Broker Check


Our blog is designed to cover short investment and financial thoughts that we don’t include in the monthly Factors In Focus newsletter including links to other articles we find interesting.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Asset class returns are mostly random from year to year. But that doesn't mean we cannot learn from the randomness.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Stock returns have been too high and we're on the cusp of a collapse, right? Probably not. Recent returns have actually been much closer to average, and here is the data to prove it....


Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 was a good year for global stock markets. How good? Keep reading...


Thursday, December 14, 2017

We have not heard much about gold in the last few years, for good reason. After hitting an all-time high in September of 2011, it has declined relentlessly ever since. Does gold have a place in your portfolio?


Thursday, November 30, 2017

The November edition of our Factors In Focus newsletter, "Legends of the Fall," has been posted. Be sure to check it out!


Show All

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Growth stocks are beating value stocks by almost 20% this year. But we've seen this before. What happened the last time growth was trouncing value? Read on to find out.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Patience, not panic, will make and keep you wealthy. Here's one vivid illustration of this reality.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Some investors have sustained losses over the last few years that are on par with the worst bear markets in history. How is that possible? Read on...


Friday, November 10, 2017

Global small value stock returns for the last 5 years have been within 0.2% a year of their long-term average since the 1920s. Ignore historical market returns at your peril.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

To many observers, the returns on stocks over the last nine years are anomalous and unwarranted. We were supposed to see much lower results. But this is what stocks do.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The October edition of our Factors In Focus newsletter, "Spend It If You've Got It" has been posted to the website. Check It Out!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Few investment decisions have been more profitable over time than holding lower-priced "value" stocks compared higher-priced "growth" stocks. Since 1927, the Fama/French US Value Index outperformed the US Growth Index by 3.3% per year...


Friday, October 27, 2017

Bad companies make for good stocks. How can this be? Check out this classic article from Eugene Fama Jr. in 2000 to better understand why.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

It's all doom and gloom when it comes to the discussion of the market crash from 30 years ago dubbed "Black Monday." But a closer look reveals many positive lessons we can take from the experience that you haven't read anywhere else.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

The philosophy we use to manage investment portfolios is rooted in over 50 years of academic financial research. Here are a few words from a handful of the financial economists who have influenced our efforts.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The September edition of our Factors In Focus newsletter, "And Then There Was None," has been posted to the website. Previous editions can be found on the Factors In Focus page. As always, clients will be receiving their copy in the...


Friday, September 29, 2017

Few investment approaches seem simpler and more intuitive than buying and holding a handful of large, successful companies. But should you bet it all on blue chips?


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Extreme short-term stock returns--both gains and losses--are more common than we assume. But trying to avoid them by hedging or timing the market only makes a bad thing turn catastrophic.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

"The easy money has been made." You've probably heard this line lately as it relates to your investments. But is it true?


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Have you looked at the top holdings in a traditional index fund lately? It ain't good...


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Small stocks have delivered big returns. But you have to be careful with how you invest in small companies. Not all approaches yield the same expected results.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Selling an investment after a short stretch of disappointing returns is far too common amongst investors and advisors. The cost of this mistake is often extremely high. Here's one example.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

The August edition of our Factors In Focus newsletter, "Market Misdirection," has been posted to the website. Previous editions can be found on our newsletter page here. As always, clients will be receiving their copy in the mail...


Friday, August 25, 2017

The "smart money" earns far higher returns than the average investor. Here's one surprising reason why.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Few books have received more criticism and mockery than Dow 36,000, published in late 1999 in the midst of the technology craze. But almost two decades later, was 36,000 so far off?


Thursday, August 3, 2017

One of the biggest and often overlooked benefits of having a long-term investment approach is the amount of time saved not having to scrutinize short-term market movements and their impact on your money. Can this make you happier too?


Monday, July 31, 2017

We've posted the July edition of Factors In Focus. Check it out!


Monday, July 31, 2017

A Wall Street Journal article on Friday begins with this: "Stocks are hitting records and valuations are at 15-year highs, both signs of confidence. But a closer look at what is driving the rally shows that the eight-year bull market...


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

According to a chart in the Wall Street Journal, the number of Americans who are living to 100 years of age has approximately doubled in the last 30 years. What does that mean for a modern retirement plan?


Friday, July 21, 2017

We're in the midst of a multi-year stretch of strong relative performance for US large cap stocks compared to most other stock asset classes. Many investors are taking this as a cue to abandon diversification, but we have different advice.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

The obsession with investment fees has reached a new level of absurdity. But to achieve long-term financial success, you have to focus on the big stuff.


Friday, June 30, 2017

We've posted the May edition of our Factors In Focus newsletter to the website. Previous month editions can be found on our newsletter page. As always, clients will be receiving their copy in the mail shortly...


