Are you tired of useless, obvious "financial advice"? Looking for proven systems to make more money? Tell me where to send your free Insider's Kit, and you'll see for yourself why the biggest media outlets on the planet ask me for advice.

    8. 8  Jennifer Doyle (Motif Investing)

      Jennifer Doyle (Motif Investing)
      Business and Marketing Strategy Direct Marketing Branding Product Marketing Public Company; 10,001+ employees; SCHW; Financial Services industry Led team of 24 marketing professionals in implementation of all online and offline retail client campaigns to drive acquisition, engagement and profitability.

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  • How to create a hedge fund portfolio that beats the market (checklist)

    Posted on January 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm UTC

    In Tradestream your Way to Profits, I wrote about how smart investors can use hedge fund filings to create a wining portfolio. By tracking the holding information of some of the most successful investors on the planet, individual investors can piggyback on hedge fund returns.

    Many in the media — including some people I believe are smart, intelligent investors — poke holes in these replication strategies.  I’m not sure of their motivations, but the data are clear: By methodically creating a portfolio that seeks to mimic specific hedge funds (not all are good candidates for replication), individual investors get a big piece of the returns many of these funds have generated for years. Here’s a webinar I hosed last year on the subject of cloning hedge funds.

    My ‘hedge fund’ portfolio

    I’ve been developing a Tradestreaming.com Guru Portfolio this for the past couple of years (testing for 1 and using it with client funds for 2). While the S&P 500 was essentially flat last year, my Guru Portfolio generated close to 6% before fees. Even more impressive, it’s up close to 190.3% over the past 3 years with a 13.4% drawdown.

    AlphaClone has been indispensable to building this portfolio (that image is from AlphaClone). I wrote about how AlphaClone is the cure to investor insanity in 2009 and I still believe it’s a very important tool for all investors to build tested, defined strategies that build on the research done at the world’s top hedge funds.

    The point here though is that just buying a stock willynilly that Carl Icahn is targeting on a buyout or that Warren Buffett just put $1B into, isn’t really a strategy. For hedge fund replication to really work, you need to spend the time understanding how certain funds can best be piggybacked.

    There needs to be a method to the strategy for this to really work — one that removes and individual’s decision making (ah, I like this stock OR, nah, I wouldn’t buy that — it’s a dog!) throughout the process. I found this to be the hardest part of implementing this quasi-quantitative strategy.

    How to build a custom piggybacked hedge fund portfolio

    There are simpler strategies on AlphaClone that are just plug-and-play, no research needed. You can see 6 different ways people are tracking hedge funds which don’t require a ton of work. Some of these work amazingly well, but I personally wanted something customized to some of the things I’m working on at Tradestreaming.

    Here’s how I built my Tradestreaming Guru portfolio and how you can begin doing it in just under 1 hour with AlphaClone.

    1. Understand how funds can be tracked: Some funds are hard to replicate. From what I’ve seen the best funds to piggyback hold positions for at least a few months at a time, have a value approach, and don’t have a problem taking big swings on individual stocks (meaning, have a sizeable % of their assets in individual names).

    *Important point: Sometimes (and AC helps here, too), it’s not an individual fund’s picks that are the most exciting. Instead, it’s the most popular stocks held by a family of funds (say, the Tiger Cubs). Or, the most popular (that’s its technical name) stock in a certain industry or market cap held by all hedge funds (say, technology or transportation).

    Here’s a list of the most tracked funds on AC to get you started (though AlphaClone literally tracks thousands of funds):

    alphaclone

    2. Determine what your ideal portfolio looks like:  If you look at the list above, these funds perform pretty damn well (at least at the 3Y mark), but their clones are portfolios comprised of the funds’ top 10 holdings. If you tracked a handful of these funds, you’ll end up with a pretty large portfolio of individual stocks.

    Before you begin, it’s important to envision what type of portfolio you want:

    • Do you want to design a portfolio of 100 positions or 10? 
    • Are you comfortable following picks from just one hedge fund or do you want more diversity?

    I personally didn’t want a portfolio larger than 10-15 stocks (read below).

    3. Determine which strategy will get you to your ideal portfolio: When you play around on AC, you’ll see that certain funds are best replicated by a strategy that buys their top 10 holdings. Others work better by just following the top holding. Still, some follow the newest holding.

