We only use publicly traded, liquid mutual funds in client portfolios. We use low cost mutual funds, often only available to institutional and qualified advisors. For funds that invest in stocks, we look for funds with a passive investing style. Most of the funds we use are from Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA). DFA is one of the top 10 mutual fund companies in the world, but it is relatively unknown to the average person because their funds are only available to professional investors (institutions or advisors).
DFA uses a style of investing sometimes called ‘factor investing’ or ‘Smart Beta’ investing. This is a passive investment strategy that seeks to capitalize on market inefficiencies (such as a tilt toward smaller stocks, or more value oriented or profitable stocks) to increase the expected return while still minimizing risk. This provides the same benefits of index investing (such as low costs, diversification and low turnover) while avoiding some of the drawbacks, such as having to trade when the public index changes or buy as the price becomes more expensive. DFA is also a market maker for smaller stocks when other companies are required to buy or sell, and returns the profits from loaning stocks to the mutual fund. DFA has very low expense ratios because they minimize trading, avoid the cost of individual stock research, and avoid needing to provide service to individual investors.
Although we use mainly DFA funds, we do occasionally use other low cost funds.
We avoid timing the market because we feel it is impossible to accurately predict both the best time to sell and the best time to return to the market. For long term investment horizons, research has shown that staying invested in the market (and taking advantage of rebalancing) generally results in a better return.
We work with clients to match their specific risk tolerance to their individual goals and needs. That takes into account their time horizon, resources, income, cash flow needs, tax situation, goals, and other relevant factors. As the market changes, we rebalance client accounts to keep their investments within their risk tolerance. We also manage cash flow needs for clients and integrate tax planning with investments to minimize current and future taxes.