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Greatest Gift For Your Kids Or Grandkids (Or You)

By Gary D. Halbert
July 22, 2008

Greatest Gift For Your Kids Or Grandkids (Or You)


1.  The JOHNSON O’CONNOR Research Foundation

2.  Helping People Find The Best Careers For 85 Years

3.  Scientific Testing To Determine One’s Natural Aptitudes

4.  Matching Aptitudes & Careers For Success & Happiness

5.  Scotia Partners Continues To Impress Despite Market Woes


This week we will revisit the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, which I have written about in the past.  This update is timely in that we recently took my daughter in for testing.  At the end, I will also give you an update on the most recent money manager I have recommended to you – Scotia Partners, Ltd.  I think you’re going to want to see how Scotia has been doing in this bear market.

A visit to the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation can be one of the greatest gifts you can ever give your children, grandchildren or others who are dear to you (or maybe even yourself).  What I am about to describe is something that has literally changed the lives of dozens of my friends and relatives over the last 30+ years.  Some of you may have heard of Johnson O’Connor, but most of you probably have not. 

Don’t jump to any conclusions: this is not my favorite charity; in fact, it’s not a charity at all; and I am not going to ask you to donate any money.   What I am going to do is tell you how Johnson O’Connor helps people decide which career fields they are most naturally suited for, based upon scientific testing of their unique set of individual aptitudes.

I have published articles on Johnson O’Connor (“J-O”) in the past in this E-Letter, but this year it has a special meaning to me since we took our 16 year-old daughter to J-O in late June to have her aptitudes tested.  She will be a Junior in high school this fall, and we are preparing to get into the college hunt early next year.  As I will discuss below, having her Johnson O’Connor evaluation will be a godsend to us in selecting the right college and the right field in which to major.  That information is worth a lot more than J-O charges for it!

So, I urge you to read the following article, especially if you have any loved ones who are struggling to find a career path.  Ideally, Johnson O’Connor is geared toward high school students who are trying to decide what to do when they grow up, and more specifically, which direction to go in college.  But it can be equally helpful to those who are already on a career path but aren’t happy or successful.

And finally, I will update you on the recent performance of the most recent money manager I recommended in these pages – Scotia Partners, Ltd. – which I wrote about in detail in my June 10 E-Letter.  Scotia has continued to deliver outstanding results (see pages 7-8 below) this year, despite the severe decline in the stock market. 

If you looked at Scotia recently but determined that it may be too aggressive for you, I have good news.  This week, I will introduce you to a less aggressive program that Scotia manages that has also been very successful over the last five years.

How I Learned Of Johnson O’Connor

Before I discuss the specifics about Johnson O’Connor and how they change lives, let me tell you how I found out about this unique organization.  Even before I got out of college and graduate school, I knew exactly what I wanted do.  Yet most college students are unsure of what they want to do after school and end up taking the best (or only) job offer they get.  All too often, that first job (or series of jobs) doesn’t work out, for various reasons.  The problem is, bouncing around the job market for a year or two or more right after college can leave people way behind their peers who get on the right career path to begin with. 

I had a friend I went to college and graduate school with who had trouble with her initial jobs after grad school.  She had been a science major in college (as was I), and then shifted to business in graduate school.  We both got our Masters Degrees in 1976.  She landed a good job in Houston after grad school but was just never comfortable in the corporate world.

I was working in Dallas in the investment business in 1978 when I first learned about Johnson O’Connor, which has an office in Dallas.  I requested information on their testing service and subsequently recommended that my friend go there.  She went, and to her surprise, she learned that her natural aptitudes were not at all suited for either the corporate world or the science field. 

Based on the assessment of her aptitude tests, Johnson O’Connor recommended she consider the field of interior design.  While shocked at first, she ended up changing careers and was quite successful.  I haven’t kept up with her in recent years, but the last time I did, she had bought and renovated several old buildings into bed and breakfasts, and was happy and successful.

I Had To Try It Myself

Given my friend’s results, I referred several other friends (and my younger brother) who were struggling or unhappy in their careers to Johnson O’Connor.   In every case, the result was the same: a seemingly radical change in career path that led to a happy and successful end.