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Investopedia released their inaugural list of what they have determined are the most "influential" financial advisors in the US. I was excited to learn I made the list.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's well known that traditional actively-managed funds don't outperform their index. But one company has taken an index fund-like approach to consistent outperformance over the long term.


Monday, June 26, 2017

The details of investing attract all the attention, but evidence finds that it's the big-picture decisions -- decisions we often get wrong -- that have the biggest impact on our outcomes.


Friday, June 23, 2017

"Investors in stocks should be getting nervous," we were told by the Fiscal Times yesterday. Apparently, there are as many as six different stock market risks that should concern us? Even if you don't act on these sensationalized...


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Nine months after we published our Factors In Focus newsletter on managing market highs, stocks have continued to advance. A second look at the article might be helpful for those who are concerned that stock prices are too high.


Friday, June 16, 2017

The chart below lists the 117-year, inflation-adjusted returns on every major stock market in the world. You'll notice that the US stock market has been a particular standout, returning +6.4% per year more than inflation (nearly 10%...


Thursday, June 15, 2017

A recent Bloomberg interview with Vanguard Funds founder John Bogle discusses his views on foreign stock diversification. Long a proponent of investing all of your assets in the United States, Bogle looks back on these views since the...


Friday, June 9, 2017

We've heard for years that interest rates just had to go up and that bond returns would suffer. Many investors even worried that rising interest rates would have an adverse impact on stocks. The problem with all of this speculation is...


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Once upon a time, an allocation to commodities was a must have amongst sophisticated investors. The lessons from the commodity debacle should help you avoid making the same mistake again with the latest round of alternative assets.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Hopefully, this chart helps you decide...


Thursday, June 1, 2017

We've posted the May edition of our Factors In Focus newsletter to the website. Reminiscent of the famous line from Superman, many investors today are asking their advisor, "You've got me, who's got you?" And for good reason.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Some investors perceive great value in their broker or advisor's "asset allocation updates." But regardless of how sophisticated or nuanced the narrative, this isn't proactive portfolio management, it's just market timing. Caveat emptor.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Morningstar named Bruce Berkowitz of the Fairholme Fund the 2000-2009 US stock "Manager of The Decade." How has he fared since? How about the investors in his fund?


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Investment management and retirement planning have become needlessly complex. Don't believe it? Check out Exhibit A: the John Hancock Retirement Date Funds.


Friday, May 19, 2017

This from a Morningstar article this morning: "Since the mid-1990s, value stocks have roughly matched growth stocks' returns..." Really?


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Some financial advisors try to impress their clients and prospective clients by providing forecasts for the future returns on stocks and bonds. Below is an example published almost seven years ago from investment advisor GMO. GMO...


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The brokerage firm Morgan Stanley was in the headlines last week, but not for reasons that will make their clients happy. Morgan Stanley has decided to stop allowing the purchase of Vanguard funds for those investors working with a...


Friday, May 12, 2017

DoubleLine Capital's Jeff Gundlach is a prominent bond fund manager who likes to make bold predictions about the markets. But before you follow his advice, you might want to consider his track record.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

An important part of our Asset Class investing approach is tax-sensitive implementation. April's Factors In Focus newsletter discusses our approach in greater detail.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Knowing the stock market can decline dramatically, and actually experiencing these declines in our portfolio are two completely different things. This is why you have a financial advisor.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

The chart above looks at the annual returns on the S&P 500 and a more globally diversified index portfolio for the 11 years between 2000 and 2010. The S&P was barely positive on a cumulative basis over this period, and continuing to...


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

You can't predict when markets will be positive. By holding a diversified portfolio, managing costs and taxes, staying disciplined and having a long-term orientation, the odds that you will achieve acceptable results rise dramatically.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Marketing extraordinaire Robert Arnott and his Research Affiliates colleagues published a research paper last week claiming that the returns on "factor tilted" strategies have generally been less in the real world than the simulated...


Monday, May 1, 2017

Nobel laureate Robert Shiller warned in the NY Times last month that we should be cautious about stock prices ("Caution Signals Are Blinking For The Trump Bull Market"). I'm sure more than one reader took his advice to heart and...


Friday, April 28, 2017

Have you heard of "managed futures" as an investment strategy? Trust me when I say you'd be better off if you haven't. It's another of Wall Street's brilliant marketing ploys, an asset class with supposedly good long-term returns...


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Mutual fund and ETF research and rating firm Morningstar ran a piece yesterday titled "10 Funds That Beat The Market Over 15 Years." You don't see as many of these articles anymore -- many investors have wised up to the fact that, with...


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The next time you think about rejiggering your investment portfolio to overweight some of the recent winners (or losers) consider this patchwork chart. There's no discernable pattern amongst different asset classes.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

We take for granted the superiority of index funds over active managers today. But there's a lot more to investing than just buying an S&P 500 fund.


