About Erik

Why I Created ZenInvestor.org

My name is Erik Conley, and for 24 years I was a professional trader and money manager. In 2001, I took the biggest gamble of my career by walking away from $90 Billion dollars in client assets to manage my own money.  I took that step because the rules about account minimums prevented me from working with the people who needed my help the most - those who were new to the game, and trying to find their way in an impossibly complex investment world.

I had grown tired of dealing with the super-rich. These folks had already accumulated their fortunes, and my job was to help them protect it. But that's not what I was interested in doing.

The people I wanted to work with were those who were just beginning to build their nest egg, because they are the ones who are open to new ideas and motivated by a desire to improve. To me, working with people who are learning and building is much more rewarding (and enjoyable) than helping the ultra-wealthy hang on to what they have already achieved.​

Then in 2008 I created ZenInvestor.org with the goal of offering education and skill development to anyone who wanted it, whether they were a client or not.  The content is free, and the website is supported by donations from users who are in a position to help.

Why Should You Listen To Me?

There are thousands of people out there claiming they can help you get rich in the market. Why should you listen to me? Because everything I teach about investing comes from my own experience in the markets. And since I don't accept advertising, or work for a large corporation, I can offer 100% unbiased, spin-free commentary and analysis about the state of the investment business. Like an investigative journalist, I work to expose the dark side of the investment-industrial-complex.

Here is a quick summary of my professional history:

  • I got my first trading job in 1977 when a small brokerage firm in Milwaukee Wisconsin gave me $200,000 in seed money and turned me loose on the stock market. Six years later, my trading account was worth $2.4 million. That works out to a 52% annual return on their investment in me.
  •   Management was so pleased that they built me a state-of-the-art trading floor, gave me an additional $5 million of capital, and a four person support staff. Five years later, the account was worth $65 million - a 47% annual return on their investment.
  • Then in 1992, as word got around about my trading record, I was recruited by a private wealth management firm in Chicago, where I was given responsibility over $8 billion dollars in client assets.
  • 1995 I was again recruited away, this time to run the entire trading department of one of the largest banks in the Midwest. I was responsible for a staff of 8 and $90 billion dollars in client assets.

At that point I realized that no amount of money would replace what I’d long-suspected was missing:

I was helping rich people get richer, yet the "rules" prevented from helping the people who needed it most: the ones who were just starting to build their wealth.

ZenInvestor.org strives to help every investor discover the one strategy that best fits their natural investing style. I know from experience that you can’t just push the same strategy on everyone – even if their goals are the same. Understanding factors like learning style, attitude towards risk, and the amount of time you’re willing to spend on managing your investments are crucial to customizing a strategy that works for you. What works beautifully for your brother-in-law might not work at all for you. If your natural tendency is to take a long-term view of investing, then you should probably not try to dabble in day-trading.

I’ve developed an array of powerful, customizable tools for exactly this purpose, which has proven successful time and time again. This means not just MAKING money in the stock market, but KEEPING IT. I'm not selling a miracle trading system or a get-rich-quick scheme. I'm offering a way to learn the game and acquire the skills that are needed to participate at the highest level.

I want you to understand who you are as an investor, and which strategy will work best for you.

I want you to re-examine your portfolio to build something that has low expenses, high diversification, and is right for your goals.

Lastly, I want you to know how to take defensive steps before a disastrous economic event strikes.

That last part is the MOST important part of your investing strategy. Being diversified with low fees will certainly help, but getting wiped out like everyone else during a crash makes that all irrelevant.

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The biggest and longest-lasting bear markets always begin just before a recession hits the economy. The tools I’ve personally developed enable me to warn my clients when a recession is imminent. In the last 40 years there have been 7 recessions, and my model has correctly predicted all of them, with no false signals.

Sometimes the market tanks without the economy tipping over. These non-recession bear markets can cause a lot of damage, but they don’t last as long at recession-linked bears. My success rate for calling these interim moves is a little over 80%. The last call I made was in April of 2011 – just days before the market began a 20% decline.

Because of the market call I made in late 2007, my clients were able to get out of the market before the crash of 2008, saving themselves from the pain of a 38% market decline.

Wouldn't YOU like to receive advance warning before the next big market drop? Here are my promises to you:

  • I will not teach you a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • I will not spam your inbox with hot stock tips or marketing pitches.
  • I WILL show you how to match your most natural and profitable trading style to your goals.
  • I WILL teach you how to analyze your portfolio, so YOU understand how to make the most significant changes that will maximize your returns while protecting your nest egg at the same time.
  • I WILL help you build a diversified, low-overhead portfolio.
  • I WILL protect you from market crashes by giving you warning of upcoming events along with suggestions on how to best protect yourself.

T. Erik Conley
Former Head of Equity Trading
Northern Trust Co.

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