While I was very happy and enjoying early success in my career in the investment field, I couldn’t help but go to Johnson O’Connor myself.  Actually, I was a little nervous about what I might learn.  As it turned out, my test results of my natural aptitudes showed that I was well suited for several fields.  Here were Johnson O’Connor’s recommendations for me, in order:

1.  Stock Broker
2.  Investment Banker
3.  Journalist
4.  Fortune 500 CEO
5.  Real Estate/Land Developer

[Before you jump to any conclusions, let me tell you that Johnson O’Connor does not allow you to tell them anything about what you may already be doing, career-wise, prior to the testing and analysis afterwards. Only after they have given you the test results and career recommendations do they allow participants to divulge their current occupation – or desired occupation if a student.]

Obviously, I was pleased with my results and somewhat relieved that I was already working in the investment field, as suggested by Johnson O’Connor’s #1 and #2 recommendations.  At first, I couldn’t figure out where the “Journalism” aptitude fit in.  But then, in my final exit interview, I happened to mention my weekly client newsletter, which I had begun in 1977.  “There you go,” the analyst replied, “your newsletter is where your journalistic aptitudes are coming out.”

As for the Fortune 500 CEO option, the analyst noted that while I tested to have the aptitudes to be a big-time CEO, he also stressed that I would never make it that far up the corporate ladder, because my aptitudes also showed that I was (am) too impatient and needed to be in control of my own destiny.   As for the real estate part, years later I became involved in several real estate developments.

An Invaluable Store Of Personal Information

As noted above, I have referred dozens of people to Johnson O’Connor over the years.  In every case but my own, the results have suggested a change in career path, sometimes a dramatic change.  While I haven’t kept up closely with every person I referred to Johnson O’Connor over the years, I can tell you that everyone benefited significantly from the experience.

The information gleaned from the Johnson O’Connor aptitude tests and analysis is tremendously helpful.  Not only does it help greatly with career selection, but it also helps to understand one’s personality, the reasons for one’s desires and all sorts of little “quirks” we all have.  It is a unique learning experience that can help throughout one’s lifetime.

Tremendous Help In Selecting The Right College

As noted in the Introduction above, we took our daughter to Johnson O’Connor in Dallas last month at the age of 16.  Interestingly, her test results were quite different from her older brother who tested at J-O in 2006.  My son who graduated from high school this year is quite the math whiz, so we were not surprised that he scored very high in the math-related tests at J-O when he was tested two years ago.  But what we did not expect was that he also scored very high in the tests related to “spatial visualization” – an aptitude that is very important to engineers, architects, medical researchers, etc.

For example, when I look at a building, I just see walls (one dimensional), whereas for my son and others with high spatial visualization, they envision the same building in three dimensions in their mind.  Likewise, they can look at a blueprint and easily envision what the completed structure will look like.  In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised since my son has been one of those take it apart and put it back together kids since he was very young.

Based on my son’s scores, Johnson O’Connor recommended that he consider a career in engineering, medicine/medical research, scientific research or architecture.  He will major in engineering when he starts college next month. I could easily see him in a career as a biomedical engineer, aerospace engineer or computer engineer.

When you consider how much money it costs to go to college today, it is extremely valuable to know that you are sending your son or daughter or grandchild to a school that offers degrees in those areas they are naturally suited for, and where they’ll have a much better chance of succeeding.

The “Personality” Test At Johnson O’Connor

Johnson O’Connor believes that all of us fit into one of two broad personality characterizations: “objective” or “subjective.”  Generally speaking, people with ‘objective’ personalities are those who enjoy working with groups, enjoy working with different people, and are what we often refer to as “people people.”  Over two-thirds of those tested at Johnson O’Connor are objective personalities (as am I). 

‘Subjective’ personalities, on the other hand, generally prefer to work as individuals rather than in large, fluid groups.  They like to advance in their careers based on their own individual work, or that of a small group or team headed by them.  Subjective personalities can usually work alone for long periods of time and do not need as much recognition or encouragement as their objective counterparts.