    I wanted an easy-to-manage portfolio of  about 10 stocks (to get diversity and focus on different sectors) and I didn’t want a portfolio of 100 stocks (10*10). Instead, I targeted funds that worked well by just buying their top or newest holding. If I’m following 10 funds, that would leave me with a 10 stock portfolio (1 stock from each fund).

    4. Screen, screen, screen

    I used AC to screen for funds that:

    • performed well
    • had high Sharpe ratios
    • lower drawdowns
    • I looked for returns over 3 to 5 years
    • and that replicated well by using a single stock pick to represent their returns

    I was also looking for funds that had focuses on different sectors (like biotech or tech or small caps, for example).

    5. Add these funds to a Fund Group

    As you find the funds that fit your strategy, add them to what AC calls a Fund Group.

    Once you’re logged in to AlphaClone, go ahead and click the Create a Clone Group button under the Your Custom Groups tab. The feature can be used to combine and filter a group’s holdings by sector and/or market capitalization then backtest performance.

    Before we checked how each individual clone performed over time. Now, with a group, you can see how the whole portfolio performs. You can add or subtract funds to get your portfolio right.

    I settled on a strategy that tracked 9 different funds. I’d suggest a portfolio that has more holdings in it. Occasionally, the funds I’m tracking held the same stock (Apple $AAPL was everyone’s favorite in 2011) and that meant I had few positions and the portfolio fluctuated more than I would have liked.

    6. Rebalance quarterly

    AlphaClone updates every quarter, a month after hedge funds file. You’ll see what was bought and sold and you can make any changes in your real-money portfolios based on the new names in the portfolio.

    Creating a piggybacked portfolio works — both in practice and in the research.

    Will it continue to work? Who knows, but like tracking insider trading, it makes sense that it should and AlphaClone is essential to doing this the right way.

    Was this helpful? Let me know in the comments.

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  • Finding a job in finance in today’s market

    Posted on January 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm UTC

    I’m not going to pussyfoot around it: it’s tough to find a finance job in this market.

    Whether you’re on Wall Street, working the buy side, or a recent (or soon-to-be) grad looking to break in — we’re in a contractionary cycle for finance jobs.

    That means any existing jobs are more competitive and take longer to land.

    Many Wall Street jobs have disappeared (as have the firms that employed thousands of people). Hedge funds have had a tough couple of years, some shuttered.

    Tough going but you CAN find a job on Wall Street

    The job landscape may be changing for Wall Street and the jobs may not be where you’d expect them to be. But there’s still PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITY for aggressive and driven people who want to make a go at it and work in one of the most rewarding industries known to man.

    I’m going to help you do it.

    4 Days to a Better Job: The 2012 Financial Career Bootcamp

    That’s why I’m hosting the 4 Days to a Better Job: The 2012 Financial Career Bootcamp.

    I’ve assembled some of the top experts with real-life experience helping professionals (young and more experienced) find their careers on Wall Street, in NYC, in Stamford, wherever people are employed in finance.

    No BS — these are people who walk the talk. They’ve literally helped thousands of people build successful Wall Street careers over the past 2 decades.

    We’ll focus on practical, actionable advice that will bring you one massive step closer to getting what you want.

    I hope you decide to join me and students/graduates from schools like Harvard and UCLA Business Schools February 13-16 for an entirely online event, 8 sessions focused on practical advice to help you further your finance career — or get it jumpstarted.

    You can read more about the event here.

    Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the event.

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  • Determining your real tolerance to risk, investing better – with Aaron Klein

    Posted on January 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm UTC

    Risk is such a hard thing to define for investors. Simple questionnaires advisors use don’t capture our real risk. Get risk wrong and the portfolio is wrong — sometimes with disastrous results.

    Today’s guest on Tradestreaming Radio aims to change all that. Aaron Klein’s firm, Riskalyze has developed its own unique way of making a risk assessment that really captures what he calls, an investor’s risk fingerprint.

    Instead of relying upon simple, pat, theoretical questions, Riskalyze really tries to determine how investors make decisions under uncertainty.

    With a proper risk assessment in hand, the opportunities are endless for Riskalyze to develop a truly personalized portfolio.

    Continue Reading »

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  • Top CEOs of Online Finance

    Posted on January 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm UTC

    I try to do my best, covering the online finance scene. In top financial startups, we named some of the best, most interesting and compelling, the best websites for investors.

