May 2018 | Posted By Buddy Reisinger

When you invest your hard-earned money, of course you hope to end up with more than when you started. Better yet, you would prefer to NOT give up returns you could have had by investing optimally.

But what is “optimal” investing? It’s not about pursuing an active investment strategy – i.e., trying to consistently pick winners, dodge losers, and accurately forecast when to be in and out of up and down markets. Nor is it about hiring an active manager who thinks they can do the same. The evidence is clear: The challenges of active investing are more likely to set you back than advance your interests.

For the past several years, Dimensional Fund Advisors has been tracking mutual fund track records in “The Mutual Fund Landscape.” If anything, the terrain keeps getting  tougher. This year’s report found that, across 15 years ending December 2017, only half of the stock funds in existence at the beginning were even around at the end, and only 14% were able to survive and outperform their Morningstar benchmarks.

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The moral of the story: To run a successful marathon it’s better to pace yourself than chase the wind. Same thing for your wealth. Take the Long View®.

May 2018 | Posted By John Reagan

Before you do business with an advisor or fund manager, it can be telling to ask this powerful question: How do you invest your money? At Hill Investment Group, we believe in our approach to the core. We take for granted that our stance is rare in financial services, where most advisors invest one way for themselves and another for their clients.

Why don’t they eat their own cooking? Their precise portfolio allocations might vary based on individual goals and risk tolerances. But if your advisor is not investing the bulk of their personal assets according to the same strategy and within the same investments they’ve recommended to you … why not?

At Hill Investment Group, our own money makes up about 11 percent of the total assets we manage as a firm; and we use the same fund families, portfolio builds, and evidence-based investment approach we recommend to our clients. When we’re advising a client to stay the course during a down market or to avoid chasing a hot trend, we’re doing the same thing with our personal assets. We feel the same fluctuations, and stay the same course toward the same expected returns. Alignment in this way feels right to us.

May 2018 | Posted By Matt Hall

While the more familiar expression, “no pain, no gain,” may apply to many parts of life (such as my first half-marathon), sometimes pain is just pain, with no gain in sight. When that’s the case, shouldn’t you do something to avoid it?

That’s the point of a recent video produced by our friends at Dimensional Fund Advisors, “Tuning out the noise.” The first minute is admittedly stressful; it evokes the angst many investors feel when they try to navigate nerve-wracking markets on their own. Bear with it though, because you have much to gain from the video’s message: By showing investors how to Take the Long View® with their investments, our aim is to help people tune out the pointless pain, look past the daily fray, and get on with investing toward their lifetime goals.

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Check out the video for yourself. Or, if you prefer to read rather than watch, here’s an article Dimensional produced along the same theme. Last but not least, if you could use some rational advice to cut through the clamor, we’re here to listen.

May 2018 | Posted By Henry Bragg

Dyanna Jones

As much as all of us at Hill Investment Group feel like family to one another, there are times when our actual family members must come first. On that note, it is with regret but considerable affection that we wish Dyanna Jones well as she leaves the HIG team to dedicate more time to her family.

Dyanna asked us to let you know she will miss everyone here at HIG, especially the many friends she quickly made among our Houston office clients and guests. If you would like to convey your own best wishes to Dyanna, please let me know, and I will be sure to pass them on.

While it will difficult to replace Dyanna’s warmth, we are now seeking a new executive assistant for our Houston office. If you know of anyone who might be a good fit for the role, we welcome your referral.

May 2018 | Posted By Nell Schiffer

PJ McDaniel, Director of Hillfolio

Today’s news is a two-for-one deal, introducing our new team member PJ McDaniel, as well as Hillfolio™, our ground-breaking new digital platform. We’d be hard-pressed to decide which we’re more excited about! Fortunately, we don’t have to. In a perfect pairing, PJ has joined our St. Louis office to oversee the new service.

What’s Hillfolio? We’re glad you asked! Hillfolio will bring evidence-based investing and institutional-level portfolio management to a wider audience, including those who might not otherwise be able to experience the high-touch care we strive to make the hallmark of every investor’s experience here at HIG. We’ll be covering it in more detail in the months ahead; for now, call it one of our most ambitious dreams being realized.

Back to PJ. Although new to the team, his relationship with us began six years ago, when he and Matt Hall both began serving on the Saint Louis Club board. Besides bonding over their status as the group’s “young guys,” they also became co-mentors, each learning from the other’s perspectives.

PJ had spent more than a decade in alternative investment sales. As he consulted with financial advisors across the country, he kept seeing huge variations in the quality of advice investors were receiving … and it bothered him. From Matt, he grew to appreciate the powerful differences a fiduciary mindset and efficient evidence-based investing can bring to people’s investment outcomes.

“I am excited to play a direct role in moving more people into evidence-based investing,” says PJ. “Once you understand that you cannot predict the markets, you get to focus your time on family, friends and other activities that make life enjoyable.”

For Matt, PJ’s experience in launching and growing new businesses was equally inspirational.

Call it fate or just good timing, but as PJ found himself increasingly uncomfortable in his career, we were beginning to seriously advance our Hillfolio platform, to the point where we needed a new team member to become its full-time champion. That’s when we and PJ realized we had a unique opportunity to join forces on our shared dream to put logic, data and evidence to work for every investor.