My son tested solidly subjective, and quite frankly, that explained more to me about my son and his personality than I had learned in the 16 years of raising him!  While my son gets along well with his school friends, and plays football, basketball and baseball, when it comes to his studies or school projects, he usually prefers to work alone – which is typical of subjective personalities.  While he has lots of friends, he is not the “social butterfly” like his younger sister, who tested objective in her recent visit to J-O. 

So, What Is The Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation?

The Foundation is a non-profit scientific research and educational organization that was founded in 1922.  They have two primary commitments: 1) to study human abilities; and 2) to provide people with specific knowledge of and about their aptitudes that will help them in making decisions regarding which colleges to select and which careers to pursue.

Each of us has a unique combination of personal aptitudes.  Some of our aptitudes are stronger than others. Johnson O’Connor (as well as others) believes that unless we are able to “exercise” (use) at least our stronger aptitudes in our work or elsewhere, we are very likely to be frustrated.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been to Johnson O’Connor and used their service to learn more about themselves and to derive more satisfaction from their lives and careers.  Johnson O’Connor’s unparalleled specialty is testing and identifying one’s natural, inborn APTITUDES.  In their own words:

“Aptitudes are natural talents, special abilities for doing, or learning to do, certain kinds of things. Manual dexterity, musical ability, spatial visualization, and memory for numbers are examples of such aptitudes. In a comprehensive battery of tests available only through the Foundation, these and many other aptitudes are measured. These measured traits are highly stable [always present] over long-term periods.

Every occupation -- whether it is engineering, medicine, law or management -- uses certain aptitudes. The work you are most likely to enjoy and be successful in is work that uses your aptitudes. For example, if you are an engineer but you possess strong aptitudes that are NOT used in engineering, your work might seem unrewarding, difficult and unpleasant.

Aptitude testing is one tool for career selection. It can help you find where your aptitudes lie, what type of work uses those aptitudes, and why certain occupations may be more rewarding for you than others… What the Foundation does is give you an inventory of your aptitudes and examples of types of work suggested by the combination of these aptitudes… The Foundation, however, does not provide employment counseling services.”

Why Johnson O’Connor Is So Different

As noted above, Johnson O’Connor has been doing aptitude testing continuously since 1922.  Over the years, they have pioneered (and continually improved upon) aptitude testing.  Participants who take the tests will wonder, I assure you, how certain of the tests can be so revealing.  Some are very simple tests, while others are more difficult for certain people.  My brother, for example, breezed through all of the engineering tests that I could not begin to complete.  That explains why he is a successful engineer and I am an Investment Advisor.

The tests are just one critical part; the analysis of the test results is equally important.  The experts at Johnson O’Connor have the benefit of over 85 years experience in evaluating the test results and making career recommendations accordingly.  While they do not recommend only one career path (usually they include at least three or more), each recommendation is suited for the participant’s unique set of aptitudes and abilities.

There are times, especially among older participants who are already entrenched in the workforce, when it is simply impossible to make a career change as suggested by the test results and analysis.  In these cases, Johnson O’Connor often suggests certain hobbies or other non-work related activities that may help exercise one’s stronger aptitudes which are not used in the workplace.

Johnson O’Connor’s time-tested theory is that if one has strong aptitudes (and most people do), they need to be used and challenged on a regular basis, preferably in the workplace where we all spend a great deal of time during our lives.

Not An IQ Test, But Does Test Vocabulary

It is important to understand that Johnson O’Connor’s aptitude tests are NOT designed to measure or determine IQ.  There are various organizations that offer IQ tests (beware: not all IQ tests are accurate or valid).  Most experts agree that IQ tests are not inherently helpful when trying to decide on a career path. Two people can have identical IQ scores but very different aptitudes. 

Also, Johnson O’Connor’s tests do not consist of written or oral questions. They maintain that it is too easy to answer a written question as one feels inclined at the moment, or as they feel it “ought” to be answered.   So, J-O does not administer question/answer tests.  Again, some of their tests may seem unusual, but they are time-tested and extremely effective.

