April 2019 | Posted By Abby Crimmins

For the third year in a row, Schwab Institutional is running a series of TV commercials in support of independent Registered Investment Advisor firms. That’s us! The commercials are an extension of Schwab’s long-running advertising campaign, focused on helping the public understand why terms like “independent,” “fiduciary,” and “Registered Investment Advisor” matter – or at least should matter – to anyone seeking solid financial advice.

You can see the TV ads now through mid-May on CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg TV and Golf Channel. They stand out to us for their emphasis on the right kinds of questions to ask when assessing a financial advisor. While most financial services advertising is aimed at products and sales, we’d say Schwab gets it right. Here’s our favorite:

Click to view

Schwab’s ad campaign is hardly the reason we do business with them. But it’s one more way their thinking aligns with ours, as we turn to them for holding our own, and our clients’ personal investments.

April 2019 | Posted By Katie Ackerman

The finishing touches in our new St. Louis office hallway

The St. Louis members of Hill Investment Group are so excited to be back in our freshly remodeled offices that we bought a special t-shirt to celebrate the occasion! See the image below and, seriously, ask us about our ceilings the next time you’re in the new space. We’ve got a story to tell you.

We’ve dreamed of new ceilings for years. Ask us why!

The purpose of the remodel is to make room for new team members and to update many of the features inherent to a 1964 building like the one we inhabit in St. Louis. The construction phase of the project started January 14th and wrapped up on April 26th. We are grateful to our partners in this project – CBRE, Chouteau Building Group, and Amie Corley Interiors – and are thrilled to be back in a space that suits our creative energy. We’ve been tenants of the Pierre Laclede Building since our very early days, and our new lease will take us into the next era of HIG’s growth.

April 2019 | Posted By Rick Hill

We’ve said it before and we’ll likely say it again: Investment risks and expected rewards are related, but disciplined diversification helps us reduce the risks.

Our friends at Dimensional Fund Advisors recently released an important report supporting this point.

Click to read the full report

In their report, they took a look at four sources of expected returns found in many evidence-based investment portfolios (market, size, value, and profitability).

Using U.S. stock market data stretching back more than 50 years, they found that, about half the time, one of the four premiums delivered negative returns for any rolling ten-year period across that time frame.

That sounds risky, doesn’t it? But consider this: Across the same time frame, at least one of the premiums delivered positive returns during every single 10-year rolling period. In fact, far more often than not, two of them delivered positive returns during each 10-year period. The premiums existed, they observed, but they “do not move in lockstep.”

Check out Dimensional’s report to see the data for yourself. It offers a strong, continued vote for depending on steadfast diversification across multiple risk premiums to help you manage your risks in pursuit of your expected rewards.

March 2019 | Posted By John Reagan

Free image from www.gapminder.org


Financial writer and friend Wendy Cook posted the following piece on her own blog recently, and granted us permission to share it here.

We like Wendy’s post and applaud the ideas of the late Hans Rosling because his work parallels our own emphasis on evidence-based investing. His bestselling book Factfulness points out that our instincts and biases often make it difficult to perceive the world factually. Just as we point out in our work with you, and as we’ve highlighted in past reviews of Michael Lewis’ book Moneyballit’s tricky work to get out of our own heads and better understand the world through data and evidence minus emotion and instinct.

*Keep in mind Wendy writes for a special group of advisors.


Facts, Finance, and Feeling Good About Yourself

by Wendy J. Cook

Recently, I finished reading Factfulness by Hans Rosling. I discovered Rosling’s work nearly a decade ago when his YouTube video “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes” went viral, at least among us data-dorks.

Finding Factfulness

Making the leap from Rosling’s four-minute video to his full-length book took some time. Unfortunately, it was time Rosling himself did not have, having passed away from pancreatic cancer in February 2017. Reminiscent of the late Gordon Murray’s inspiring collaboration with Dan Goldie on The Investment Answer, Rosling dedicated the last year of his life to completing Factfulness. He collaborated on it with his son and daughter-in-law, who published it in 2018.

Referring to “data as therapy” and “understanding as a source of mental peace,” Rosling urges us to employ “factfulness” to recognize that the world is usually better off than we think. With Bill Gates describing it as “one of the most educational books I’ve ever read,” I figured it was worth checking out.

Factfulness and Finance

How does factfulness work? Without it, we become overwhelmed by all the bad news going on around us. With it, the greater facts remind us that historical conditions have been even worse. In other words, we are making enormous progress, but close up, we can’t see it. Rosling explains:

“Journalists who reported flights that didn’t crash or crops that didn’t fail would quickly lose their jobs. Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and impact millions of people. … Safe flights are not newsworthy.”

It’s easy to connect these messages with the same ones you likely espouse for yourself and your clients as you help them embrace evidence-based investing.

A Higher Purpose

Beyond that, I took a greater message from the book. If your advice has been incorporating insights gained from behavioral psychology, it’s one you’re already familiar with, but it bears repeating: By losing sight of factfulness, it may often feel as if BIG acts, ENORMOUS effort and MAJOR improvements – the kinds we read about in the paper – are the only changes that matter.

