The Power Gauge Ended My Retirement

Editor’s note: We’ve talked a lot about the Power Gauge over the past few months. But so far, we haven’t shared exactly how our proprietary system came to life.

That all changes today… In this essay, Chaikin Analytics founder Marc Chaikin details the event that forced him out of retirement more than a decade ago.

We hope you enjoy the Power Gauge’s origin story…

After years of success on Wall Street, I packed up and bought a home in Connecticut…

It was supposed to be the start of a one-year sabbatical. But the lure of early retirement was too strong… And I was soon ready to spend my days relaxing and playing tennis.

My wife, Sandy, wasn’t ready for retirement, though…

After working for several years as a vice president at beauty-products company L’Oréal, she built her own business in marketing and consulting. And fortunately, her business was still growing in 1999.

Despite my Wall Street successes, we managed our retirement funds separately. And since her business was getting bigger, she didn’t have much free time on her hands. She was simply too busy to chase down the best mutual fund of the day.

At the time, it made sense for Sandy to pay an expert to look after her retirement. And so, she made what was a pretty common and reasonable decision at the time… She handed the care of her retirement over to a professional who actively managed her account.

Sure, the fees were high… But as the overall market rose throughout the early 2000s, the fees didn’t seem that important. Sandy was busy with her business… And her retirement nest egg was growing alongside it.

In short, life was good. I was enjoying my retirement, and our wealth was still growing.

Then, 2008 came along…

Marc, I’m paying him to ride my account to zero,” Sandy said to me midway through 2008.

As the financial crisis set in, Sandy’s 401(k) account was bleeding value almost every day. And at the time, it looked like there was no end in sight…

To make matters worse, her high-fee active manager didn’t want to talk to her. The few times she was able to get him on the phone, he was dismissive.

Even worse, Sandy’s actively managed account was down much more than the overall market at the time. It was sitting on losses of about 50% at that point, while the broader market was down about 20%.

Sandy’s portfolio manager didn’t know what to do. And she wanted out – rightfully so.

Unfortunately, Sandy’s investing horror story isn’t that unique…

Thousands of everyday Americans watched helplessly as their retirement savings were cut in half – or worse – during the Great Recession.

It was awful. And then, many folks made the worst decision they could possibly make…

They got out right at the bottom. Then, they stayed on the sidelines. They wanted to wait until things had settled down and weren’t as volatile before they got back in. (Of course, this line of thinking really means after stocks have recovered. But most folks don’t realize it.)

Sandy was more fortunate in that regard… She had me at her side. And after more than 30 years as a Wall Street insider, I knew what we had to do. As I told her…

You have to stay invested. Stocks won’t stay down forever. We need to ride this out.”

Sandy understood. But she had also lost all confidence in her portfolio manager. And I don’t blame her since the guy still wouldn’t give her the time of day.

However, I knew that just “stepping aside” and waiting for things to settle down was the worst possible move. That’s because of how volatility tends to work after a big crash…

When it comes to the broad market, big volatility up follows big volatility down. A quick glance at the benchmark S&P 500 Index’s biggest moves makes this clear…

Major rallies have always come after a big bust.

So in the end, Sandy fired her portfolio manager and we took things into our own hands. We rolled her retirement into an index fund at Vanguard.

The first priority was making sure she didn’t miss the upside in the recovery that was coming. But after that, what was Sandy supposed to do?

It was so painfully obvious…

I had spent my career building quantitative tools for Wall Street. And I was darn proud of the work that I had done in helping many elite investors find success with those tools…

But when it came to my wife and the thousands of everyday investors who lost a large chunk of their wealth just like her… well, I hadn’t done a whole lot for them.

Although I was enjoying my retirement, I knew that I had the ability and knowledge to fix this problem. After all, I had developed the tools used by many Wall Street insiders.

As Sandy searched for a better solution, I promised myself that I would build the best set of quantitative tools for individual investors on the market. So I ended my retirement and got to work.

And in 2011, the Power Gauge came to life.

Good investing,

Marc Chaikin

Editor’s note: Now that you know how the Power Gauge was born, you might be wondering how it works. Fortunately, Marc put together a walk-through on everything you need to know about his one-of-a-kind system. Plus, just for watching, you’ll get the name and ticker symbol of his No. 1 bullish recommendation today. Get all the details right here.

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