The Flinchum File

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Four Year Anniversary . . . Already?

Maybe, you remember where you were . . . when Kennedy was assassinated.  Of course, you must also  remember where you were . . . when you learned who shot J.R.  But, where were you four years ago today . . . when we learned about Bernie Madoff?   (It’s hard to believe it has already been four years.)

It was actually three months later that I recall more vividly, when I was sitting next to an elderly couple in Boca Raton, who were Madoff victims, as they discussed how their family relationships were being changed as a result of their financial loss.  It was because of them that I wrote my one-and-only novel called Paybacks:  A Novel of Ponzi Schemes and Families, which to my surprise won two awards.  Bernie indeed changed my life in that small way.  In a wider sense, he also changed my life by changing the regulators, who are now much more strident and demanding.

Numerous other Ponzi schemes have been discovered since then, and I wish I had kept a log of them.  Unscrupulous financial advisors continue to prey upon investors.  Of course, the regulators can only do so much to protect them.  Investors must take some responsibility to protect themselves.

The most important thing investors can do to protect themselves is this:  Make sure the investment manager does NOT have custody of your assets.  The custodian must prepare your monthly statements, not your investment manager.  If an unscrupulous financial advisor prepares your financial statements, he can send you a fraudulent statement every month.  You MUST have a third-party custodian to protect your assets.

CNBC has a good video on this, and I encourage everybody to watch it at

Please watch it . . . don’t make me write another book!