Questions and Answers
Q: What Fees will I Pay?
That's an easy one. Our fees are completely transparent. (And they are among the lowest in the industry.) Here they are:
Minimizing fees is one of the best ways to optimize your long-term returns. We can offer high quality with such low fees due to:
Much lower overhead than most Wall Street firms,
A long-term buy-and-hold approach that minimizes short-term trading and turnover,
Use of low-cost index funds as the basic foundation of most portfolios, and
Elimination of sub-advisors, advisory networks, marketing costs, and other ancillary costs that are not necessary for a personalized advisor with a small number of close clients.
Q: What Access Will I Have to My Account?
We use the Charles Schwab Investment Advisor platform. Your account will be a normal Schwab account, and you will have full access to it at all times. You can write checks against eligible accounts, use a debit card if you choose, and make withdrawals or deposits at any time. Schwab offers a number of tools for these services. We only ask that you keep your advisor apprised of any planned withdrawals so that investments can be converted to cash for withdrawal.
You can find more about Schwab Advisor Services here.
Q: What Investment Approach will be Used in Managing My Account?
We use a long-term buy-and-hold approach to investing. We use low-cost index funds where possible. For larger accounts, we supplement these with diversified individual holdings that have no fees at all.
We don't attempt market timing. The overall price-to-value relationship of each holding dictates asset allocation, and that can tend to reduce risk exposure when prices are relatively high and increase it when prices are relatively low. But those levels can take years to revert to the mean, and we don't try to time that. Our complete investment approach can be found in our regulatory brochure here.
Q: What Investment Returns Should I Expect?
In the short run, we don't know and can't know. In the long run, the return on any investment is dictated by the entry price, the cash flows produced by the company or investment over time, and the overall level of interest rates.
Entry prices for most investments are generally high by most measures at present. That doesn't mean prices will necessarily fall dramatically in the near term, but it does mean that future returns will likely be lower than historical averages. By most forecasts, economic growth is expected to be slow in coming years, but that does not prevent companies from appreciating in value from retained earnings. In fact, that growth in value can be significant over the years, even if economic growth itself is slow.
Low market interest rates in recent years have been driving the prices of all financial assets higher, from real estate to stocks to bonds. These low rates have led to low borrowing costs to buy assets, low discount rates on investment cash flows, and perhaps most important, widespread lack of attractive yields in many safe asset classes, and therefore a flight to riskier asset classes.
Prices (in relation to company earnings, overall economic production, and traditional valuation metrics) are particularly high in the United States and especially high for rapidly growing and emerging technology companies. But there are still good investment opportunities, as long as return expectations are realistic.
Vanguard provided the following expectations for the coming decade, and these roughly match our internal expectations. Importantly, they express expectations in a range, which is much more realistic and useful than point estimates:
In thinking about any forecast, it is important to keep a long-term view. There will be market volatility, and it will be extreme at times. Still, even the largest market declines of our lifetimes (the 1987 crash, the Dot Com collapse, the Financial Crisis, and the COVID collapse) are just blips in the long-term returns gained by owning appreciating assets:
Q: Is there Anything Else I should be Thinking About?
In choosing an advisor, it is worth considering whether they have successfully planned, designed, executed, and achieved their own financial independence. If not, why would you trust them to handle yours?
Q: How do I Get Started?
The process starts by contacting us. Most account forms are electronic, using Docusign. However, if you prefer, we can also use e-mailed documents or hard-copy paper account forms. If you have an existing account, it can be easily transferred. If we need to open a new account, that is also straightforward. You can fund the account using an electronic account transfer, a deposited check, or a wire transfer. We will discuss with you your investment goals, financial situation, risk tolerance, income needs, and time horizon. Using that information, we will prepare an investment policy statement for your review and approval. There are a number of forms involved, but the process is not especially time-consuming.
The most important thing is to make sure all of your questions are answered and that any concerns are addressed. Please contact us here.
Looking forward to working with you!
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