A new study by professors at Nanyang Technological University and the University of Kentucky says it is. Stephen G. Dimmock, William C. Gerken and Nathaniel P. Graham studied the effect of career networks on fraud by looking at mergers of financial advisory firms. The researchers found that an advisor is more likely to commit fraud if his new co-workers at the merger-firm have a history of doing so. The propensity toward fraud also increases among demographically similar employees. “Although only a small fraction of financial advisors ever commit fraud, many of those who do are linked to each other through their employment histories,” the report said.
Retirement assets among Americans were down 4.3 percent in September compared to the end of the previous quarter, according to the Investment Company Institute. Assets were $23.5 trillion as of Sept. 30, 2015, compared to $24.5 trillion in June, the data shows. Retirement assets accounted for 34 percent of all household financial assets and have been flat or dropping all year. At the end of 2014, retirement assets stood at $24.2 trillion; they jumped to $24.5 trillion at the end of Q1 in 2015, but flattened out in the second quarter and dropped in Q3. The most money is held in IRAs, at $7.3 trillion, 4.8 percent less than the $7.6 trillion in IRAs in second quarter of the year.
In what seems like a rejected plot point from the next “National Treasure” sequel, artnet reports that Nicolas Cage has turned in a rare Tyrannosaurus skull to the U.S. government. The skull was illegally smuggled out of Mongolia (presumably by way of a secret map on the back of the Mongolian declaration of independence) before being sold to Cage at auction in 2007 for $276,000. Cage allegedly narrowly outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for the fossil. Though Cage received a certificate of authenticity for the item, he was, nonetheless, contacted by Homeland security in July 2014 and made aware of the possibility that the skull may be stolen. This story, though ridiculous, is an apt reminder of the importance of establishing an item’s provenance before buying at auction. A certificate of authenticity often is not enough.