Part I: Retirement Plans and Credit Checks
Did you catch the Emmy awards in mid-September? While the pageantry can be a bit much for my bookworm tastes, I was thrilled to see John Oliver, one of my favorite commentators, receive an Emmy for his “Last Week Tonight” show. Well deserved!
After accepting the award, Oliver spoke at a press conference, where a CBS News representative asked him whether he felt a sense of responsibility in his position. “What must you not do in your position right now?” asked the journalist. “Or is it just free and open, and you can do whatever you want?”
“Thank you, Dad,” responded Oliver, in fine form. “As a comedian? You’re really only responsible to try your hardest to make people laugh. And not to cause too much havoc in the process.”
It seems to me there’s some heavy meaning behind Oliver’s light-hearted response – especially given the amount of research and hard work that obviously goes into creating each show.
If you are okay with his adult-only language and often-bawdy references, there is much to laugh about in Oliver’s brand of satire … and much to learn. It reminds me of what we try to do at SageBroadview. I don’t think any of us will be winning any Emmys anytime soon, but we try to present even the most important, evidence-based investment theory in ways that everyone can understand, embrace and incorporate into their lives.
Oliver is often one of our best allies on that front. Whenever he turns his wicked wit to financial issues, he causes even the most yawn-worthy subjects to go viral, with millions of views. That’s a lot of “havoc.” But it’s the good kind when he takes aim at big, powerful entities that are taking unjust advantage of us. When greed, corruption, or just plain stupidity are allowed to persist, that’s not funny at all.
We’d like to share three of our favorite John Oliver segments that have contributed much to correcting financial havoc – the bad kind that impacts the most vulnerable among us. We also wanted to share these three with you because they are topics we talk a lot about ourselves when meeting with clients and others. (Again, if off-color references offend you, these videos might not be for you.)
John Oliver on Retirement Plans
In this segment, Oliver takes on (among other things) the importance of the Department of Labor’s recent rule, requiring all retirement advice to strictly serve the investor’s best interests. With the ruling slated to take effect in 2017 – but still being fussed over in Congress – we hope Oliver’s segment helps explain why it needs to happen, like last week, without further ado.
John Oliver on Credit Reports
Here, Oliver takes on a financial issue that affects all Americans: the integrity of our credit rating and related background data. Or more accurately, he exposes the lack of integrity that often persists in the industry, with as many as one in four credit reports containing errors, and one in 20 containing errors that are serious enough to do damage to your lending activities.
Vetting credit “is critical to our economy, and it always has been,” emphasizes Oliver. We’ve covered the importance of keeping an eye on your credit rating in our own past postings, such as this one on managing identity theft, and this one on buying or renting your home.
I’ve got one more John Oliver video I’d like to discuss. In fact, I think we’ve saved the best for last. So I don’t occupy too much of your time in one sitting, I look forward to sharing it with you in next week’s post.
SAGE Serendipity: Oliver’s videos cover serious subjects in an entertaining light. Sometimes, videos are best left serious, such as this powerful drone video in The New York Times of destruction in Aleppo, Syria, with an essay by NYT’s architecture critic Michael Kimmelman. Berlin, 1945; Grozny, 2000; Aleppo, 2016 is a poignant and timeless commentary on how “communities incubate hope” while tyrants seek to destroy them.