So we are back from the day long series of workshops on using new programs to work the stock market via an Ameritrade event called Apexlive. We received the classes for free – a $199 value – ‘cuz T has a trading account and a Suze Orman inspired “Save Yourself” savings account there. It turned out to be a pretty good deal. We drove up to the Marriot in Anaheim while we talked about her new interest in commercial real estate properties. Then after sign in and grabbing a coffee and bagel (free from Starbucks and paid for by one of the software companies at the convention), we hit the first workshop which was an introduction to a software program, the Mutual Fund/ETF Screener, available online at Ameritrade. It was designed to run a full analysis and comparison between ETFs and Mutual Funds and I found kind of enlightening. I have gotten interested in this stuff lately because of the effect the credit swap industry has been having on the US and world economy lately. Once you have selected a company, be it a Mutual or an Exchange Traded Fund, then you can input it into the program which then runs a profile of it next to similar products offered by other companies. It comes with the ability to email your findings in case you’re working with a partner or a financial advisor. There was not an opportunity to word the program there but the demo made it fairly clear how to access and play with the program through your own account.
The second class we went to was essentially one designed to bore us to death – portfolio guidance – and so I won’t go into it.
Class three, How to build a bond ladder, was the best for both of us because T has been laddering her CDs for the past year and again they introduced us to an online program, this time a Bond wizard the lets you set up your program in a model so that you can actually run the outcomes. In this class they ran several illustrations, one for setting up a ladder to fund your children’s college education. The class leader couldn’t help but point out that his 529 was in the negative which couldn’t happen with bonds. He obviously didn’t come prepared to discuss Bear Stearns. Anyway, another model we ran was for a retirement program someone wanting to retire at age 60. In both cases, the model used zero coupon bonds.
I couldn’t help but think of the transparency issue involved with any of these investments. And even though I am a neophyte as far as financial analysis goes, I do know where to look to start finding some answers.
Meanwhile, we are back from LA and T is off to another commercial real estate seminar to try and interest our son in learning more about how it works. Yikes.