Announcement: Moving to

Last update on Nov. 25, 2019.

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I started this blog in the year of 2013. I was a bright eyed newbie entrepreneur at the time, with the ambition to create a robo-advisor before the term "robo-advisor" was even a thing. But instead of raising a whole bunch of money to create a robo advisor, I wanted to test out the concept first. So, I created MoneyGeek, a platform to help DIY investors.

It was only after launching MoneyGeek that I started to understand how hard running a business is. I struggled in particular with how to get MoneyGeek's name ...

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My University Admissions Story And The Pitfalls Of Using Simple Algorithms

Last update on Nov. 11, 2019.


We recently shot a short video describing our company, and it begins with the story of how I originally came to Canada from Ireland. You can watch the video below:


In the video, I explained that I had applied to some Canadian universities, and that the first letter I got was a rejection from McMaster. However, I didn’t get to explain why they rejected me in the video.

I had applied to three universities in Canada: the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto, and McMaster. Of the three, I viewed McMaster as my fallback choice in case ...

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Why Machine Learning Hasn't Caught On In Finance - A Theory

Last update on Oct. 28, 2019.

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You’d think that machine learning would thrive in finance. After all, the whole industry operates on data. Banks look at your credit history (data!) before they approve your mortgages. Credit card companies look at payment patterns (data!) to sniff out fraud. Investors use financial statements (data!) to select stocks to invest in. 

Anytime there’s an abundance of data, you can often use machine learning to make better decisions, more quickly and with lower costs. You may therefore be surprised to learn not only that machine learning adoption has been slow ...

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FRDM - The Better Way To Invest In Emerging Markets

Last update on Oct. 14, 2019.

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Owning emerging market stocks could benefit your investment portfolio in two ways. First and more obvious, owning emerging market stocks would make your portfolio more diversified, thereby lowering risk. Second, emerging market economies tend to grow much more quickly than developed economies, so many people assume that emerging market stocks will outperform developed market stocks.

Unfortunately, that second assumption has not held up in recent years. The following chart shows the comparative performances of the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO), and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), in the ...

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The Bias/Variance Trade-off And The Limits of Machine Learning Models

Last update on Sept. 30, 2019.

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A Machine Learning model is a bit like a marriage - no matter how hard you try, it's never going to be perfect. The same way every marriage has its issues, so does every machine learning model. Real world data is like real world people: unpredictable. Real world events don’t conform precisely to a perfectly predictable pattern, so no matter how clever your algorithm, there will always be some irreducible error. The trick is to focus on the things you can change - the reducible error. If you’re in a marriage where there ...

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Is Passive Investing A Bubble?

Last update on Sept. 16, 2019.

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Within each industry, there are certain topics that divide participants and make them battle each other with religious fervour. Among programmers, the topic might be Windows vs. *nix. Among physicists, I’ve heard of dissent against string theory.

There are several topics that similarly divide financial professionals. One such topic revolves around the issue of whether passive investing is harmful or beneficial to financial markets. Passive investing, in contrast to active investing, involves an attempt not to pick individual stocks. Instead, it diversifies as much as possible, owning every stock in an ...

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Outlier Detection: Border Security For Your Model

Last update on Sept. 2, 2019.

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You might not know it, but outlier detection is a big part of your life. The ability to notice  diseased or rotten food, or spot a person in a crowd who might be unstable or dangerous is a very important human skill. Many of us had extra detection-training as children

So can we reliably spot outliers? For extreme examples, we're pretty good. Say you ask 100 people, “what is the ideal indoor temperature?” and 99 of them answer, “somewhere between 16 and 22 degrees Celsius”, while the other ...

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Can Yield Curves Predict Stock Market Direction? - A Machine Learning Perspective

Last update on Aug. 19, 2019.

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Many investors are concerned about the yield curve today. Generally speaking, a positive sloping yield curve (i.e. where long term interest rates are higher than short term rates) portends future economic health. By contrast, negative sloping yield curves (a.k.a. “inverted” curves) have tended to precede recessions.

Today, the yield curve is the most inverted it’s been since before the financial crisis. This has led some investors to wonder: should they sell stocks today to protect their portfolios? Or should they hold onto them because, despite widespread belief, yield ...

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Discontinuing MoneyGeek's Portfolios

Last update on Aug. 5, 2019.

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On the first Monday of every month (like today), I normally give an update on MoneyGeek’s portfolios. But as you can tell from the title, today is different. Today, I’ve decided to remove the model portfolios feature from this website.

I know that many of you have been using my model portfolios to invest real money, so I feel that I owe you a full explanation. 

Early last year, I started work on a successor website to the model portfolios’ page. I called it ‘Portfolio Expo’, and it was ...

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The Zeta Coefficient – A New Way to Forecast Returns Using Risk

Last update on July 29, 2019.

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Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing

Warren Buffett

As far as superhuman powers go, the ability to accurately forecast returns probably wouldn't be many people's first choice. It's not as sexy as super speed or laser eyes. But, imagine the edge you'd have as an investor if you could look at an opportunity and predict the returns with precision. You would essentially remove all of the risk from investing: you'd be playing the game on easy mode!

Risk and returns are inter-twined. If you can assess risk accurately ...

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