Market economies have delivered enormous returns to investors, yet many people have recognized only a fraction of them. A dominant reason, which the financial industry rarely publicizes, is fees. Quietly, in places that are hard to see and understand, fees grind away at your investments and diminish your retirement.
Relentlessly, we drive the fund and other financial fees you pay down. Currently, if you are paying 1% or more, and many people are, you are paying too much and the compounding drag on your net worth over time will be enormous.
Because we have taken no external financing, we have the freedom to price our services low without agitating our own shareholders. Our objective is to operate a financial firm at the lowest rate possible for clients while still attracting top-tier talent.
A large corpus of academic work, as well as industry experience, shows that investors in low-fee index funds, practicing what is called "passive" investing, outperform almost all active mutual funds, stock pickers, annuity products, and whole-life insurance concepts (1). This work originated at Princeton, MIT, and the University of Chicago and has been verified repeatedly over the past 50 years. We have extended it with insights from the Yale University endowment as well as others.
We focus on the capital performance of your investments as well as the dividends and interest they pay you. Careful attention is given to minimize taxes, something we see overlooked in almost all inbound portfolios. We help clients think about their investments as a business that pays them every quarter.
We encourage clients to view investments on an after-tax, after-fee, after-inflation, after-risk-adjusted basis. That is the correct way to analyze performance.
To do this, true diversification is needed, so that assets are "uncorrelated" with each other. This means they do not all move in the same direction at the same time. Generally, we buy indexes of United States Treasury bonds to provide downside risk protection. In 2008 and 2009, these indexes were among a handful of investments that saw gains. Corporate bonds and state bonds were not safe as investors had believed.
A core tenet of risk reduction is simplicity. By distilling investments and accounts to their simplest form, we reduce risk that is inherent in complexity. Our firm is built on stable pillars in finance: we use Vanguard and iShares index funds, among others, and client money is held at Charles Schwab and other established firms.
Clients trust us with safeguarding their financial future. Trust starts here on this website: being transparent about fees. We eliminate conflicts of interest and invest our own money in the same models we use for clients.
No one pays us other than the client - we are fiduciaries, and we are 100% independent. We do not cross-sell other financial instruments like annuities or insurance. We do not answer to bosses in New York demanding sales quotas be met. Although we use products from Vanguard, iShares, and Schwab, we do not work for them.
Clients work with a dedicated advisor with access to that advisor's cell phone. We are not a call-center firm: we believe there are significant benefits, both in investment returns and stress reduction, to a long-term advisory-client relationship. In-person meetings, where possible, are welcome. We use computers behind the scenes but do not let algorithms trade client accounts.
Overwhelmingly, mutual funds extract enormous sums from investors in exchange for providing a shocking disservice.
Chief Investment Officer, Yale University
When our financial system - essentially our money managers, marketers of investment products - put up zero percent of the risk yet receive fully 80 percent of the return, something has gone terribly wrong in our financial system.
Founder of Vanguard
The average actively managed mutual fund costs seven times more than the average index fund.
Investment Company Institute
2014 Fact Book
The expense ratio is the most proven predictor of future fund returns. The findings worked for every category over every time period.
Morningstar Research, 2016
There is no investment product so great that a fee cannot make it bad.
Hedge fund manager
Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks (shares) 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.
Letter to Shareholders
The stock market serves as a relocation center at which money is moved from the active to the patient.
Letter to Shareholders
Paying the least for a haircut or for tacos usually is not a great way to go. But mutual funds are a very unusual market; it's one of the only types where price and performance are inversely correlated. That's hard to get your head around. Unlike most products, fees are what ruin performance.
Author of Empire of the Fund
It is surely arguable that when the average equity-fund investor earns one-twelfth of the stock market's return, that could itself be regarded as a scandal.
Founder of Vanguard