If we could offer only one piece of advice to all our clients, it would be something easier said than done. And that is – ignore the noise.
Television personalities, Wall Street and media all dictate 24/7 financial conversations that are of little to no relevance to the average, high net-worth investor. Whether it’s speculating upon how an economic slowdown in China may affect the market or picking apart a recent change in legislation, such topics usually run high on emotion and low on value.
Are we suggesting the savvy investor bury his or her head in the sand? Absolutely not. What we are suggesting is they a). Filter news sources for relevancy and b). Take action based on financial research not speculation.
Evidence-based investing (EBI) is the practice of making diversified investment decisions based on rigorous market and academic research.
Though one might think such a rational approach would be common, they would be mistaken. Despite its proven effectiveness, EBI is actually neither practiced nor understood by the majority of investors.
Biased agendas, limited knowledge and undisciplined temperaments prevent many from practicing EBI. Further complicating matters, it's simply not within the best interest of larger firms to promote the methodology. Governed by “the suitability standard,” these organizations are NOT required by law to place clients interests first.
The investment choices we make on behalf of our clients are based on empirical academic research as opposed to chasing the latest fads. A growing body of academic research conducted by Nobel Prize-winning economists from the likes of Harvard, Stanford and MIT informs our knowledge.
As previously mentioned, financial information propagated by the media is of little value. New information is so quickly incorporated into stock prices that utilizing it cannot be expected to consistently deliver superior risk-adjusted returns.
History shows there is no such thing as a “free lunch” when it comes to investments. Put simply, the higher the potential return, the higher the risk. As such, evidence-based investing recommends thoughtful diversification.
The most effective way to reduce risk is to diversify your portfolio across a variety of asset classes that behave differently. That way, you're not hinging your results on any one type of investment. The nice thing about diversification is that is lowers your volatility while letting you participate in returns.
Although we have every reason to believe stock markets will rise more than fall (in the long-run), we really don't know exactly what will happen everyday. Thus, it's important to recognize that anyone who correctly predicts short-term market movements owes his or her success more to luck than skill.
Though mosts investors recognize the importance of NOT letting emotion dictate action, far too many succumb to emotional decision making. Remaining disciplined during bear markets and avoiding the urge to sell at market bottoms is crucial. Thus, mental discipline is essential to building strong portfolios.
We operate on a sliding-scale fee structure, dependent on size of funds being managed. Fees begin at 1% on the 1st Mil with breakpoints for higher amounts.
NOTE: Retainer fees are sometimes provided for clients with special circumstances
Big-name firms service millions of clients with tens of thousands of advisors. Due to the sheer volume of accounts being handled, it is difficult for even the most well-intentioned advisors not to begin seeing clients as numbers. Corporate objectives, policies and revenue goals "fly under the radar" and are rarely, if ever, directly communicated to clients.
For example, it not unusual for such advisors to "push" products with higher fees in hopes of yielding higher commissions for themselves and their firms. Even when a product with a much lower fee would have achieved the same results for the client. Further, important policy decisions are often made by executives who have had little to no interaction with clients. This structure leads many large firms to singularly view end clients as "profit generators."
Conversely, smaller firms often provide greater transparency, more customized solutions and more personalized customer service.
It's possible to have multiple advisor relationships that meet different needs. However, the majority of our clients prefer to solely maintain a relationship with us. And the ones who start out with multiple advisors, usually consolidate all of their accounts with us once they experience the level of transparency, competency and service we provide.