We're getting closer to the end of the year and this seems like a good time to talk about how I do investing for my clients. What do my clients get for their fee? Well, here it is:
- Quantify goals, craft the long-term plan, and fund the plan with a long-term portfolio (20%).
- Coach clients to stick with the plan through all the cycles of the economy, and all the fads and fears of the market (80%).
Wait, that's it? Well, maybe it would help to say what I DON'T do:
- Analyze/interpret the economy and current events.
- Time the market or call tops and bottoms.
- Identify consistently top-performing investments.
You realize, deep down, that no one really knows what’s going to happen next, or when we might hit a market high or a low. Someone might get lucky and be right once or twice, but no one can reliably predict how a market or a specific sector or an asset class will perform.
But day after day, you see the headlines screaming “US Market Crash Imminent” or “Why You Should Sell Your Mutual Funds and Live in a Cave.” The job of our financial press is to sell advertising, not to tell you what will happen next...because they don't know. All they’re trying to do is get your eyeballs on that story so they can sell ads!
So as I see it, my job is to always tell you the pure, unbiased truth and help you avoid the panic of falling markets and the euphoria of rising markets. My job is to help you with the behavior, discipline, and emotions, not to feed into that drama.
"Wait a minute," you may be saying, "I can do that myself. I'M not an emotional investor.” I congratulate you on your fortitude! But if you have any doubt around the issue, here are some numbers: Vanguard recently estimated that behavioral coaching alone adds 1.5% per year to an investor’s net returns (Source: Vanguard, “Putting a Value on Your Value: Quantifying Advisor’s Alpha,” 9/ 2016). They estimated the total value of working with an advisor at 3% per year.
Now, my investment philosophy is NOT sexy or exciting, and I will be the first to admit it. I’m not buying expensive, arcane options or doing day trades in the hot stock of the moment. I’m not trying to get you the highest return available, or beat XYZ Index or outperform your best friend's mother's sister's cousin. But what we are doing together is so much more valuable: we are helping you toward the long-term return you need to help meet your goals.
The rest is just noise, so please consider this your justification for ignoring the financial press. If you'd like to speculate with some of your fun money, I can live with that. But when we're talking about your financial independence and your core goals, the key is to create a thoughtful program and stick with it. That's what I do. And it’s worth many multiples of what I’m charging.