Financial Advisors

Heather Cullen

Heather Cullen

In The Money

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog Financial Advisers

Financial Advisors.

OK, maybe I’ve got it in for financial advisors. I am not one myself, and have never been interested in being one. But I am aware of the draconian penalties if you give financial advice without having the qualifications, which is why I have disclaimers everywhere.

Conventional 'wisdom'

I am continually astounded at what certified financial advisers say, and interested in how they get away with spouting such rubbish. And don’t get me started on money coaches!

There was a beauty this week, in the Australian press, the same nonsense that is pontificated the world over:

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog Financial Advisers

Right, I thought, let’s see what you have to say.

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog Financial Advisers

People who have read my books will know that returns on the stock market are not the same as interest in a bank account. In bank accounts you can be sure of never going backwards, that every year you will have more money than the year before.

Not so in the stock market, a bad year can seriously damage your wealth, reducing your capital. Remember, a drop of 50% cannot be made up by a gain of 50%; you need a gain of 100% to get back to where you started.

Financial advisors should know such a basic fact as this, but apparently not. But lets play their game: just supposing the stock market did rise at exactly 9.1% every year, we started with $5k and added $5k every year. When would we get to $1 million?

Well, quelle surprise! She didn’t manage to get even this right. It would take 33 years (not 31) by my calculations.

The $10k per year option would take 26 years to top $1 million, not the 22 years claimed. OK, being picky. But 4 years is 4 years!

How much in the real world?

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog Financial Advisers
Heather Cullen In The Money Blog Financial Advisers

Let’s look at the actual returns over the last 30 years. 

Using the historical data from Yahoo finance we find that after 30 years our capital would be $643k, a far cry from the $1 million we were expecting. 


Because a few bad years set you right back; the GFC had a return of -37.4% in 2008. This wasn’t made up for 5 years!

Why do people pay financial advisors? No idea! Grump. Bah, humbug.

OK, getting off my high horse now! Disclosure: image by AI – I forgot to specify that a horse should only have 4 legs.

MailChimp and the Email Delivery

Three weeks ago I had technical issues with Mailchimp demanding changes at the server level, which my service provider duly did. However, it caused a lot of problems in deliveries.

The open rate went down from around 85% to 11% – basically, I think, because people weren’t getting the emails. I had a lot of people asking why they hadn’t been notified of an update.

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog Financial Advisers

The email list is still intact (I think, I can see it but I can’t download it) but I am being contacted by people who say they are dropped off the list. Something is going wrong at MailChimp’s end. All files downloaded are corrupted. I am chasing them up, but I keep getting missives like this:

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog Financial Advisers

Which rather makes me lose the will to live . . .

I am completely over all this – trying to get support from anyone these days is next to impossible, you just waste your time on ‘live’ chat. However, I will give it a couple more weeks, then pull the pin on Mailchimp. Sorry everyone, please bear with me. The blog will still go up before market open every Monday unless I post otherwise.

Bank of America covering all bases:

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog Financial Advisers

BoA is having yet another stab at prediction – now the S&P is going to be 5,400 at the end of 2024! Well, with all these differing predictions one is sure to be right!

To the markets

Well, not a bad week! Nothing terribly special, just a continuation of a nice easy uptrend. How long will it last? I have no idea, but let’s see what we can work out from the charts.

SPY Chart

SPY continues heading up, not in a frenzy but in a nice orderly manner. It is trading solidly above the  $500 level that I thought may have proved a resistance line, but I was wrong. (and am glad that I was!)

 I have redrawn the trend line to take into account the more recent candlesticks. Trend lines are known as ‘lines of least resistance’, which means that some event has to happen to throw it off course.  Let’s hope nothing happens anytime soon as I am rather enjoying this ride!

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog SPY Chart

I thought that I would take a longer perspective this week, as I have been getting some questions about how long the current uptrend can go on. We can see that the post-covid uptrend lasted for almost 2 years. Our current one has been going on for 5 months so hopefully we still have a way to go.

SPYG Chart

SPYG is following the same pattern as SPY, so see comments above.

And in perspective, also back to pre-covid:

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog SPY Chart

QQQ Chart

QQQ has broken through resistance at $440 (thank you NVDA) and is showing the same uptrend as SPY.

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog SPY Chart

In perspective, also back to pre-covid:

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog SPY Chart

NVDA Chart

We’ve been following NVDA for the last couple of weeks, let’s see what has happened:

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog SPY Chart

The temporary glitch has been taken out, and the uptrend is continuing.

VIX Chart

The VIX continues low:


Heather Cullen Blog ITMeter

The week ahead . . .

We are almost at the end of earnings season, so hopefully no big surprises in store. The futures are looking neutral, but it is still 12 hours to market open.

Heather Cullen In The Money Blog SPY Chart

Fingers crossed for a nice, steady, rising market this week!


Comments, Questions & Answers

19 thoughts on “Financial Advisors”

  1. Hi Heather, just wondering whether you have backtested the geometric CAGR of S&P500 when purchasing out of the money puts while it is above the 200 day moving average as an insurance policy instead of selling when it eventually crosses the line on its way down? Just read Safe Haven: investing for financial storms and wonder which strategy is more cost effective in the long run??
    Thanks for your good work!

