I was hoping the trial would go into analyzing how the lady got her car into the area, but instead it veered off into discussing the problem knee.
With a damaged knee, the defendant couldn't do his second job - roofing. After some background in what roofers go through, we took a much-needed break. Next, they brought the credentialed experts in - in this case, the knee specialists. As Warner Wolf used to say, "Let's go to the tape!"
Both sides took 20 minutes to present the credentials of their experts. They have gone to prestigious schools, written the most widely-used text books on knee surgeries and reconstruction, invented a knee brace or two, and performed one zillion surgeries. They have been on Presidential Commissions and one even performed knee surgery on the moon, if I remember correctly. After a while, it all started to blend together.
All of this, and time to be a professional expert witness! You can't help but be impressed.
The testimony on each side took 20 seconds. "I examined the x-rays and with this knee injury the defendant can do/can't do roofing."
When you think about it, though, expert witness is many times the best. Especially when it comes uncompensated. Many people understand that this isn't the case in the world of financial services.
In this world, it is easy to impress with colored graphs and fancy promotional materials. It is not uncommon to find prospective clients overwhelmed by bulky analysis and jargon.
This is exactly where the best approach is to put all of that aside and ask the uncompensated expert witness. We go to the tape and see what Warren Buffett has to say about the best way to invest:
Better yet, I like to go to a direct quote from his 1996 annual report:
Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. Those following this path are sure to beat the net results (after fees and expenses) of the great majority of investment professionals.
This sentence is worth parsing. He mentions both "...institutional and individual...." Institutional includes the large pension funds and others whom hire the best and the brightest from the nation's best business schools. If anyone could beat the market by stock picking, timing or voodoo even, it would certainly be this group. Yet Buffett says they, too, should use low-cost index funds. And, they do to a surprising extent; but that is the subject of a future post.