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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about VeriPlan and The Skilled Investor

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Why is this site named "The Skilled Investor?"
The name of The Skilled Investor website implies that skill rather than luck should be the key element of anyone's financial planning and investment portfolio management strategy. The Skilled Investor provides scientifically based educational information to help individuals to increase their financial and investor skills. Our central goal is to help you to become more skilled at your lifecycle financial planning and investing.

For example, many people believe that investment success has something to do with being smarter than the other person and selecting supposedly 'under-priced' securities. Unfortunately, the other people looking at the same securities and prices usually are pretty bright, too. This competition among investors in global securities markets largely ensures that any truly consistent "beat the market" skill among investors will be very rare.

Uniformly, scientific studies have shown that investors who appear to be very skillful in the short-term tend to be just average over longer periods. Superior "stock picking" would require better prediction of future events, yet no one has a reliable crystal ball or predictive calculator. Current securities market prices can only reflect the current risk-adjusted consensus about possible future outcomes. No one is right or wrong, until the future is revealed through the passage of time.

In such an environment, there inevitably will be a very large element of random chance. What is just short-term luck distributed across the population of investors will be mistaken for skill by many, and these naive investors will chase after this lucky past performance with their money. The scientific investment returns literature indicates that such strategies lead to inferior returns and should not be the basis of anyone's lifelong financial planning and investment strategy. Attempts to beat the market are flawed, because they involve unknowable outcomes, higher costs, higher risks, increased federal, state, and local taxes, and a greater time commitment.

Instead, a truly 'skilled' investor will seek out and use only scientific personal finance and investment strategies that have been proven through valid research. He will rely about proven methods to achieve financial success. Therefore, it is the objective of The Skilled Investor website to help investors understand scientific financial planning and investment methods that are based upon skill and not random luck, hype, and self-interested promotion.
What is the author's background?

The author and editor of The Skilled Investor is an experienced executive with expertise in business management, investments, economics, statistics, and accounting. He holds a BS from MIT, an MA from Brandeis University, and an MBA from Stanford University.

Follow this link for more information on the author's background:

Author's background
What is the author's motivation?
In 2001, I established Lawrence Russell and Company and began an in-depth and systematic reading of the scientific finance literature. I wanted to find out what was true, false, and ambiguous about personal financial planning and investing. These activities lead to the development of The Skilled Investor and of VeriPlan, which enables individuals to do their own financial lifecycle planning.

In 2003, I began to develop a highly customizable lifecycle planning model. This financial planning software tool, which became VeriPlan, was designed initially to serve as a decision support tool for my advisory clients who wanted to develop coherent and personalized lifetime plans based upon scientific investing. I also began to give educational presentations on investing to local organizations, including Rotary Clubs, CPA groups, financial planning groups, etc.

As I spoke with individuals and groups about their needs, it became clear that everyone had similar, yet distinct, financial planning needs regarding their families' financial futures. While more wealthy people (think millions of dollars) had somewhat greater complexity to their financial affairs, caused largely by our incredibly convoluted U.S. personal tax codes, everyone needed sophisticated financial lifecycle planning. Whether wealthy or not yet wealthy, everyone needs a personalized way to understand how their current financial behaviors could affect their families in the future. However, few people already owned enough assets to justify the high cost of a competent and objective advisor. Only those who are wealthy enough now have a reasonable opportunity to afford professional financial planning assistance.

This lead me to focus significant resources on the further development of VeriPlan as a standalone financial lifetime planning software product with comprehensive and fully integrated financial calculators, investment calculators, loan calculators, retirement calculators, and other personal finance software. Clearly, the mass of Americans would never have access to a personalized lifecycle planning application, unless an inexpensive software product was developed. Since I already had developed earlier versions of VeriPlan for use with clients, I decided to develop a standalone configuration that individuals could operate themselves. Furthermore, I decided that it must be priced low so that almost everyone could afford it. These are the reasons why I have dedicated significant time and effort to provide both The Skilled Investor and VeriPlan to those who want to improve their ability to manage their own financial planning and investing affairs.

Larry Russell
Author and Editor of The Skilled Investor

Follow this link for more information on the author's motivation:

Authorís motivation and his investor education efforts

Does The Skilled Investor have a blog?
Yes, we have a blog

You can find the The Skilled Investor Blog that this URL:

Does The Skilled Investor provide an RSS feed?
Yes, The Skilled Investor provides an RSS feed for its FINANCIAL ARTICLES module that you should be able to access with RSS version 2.0 compliant readers.

This is the URL for our FINANCIAL ARTICLES feed that you can copy and paste into your RSS reader, when it asks for the web location of our RSS feed:

An alternative way to find this RSS URL is to click on the orange RSS button in the left hand column near the top of any of our webpages. Either right click and "Copy Shortcut" or left click to open our RSS feed and copy the URL in the address bar of your browser. Then, paste the URL into your RSS feed reader.
Why does The Skilled Investor have pictures of coins and art?
To improve the asthetics of your visit to The Skilled Investor, we run an internal ad server that may display pictures of coins, paintings, and other art works. These coin and art pictures are randomly chosen by our ad server from a large collection of images that we maintain.

If you left click on any of the coin and art images, you will usually be taken to an introductory page with information about VeriPlan. VeriPlan is a do-it-yourself lifetime personal financial planned that we developed and that we sell through The Skilled Investor website.

If you want to know more about an image of a particular painting or coin, just let your mouse or pointer hover over the image. Some text will appear that briefly describes the image. If you want to get a high resolution copy of the coin or painting shown, write down the text that is displayed -- even if the text is in another language -- then follow the links below. Do this when you first see an image that you like. These pictures are randomly and automatically served, and there is no way to search these images. (Depending on your browser settings, you may be able to use the back arrow to find a previously displayed image.)

Every coin or art image on The Skilled Investor website is in the public domain and has no copyright restrictions. However, these thumbnail images are small and not very detailed. If you go to the Wikimedia Commons website, and you search for some of the text you wrote down while hovering over an image on our site into the Wikimedia search function, you should be able to find a much larger and more detailed image there. You will be able to download a high resolution picture without copyright restrictions. (Right click on the high resolution image and select "save image as" to save the image to your hard drive.)

Use these web links to find more images that may please you. The Wikimedia Commons has over one million media files.

For the Wikimedia Commons main site, go to:

For the Wikimedia Commons main coin page, go to:

For the Wikimedia Commons list of painters, go to:

Note that NOT all images on the Wikimedia Commons are purely in the public domain and free of all copyright restrictions. Pay close attention to any licenses and restrictions, particularly if you plan to republish any images.

Concerning copyrights associated with the images on The Skilled Investor website, we have used U.S. coin images that are never subject to copyright, and we have selected other old and ancient coin images that were placed in the public domain on the Wikimedia Commons website by the person who took the picture of the coin. Concerning the art works, all are old enough to be in the public domain and thus are not subject to copyright in the United States. For example, you will see images of Paul Cezanne's paintings, but not Rene Magritte's. Cezanne has been dead long enough for images of his fine works to pass into the public domain. Magritte has not, and therefore we cannot show images of his amusing paintings. Too bad. Magritte is good.

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