Johnson O’Connor’s battery of tests does include a vocabulary test.  It is widely accepted that one’s vocabulary is an indication of his/her general knowledge.  Most experts, including Johnson O’Connor, agree that one’s vocabulary level is one of the best predictors of overall success in school and of performance on the SAT-Verbal and other similar tests. A good vocabulary is also a common characteristic of successful people in many occupations.

Vocabulary knowledge is not an aptitude, however, in that anyone can learn new words and increase their vocabulary. Thus, as part of Johnson O’Connor’s program, they teach participants the importance of increasing their vocabulary and provide some specific study materials that are very helpful in doing so.  Parents, you will love this!

Time Involved, Cost & Locations

Normally, the process involves two half-day testing sessions, followed by a third half-day when the results and analysis are provided.  It is also possible to accelerate this to one full day of testing and a half-day of analysis. 

In the last appointment, participants are given a “transcript” of their scores, including charts and graphs, as well as a book and other explanatory materials.  All test results are strictly confidential.  A staff member explains in detail each of the scores and what they mean.  And they explain each of the career recommendations and why they were selected.

If participants have questions at any time (before, during or after testing), Johnson O’Connor is happy to answer them.  One of the best features is the option of follow-up meetings and discussions after testing and evaluation, which are free in the first year after testing (afterward only $100 per follow-up session).  I have several friends who went back for follow-up discussions regarding jobs they were considering and how those opportunities might fit their aptitudes and/or what adjustments they would likely have to make in that particular job.  This is an excellent opportunity!

The cost for the Johnson O’Connor testing and evaluation is currently $600.  While this might seem pricey at first glance, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this testing pay off in spades.  This is especially true for high school students who don’t know what they want to do.  It can save years of expensive college costs if the student knows in advance what he/she wants to pursue.

Just as important, it can change the life of an adult child, loved one or close friend that is stuck in an unhappy or unsatisfying job situation.  Johnson O’Connor tests many adults who are in their thirties, forties and even fifties.  Actually, this information on your aptitudes is very useful and very interesting to know at any age.  With older people, naturally, they should have a real willingness to make a change. 

Johnson O’Connor has testing centers in major cities around the country.   The locations and phone numbers are listed at the end of this E-Letter.


I could not recommend Johnson O’Connor more highly!  Whether you are a parent, a grandparent or whatever, you can give a young person a big advantage by having them tested at Johnson O’Connor.   Even if you are not related, you can “gift” the testing fee to the minor, generally with no tax implications, or just pay it directly. 

With the kids out of school for the summer, now may be a great time to plan to have your high-schooler tested.  You’ll be glad you did.  Likewise, if there is an adult person that is close to you (spouse, relative, in-law, friend, etc.) who is struggling in his/her occupation, this is a chance to possibly rescue their career. 

Even if you are happy and successful in your career, you will find it very helpful to know what your natural aptitudes are and are not.  You will understand a lot more about yourself.

I encourage you to learn more about Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation at:

In closing, let me remind you that I am not associated with Johnson O’Connor in any way.  I receive no compensation or anything else for recommending them.  I am merely one of hundreds of thousands of grateful folks who have been through their program over the years.

Johnson O’Connor Locations:



Los Angeles




New York




San Francisco








Washington, DC







Scotia Partners Continues To Impress Despite Market Woes

In my June 10 E-Letter, I introduced you to Scotia Partners, Ltd. and its founder, Cliff Montgomery, CFA.  At a time when all of the major stock market indexes were down, Scotia’s Growth S&P Plus Strategy was not only in positive territory, but had a year-to-date gain of over 30% and a 12-month gain of over 90% as of May 31.  To say that readers of this E-Letter have expressed a great deal of interest in this program would be a vast understatement.

And Scotia has continued to shine since I wrote about them in early June, even though the major market indexes have continued to languish in a downtrend. 

Since the end of May, Scotia’s S&P Plus Strategy has continued to do well, posting a gain of 16.21% for the month of June, and is up over 9% as of July 15.  Year-to-date, the S&P Plus program is up over 69%, and has gained over 127% for the past 12 months.   Keep in mind that these are real results after all fees and expenses.

