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Author: progmtl Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 75839  
Subject: Re: The 401(k) World Date: 5/14/2013 2:40 PM
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I respect Bernstein a lot and I have his book "The Four Pillars Of Investing" - however, I think his 1 in 10,000 comment is way off.

I expect no more than 10 percent of the population passes muster on each of the above counts. This suggests that as few as one person in ten thousand (10 percent to the fourth power) has the full skill set.

He engaged in some pretty shaky math in multiplying his 4 10% probabilities together. Being proficient in those 4 areas is likely to be fairly well correlated, in which case multiplying the probabilities is not correct. I realize he used some weasel words ("as few as") but it still seems to be an attempt to make a point on a non-existent numerical foundation. And this from an investing expert!

I also disagree with point #2 - that knowledge of advanced mathematics is a requirement to successfully manage one's investments. I think the ability to understand percentages and the concept of compound interest goes a long way.

That being said, it always does surprise me to hear about how little time/energy people seem to invest (ha ha) into managing their money/savings/investments. Someone might fret over whether to buy a $20 item or not while throwing away hundreds in fees unnecessarily in their mutual funds.

But I still don't think anywhere near 9,999/10,000 people are destroying their 401k balances.

-progmtl.
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