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.”

April 2018 | Posted By Henry Bragg

Who invented the index fund? Most investors would guess it was Vanguard founder John Bogle. Bogle did launch the first publicly available index fund in 1976. After being derided as “Bogle’s folly,” it went on to become today’s Vanguard 500 Index Fund, a name nearly synonymous with indexing.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that Bogle did not actually invent the index fund. That credit goes to three gentlemen who created the first institutional index funds in the early 1970s: Dimensional Fund Advisor board member John “Mac” McQuown, co-founder and Executive Chairman David Booth, and co-founder Rex Sinquefield.

 

 

In this brief video, Booth reflects on the evolution of indexing and evidence-based investing, which led to Dimensional’s own value-added approach. “The basic idea of indexing has been an overwhelming success,” says Booth, but “Dimensional built the firm on the idea that we could do better.”

April 2018 | Posted By Nell Schiffer

In the good old days, online security used to be more nicety than necessity. For years, I had one 8-digit random password to serve every login need. With developments in hacking technology, the standards for passwords have changed, and a one-size-fits-all password no longer makes the cut. In this piece we’ll challenge our old beliefs about passwords and introduce you to five new powerful password procedures to help you stay secure.

  1. Make it unique. Each of your online accounts should have a unique password. Otherwise, if a cyberthief breaches one account, they’ve effectively breached them all. Don’t make it easy for them.
  1. Stay sane with a password manager. Unless you are a master memorizer, assigning unique passwords to each login is a tall order indeed. Solution: install a top-of-the-line password manager. This handy tool will help you to store, and even generate strong passwords. Here’s an independent review of available providers to get you started.
  1. Lead with length. Remember those 8-digit passwords we talked about? There are random generators out there that will decode 8 characters in a computerized heartbeat. Instead, passwords should be 16 or more characters long.
  1. Words are welcomed. It used to be a no-no to use dictionary words in a password. This is now considered okay, as long as the string meets the 16-character suggestion. Bonus points if you include a sprinkling of numbers, symbols and cases. For example, a semi-legible password like April48+greenGoose12% is probably equally as strong as an entirely random string like F8*tjE#378FpP6Jm#@4.
  1. Change it up, often. Once your password game is strong, it’s best to routinely change them. Quarterly is ideal, and the password manager can help. Schwab conveniently prompts you when it’s time to change theirs, as do many other financial institutions.

How else can we assist you with your cybersecurity? Send me your questions … I’m on patrol!

March 2018 | Posted By Buddy Reisinger

Buddy Reisinger

Warren Buffett has now been in the business of running Berkshire Hathaway for 53 years, and counting. In his newly released 2017 letter to shareholders, he reminds us why his name has grown over those years to be nearly synonymous with sound business practice here in America and as a master communicator of the money world.

As usual, his latest letter is filled with advice worth heeding. First, as we previewed in December 2017, Buffett shared the final results of the 10-year bet he placed against hedge funds. He won so dramatically that his opponent threw in the towel last May, before the decade was even through. Reflecting on his win, Buffett wrote (emphasis ours):

The bet illuminated another important investment lesson: Though markets are generally rational, they occasionally do crazy things. Seizing the opportunities then offered does not require great intelligence, a degree in economics or a familiarity with Wall Street jargon such as alpha and beta. What investors then need instead is an ability to both disregard mob fears or enthusiasms and to focus on a few simple fundamentals. A willingness to look unimaginative for a sustained period – or even to look foolish – is also essential.

The wager was all the more telling, in that Buffett often bills himself as a person who avoids unnecessary risks. In this year’s letter, for example, he reiterated:

Our aversion to leverage has dampened our returns over the years. But Charlie and I sleep well. Both of us believe it is insane to risk what you have and need in order to obtain what you don’t need. We held this view 50 years ago when we each ran an investment partnership, funded by a few friends and relatives who trusted us. We also hold it today after a million or so ‘partners’ have joined us at Berkshire.

Exactly. This is our perspective at HIG as well. Take care of your clients above all else. Help people focus on their own goals and the financial fundamentals – regardless of what’s hot and what’s not in trending techniques. Excel at these essentials, and the rest will likely take care of itself.

March 2018 | Posted By Nell Schiffer

Like most people, we’re pretty busy here at Hill Investment Group. After dedicating ourselves to family, friends, community and career, it’s hard to find extra time for relaxing and reflecting before we find ourselves fast asleep.

Thank goodness for podcasts. They offer energizing food for thought during our morning commutes (Henry), dog walks (Matt), or while sweating it out on a jog (yours truly). We’ve each got our personal favorites, but Guy Raz’s “How I Built This”  podcast is a HIG-wide hit.

For investing, we typically encourage a steadfast – almost stodgy – buy, hold, and rebalance approach to managing the money you’ve made, emphasizing academic evidence over “lucky breaks.” But first, you’ve got to make some of that money, and sometimes that takes luck and skill alike. So we also love the edgy tales of how some of today’s best-known businesses came to be. To name a few:

Southwest Airlines: Can you believe this airline was initially a side hustle for founder Herb Kelleher?

Starbucks: Founder Howard Schultz tells an incredible story about Bill Gates, Sr. (“The” Bill Gates’ dad), and the role he played in saving Starbucks.

Patagonia: Founder Yves Chouinard became a successful businessman despite himself.

The Home Depot – Being fired may have been the best thing that ever happened to co-founder Arthur Blank.

Next time you’ve got a little downtime of your own, why not tune into “How I Built This”?

March 2018 | Posted By Henry Bragg

Dave Goetsch, Executive Producer of “The Big Bang Theory”

Dave Goetsch – The name may not be instantly familiar, but you’ve probably heard of the CBS sitcom he produces: “The Big Bang Theory.” Like his show, Goetsch’s personal investing has had its share of twists and turns. Reflecting on how he felt back in 2009, he says, “When the market went down, I went down with it—sinking into a depression, knowing there was nothing I could do.”

Fortunately, between then and now, he discovered an evidence-based investment approach. Armed with the durable philosophy he lacked at the time, Goetsch has leveraged his past trauma as a learning experience, and now feels better prepared for future downturns.

These days, Goetsch is proud to help spread the evidence-based investing word along with us. “I changed because I learned that there was a different way to think about investing. … The return I’m talking about is how I feel every day. I worry less—not just about the future, but also about the present. Of course, I know that there are no guarantees when it comes to investing, but I feel like I’m going to be okay. I have a plan.”

To read Dave’s observations in his own words, click here: “Now and Then.”