Monday, April 24, 2017

The smartest investment approach has been to diversify broadly -- owning small-cap stocks, value stocks, and foreign stocks as well as US large companies (S&P 500 Index), but what works isn't always working.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Traditional brokerage firms have been bleeding assets at an unprecedented rate over the last 7+ years at the expense of independent, fiduciary-minded financial advisory firms like Servo.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Only one word that should convince you about the need to globally diversify your investment portfolio: Japan. Since 1990, we've lived through a 27-year stretch where Japanese large cap stocks (the equivalent of the S&P 500) have had a...


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Can you guess the best performing asset class since 2000? How about the worst? Of course you can't, and that's why you diversify.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What would you do with a $315B investment portfolio? Chances are you haven't thought about it. But that's the "problem" faced by the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CALPERS), the largest public pension fund in the US....


Monday, April 17, 2017

Despite the relative superiority of the US stock market over the last few years, no serious investor besides Vanguard founder John Bogle believes that you should concentrate all your investments domestically. David Booth explains why.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Returns on stocks around the world have been muted since the turn of the century, in large part because we've seen two of the worst 5 bear markets in 90 years occur since 2000. Despite these setbacks, holding on through the downturns...


Thursday, April 13, 2017

More time and effort is spent (wasted) on convincing investors that they can achieve good returns without experiencing the risk that comes along with those returns. Market timing, stock selection, black-box alternatives that supposedly...


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How to take an ongoing income stream from a portfolio tends to be one of the more confusing concepts for retired investors. Here is the best way to do it.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Investors and some financial advisors were duped into believing alternative assets like commodities helped to boost a portfolio. Will you be fooled into investing in the latest round of alternatives?


Monday, April 10, 2017

Investors sometimes express a desire to reduce their overall stock allocation after a surge in prices or before retirement. In their minds, they are dialing down the risk of their portfolios. But are they truly accomplishing what...


Friday, April 7, 2017

Do you know the difference between a broker and a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)? You need to. The first is an employee of a brokerage firm, tasked with generating profits for their company through the sale of investment products...


Thursday, April 6, 2017

The best performing stock mutual fund during the decade of 2000-2009 was the CGM Focus fund, returning +18.2% per year. Investors in the fund actually lost an average of -11% per year. The Morningstar Domestic-Stock Mutual Fund Manager...


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Wall Street Journal had a chart showing the average growth rate of corporate earnings for S&P 500 companies since 1985. It's no surprise that stock returns look very similar.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The percentage of active managers who are beating the market this year is on the rise. I wouldn't quite call it a comeback.


Monday, April 3, 2017

A recent article stated that the average financial advisor in the US is 51 years old, and over a quarter (27%) of all advisors plan to retire in the next 10 years. For investors, this is a serious consideration when shopping for advice...


Friday, March 31, 2017

There is a significant difference between knowing how to invest and doing it consistently. Our March Factors In Focus newsletter explores this important topic further.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

One of the reasons why investors don't achieve better results with their wealth is that the don't understand the remote odds of successfully choosing investments that will outperform the market based on past performance.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

If I could use only one chart to explain investing, this would probably be it. Let’s consider, in just a few words, all that these five squiggly lines and labels tell us.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I recently sat down to review my parents' investment plan. Here's what I saw, and what I did about it.


Monday, March 27, 2017

If you think I'm unnecessarily tough on the financial media, consider this candid admission from Steve Forbes, speaking about the value of "advice" offered by financial publications.


Friday, March 24, 2017

One of the excuses you’ll hear from traditional “active” managers is that they’re not given enough latitude to beat the market. This meme spawned an entire mutual fund category, “Long/Short Equity.”...


Thursday, March 23, 2017

The recent run-up in stock prices isn't a "Trump Trade." Market gains and losses are always more complex than simple narratives imply.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Unlike most financial advisory firms, Servo's investment approach is based on Nobel Prize-winning academic research, not Wall Street marketing or black box schemes. But you can't invest in research, you need real-world investment...


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Wall Street Journal article yesterday brought attention to the significant strain within the $70B Puerto Rico bond market. If that doesn't sound like a problem for US-based investors, think again.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Remember this cartoon the next time you read or hear something from the financial media that has you overly concerned. It's funny but true.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

We can all learn from the investment mistakes made by Marty Bannon -- father of current White House counselor and chief strategist Steve Bannon -- during the 2008 stock market collapse.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Stocks have experienced strong gains in the last few months. We now have a better understanding why.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.25% yesterday, the third increase in the last 18 months. What does history say about investment returns during extended periods of rising interest rates?


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Imagine a scenario where everything you will spend money on in 10 years is twice as expensive as it is today. Now imagine that you'll have to guide your investment portfolio to generate the returns necessary to stay ahead of inflation.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eight years ago this month, the stock market free fall came to an abrupt end. Returns on major global stock asset classes since March of 2009 reminds us why we need to stick around in a tough market.