    Now, I’d like to turn my sites to an ongoing experiment in crowdsourcing — who do you think is the best CEO of online finance firms?

    I’ve started the conversation, naming a few of the top CEOs of startups tacking the investment space.

    Who do you think should rank highest on this list? Who would you add/subtract from the list?

    5.09k views 20 items
    Zack Miller

    Who Are The Top Online Finance CEOs?

    Who's a great leader? Who's building the next generation of financial firms?
    Feel free to add your own ideas and top CEOs to the list.

    Source: http://www.tradestreaming.com/2012/01/10/top-ceos-of-online-finance/

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    1. 1  Yoni Assia (eToro)

      Yoni Assia (eToro)

      Yoni Assia is the founder and CEO of eToro, the social investment network. Mr. Assia is a former software group manager with over 8 years of experience in the fields of software development and management. Yoni has accumulated over 10 years of experience in investments and Forex trading.

    2. 2  Nick Hungerford (Nutmeg)

      Nick Hungerford (Nutmeg)

      Passionate. Dedicated. And ready to help you invest through Nutmeg!
      Nick brings to the table a strong background in both investment management and entrepreneurship through experiences during his time at Barclays and completing his MBA at Stanford University where he was VP of the Entrepreneur club.

    3. 3  Hardeep Walia (Motif Investing)

      Hardeep Walia (Motif Investing)

      Hardeep has over 15 years of executive management and entrepreneurial experience. Before co-founding Motif Investing, Hardeep was CEO of a medical device startup that he led to a successful acquisition. Hardeep spent over six years at Microsoft, where he served as General Manager of Microsoft's $2B+ Enterprise Services business.

    4. 4  Jon Stein (Betterment)

      Jon Stein (Betterment)

      Jon Stein is reinventing the investing industry. After seeing product after product that made the investing process more complicated than it needed to be, he set out to create a broadly accessible investment company that would help investors achieve the best return (factoring in costs) for the least risk. Passionate about helping people make smart decisions with their money, he founded Betterment.com in 2008.

    5. 5  Shawn Carpenter (YCharts)

      Shawn Carpenter (YCharts)

      Shawn has been an active investor for over 15 years. He developed YCharts to provide investors with comprehensive investment tools focused on quantitative fundamental analysis. Shawn spent three years at Google, where he led strategy & revenue intelligence efforts for the $350 million Local Vertical.

    6. 6  Andy Rachleff (Wealthfront)

      Andy Rachleff (Wealthfront)

      A co-founder and former General Partner of venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, Andy is on the faculty of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he teaches a variety of courses on technology entrepreneurship. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and is the Vice Chairman of their endowment investment committee.

    7. 7  Michael Blumenthal (Jemstep)

      Michael Blumenthal (Jemstep)

      Michael's passion has led Jemstep through three years of development, research and iteration to the point where our patented fund evaluation technology makes powerful and personalized analysis accessible to ordinary investors. In the coming months we are releasing our new portfolio management product which shows investors exactly what to buy, sell or hold to lock-in a more secure retirement, based on their specific circumstances. Michael's tireless efforts in the industry continue to push Jemstep forward with the aim of helping ordinary, individual investors achieve investment success.

    8. 8  Aaron Klein (Riskalyze)

      Aaron Klein (Riskalyze)

      This is the final in a series of three interviews so you can get to know the founding members of Team Riskalyze. Aaron Klein is our CEO. You can find his blog here, and follow him on Twitter here. Aaron, tell us a little bit about you.

    9. 9  Asheesh Advani (Covestor)

      Asheesh Advani (Covestor)

      Asheesh is an entrepreneur and business builder. He started his career as a consultant with Monitor Group and the World Bank. He subsequently founded CircleLending which helped pioneer the business of peer-to-peer loans and was acquired by the Virgin Group. From 2007 to 2009, Asheesh served as CEO of Virgin Money USA, the American arm of Virgin’s consumer financial services business. Prior to joining Covestor, he served as Global Head of Financial Advisor Products at Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company

    10. 10  Bill Harris (Personal Capital)

      Bill Harris (Personal Capital)

      Bill Harris, Chief Executive Officer - Bill was formerly CEO of PayPal and CEO of Intuit, the makers of Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax. He has also founded numerous financial technology and security companies, and served on the boards of RSA Security, Macromedia, SuccessFactors, GoDaddy and EarthLink.

