Information galore at your fingertips
Welcome to Guy Fawkes Day. No fireworks from me this week, at least. Readers write to me often with many queries. Often, they just want to know how on earth I manage to find anything to write about, or curious to know where I get my information.
So, today’s article is about finding information that will, may, can, and does affect you. Information is all encompassing. So much out there, so little time to even begin to digest it all. Where do you start? What are you looking for? How will you know that you have what you need?
Let’s take a few topics that might be of interest, or relevant to your everyday life.
First, where does my information come from. Everywhere. Reading! Learning! Listening! Extrapolating and anticipating changes to our way of life.
I subscribe, read and have feeds from the New York Times, Bloomberg, Business Insider, the Huffington Post (US, UK, Canada, Germany), The Guardian, The Economist, The Financial Times, Google news, OECD economic reports (I am an OECD-approved journalist), Mondaq, Lexology, International Law Office, IRS Newswire, the Globe & Mail, Federal Tax Crimes, Seeking Alpha, McKinsey & Company, Wolters Kluwer Tax Blog, US Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Division, AICPA Tax Insider, KPMG and EY articles, Financial Planning Digest, Canada Revenue, Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue Service (UK), the White House, US Congressional Record, Investopedia, etc, and many other peer professional blogs.
Don’t forget YouTube (a phenomenal source, almost always free) and Khan Academy just a truly wonderful resource, especially, if you hate reading, have a short attention span but truly enjoy videos — for learning everything from WordPress, music, maths, science, computer programming, accounting, taxes, college, economics, history, currency trading, furniture making, construction, home repairs — you name it.
What should you have on your list? Well, besides fun things — everyone needs those, you should at least know about your environment and the world around you. And you are never too old to learn.
Learn to defend our home. We, Bermuda residents live in a microcosmic economy surrounded by mega giants, that are always looking for esoteric reputational weapon threats to neutralise a small, albeit incredibly successful, financial centre. We, not just you, should learn everything we can about these persistent threats to our very existence, our sustenance of life. In my opinion, our economy and our island business model should be taught in every school, starting at a very young age. Our money flow through on the island just doesn’t happen to circulate on hope and operating in a life “the way it used to be”. Not today. Everything has changed, and will continue to change in competitive global trade.
To find the maximum research opportunities, you do need a computer, a smart, smart phone, or without these necessities (yes, they are expensive), you do have our trusted libraries.
Search engines. I rely enormously on the infinitesimal capabilities of Google, where everything will ultimately be revealed if you are persistent and diligent. Sometimes an answer is readily not forthcoming, but rephrasing the question or broadening the search will yield many results.
People search. This is easy. Let’s say you have met someone, a “savvy” investor who wants you to invest a significant sum in a “new and up-and-coming business”. All appearances are that this person is genuine, honest, and has integrity, but you just want a third-party opinion. If you know the real legal name, the nationality, and the person’s country of origin, the results are instantaneous. Here is an example. Say the individual sports a few of those authentic (or not) credentials, why not do some research?
A few years ago, an elderly person came to me for a second opinion on a financial adviser (a CFP), who was promoting, a wonderful investment — a return of 15 per cent a year for a number of years. He was a visiting suitcase salesman who managed to conduct some business in Bermuda. We took his name, his credentials, and went on a research jaunt.
A review of both the US and Canadian Certified Financial Planner Boards of Standards did not list his name. The biggest item, though, was right there on front page. Said “adviser” had been up on US securities fraud charges — twice. This search took all of five minutes. Enough said.
Anything and everything is uploaded to the internet nowadays: licences, car registrations, property sales and purchases, marriages, deaths, consumer protection sites, medical information, educational / professional credentials, crimes, convictions, court cases, budgets, meetings, athletic races, politics (oh, how we are sick of them), travel in and out of the US, congressional records (for many countries) — the list is endless.
Stocks. Just bought a Toyota car and want to know more about the manufacturing company itself. Type in Toyota stock, see the result at one of the best financial reporting resources out there. Yahoo Finance. Boy, I hope that website is maintained if Yahoo is sold! https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/TM?ltr=1
You can learn even more details from focused investors, go to Seeking Alpha Toyota.
Don’t understand your pension annuity product. Start with a YouTube Annuity 101 series on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjxDHauOtsM
Immigration. Thinking about moving abroad. Research requirements to get there for US, UK, Canada. https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/move-united-states
You are the executor of a Bermuda will. What are you supposed to do? See Bermuda-online — a fabulous source of all things Bermuda, including a summary of our history from the beginning 1604!
The sky is the limit to learn anything and everything. All you need to learn is curiosity, will, patience, and a few internet tools. Do yourself a favour. Learn something new everyday. You will never, ever be bored. What you learn in educating yourself may change your life. I guarantee this to be self-fulfilling!
Martha Harris Myron CPA PFS JSM: Masters of Law — International Tax and Financial Services. Pondstraddler Life™ Financial Perspectives for Bermuda islanders with multinational families and international connections on the Great Atlantic Pond.