Obviously, Scotia’s performance blows the major market indexes out of the water, since they all have double-digit losses for the year as of mid-July.  Keep in mind, of course, that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. 

Click HERE to get more detailed information and up-to-date performance on Scotia’s Growth S&P Plus Strategy.

As noted above, we have had a lot of interest in Scotia from clients and readers of this E-Letter.  Some, however, have postponed investing fearing that Scotia’s big gain was ripe for a pullback.  It is only human nature to fear that outsized returns may snap back to more reasonable levels, and such fears might be a real concern in a discretionary trading model, since a trader could allow emotions to affect his or her trading methodology. 

Fortunately, Scotia does not employ discretion in its trading model.  Instead, Cliff Montgomery uses a 100% mechanical system that has no way to factor in recent performance.  We explain this to clients and prospective clients this way: “Scotia’s proprietary trading model doesn’t know how much it is up over the past month or year, it just looks at the market one day at a time.”  Of course, we can’t guarantee that Scotia’s S&P Plus Strategy won’t experience a downward correction in the near future, but if it does it will be due to current market action and not related to past performance.

Introducing A Moderate-Risk Scotia Strategy

When I introduced Scotia’s Growth S&P Plus Strategy in June, I noted that we feel that Cliff’s proprietary strategies have actually benefited from the high level of volatility we have seen in the markets since the onset of the subprime mortgage debacle and the resulting housing slump and credit crunch.  Accordingly, employing leverage and long/short trading during periods of high volatility makes the Growth S&P Plus Strategy an aggressive investment. 

Some prospective clients that have expressed an interest in Scotia’s S&P Plus program have decided not to invest because they are not comfortable with the aggressive nature of that program.  However, I have good news for investors who want a more moderate-risk program that still has a somewhat leveraged, long/short exposure.

The Scotia S&P Moderate Growth Strategy uses the same basic trading model as the Growth S&P Plus program, but does not include the overbought/oversold overlay.  Thus, the Moderate Growth program trades less often than the S&P Plus, and limits initial trades to 50% of the account balance.  While allocations can reach 100% of the account balance if Scotia’s model continues to indicate a high probability of success, the average historical allocation has been in the 61% range, indicating that 100% allocations are relatively infrequent.

Scotia actually began trading the S&P Moderate Growth Strategy before the Growth S&P Plus began trading, so the Moderate program has an additional year of track record, and reached its five-year track record milestone last month.  Over that period of time, the Moderate Growth program has turned in a solid, risk-adjusted performance.

From its inception through July 15, 2008, Scotia’s S&P Moderate Growth Strategy has produced an annualized return of 15.62%, with a worst-ever month-end drawdown of  -4.76%. 

The Moderate Growth program has done even better during the recent increased market volatility and bear market, producing a gain of 15.05% in 2007, a year-to-date gain of 32.00% as of July 15, 2008, and a 12-month gain of 46.09%, also as of mid-July.

Again, these are actual results net of all fees and expenses.  As always, past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. 

Click HERE to access more detailed information about Scotia’s S&P Moderate Growth Strategy, including up-to-date performance.

I personally feel that the increased volatility and uncertainty in the stock markets that we’ve seen over the last year and a half will likely continue well into next year.  Scotia seems to be one of the few professional money managers with a system that actually thrives on volatility.

If you agree and would like to check out one or both of these programs from Scotia Partners, click on the following link to complete our online request form.  You can also learn more about these programs by talking to one of our experienced Investment Consultants at 800-348-3601, or via e-mail at

Please be sure to read the Important Notes and disclosures that follow.