All facts considered, this could not be further from the truth. Ordinary, everyday accomplishments are what Rosling describes as “the secret silent miracle of human progress.” Your and my small, unsung deeds are the streams that feed rivers that run to oceans of accomplishment.

So, whether it’s going that extra mile for your clients or dedicating some time to a community project, let’s each take on one or two good deeds – today, tomorrow, and the day after that. They don’t have to be huge; just make them a habit and, over time, that will do.

Give the Gift of an Amazon Review

Here’s one small possibility you may not have thought of: Give a good financial book a positive Amazon review.  

You see, some of my best friends are financial authors. So, I happen to know, one of the best ways you can help them increase their sales and readership is to review their books on Amazon. These days, a strong presence there is electronic gold, like being in the “featured books” section of a brick & mortar store.

Your review need not be novel-length itself. Two minutes, five stars, and a few sentences should do it. Go ahead. Pick some of your recent favorite financial reads, and go to it.

March 2019 | Posted By Buddy Reisinger

Where would we be without alphabetic order in our life? Imagine if airports listed all departures randomly on their flight boards? We might never make it to the gate.

But should you find your investments alphabetically? When you’re presented with a list of available funds, should you prefer the ones that appear toward the top of the list?

This is not a trick question. Of course, the answer is no. It shouldn’t matter one bit where a fund name falls on an alphabetic list. And yet, amazingly, a recent study found that many investors may be unintentionally allowing “alphabeticity bias” to creep into their decisions anyway.

The study, “Alphabeticity Bias in 401(k) Investing,” is slated to be published in a forthcoming issue of The Financial Review. Investment selections in 401(k) retirement plans are often presented in alphabetic order, so the study’s authors took a look at whether plan participants were allowing that order to influence their choices. They found that, indeed, “alphabeticity – the order that fund names appear when listed in alphabetical order – significantly biases participants’ investment allocation decisions.” The longer the list of selections, the more alphabeticity bias appeared.

Why would we do this? The authors proposed the reason is related to another bias they called “satisficing.” When you’re reviewing an alphabetic list of choices, once you’ve found one that suits your purpose, you tend to give less consideration to the rest of the list. “My work here is done,” your brain tells you, and it shuts down … even if there may be an even better selection further on.

You shouldn’t, and we won’t, settle for next-best investments – in your retirement plan or anywhere else. Helping you avoid doing so is one way we encourage you to Take the Long View® when you invest.

March 2019 | Posted By Rick Hill

Not everyone talks about inflation, but they should. Why? Inflation is the quiet monster taking away our purchasing power. Over time, inflation slowly happens, effectively reducing the power of the pennies in your piggy bank.

We can’t prevent inflation, but we can – and should – dull its appetite. How do you do that? Evidence-based investing is our recommendation.

While volatility in the markets can flame our fears, taming inflation is the bigger challenge. This is why we invest to begin with. To keep the inflation monster from feasting on your assets, invest in market factors, and stay invested in them over the long-haul. We know you understand this fundamental concept, but now you have a cartoon as a reminder.

March 2019 | Posted By Matt Hall

Here at Hill Investment Group, we’ve intentionally set up our infrastructure to offer seamless client care from Houston, St. Louis, or anywhere else we may roam. As such, if we didn’t tell you, you’d probably never know that our Chief Operating Officer Nell Swanson Schiffer has relocated from Houston to St. Louis, at least for a while.

By happy coincidence, her husband was recently accepted into the Internal Medicine Residency program at Washington University in St. Louis. (Congrats, Walter!) With Nell already an integral member of our HIG team, it was even easier for the couple to pick up roots and head to St. Louis.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Nell mentioned the move when she was speaking with the St. Louis Business Journal about our related, 2019 Best Places to Work announcement. In the same issue, she shared her journey with Business Journal readers. It’s an adventure that has taken her from wearing a flame-retardant jumpsuit as a Houston-based petroleum engineer, to her role as HIG’s COO.

Click here to read all about it. 

The common denominator between Nell’s past and current careers? A passion for pursuing ingenious and disruptive best practices across all of life’s pursuits.

We welcome Nell to our St. Louis office, where we’re confident she’ll continue to be valued firm-wide.

March 2019 | Posted By Nell Schiffer

The Hill Investment Group, Summer 2018

In a recent client newsletter teaser, we were excited to leak the news that Hill Investment Group was a finalist in the St. Louis Business Journal’s 2019 Best Places to Work. Today, we are honored to announce the results. Drumroll, please! 

HIG took second place in the small, 10–49 employee category.

Out of 250 nominations and 85 finalists among all categories, we think that represents admirable odds on our results. (“Odds On” … get it?)

You can read all about it here.

As much as we’re enjoying the recognition, we’re also happy to share what we’ve learned with other business owners interested in building similar corporate cultures in their offices. Since successful employees help generate successful outcomes, we figure everyone comes out ahead.

Want to learn more? Give us a call. In the meantime, here’s one of our favorite tips from our spotlight in the St. Louis Business Journal:

“[HIG’s] leadership believes in helping identify each team member’s unique ability. When you know what you do well and get to spend the majority of your time doing it, then work doesn’t feel like work – it’s fun.”