The Way We Invest

trading-desk-onceusave

Yes, that is our trading desk. From here, we keep tabs on your savings by making sure that we are always on top of each and every move of the global financial markets – from the Brazilian Bovespa to Germany’s DAX to Japan’s Nikkei – we monitor them all. The screens on the left – that is where we track the global bond market. And on the ones to the right, we check on the currencies – yen vs. the pound, dollar to the euro and so on. We want to get you in right before the markets rise and get you out just in time before they fall. And we work round the clock to make that happen.

Actually, scratch all of that. By now you know that we don’t do any of these things. We don’t care what the global financial markets do from day to day or month to month or even year to year. We don’t use a room full of computers to track your investments because we know that is an exercise in futility. We would love to get to a point where our desks resemble this.

warren-buffett-office-desk

We are not there yet but we are getting there. That desk by the way belongs to one of the world’s best investor who is also the CEO of a small 400 billion dollar insurance and investment conglomerate based out of Omaha.

Our Core Philosophy…

We employ a very lethargic and a laid-back approach to the process of investing – an approach that has been refined and perfected over more than a decade’s worth of research and analysis. Once a portfolio structure is in place for whatever goals you are investing for (and that is where most of the effort is spent), we leave that portfolio alone barring occasional rebalancing and tax minimization tweaks. We consider dashing in and out of investments based on short-term economic and market events a loser’s game and a waste of our time and your money. And we are not the only ones who think that way. Our investment philosophy is affirmed and corroborated in the teachings of legends like John Bogle, Peter Bernstein, Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Larry Swedroe, Burton Malkiel, John Neff and many, many more. Our own portfolios are invested for decades long time-frames and we will be mostly investing that way for your family except for when you are nearing retirement or are in retirement. Your portfolio will of course evolve as you accumulate more wealth but there are and will be no radical shifts in how your money is invested. So if you are looking for a hedge-fund manager or a day-trader or a gun-slinger, we are not your guys and this is not the right firm for you to invest with. But if you are looking for a firm that approaches investing with a systematic, disciplined approach that is academically-proven with 3 Nobel prizes behind it and a firm that follows the time-tested principles of extensive diversification, prudent asset-allocation, occasional re-balancing and a long-term historical perspective then you are at the right place.

Our Portfolios…

We custom design each portfolio for the various life goals you are saving for but all of them almost always comprise of five broad categories of investments – domestic stocks, international stocks, fixed-income securities, alternative assets and cash. Yes, cash is used every once in a while as a separate asset class and can be a very effective tool during large market drawdowns. Alternative investments are designed to hold assets that are not very liquid (real estate, micro-cap stocks and an occasional investment in a startup or two) and are only utilized in cases where you are ten plus years away from retirement and you have a net worth (excluding equity in your home) exceeding a million dollars.

Your portfolio is designed to maximize on systematic or market risk and is based off of the principles laid down in the Modern Portfolio Theory and with a belief towards market efficiency. Depending upon where you are in your wealth accumulation stage, your investment plan might be exposed to a bit of unsystematic or individual stock risk but that will never exceed 10-20% of your total family net worth (excluding home equity of course).

We expect to not deviate from this approach for the foreseeable future unless there is a paradigm shift governing the laws around investment finance which we think will never happen. So there will be no randomness in how your money is invested and will be invested.

And because the core of your portfolio is exposed to market risk, we will be at the mercy of what the global markets do from time to time. And markets will test your fortitude every now and then. For example, in January of 1966, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a level of 990. It would continue trading in a range of roughly 600 to 1,000 over the ensuing 17 years. It once again reached 990 in December of 1982 before finally breaking out and never looking back. Now of course, we will likely not encounter that because we don’t invest in Dow Jones Industrial Average but even if our portfolios remained flat for say five years, that would not concern us a bit. On the contrary, we would welcome the likelihood of that occurrence as we want to continue pumping new money into the plan and have a large enough accumulated asset base to make sure that when the markets revert (and revert they will), that reversion should amount to a sizable windfall of new found wealth. That likely will not happen with your portfolio if you are near or in retirement because your investment plan would have evolved to hold assets from a wide spectrum of global investments which don’t all move in tandem.

We prefer to manage your savings holistically which means that we take your workplace retirement plans into account when implementing your plan. The investments we pick in your 401k plan for example complement the investments in other accounts to help minimize overlap and over-concentration risk and to create a more tax-efficient and diverse portfolio.

Connect with us to learn more.