Wishing you profits in a tough market,

Gary D. Halbert

IMPORTANT NOTES:  Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. (HWM), Scotia Partners, Ltd. (SPL), and Purcell Advisory Services, LLC (PAS) are Investment Advisors registered with the SEC and/or their respective states.  Information in this report is taken from sources believed reliable but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Any opinions stated are intended as general observations, not specific or personal investment advice.  Please consult a competent professional and the appropriate disclosure documents before making any investment decisions. There is no foolproof way of selecting an Investment Advisor. Investments mentioned involve risk, and not all investments mentioned herein are appropriate for all investors.  HWM receives compensation from PAS in exchange for introducing client accounts.  For more information on HWM or PAS, please consult Form ADV Part II, available at no charge upon request. Any offer or solicitation can only be made by way of the Form ADV Part II.  Officers, employees, and affiliates of HWM may have investments managed by the Advisors discussed herein or others.

As benchmarks for comparison, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index (which includes dividends), and the NASDAQ Composite Index represent unmanaged, passive buy-and-hold approaches.  The volatility and investment characteristics of these benchmarks may differ materially (more or less) from that of the Advisor.  The performance of the S & P 500 Stock Index and the NASDAQ Composite Index is not meant to imply that investors should consider an investment in the Scotia Partners Growth S & P Plus or the Scotia Partners S&P Moderate Growth trading programs as comparable to an investment in the “blue chip” stocks that comprise the S&P 500 Stock Index or the stocks that comprise the NASDAQ Composite Index.  Historical performance data represents actual accounts in programs named Scotia Partners Growth S&P Plus and Scotia Partners Moderate S&P Timing, custodied at Rydex Series Trust, and verified by Theta Investment Research, LLC. Since all accounts in the program are managed similarly, the results shown are representative of the majority of participants in these programs.  The signals are generated by the use of a proprietary model developed by Scotia Partners.  Statistics for “Worst Drawdown” are calculated as of month-end.  Drawdowns within a month may have been greater. PAST RESULTS ARE NOT NECESSARILY INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS.  Mutual funds carry their own expenses which are outlined in the fund’s prospectus.  An account with any Advisor is not a bank account and is not guaranteed by FDIC or any other governmental agency.

When reviewing past performance records, it is important to note that different accounts, even though they are traded pursuant to the same strategy, can have varying results.  The reasons for this include: i) the period of time in which the accounts are active; ii) the timing of contributions and withdrawals; iii) the account size; iv) the minimum investment requirements and/or withdrawal restrictions; and v) the rate of brokerage commissions and transaction fees charged to an account. There can be no assurance that an account opened by any person will achieve performance returns similar to those provided herein for accounts traded pursuant to the Scotia Partners Growth S&P Plus and Scotia Partners S&P Moderate Growth trading programs.

In addition, you should be aware that (i) these programs are speculative and involve a high degree of risk; (ii) the Scotia Partners trading programs’ performance may be volatile; (iii) an investor could lose all or a substantial amount of his or her investment in the programs; (iv) Purcell Advisory Services will have trading authority over an investor’s account and the use of a single advisor could mean lack of diversification and consequently higher risk; and (v) the Purcell Advisory Services  trading  program’s fees and expenses (if any) will reduce an investor’s trading profits, or increase any trading losses.

Returns illustrated are net of the maximum management fees, custodial fees, underlying mutual fund management fees, and other fund expenses such as 12b-1 fees.  They do not include the effect of annual IRA fees or mutual fund sales charges, if applicable. No adjustment has been made for income tax liability.  Money market funds are not bank accounts, do not carry deposit insurance, and do involve risk of loss.  The results shown are for a limited time period and may not be representative of the results that would be achieved over a full market cycle or in different economic and market environments.

Copyright © 2008 Halbert Wealth Management, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

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Forecasts & Trends E-Letter is published by Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. Gary D. Halbert is the president and CEO of Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. and is the editor of this publication. Information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Opinions and recommendations herein generally reflect the judgement of Gary D. Halbert (or another named author) and may change at any time without written notice. Market opinions contained herein are intended as general observations and are not intended as specific investment advice. Readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. This electronic newsletter does not constitute an offer of sale of any securities. Gary D. Halbert, Halbert Wealth Management, Inc., and its affiliated companies, its officers, directors and/or employees may or may not have investments in markets or programs mentioned herein. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Reprinting for family or friends is allowed with proper credit. However, republishing (written or electronically) in its entirety or through the use of extensive quotes is prohibited without prior written consent.

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