Archives For Bank on Yourself

If you want a good chuckle, watch this video:

First off, this insurance policy DID NOT have an annual return of 9.94%! It was more like 6%. It’s fine if you want to add hypotheticals in order to draw comparisons to other investments, but you can’t claim that those numbers represent YOUR return. They do not. How it is legal for them to make this claim is beyond me.

That’s not all…

Pay particular attention to the part where Paul Nick addresses “what if you invested in the stock market instead…” (10:17 in the video).

NOTE: He mentions a few times in the video that he’s “bringing some truth to the matter…” Gag!

He simply takes the annual price returns for the S&P 500 Index and plugs them into his spreadsheet and claims that’s what an investor would have received. HE CONVENIENTLY LEFT OUT DIVIDENDS! On top of that, he THEN adds a bogus 1% management fee (who pays 1% for an index fund) AND he taxes annual returns at 25%. His ending balance before the fees and taxes was $223,442. Take a wild guess what that number would have been had he been honest and used the S&P 500 Index Total Return?

Paul Nick's Example from Bank on Yourself


That’s over $500,000 more than Paul shows in his example.

As you can see from the following graphic, DIVIDENDS MATTER!

S&P 500 Total Returns vs. Price Returns

I find it funny that he mentions dividends when showing how the insurance cash value balance grew, but left dividends completely out of the equation when he talked about the S&P 500 Index.

Here’s the deal: I know very little about the Bank on Yourself strategy. It could be the best thing since sliced bread (I doubt it). What I do know is that if the people behind it have to lie—and cling to their lies when confronted—in order to make their strategy look better, I don’t want any part of their strategy.

For those of you not familiar with Pamela Yellen, she is the author of the Bank on Yourself strategy. She has written a couple of books espousing the insurance based strategy. I haven’t read them. What I have to say in this blog post has nothing to do with the message of her books.

I can understand an insurance person not liking the stock market. I get it. When you sell products that are supposed to “reduce risk” you’re not going to be a fan of something like the stock market.

What I don’t like and can’t respect is a person who willingly misleads others by not telling the whole truth.

How does Ms. Yellen mislead her followers?

Take a look at the following snippet that was recently published on her blog:

Okay… so over the last nearly 16 years, since January 1, 2000, the S&P 500 (which represents the broad market) has had only a 2.15% average annual gain.

Did you guess that it was more than 2.15%? Most people do.

And coincidentally, that 2.15% per year return was cancelled out by the 2.19% average annual rate of inflation during that same time period! Oops!

So, was that return worth the risk you took? Was it worth your sleepless nights?

It Gets Worse, Because You Didn’t Actually Get that 2.15% Average Return – Here’s Why…

For starters, in order to participate in the returns of the S&P 500 (or any other index), you have to buy a financial product, like an S&P 500 Index mutual fund or an Exchange Traded Fund.

And those financial products have fees, typically totaling at least 1% per year.

So when you subtract that from the 2.15% annual return of the index, well… now you’re down to maybe 1.15%.

Which means, when you factor in inflation, you’ve actually been going backwards for the past 16 years. All that risk for so little reward.

Now take a look at the chart she included in her post:

Yellen's Chart

Look closely. What did she conveniently leave out?


I have called her out on this before (NOTE: I have since been banned from leaving comments. Only people who agree with her are allowed to post comments on her blog.). She claims that talking about dividends would confuse the matter. Interesting. Dividends will confuse people, but using the price return for an index and then subtracting off another ONE PERCENT for management fees and then reducing it even more for inflation isn’t confusing?

Because I’m a nice guy, I will help Ms. Yellen out with the math. To be fair, I used the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Mutual Fund (VFINX) since it is an actual investment vehicle and not just an index. Its adjusted close on December 31, 1999 was $102. Its adjusted closing price on December 16, 2015 was $192.11. There were 15.96 years between the two dates, giving us an average annual rate of return of 4.05%. The math looks like this:

[(192.11 ÷ 102)1/15.96] – 1

[1.883431.062657] – 1

1.040465 – 1

.040465 or 4.05%

That’s roughly 3.5 TIMES the return Ms. Yellen posted on her blog!

I’ll be the first to admit that stock market returns have not been great during the 2000s, but they haven’t been nearly as bad as Ms. Yellen makes them out to be.

Not only that, most people have to dollar-cost-average into an investment. For kicks, I ran the numbers to see what the personal rate of return would be for someone who invested $100 each month into VFINX since December 31, 1999. Using the XIRR function in Excel, I found the personal rate of return to be 7.95%. This is due to the fact that the investments are made a little at a time over a long time horizon.

For someone who holds herself out as an “expert,” she should know better.

For your entertainment, here is my first post regarding Ms. Yellen’s tactics from 2014.

UPDATE: I just ran the numbers to reflect the last two down days (the DJIA has lost over 600 points on Thursday and Friday (12/17/2015 – 12/18/2015)). The personal rate of return for 12/31/1999 through 12/18/2015 is 7.44%.