Do I have to live in Vermont to join your firm?
No, you don't have to live in Vermont. But you must reside in the United States or Puerto Rico to become a client. We are allowed, per the regulatory authorities, to take a limited number of clients in most states other than Vermont.
Are my investments guaranteed?
No. Investments are not guaranteed. All investments may lose money, including possible loss of principal. That being said, we will work to build real diversification into your portfolio. For example, in a severe financial crisis, United States Treasury bonds historically do better than most other asset classes. When fear reigns, investors around the world have sought the shelter of the U.S. Treasury.
Is there a minimum amount I need get started with you?
Yes, at the moment you need $25,000 of investable assets before we can take you on as a client. However, if you have less than that and are interested, please contact us as we will be working to lower our minimum threshold in the near future. We are interested in helping people across the savings spectrum.
Can you help me invest my retirement plan at work?
Yes. Many work retirement plans are loaded with high-fee, underperforming mutual funds. It can be difficult to even find the index funds! We can manage your personal work retirement plan as one of the accounts under our purview if you are a client.
I have an older parent that needs financial help. But I want to be involved. Can you accomodate us?
Yes, definitely. There are certain legal documents that your mom or dad need to sign so that you can be a part of the decision making. Generally this is an excellent idea, and we are enthusiastic about it. The financial industry has a history of targeting the elderly for high fees, a practice we will end.
What about saving money. Do you help with that?
In two ways, yes. we publish a monthly email newsletter that includes savings tips. Anyone can subscribe to it for free via our website. And we can give feedback to clients who have specific questions on spending or saving.
We recommend signing up here for our newsletter.
Are you a full-fledged financial planner?
The definition here is a bit in the eye of the beholder. We do not draw up a spending budget for you. We don't work in insurance, or prepare taxes. We do focus on your financial investing picture - how to save and invest enough for you to retire well and meet your life goals. We are always happy to answer questions that might come up that are in my realm of expertise. For example, if you are refinancing a house, we could discuss advantages and disadvantages of a long-term vs short-term mortgage.
Do I have to use your exact models?
The models we use will be tailored to you, so that investments are suitable for you. Beyond the index models, though, clients sometimes ask for carve-outs. For example, there may be a position in an individual stock that they are holding for nostalgic reasons. Or they may enjoy owning a part of a public company. While we don't recommend this as a strategy going forward, we recognize the need for flexibility in your plan.
Do you work with accountants and estate lawyers?
We don't generally work directly with them - you would be the person who interfaces with them. In some circumstances we will need to. We can refer you to excellent accountants and estate lawyers, particularly if you reside in Vermont and New England.
When did you start testing your index models?
In 1999 I started testing the models using my own assets and have improved them repeatedly over the years. Investing with these models through two extreme financial crises (dot-com crash and real estate crash) taught me a lot about how they behave, and how I behave, in outlier situations.
What do you worry about most in finance?
We worry that people are going to outlive their savings. This problem is about to explode, and it has a painful ending. While the financial industry gets rich from fees, normal people will suffer. We believe we can alleviate this for people given enough savings and time.
"Gradually, and then suddenly." Ernest Hemingway, on how he went broke.
What is an ideal long-term result in your eyes?
We would love for a client to be able to retire spending only dividends and interest and not tap their capital base. In this sense the capital base works like a business for them, producing cash quarterly. This is not always achievable but so attractive that it's worth a discussion.
Are bonds always safe?
Aah, you're getting into specifics. The answer is no, but for the reasons, you'll have to become a client. :)