June 2019 | Posted By PJ McDaniel

On January 2nd, 2019 the St. Louis Blues hit rock bottom. After 37 games, they had the worst record and the fewest points in the NHL. The team that was predicted to be a playoff contender couldn’t even manage to tally three wins in a row. To outsiders looking in, the team looked like a bunch of underachievers who cost their head coach his job and let their city down—again.

But the Blues saw things differently.

For them, this was the beginning of a long, steady climb to fulfill their potential. By midseason, the Blues finally began to gel with their interim coach, Craig Berube, while rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington instilled new life into the locker room. When the regular season came to a close, the Blues had achieved the improbable, winning 30 of their final 45 games to earn a playoff berth.

As the world witnessed, the Blues carried this momentum through the playoffs on their way to being crowned Stanley Cup champions for the first time ever. Throughout the history of professional sports (NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL), this was one of the most dramatic turnarounds, with the Blues being the farthest into a season with the worst record, yet managing to win a title.

Cinderella stories like this don’t happen by accident—especially in sports. To the naked eye, they’re miracles. But if we peek behind the curtain, we see that these radical transformations are simply the byproduct of discipline and patience. At Hill Investment Group, we call this Taking the Long View. The Blues may not have used this specific mantra, but they embodied it.

Sports—especially hockey—are complex. No player nor coach has the mental capacity to micromanage every variable during an entire season, let alone a single game. There are too many unpredictable elements. Over the course of eight months, the randomness adds up into an impossibly large cognitive load. The only sustainable strategy is for the team to elevate their gaze and see the bigger picture, to trust the process.

Financial markets, just like the St. Louis Blues 2018-19 NHL season, have their ups and downs. Many investors live in a seesaw world (just think back to December of 2018) of short-term thrills and panics. But as prudent investors—and NHL players—will tell you, the fruits of Taking the Long View are sweet.

Baby Billy Ackerman in Blues Gear
June 2019 | Posted By Katie Ackerman

Sometimes we run out of time and space to highlight everything we’ve loved reading in the last month. Based on the talk in the office, the following items deserve your attention, even if they didn’t get their own dedicated post.

  1. The Randomness of Global Equity Returns – We love this piece by Dimensional and you will too.
  2. Meet the Money Whisperer to the NBA Elite – We enjoyed this NYT profile. 
  3. 6 St. Louis Dads Highlighted in St. Louis Magazine and you’ll know one of them.
  4. Our friend John Jennings nails it with this interesting fact of the day.
  5. Podcast Love from St. Louis Magazine
June 2019 | Posted By Matt Hall

Family Party and HIG Birthday BBQ – Photo June 2019

On June 6, 2005, Rick Hill and I inked a deal that changed the trajectory of our lives and eventually hundreds of others.

Over the course of a year, Rick and I met every Wednesday night and Saturday morning to discuss our plan to build a firm that was equal parts high touch and high performance. We called it our “island of idealism.” It may not have been the easiest path to bring that idea to fruition, but as I write this passage on our 14-year-old “island of idealism” at 7701 Forsyth Blvd., I can tell you it was worth every step.

Birthday celebrations often entail trips down memory lane—understandably so. It’s pleasant and comforting to reminisce about how much you’ve grown and achieved. But this year, I want to acknowledge Hill Investment Group’s birthday with a different twist: by looking forward instead of backward.

There’s new energy surging through our firm these days, due mainly to the excitement surrounding our group’s future. Our team, which was recently recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of the best places to work, is growing stronger each day. Hillfolio, our initiative to deliver a better investing experience to a wider audience, is building impressive momentum. And most recently, the launch of our podcast* has given us a new opportunity to spread the word about the value of Taking the Long View.

Some subscribers might know about my reputation as a “relentless agitator” (or a relentless improver). When I was a kid, my mom would challenge me to go 24 hours without suggesting how we could do something better. I never made it longer than five minutes. Fast forward 30+ years and my mentality hasn’t changed a bit. So, if you’re wondering why I’m celebrating HIG’s birthday by looking ahead to 2020, now you know.

Don’t get me wrong—there’s a time and a place to pop the champagne, tell stories, and evaluate the past, but that isn’t the phase we are in today. We are working on the next chapter and how we will serve clients better. We are a competitive lot, which is why Hill Investment Group will never become complacent. We thank our clients, friends and centers of influence who follow this newsletter, for your continued support. And the only birthday present we want from you is your continued trust – because without that we wouldn’t have made it this far.

