How to Recover From a Huge Blunder
Have you ever made a cringe worthy mistake? One that ruins not just your day but the week or weeks following? One where you can’t stop obsessing about your failings? Yes? You’re not alone.
I made a big mistake last year. A mistake that I was so embarrassed about I couldn’t talk about it to anyone except my husband and one friend. I had a huge amount of shame around my blunder. But with time, distance and overcoming my gaffe I’m now ready to talk about it and share the lessons learned.
I was in my car doing errands when I got a phone call from a client. She said, “Are you on your way?” I was totally confused. What did she mean I asked? Well, it turns out I was supposed to be giving a training to their employees that day. What? It wasn’t on my calendar. How could that be? My heart raced, I broke out in a cold sweat and I felt panicked. I quickly drove home and looked at the client contract. Yep, sure enough that was the date of the training and it was not on my calendar! The CEO of the company called me and shared his disappointment with me. Of course he was disappointed. He and his employees had blocked off that time on their calendars and were sitting and waiting for me.
So, what did I do? I apologized and admitted I had really messed up. I told him I would do the training at another date that was convenient for him for half the price and I would also give each of the participants a copy of my book. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to have me back after I, an etiquette consultant, had inconvenienced them so much. He said he would think about it. I understood. I had truly blown it. So, I waited and prayed he would give me another chance. I’m a great trainer and I knew if he allowed me to give the training he would be happy.
As the weeks passed by with no word my mistake haunted me. A couple weeks later I saw that I had put the training on my calendar for the same date of the month but one month later. I emailed the CEO and explained what had happened and again apologized, but no word back from him.
I beat myself up continually – How could you have been so stupid? What is your problem? You’re a failure! Have you ever said those things to yourself? I was sure he had decided not to have me back. I was devastated.
But, in the meantime, I took steps to make sure this would never happen again. I looked at the contracts of all of my upcoming engagements and checked that the correct dates were on my calendar. I got a white board and listed the future trainings and speaking engagements I had so that I could see the list every day.
Then one day, several months later, my contact emailed me to ask if I could do the training in December. Thankfully I was available the date she inquired about and I quickly responded I was. My spirits lifted. I was so happy I was going to be given a second chance. They had to change the date to later in December but again I was happy I was available. If I had had something else on my calendar that wasn’t client related I would have changed it so I could make the training date for this client.
I then thought about how I was going to discuss my major gaffe with the training participants. I didn’t want it hanging in the air. I decided to make myself an example of how you handle a mistake.
This is how I opened my presentation:
Hello everyone! Etiquette training take two.
I want to apologize for missing the June training. You might be thinking, it’s rather ironic an etiquette consultant missed an etiquette training. Well, yes it is. I had a scheduling snafu where somehow I had the date on my calendar as July 20, not June 20, so, my deepest apologies for inconveniencing you.
But there are lessons to be learned from my rather big mistake. The first one is etiquette is not about being perfect. That said; I would hope this kind of a mistake is few and far between. But, we are all imperfect beings, including etiquette consultants and it’s how we handle those mistakes that makes the difference.
When you mess up, take responsibility. Don’t try to hide or deny your mistake. In my case, I admitted my error and apologized.
Then, make up for the mistake. I offered to do the training another time at half the price and I included a copy of my book for each of the participants.
And then, take precautions to make sure it never happens again. I guess that worked because here I am, committed to giving you a great training.
So, next time you make a mistake, apologize, take responsibility and make it right. And remember, no one is perfect, not even etiquette consultants.
I got some smiles and laughs and the evaluation forms for my training were positive, so I guess I did okay.
So, if you made a major mistake that you’re still beating yourself up about remember we are all imperfect beings who sometimes mess up. Make amends and do what you can to try not to repeat the same mistakes again.
Have you made a huge blunder that you had to recover from? If so, what did you do? Were you able to recover?
Sizing up Strategic Beta
Interest in strategic beta ETFs is rising. A few simple guidelines can help investors pick from among the often-bewildering number of options.
The number of strategic beta ETFs has grown at 20% a year, consistently in good markets and bad, since the year 2000. With good reason: Strategic beta ETFs offer a more thoughtful passive option than cap-weighted indexes—and they can do so with a more transparent process and lower fees than actively managed funds.
Bright future, dim past
All well and good, but how should investors assess any particular strategic beta ETF? Close to 40% of these funds have been in operation for less than three years. This lack of an established track record can make it hard to validate their claims. ETF sponsors may try to make up for that shortcoming with back testing, running simulations of holdings they might have had against actual past market performance, but that has its limitations:
Back testing doesn’t always account for fees, liquidity or transaction costs.
Back tests are “selection biased”—that is, back testers have a tendency (conscious or not) to engineer positive outcomes. Live outcomes are therefore likely to be inferior.
Too great a focus on recent history can lead to “driving in the rearview mirror.” While an index or ETF may solve the problems of yesterday well, an investor’s focus should instead be on solving the potential problems of tomorrow.
Three steps to an informed judgment
Because the indexes tracked by strategic beta ETFs are by design somewhat exotic, effective assessment of them calls for some digging:
- Investors first have to understand who the index designer and asset manager are (they may not be the same people). They should have a clearly expressed investment philosophy and the expertise to enact it in practice.
- The properties of the portfolio should reflect the investment philosophy. Not only does the transparency of ETFs allows examination of the holdings to ensure that this is the case, it also measures such as active share relative to a cap-weighted benchmark or turnover can indicate whether an ETF is performing as designed.
- Performance can also be used to confirm that an index is doing its job. While short-term results shouldn’t be given too much sway, the index designer should be able to explain when and why an index will perform and when it might not.
One key aspect of performance shared with traditional passive management is tracking error. Like earlier cap-weighted index tracking funds, strategic beta ETFs should have minimal tracking error to their own indexes. Beware, though, the tracking error to the benchmark can be large and dynamic, it is by this differentiation that strategic beta adds value.
Made to measure
Strategic beta does not defy analysis, despite its novelty. Indeed, it has a lasting advantage over standard active manager due diligence. Strategic beta, after all, is rules-based. What an investor sees in straightforward, well thought-out index composition rules is what the investor will get. In that sense, strategic beta is relatively immune to the personnel changes, style drift and index hugging that can challenge actively managed mutual funds.
Learn more about ETF due diligence here.
This document is a general communication being provided for informational purposes only. It is educational in nature and not designed to be a recommendation for any specific investment product, strategy, plan feature or other purpose. Any examples used are generic, hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. Prior to making any investment or financial decisions, an investor should seek individualized advice from a personal financial, legal, tax and other professional advisors that take into account all of the particular facts and circumstances of an investor’s own situation.
Opinions and statements of market trends that are based on current market conditions constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice. These views described may not be suitable for all investors. References to specific securities, asset classes and financial markets are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as, recommendations. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investment returns and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. ETF shares are bought and sold throughout the day on an exchange at market price (not NAV) through a brokerage account, and are not individually redeemed from the fund. Shares may only be redeemed directly from a fund by Authorized Participants, in very large creation/redemption units. For all products, brokerage commissions will reduce returns.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management is the marketing name for the asset management business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and its affiliates worldwide. J.P. Morgan Exchange-Traded Funds are distributed by SEI Investments Distribution Co, One Freedom Valley Dr., Oaks, PA 19456, which is not affiliated with JPMorgan Chase & Co. or any of its affiliates.
For additional disclosure
For a longer discussion, please see our recent publication Strategic Beta’s due diligence dilemma (J.P. Morgan, April 2017).
- 1 of 1396