The Buck Stops Here!

The Recession of 2007 – 2009 generated a great deal of blame and finger pointing. In my mind I visualize the recession as a “multi-car accident” with everyone fleeing the scene and pointing their fingers at the “other guy” as the responsible party. No one hung around to be accountable.

Actually in U.S. history, no one is more accountable than President Harry S. Truman, the haberdasher from Independence, Missouri. He inherited the “multi-car accident,” World War II, the Cold War, and global inflation. But on his desk was a reminder of a strong truth: “The Buck Stops Here.” Many do not know that prisoners in the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma, made this sign. On the reverse side of the sign are the words “I’m From Missouri.”“The buck stops here” is a slang expression and is the opposite idea of “pass the buck.” To “pass the buck” means passing the responsibility for an action on to someone else. In his farewell speech to the American people, President Truman specifically referred to this concept by stating, “The President—whoever he is—has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody.”

I feel  the personal financial planning community—of which I am a member—has “passed the buck” on the Recession of 2007 – 2009.

Financial Planners have been quick to assign blame for poor market performance: insurance company failures, lack of liquidity, and global events outside of their control. They have opined that they, like the consumer, were victims of fraud on a global scale. And on it goes . . . .

I disagree. Yes, the market ‘tanked.’ However, the Market Trough while deep was not unprecedented. In my tenure there have been three such troughs; Black Monday of 1987 being the most memorable. If Personal Financial Planners had been doing their job, and relying on the basic fundamentals of the profession, they would not have had clients fleeing the market. And perhaps, the economic pain felt by everyone would not have been so severe.

Over the next several weeks I will be reviewing the “fundamentals” of personal financial planning and how those basic principles will allow planners to say “The Buck Stops Here.”

I hope you will join me on this month’s CE/CPE Webcast: Back to Basics: Fundamentals of Financial Planning on Friday January 31, 2014 at 1:30PM EST. This Webcast will provide an overview of some of the basic fundamentals of personal financial planning. The presentation is web based and virtual seating is limited. The course is approved for one hour of CPE and CE. For more information or to register, please email at


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