    1. Hey Clarence, no I haven’t backtested hat – in fact I haven’t backtested buyin puts at all. I’ve looked at it often, and concluded tht I wasn’t prepared to enter as while you can limit the risks, the rewards just weren’t there.
      I’ve just been doing some research on Mark Spitznagel, the author of Safe Havens. He, along with Nicholas Taleb, established a hedge fund Empirica Capital in 1999 which closed in 2005 due to subpar returns. He was using the ‘Black Swan’ strategy which is a design strategies for “lottery-ticket” wins during unexpected crashes with precautions built in to limit the “bleed” losses they suffer in normal times.I can’t get the official results but according to Wikipedia:
      was reported to have made a 60% return in 2000 followed by losses in 2001, 2002, and single digit gains in 2003 and 2004.
      He then started another Hedge Fund in 2007 called Universa, and I can’t get the results from that either. He is again using the ‘black swan strategy, and claims to have made windfall profits during the GFC and Covid.
      I found this rather interesting *from Wikipedia” There was speculation that Universa purchasing large amount of puts options on the S&P 500 Index may have been one of the primary causes of the 2010 flash crash.[10]
      Shades of the Trading Places Movie.
      In short, I am going down a rabbit hole on this while I am supposed to be writing my blog! If you have a particula part of their strategy that you want to bounce off me please get back to me.

    1. Yes- I apologize.
      I use Maichimp for the emails – but for the last 4 weeks they have not been able to deliver practically any emails. I have tried to download the audience file but their download function produces corrupted files. They have been working on it for days – in fact, I am on live chat right now.
      They are a real mess, I can’t get any sense out of them.
      So apologies – as soon as I get the download file I will set up with another provider.

  2. Heather- do you at any time sell calls against your SPY LEAPS?(poor man covered call). Thanks for your time- Steve

    1. HI Steve
      no, I never bother – I find the premiums not worth the risk of missing out on a big up day. To get any sort of meaningful premium you have to get a strike very close to, say 0.5 – 1% above, the current price. The index often moves more than this in a single day so you are missing out on the big rises.
      In some of the more volatile stocks it may be a good strategy, but I have never found it worthwil for SPY, SPYG or QQQ.
      I wrote a blog on it a while back – here’s the link:
      Hope this helps

  3. I may have this wrong but from what I remember Stan Weinstein in his book Secrets for profiting in a Bull an Markets had a thing called the Swing rule. Check me on this if you have a copy of this old book. (It does not seem that old to me because I am old.) It does not always work but works enough to pay attention to it. Looking at SPY, for simplicity: The SPY topped in January 2022 at approx. 465.24 and bottomed in October 22 at approx. 341. 33, according to a weekly Chart on The difference is 124 points approx. The next high on SPY was 455.98 in July 2023. The market then dropped to 407.56 the rallied in late October 2023 and has gone straight up. Add the 124 points to 455.98 of July 2023 and you get about 579.98. Friday’s close was 512.85. No guarantees or promises or even suggestions this will be close or that the market will not fall out of bed tomorrow or zoom past this back of the envelope calculation.

  4. Heather- I appreciate the information you share with us–thanks for your time and effort.


  5. May I have your advice on how to deploy my funds for a 2nd option contract? Let’s say that I have purchase 1 option contract based on the guidelines with a 6 months expiry. 2 months later, I came into additional funds and I can afford to purchase another contract. Should I purchase a new contract with expire 6 months later? Sell the current contract and then buy 2 contracts for 6 months later? Buy a contract that will match the original contract that expires in 4 months?

    What is your suggestion?

    1. Hi ?
      My suggestion would be to buy another contract for 6 months later. Having 2 different expiries is not a problem (as long as you remember when the expiry dates are and roll before 30 days to expiry).
      In my opinion (and that is all that it is, just my opinion) this makes the most sense of your 3 options.
      Hope this helps

  6. According to your book the IN signal is the 10/200 SMA golden cross. Does that mean I have to wait until the the next golden cross before I can start using your system?

  7. Hi Ms. Cullen, I just finished both the ITM Bull and Bear books. I enjoyed both books. I found them to be very clear regarding the instructions for trading. I did have a question regarding a sudden crash scenario such as took place in 1987. I understand that the SPY etf did not exist at the time. Hypothetically speaking, should a ITM Bull trader try to exit there positions during the day? David Gordon

    1. Hi Gordon, just had a look at the SPX chart – and had made up a lovely chart with explanations that I was going to post – and the drawing tools stopped working! And I lost it!
      I am having an absolute horror of a day, technology-wise. But the indicators are still working – so briefly –
      – The death cross was on the 19th which was also black Tuesday
      – we would have gotten in the day after, pretty well the bottom of the market at aroun 237
      – the next golden cross was June 1988 and we would have got back in at 270.
      Not good – BUT: the market had been droppng for over 2 weeks before Black Tuesday, and entered a bear market on the same day. It stayed under the bear threshold until March, but traded sideways for about a year before trending up. We would have got into the market in June 1988 and traded the bull until 1990.
      Sorry, this has been a bit diskointed as I am on live chat with MailChimp, who can’t seem to resolve any of their problems.
      So – sorry – please get back to me if you have questions about what I have writte.

  8. Good Morning, Would like to join the mailing list. I wanted to tell you that I love your book, so keep up the great effort. I did not enter the Golden Cross (just found your book :)) would you say it’s still okay to enter since we did not see the Death Cross yet? The market is at all-time high?

    1. Hi Ruben, yes, if we wait for a death cross and another golden cross we might be waiting some time!
      Obviously if you get in now you wont get the same results as someone who entered righ on the go0lden cross, but hopefully the bull market has a way to run.
      Many people wait for a pull back to get into the market, but I have never found that it worked for me. The market always seemed to keep on climbing without me. Annoying.
      So now, if I have decided to get into a trade then I get in – but you need to make up your own mind what is right for you.
      And glad you liked the books – thank you!

  9. Dear Heather, Thank you for another timely weekly blog about trading and investing. Reading your In The Money weekly blog is like reading the Berkshire Hathaway annual report, very enjoyable and entertaining and educational. Sincerely, George Halongton in Los Angeles

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