The “we” on this website is me: Dick Purcell.
I first became annoyed and then concerned about educators obfuscating finance as a student, at MIT and then at Harvard. There, in line with standard practice, professors made a company’s financial reporting hard to understand by presenting it only in separate jigsaw pieces listed on three separate financial parts lists.
That is the very opposite of education, of conveying understanding. The very meaning of those reports and parts is how they fit and work together to represent the company. Breaking them apart is obfuscation.
Eventually I developed a “Financial Picture” view of a company that shows how those reports and their parts all fit and work together in a value flow diagram of the company. The American Institute of CPAs asked me to conduct courses around the country showing CPAs how to use the Financial Picture to explain their reports to company managers, and Houghton Mifflin asked me to write a book about it. I did both. I recently self-published an eBook version of the Financial Picture book and put up a small website about the Financial Picture.
Toward the end of the 1990s, I came upon financial obfuscation far worse: university investment education, conceived for financial and academic interests, has spread to fill the guidance of individual investors with confusing, misleadingly labeled misapplication of investment theory that ignores pursuit of best prospects for the investor’s future in favor of financial industry profits and academicians’ interests. I developed a software product designed to help financial advisors pursue investors’ interests, but have found that against the prevailing flood of investment mis-education from the universities, winning attention for that product is like trying to row an inflatable boat up Niagara Falls.
But now there are voices in the universities beginning to shout that prevailing investor guidance is not aimed toward investors’ best interests. Thus far, these voices from the universities have been aiming their criticisms in the wrong direction, in effect shouting “shoot the messenger” – criticizing financial advisors for doing what the universities teach. But I think there is opportunity to redirect those voices’ criticism toward the source of the problem, in the universities, and thus get us to the right solution: the universities offering a new investment education suited for guiding individual investors. That is my mission, and the mission of this website.
I think it is terribly important. America has 100 million individual investors. For most of them, meeting retirement needs depends on their investment, and is in peril.