If you are a Seville golfer, you can't help but notice the changes you see as you stand on the 16th green and 17th tee at the wonderful improvement in the scenery. Toll Brothers, (ticker symbol TOL) is the latest builder to construct a few dozen new homes for a few dozen lucky families in the previously empty space aside the sports and pool complex area. They did an amazing job of relocating Gus and his Band of Merry Men and sprucing up the area. The streets are in, the lots are divided up and ready to be built on. Nary a golfer hasn't commented though about the noise the new homeowners will have to endure from the slides and the pools in the summer months (admit it- you know you were in at least one conversation about it!) The fact is, in a year or two the neighborhood will be built out and the new additions to the Seville family will be settled in- and then see and hear for themselves what they were in for. The builder's search for the perfect families (or at least those who could afford their luxury homes) reminds me of our own search for facts in our very confusing world: do you really know what you hear is truly information... or is it just noise?
There hasn't been a day in the last month or so that I haven't gotten a call asking about Bitcoin: what is it, why is it so volatile, is it a good investment, and a myriad of inquiries about it. Although I have no opinion on it as an investment, it's a perfect example of noise vs. information. The investment (and even that's in question) is virtual, and so are the facts. Hard, firm "facts" are mostly useless unless they have basis, and most things you hear are like the old kids game of telephone: mostly opinion, information and misinformation shared by those who are usually enthused and enamored by it. Much research needs to be done to actually determine the real facts about it, or the finding of true information. The line between noise and information gets blurred as the bantering goes on, and vast amounts of money can be gained or lost by basing your investment decisions on noise instead of firm, investigated information. I'm not picking on Bitcoin, just using it as an example of an entity that is very active in the markets today.
So how do you determine the difference between noise and information? Firstly, where is it coming from. Is the source a reputable publication like an investment publication, with no bias from an underlying effort to sell you something or page 6 of a daily newspaper? Is the writer (ahem... 33 years) knowledgeable and tenured in the field of question? Is the article based in fact, or based on opinion? Has the source of the information researched their statements to be factually correct... and most importantly, do you trust the source? Noise comes to us in many ways: news and periodicals, TV, radio, bar conversation, your weekend foursome... we are surrounded by it. Certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, but most times you don't know if it truly is opinion or fact based information. While you may go to the internet to see what you can find, there are many jokes about "it's got to be true- I read it on the internet!"
So where do you go to get the facts? I‘ve always said, "the four most important people in you life (aside from family of course,) is your doctor, your lawyer, your CPA and your Certified Financial Planner®." These are your team- your go-to people for information you can trust. You don't go to your CPA for medical advice, nor do you call your lawyer if you have a bellyache. You go to your teammate who has spent years and years and thousands of hours being very good at what they do. This is your specially chosen team, there for you when you need it the most. Hopefully, they've been vetted and have proven to be your trusted advisors, there for you when you need them the most. These are the people you go to for information to by-pass all the noise out there. We are all bombarded by the noise, so just take it for entertainment value, and use your trusted advisors for the information you need to make those important personal and business decisions. Just remember... the guy you're teeing it up with just called a $20 Nassau while claiming an 18 handicap... is it information or is it noise? See you on the tee!