*Episode 3 features a conversation between Rick and me. Check it out by subscribing here.

June 2019 | Posted By Buddy Reisinger

As you’ve likely heard, the podcast is up and running – spreading our story and message to curious investors around the world. We’re thrilled with the success of the launch and encourage you to listen to all four episodes when you can find the time. All feedback is welcome. We offer the following write up as a teaser for Episode 4.

When most athletes transition from the sports world to the business world, the process is painstakingly slow. For Dave Butler, it took 24 hours.

After attending the University of California-Berkeley, Butler was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the 1987 NBA draft. But a player’s strike and a torn calf muscle cut his hoops career short. After a final stint with a pro team in England, Butler marched into his coach’s office, told him he took a job on Wall Street, and hopped on a flight to New York the next morning.

Since trading his basketball jersey for a suit, Butler has built an impressive career, ultimately leading him to his current role as the Co-CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors. Today, more than two decades after stepping off the hardwood, Dave Butler joins Matt Hall on episode 4 of Take the Long View: the podcast that nudges you to reframe your thoughts about your money, emotions, behavior, and time.

Listen to the episode here via Apple or here through other platforms.

Key topics discussed:

  • Introducing Dave. [00:42]

  • Dave’s background in professional basketball. [04:10]

  • Dave’s transition from basketball to finance. [06:14]

  • Dave’s early days in finance. [07:17]

  • Starting out at Dimensional. [11:04]

  • The origins of indexing. [14:02]

  • Early days of Dimensional and the 9-10 fund. [16:10]

  • Setting and meeting expectations. [18:35]

  • Philosophical alignment. [19:45]

  • Dan Wheeler’s influence. [21:52]

  • Dimensional’s reach and its growth over the years. [26:17]

  • Finding balance between work and other areas of life. [30:14]

  • Dave’s favorite part of working at Dimensional. [33:32]

  • Dimensional as a visionary in the field. [35:57]

  • Investing philosophy. [38:25]

  • Talking finance at parties. [42:08]

  • Current projects. [44:23]

May 2019 | Posted By Katie Ackerman

There is nothing for you to do at this time, but we’re almost ready to launch season one of our podcast, “Take the Long View with Matt Hall.” As a blog post follower, you are guaranteed to be in the know. While we wait for the last-minute details, would you like to hear the two-minute teaser episode? Click on the “play” arrow below for a taste of what’s to come.

 

PS: Be sure to follow @takethelongviewpodcast on Instagram for all the latest information and behind-the-scenes photos.

May 2019 | Posted By PJ McDaniel

 

Steve Jobs’ work wardrobe consisted entirely of black turtlenecks and jeans. Mark Zuckerberg rarely deviates from a grayish-blue t-shirt. What’s the deal with these tech tycoons never opting for a new outfit?

As it turns out, this quirk is actually a strategy to combat decision fatigue: the tendency to make poor decisions when confronted with too many of them. Accordingly, talented leaders often eliminate as many frivolous choices out of their lives as possible. (What should I wear today?) It helps them preserve energy for important matters.

Psychologist Barry Schwartz explains why … click here to keep reading.

May 2019 | Posted By Henry Bragg

Remember the book The Millionaire Next Door? Our office enjoyed this popular book because it highlights the traits that show up in many successful families who will never be in the spotlight. We were reminded of some of these same lessons when we revisited a “tortoise and hare” story shared by financial writer Morgan Housel. In it, Housel compares the investment success of business secretary Grace Groner with the supposedly bad breaks that befell business executive Richard Fuscone.

Groner lived a modest life, with a sturdy but quiet career. She reportedly bought $180 worth of her company’s stocks in the 1930s … and never sold them. When she passed away in 2010 at age 100, her net worth was $7 million, which she left to charity. Granted, she was lucky to select a successful investment, but we would suggest her true success was grounded in her steadfast investing.

In contrast, Fuscone is Harvard-educated and a former vice chairman of Merrill Lynch’s Latin American division. And yet, in 2010, he declared personal bankruptcy, reportedly stating, “I have been devastated by the financial crisis which came to a head in March 2008 … I currently have no income.”

We share Housel’s sentiments, when he says, “These stories fascinate me. There is no plausible scenario in which a 100-year-old country secretary could beat Tiger Woods at golf, or be better at brain surgery than a brain surgeon. But – fairly often – that same country secretary can out-finance a Wall Street titan. Money is strange like that.”

Enjoy this short (true) story by one of the great personal finance writers of our time. *No need to read the full report unless you really get inspired.