In addition to his 13-year career as a financial professional and an advisor to advisor firms, PJ holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Regis University. He also was selected to attend a “Semester at Sea” program where he studied international finance. Married in 2008, PJ and his wife have grown “the McDaniel tribe” to a party of five, including their three boys Jack (6), Patrick (4) and Henry (2). His wife is an accomplished evidence-based dietitian, cookbook author, corporate wellness guru, and media spokesperson who you may have seen on St. Louis’ local Fox 2 station.

When he’s not working or parenting, PJ can be found running, swimming or playing a round of golf. During his college years, he was a caddy at an exclusive country club, where he had the opportunity to caddy for Tiger Woods, then-sitting President Clinton, and countless other characters. Reflecting on the experience, PJ says, “Whether you watch a pro player or the leader of the free world duff a chip, it reminds you that we’re all human. The real eye-opener is how people handle or recover from their mistakes.” This is a lesson he hopes to instill in his boys as they grow old enough to take on summer jobs of their own.

Please join us in welcoming PJ to the HIG team … and watch for unfolding Hillfolio news to come!

April 2018 | Posted By Jared Machen

We’ve all been there, done that: When the markets grow volatile, they can literally make your stomach churn. As a team member of Hill Investment Group, I know better than to get too hung up on the never-ending breaking news in the popular financial press, but I do still find it helpful to read the perspectives of other thought leaders who are as committed as we are to evidence-based investing.

Here are two such pieces published during the recent jolts of market volatility. I found them helpful; I hope you do too:

When Investing in Stocks Makes You Feel Like Throwing Up and You Do It Anyway,” by Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal

Zweig reflects on how awful it felt to stay invested during the Great Recession, but how glad he is now that he overcame his deepest doubts: “A happy few investors, among them Warren Buffett, his business partner Charles Munger and their mentor Benjamin Graham, may have long-term thinking built into them by nature. The rest of us have to cultivate it by nurture.”

Some alternatives to Evidence-Based Investing,” by Josh Brown, the Reformed Broker

Satire can be a great healer. Here, Brown lists some of the “better” tactics people use instead of evidence-based investing and concludes: “The harvestable errors of emotionally unaware people in the marketplace are a bumper crop for the patient, the sane and the disciplined.” Tough but true love about the wisdom of evidence-based investing.

April 2018 | Posted By John Reagan

HIG’s Rick Hill and John Reagan, a dynamic duo

Back in February, Rick Hill posted his reflections on why he’s not yet retired from his lengthy career as a financial professional. “Why am I still here?” he asked. “Because I am still in a great place!”

I, for one, am glad he is still here. We may tease him about his white hair, but from my first encounter with Rick in 2012 (which I still remember vividly – we talked about my alma mater Trinity University and San Antonio), he has shaped many of my own personal and professional values. Had Rick instead opted for spending every day on the golf course, I’d be poorer for it – this much I know.

Dominic Vaiana

I’m not the only young buck who has been inspired by Rick, the mentor. Check out this recent post: “This Lesson I Learned from a 75-Year-Old Man Might Earn You a Career.” It’s about Rick, written by one of our past summer interns, Dominic Vaiana. In sharing a few of his own takeaways from his internship with us, Dominic wrote that Rick “oozes wisdom and has a contagious energy that people half his age do not.”

I hope that 20-somethings will be saying the same about me when I’m 75 and still working at Hill Investment Group. That sounds more rewarding than any day on the links.

April 2018 | Posted By Matt Hall

When Rick Hill and I founded Hill Investment Group in 2005, we knew we wanted to do something very different from anything you’d find in the traditional financial services landscape. As we set about converting our ideals into reality, we referred to our culture as an island of idealism, rising above the status quo.

Knowing little about branding, we surveyed several St. Louis influencers to help us find a firm to create our logo and tagline. Rick also had one request: He was hoping the firm could include his name.

In the winter of 2005, we selected TOKY Branding + Design to help us with this challenge; we are still their clients to this day.

In hindsight, the rest may seem like a no-brainer. Because they all work so well together, it’s easy to assume that our firm name Hill Investment Group; our hill-shaped logo, our Take the Long View® tagline; and the professional, polished line drawings that now characterize our graphic presentations came together practically overnight.

You’d be mistaken. And we’d be doing a disservice to the visionary souls who have put in countless hours and creative capital helping us shape and refine our now “obvious” brand.

Usually these marketing types labor on unsung behind the scenes, so we thought you might enjoy meeting one of the incredibly talented teams behind our branding: TOKY Branding + Design.

Eric Thoelke of TOKY + Design

Eric Thoelke of TOKY Branding + Design

We love how Eric Thoelke and his TOKY team took Rick’s name and helped us connect it with our greater ideals, guiding us on how to meld our identity with our desire to coach people on how to take a higher perspective with their wealth. In his own words, here are Eric’s thoughts about our collaboration (and, yes, Eric’s last name is pronounced the same as his firm’s simpler spelling of the same: toe-kee):

“Back in 2005, I got to spend a couple of leisurely lunches with Rick and Matt, talking about their nascent business, and how their investment philosophy and deeply personal service would set them apart. It was immediately obvious these were true differences, not just distinctions in style. Our goal was finding a way to articulate those differences by integrating the firm’s name, logo and positioning.

The best brands encircle a target audience with messages that are meaningful and distinctive. It’s like pointing all the engines on a rocket in the same direction; alignment creates the greatest thrust. In working with Hill Investment Group, I never get tired of the rush that fires up all their branding engines and targets them in the same direction.”