financial advisor

COMPLETELY UNFINISHED

photo shows a desert highway with

Maybe the idea of “the finish line” is overrated. You know about my long-time goal of working until I’m age 92, so this sentiment shouldn’t be a shocker.

But we’re thinking about other ways this idea applies. A lot of investment wisdom suggests finding strategies that work with your current life stage. What milestones are coming up? What are you working toward right now? What can you prepare for? Even in this approach, though, life shouldn’t be treated like a checklist.

It’s definitely a journey—and you can’t plan for all the stops along the way. Our approach has to reflect that reality.

Psychologist Carol Dweck studies motivation and mindset. Her take? If things feel fixed or set in stone, look out: that attitude may be a signal that you’ve shut down in the face of change.

We’re not saying that flip-flopping or changing for its own sake is the way to be, but we can’t grow unless we’re willing to change.

“Opening yourself up to growth makes you more yourself, not less,” Dweck explains in her book Mindset. Dweck encourages us to continue to “learn and help learn,” and that’s an idea we can get behind.

You can be a whole person every day you live, but that doesn’t mean your living is ever finished. That’s how we feel about our work, too: a strong financial advisor isn’t a teacher or guide necessarily. An advisor can be a partner on that path. We can map an approach that is complete, robust, and comprehensive—but you better believe that the plan should be able to grow right along with you.

Clients, write or call when you’d like to talk about this, or anything else.

Our Work With You

© Can Stock Photo / gajdamak

One of the blessings of a periodic travel day is time to think. My thoughts about our work together recently crystallized at 40,000 feet in the air. The guts of our business may be captured in a single sentence:

People who know us believe we are worthy of helping them manage some part of their net worth.

This thought has three distinct facets.

1. “People who know us” highlights the key role of communicating our principles and values. Who are we? What are we doing? Why are we doing it?

2. To determine if “we are worthy” of helping you, it helps if you can get a feeling for our competence and consistency. Whether we are focused on your results or ours is a key thing, too.

3. “Net worth” figures into our work. We strive to help you two ways, by investing effectively and helping you frame major financial issues so you can make effective decisions. The better off you are, the better off we will be.

It seems to us that this concept of the financial advisory business is timeless, has always been true. Yet our experience with 21st century communications over the past few years says each facet is powerfully improved by the new methods.

People get to know us much more quickly by reading our blogs and seeing the videos. What makes us tick? What are we focused on? Are we paying attention to business? Do we care about our clients? This digital presence makes it easier for you to form an opinion about our worthiness to work with you.

Apart from all that, we know that communication can help drive understanding and attitudes about effective investing behavior. Although some do not need it, others may benefit from the perspective and context we provide. If we are successful in promoting effective investment behavior, we may be helping people build their net worth over time.

It feels invigorating to be using 21st century methods to do business according to timeless principles. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

Freedom to Decide vs Freedom to Debate

© Can Stock Photo / JohnKwan

One definition of ‘discretion’ is freedom to decide what should be done. 95% of our investment advisory clients have granted us discretion to trade individual securities on their behalf, for their benefit, in line with their objectives.

In 2016 this privilege was key to making bond purchases, which had to be done on a bulk basis. In other words, one large purchase in the market was divided among scores of our client accounts. The issue is that we cannot talk to eighty or a hundred clients in a short enough time frame to place a bulk order.

The logistics can be daunting. When we learn that a bulk purchase has been negotiated, then we must make sales that same day in all affected accounts to raise the money to pay for the bonds.

Fortunately, we developed a rules-based framework that enabled us to handle all the work on a timely basis. In late 2016 we used the same concept to develop a protocol for trading stocks. This new method is astoundingly effective.

On one day, we placed more than five hundred individual stock trades. We had concluded that a sector we owned was going to have a lot of trouble maintaining revenues and profits and needed to be sold. At the same time, we were excited about the bargains we had found elsewhere in the market. (You can read more about our strategies here.)

We have a high duty to advisory clients, whose situations and accounts we must monitor over time. Even with our new-found efficiencies, we have less and less time for commission-based brokerage business. Because we lack freedom to decide, we only have freedom to debate.

By that we mean to place calls, discuss potential investments, argue or not, and perhaps obtain permission to make a trade in exchange for a commission. The ‘freedom to debate’ part of our business is under $10 million and shrinking. The ‘freedom to decide’ piece is approaching $50 million and growing.

We are committed to our three key activities: talking to you, researching investments, and managing portfolios. We can do the most good for the most people if we have freedom to decide. This is why we ask you for that privilege and obligation. If you have any questions about this, or any other aspect of your situation, please call or write.


In a fee-based account clients pay a quarterly fee, based on the level of assets in the account. In deciding to pay a fee rather than commissions, clients should understand that the fee may be higher than a commission alternative during periods of lower trading. Advisory fees are in addition to the internal expenses charged by mutual funds and other investment company securities. Clients should periodically re-evaluate whether the use of an asset-based fee continues to be appropriate in servicing their needs.

Investing involves risks including the possible loss of capital. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.