    11. 11  Howard Lindzon (StockTwits)

      Howard Lindzon (StockTwits)

      Howard Lindzon is co-founder and CEO of StockTwits® - a social network for traders and investors to share real-time ideas and information. StockTwits was recently named "one of the top 10 most innovative companies in web" by FastCompany and one of the "50 best websites" by Time magazine.

    12. 12  Alexa von Tobel (LearnVest)

      Alexa von Tobel (LearnVest)

      Founder and CEO of LearnVest. Alexa received an A.B. in Psychology Honors with a citation in Romance Languages and Literature at Harvard College. She was awarded Magna Cum Laude Plus for Harvard’s first ever senior thesis on Bhutan

    13. 13  Amanda Steinberg (DailyWorth)

      Amanda Steinberg (DailyWorth)

      At last! A place to write about DailyWorth behind-the-scenes, and maybe even crowdsource the creation of the ever-evolving business plan. Stay tuned. Lots of posts on the way.

    14. 14  Michael Laven (The Currency Cloud)

      Michael Laven (The Currency Cloud)

      Mike has successfully led a multitude of fin tech firms as either CEO or Chairman for the past 15 years. These have included Infinity Financial Technology, Iris Financial and FRS Global. Prior to joining The Currency Cloud, Mike was Chief Operating Officer of Traiana.

    15. 15  Mike Sha (SigFig)

      Mike Sha (SigFig)

      Mike has always had a love for numbers and technology. As a child, his appetite for investing was whetted in elementary school when his mom gave him a summer project to create a way to track dividends and gains for their family's investment portfolio.

    16. 16  David Jackson (Seeking Alpha)

      David Jackson (Seeking Alpha)

      I'm the founder and CEO of Seeking Alpha. I worked for five years as a technology research analyst for Morgan Stanley in New York. I left in early 2003 to manage money (long/short) and explore new approaches to financial publishing, ultimately leading to the creation of Seeking Alpha.

    17. 17  Andy Creak (rplan)

      Andy Creak (rplan)

      Andy Creak is one of the four co-founders of rplan, which aims to help investors make better investment decisions through technology. He started his career as a Project and Programme Manager, before managing Operations, Sales and Marketing and Business Development departments in the financial services industry.

      Andy's aim is to create something new in financial services that he would also use himself.

    18. 18  Michael Carvin (SmartAsset)

      Michael Carvin (SmartAsset)

      Michael's expertise is in financial decision making. In the pre-SmartAsset days, Michael worked in Private Equity. He spent most of his time using financial models to help companies understand how to make and measure better decisions. SmartAsset was built on the principle that the same models could help people improve their decision making. Michael is a graduate of Princeton University

    19. 19  Alex Mifsud (Ixaris)

      Alex Mifsud (Ixaris)

      Alex Mifsud's extensive technology background and solid management experience proved to be invaluable assets when he and William Lorenz founded Ixaris in 2000. Before Ixaris, Alex worked as a senior consultant in the Cambridge-based technology practice of Arthur D. Little, a global management consultancy. There, he provided information technology guidance and innovation to blue chip clients such as Telia, VW Group, Granville Baird and 3i. Alex holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Malta and master's and doctorate degrees in computer science from the University of Edinburgh. He has lectured in the University of Malta's Department of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence.

    20. 20  David Cooney — CEO MahiFX

      David Cooney — CEO MahiFX

      David Cooney is CEO and co-founder of MahiFX, a retail foreign exchange and metals trading platform. David is former global co-head of currency options and e-FX trading at Barclays Capital and was responsible for the award winning e-commerce platform BARX.
      MahiFX operates as a market maker and provides retail FX customers access to the same tight spreads and cutting edge technology as institutional FX traders. The company’s mission is to keep engineering and evolving the platform based on client feedback, providing retail traders with the world’s most-favoured trading environment.

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About Tradestreaming

Tradestreaming is a community of investors learning directly from experts. I’m Zack Miller, investor, entrepreneur, and founder of Tradestreaming.com and I literally wrote the book on how to invest in the age of Facebook and Twitter. Tradestreaming is the resource I’ve created to help me become a better investor.  I believe it will help you … Continue Reading