May 2019 | Posted By Matt Hall

Matt Hall and his daughter Harper (a few years back!)

Parents everywhere stress over how to have “the talk” with their children. Is it too early? Am I prepared to answer their questions? Can’t I just let school handle this?

No, it’s not the birds and the bees. It’s the money talk.

If you’re counting on our educational system to have the money talk for you, your kids will probably be short-changed. In a 2017 report card” measuring states’ effectiveness at producing financially literate high school students, only five received an A. Just 17 states required high school students to take a personal finance course (now 19). More than half of American students will graduate without taking an economics class.

To put this in context, schools (and maybe parents) seem better equipped to talk to kids about drugs, sex, and alcohol than about money.

But why is this? As is often the case, we avoid talking about things we ourselves are uncertain of. So, the first step before initiating a money talk with your kids must be inward: What are your own preferences, goals, boundaries, and standards when it comes to money? Reflecting on these questions should improve your conversation.

The most valuable financial lessons to address early on relate to priorities. Is saving money for a family vacation your priority? Talk about it. Is sacrificing luxuries to pad your kid’s college fund the priority? Be transparent. Rather than simply telling a youngster what a savings account or a 529 plan is, put it in context for them – why is this important to your family? Ask them how they feel about it too. You may discover their priorities aren’t the same as yours!

Money talks should be dialogues, not lectures. Keep it simple. I once brought this “Setting a Standard” one-pager from the JumpStart Coalition to a daddy/daughter dinner. Something as basic as discussing the difference between borrowing and buying can lead to important revelations.

Lastly, remember that financial education isn’t limited to teaching. Consider what you model every day. How do you talk about money with your spouse? How transparent are you about bills, investing, estate planning, etc.? Keep this in mind, because kids are always tuned in.

Even if your kid does learn about money in school, there is no substitute for authentic, one-on-one engagement. Accordingly, it’s incumbent upon us as parents to champion financial literacy standards. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, money has power. For your sake and theirs, it’s worth taking the time to help your kids understand how to wield it.

April 2019 | Posted By Matt Hall

In addition to what I already was envisioning when we published Odds On three years ago, I was pleasantly surprised in two more ways: New friends and new clients discovered us, and our existing friends and existing clients got to know us even better.

Since the book’s release, we’ve been looking for more ways to share meaningful stories and ideas with others. It struck us: For the commuter, the long-distance runner, the family chef, and anyone else who might prefer to listen instead of read … why not take our Take the Long View® to a podcast?

So, you heard it (or technically, read it) here first:

“Take the Long View with Matt Hall” (TLV with MH) podcasts are set to debut in June!

Expect more public promotion in the months ahead, but we wanted to inform our closest followers first. 

Matt Hall with “TLV with MH” guest Jared Kizer at Shock City Studios

Of course, we’ll talk about investing, but don’t be surprised if we shift into related thoughts about emotions, behavior, and time management. They’re all up for grabs as topics to talk about with our guests – thought leaders who we at Hill Investment Group have learned from or are inspired by in our own journeys. Together, we’ll reframe the way you think about what it means (to you) to live richly. Similar to my goal when writing Odds On, I hope you won’t even notice the “vegetables” of educational insights we’ll bury in our sweet conversations with interesting individuals. 

Are you as pumped as we are about TLV with MH? To prime your pump, here’s a clip from Episode 1 with our good friend and respected psychotherapist Marilyn Wechter, talking about why money matters are such sticky subjects for so many people.

 

Look for more to come, come June!

 

 

 

April 2019 | Posted By Henry Bragg

We liked our most recent quarterly client letter so much we decided to share it again, and more publicly …

 

It’s a tradition in medical schools for students to stand together and recite the Hippocratic Oath, a pledge to uphold the responsibilities, ethics and values of their new profession. The medical oath dates back to between fifth and third centuries BC. We are sure you’ve heard of the Hippocratic Oath, and we encourage you to look it up if you’ve never read it.

This commitment to the statement, both in the original version and in modern updates, affects all of us because we rely on the medical community’s expertise and compassion to keep us healthy. This oath is especially relevant to Hill Investment Group because of the language it uses. New doctors must affirm their respect for established science and commit themselves to share their knowledge with the world. They also pledge to always put patients’ needs first and to serve them with compassion, specifically reminding doctors that they’re not treating a medical chart or a disease, but a human being.

Sound familiar? It did to us, which is why we were inspired to adopt a similar pledge. Of course, our fiduciary duty already legally binds us to serve our clients’ interests, but we wanted an even stronger statement that fully encapsulates the Hill Investment Group experience. We call our version the “Hillocratic Oath.”

Our Values

  • We are a team who honors the trust people place with us to manage their financial lives.
  • We respect peer-reviewed academic research and use it as the basis for our investment philosophy.
  • We work solely for our clients, offering steady guidance when investing is easy – and especially when it isn’t.
  • We strive to continuously improve our techniques for managing money and human behavior.
  • We advocate for the whole client and work to create value in big ways and small.
  • With these commitments firmly in our minds, we at Hill Investment Group will continue to enrich the lives of our clients and one another.

Our oath reflects the importance of the service we provide clients. While doctors are literally dealing with matters of life and death, we have our own unique responsibility: acting as trusted, experienced and compassionate advocates for your financial health.

Financial success is critical to achieving your most cherished goals and the lifestyle you desire. For most people, that lifestyle includes more important uses for their time than managing investments – even for those with the skill and expertise to do it themselves. Building true multigenerational wealth comes from a unique collaboration between clients putting their talents to work to generate assets, and a fiduciary partner helping to ensure that any money not needed to cover immediate needs is put to work for the long-term. Our pledge acknowledges that we are not just stewards of your wealth, but important allies who free you to put your time to its highest and best use.

Our oath also acknowledges the commitment we have made to each other as members of the Hill Investment Group team as well as to you, our clients. For 14 years, we’ve been building a modern model for the financial advisory industry. As we continue to grow and evolve, we know that our continued success depends on the expertise, passion and commitment of each person working toward our shared goals.

We are proud to share this statement of our values. Thank you for the trust you place in us and for helping inspire us to put into words the values that guide every Hill Investment Group relationship.

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.