Baby Boomers, Head to Your Local 'Occupy' Protest Now

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Baby boomers, you should be mad as hell.

Wall Street has betrayed your very existence with pie charts that lie, questions that deceive you, and a system that led you down a path of investment performance over function.
For the millions of Americans retiring in the next few years, checking your 401(k) statement can cause outrage.

After the government put a gun to your head with 401(k) plans, Wall Street simply gave tools (which, at the start, were useful) for the masses to invest funds in the equity markets. How was this a bad thing, fees excluded, to help diversify small and growing pools of retirement assets during the great bull run of the 20th century?

It wasn't. You heard me. If a client was a working baby boomer, so-called financial experts would have listened to them and provided active and passive long-only tools to invest in the market. This wasn't Japan. Our markets went one way: up.

The problem is when the boomer wants to start decumulating for a period of time, which now rivals the length of their working years. What has Wall Street given you? A crappy market rigged to serve finance and not capitalism. Black-box speed trading with no market maker in sight. A fungible equity market that brings shame to the NYSE and horror to the futures traders who fear that dark pools will infest their markets and kill off providers of liquidity.

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Rise against! Walk down right now to your local occupation site and tell the world you have had enough.

Pie charts that understate risk do nothing to help you retire successfully. Demand a target risk, not simply a target date. Demand that risk be clearly stated and updated when markets become unstable.

How is it useful to have a stockbroker call your pie chart moderate when the VIX measure of volatility is hitting 40? Most people can manage money better than a stockbroker because a gut instinct is better than a salesperson.

Bring the war home. Demand basic measurements of risk, and not the very long-term 100-year Jeremy Siegel kind. You will be dead in 50 years, so start investing like you mean it. Leave dollar-cost averaging to those who have a dollar to add.

What plan does Wall Street have for decummulation? I don't have much of one and that is my job. Seriously, anyone on the cutting edge of financial thinking has had to throw away Monte Carlo simulators and go back to basics like level of risk and 4% rules. The industry has created such a ridiculous foundation of financial planning that it undermines my profession.

I want a retirement-planning doctrine just as much as you do, but Wall Street gives us incomplete, dangerous thoughts like modern portfolio theory with no input for empirical evidence of risk and return. You don't get more return for risk all of the time. We don't have practical experience with a society that decumulates for 30 to 40 years.

Fight for thinking! Fight for your right to foster thinking in retirement distributions. Annuities are held as suspect, equity markets evoke ennui, and bonds are considered the great short. I have some answers, but we need more bodies on the ground.


1. Target a risk and don't look back. Diversification doesn't address how much risk you take.

2. Correlations matter, but how is that helpful today? When currency and convertible arbitrage start to correlate more with the S&P 500 Index, we get a crowded world with more risk and less return.

3. Expected returns need to be retuned to the forward thinkers. Right here, right now, no reasonable manager will talk of expected returns with good reason. We need to keep up the fiduciary promise we make to clients and measure the risk and return needed to finance long-dated retirements. Just because the capital asset pricing model is incomplete doesn't mean we can't do better.


Occupy Wall Street: News Feed >>
The latest news, photos and videos from the 'Occupy Wall Street' protests.

Lee Munson, CFA, CFP, is chief investment officer of Portfolio Asset Management, a wealth-consultant firm based in the Southwest. He is a regular guest on CNBC's "The Kudlow Report" and has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Smart Money and Kiplinger Personal Finance. Munson began his career in the 1990s as a trader on Wall Street. He runs a hedge fund and oversses his firm's capital.