Ben Carlson on Denominator Blindness
Q: Can you tell us about Ritholtz Wealth Management and what you do there?
A: I’m the Director of Institutional Asset Management at Ritholtz. I sit on our investment committee where I help build client portfolios, manage risk, and communicate with clients about our investment philosophy. We work with families, individuals, nonprofits and retirement plans to manage their money in a way that helps them achieve their goals through long-term planning and a sound investment process.
Q: How long have you been using YCharts?
A: I have been using YCharts for about 2 years now and I’ve found myself using it more and more over that time.
Q: With the chart you created, your mYChart, what were you trying to analyze, understand or communicate?
A: Denominator blindness is the idea that it can be difficult for people to put big numbers into context. This becomes an issue with variables like aggregate debt numbers because they continue to grow. But those numbers are growing with GDP, income, and financial assets. So while the total amount of debt in things like credit cards or mortgages can look scary when viewed in isolation, if you compare those debt levels to overall household debt, we can see the ratios have actually gone down for some time now. The one ratio that is worth paying attention to is student debt to household debt, as it’s been rising steadily for years now.Q: Is there a secret tip or shortcut that you’d like to share with other YCharts users or someone considering trying out the platform?
A: I just love the search function because I’m constantly looking at different funds, indexes, securities, economic indicators and data points. The search bar makes it so easy for me to find anything and everything I’m looking for in an instant.
Q: In a recent client survey, YCharts users indicated that the platform saves them 3-4 hours per week. If this time savings is true for you, what do you do with your extra time?
A: Yes. I produce a ton of content across my blog, social media, other publications I write for, and internally for our investment committee and clients. This includes plenty of charts, tables, graphs, and performance data. In the past, I did much of this work by hand in Excel. Now I can simply click a button or two and YCharts produces a presentation-ready table or chart I can download and use immediately. It saves me a ton of time when it comes to client and reader communications I’m putting out.