February 2019 | Posted By Matt Hall

On a wintry February morning in St. Louis, we were honored to spend time with Dave Butler, Co-CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors. Over breakfast, we were reminded why Dave is the type of leader we’d all work for. That’s saying something, as we’re picky about who we’d follow.

We’ve been collaborating with Dimensional since we launched Hill Investment Group, but this was the first time we heard Dave’s own story about how he discovered his life’s calling there.

Dimensional is now one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world, with 1,300+ employees, 13 global locations, and over $500 billion in global assets. But it was a fraction of its current size when Dave joined them back in 1995. At the time, he was working on the East Coast, and wanted to return to his California roots. He sent his résumé to this nascent fund manager in response to a Wall Street Journal ad he spotted, and beat out over 300 other applicants to get an interview.

Knowing very little about Dimensional, Dave told us he’d contemplated skipping the interview. Fortunately for all of us, the Santa Monica office was on his way to something else, so he showed up for the scheduled meeting after all.

Minutes into the interview, Dave was invited to have lunch with a Nobel Prize laureate who was part of the Dimensional team. His impression of the firm changed quickly that day; he could almost physically feel the team’s enthusiasm for its novel approach to “applying academic research to practical investing.” From that day on, he was hooked.

We are grateful to be surrounded by a similar level of enthusiasm in our own firm and among our key strategic alliances, like Dimensional. They and we are mindful of who we work for – our clients, that is – and how exciting it is to help them put the evidence-based odds of successful investing on their side. We’re also very glad Dave made it to his interview!

February 2019 | Posted By Katie Ackerman

Team consists of CBRE, Chouteau Building Group, and Amie Corley Interiors

As we mentioned in a prior post, Hill Investment Group (in St. Louis, not Houston) is under construction. In both cities, we have chosen suites in centrally located, older office towers. The St. Louis tower was completed in 1964, so updates require talented people who understand the quirks of an older office space. We snapped the photo above during our weekly meeting so you can see the key members of our construction and design team in action. Well, maybe not in action, as much as in deep conversation about how to ensure our redesigned space is even more welcoming and functional than before.

Our building managers were kind enough to give us a suite in the neighboring building during construction, so we can closely monitor progress until our move-in day, April 13th.

We’re excited, and literally counting down the days with a construction paper “chain,” tearing off a link for every passing day until we return to our updated Suite 350. We’ve already been there for 14 years, and look forward to at least eight more, having renewed our lease through then.

February 2019 | Posted By PJ McDaniel

Robin Powell is an award-winning journalist dedicating himself to spreading the message of evidence-based investing. He’s made films, is prolific on social media, and regularly interviews influential thought leaders.

Most recently, his blog, The Evidence-Based Investor (where our interview, linked below, appears), was included in the shortlist for the Headlinemoney Awards 2019 Financial Blog of the Year. Robin reports the site is receiving more than 1,000 visitors daily – half from here in the U.S – so it’s no wonder it’s earning well-deserved accolades.

We are fans of Robin’s work as well, and he has admitted to periodically liking some of what we put out in the universe. Enjoy this 30-minute conversation we had with Robin, or see the notes below if you’d like to skip around to topics you’re most interested in.

Show notes:

  • Is Saint Louis the Evidence-Based Investing capital of the world? [1:18]
  • What’s in Odds On, why did Matt write it, and why is it different from other investment books?  [2:50]
  • Hill Investment Group: Its history & today. [5:53]
  • Hillfolio: Is it a Robo Advisor and what does it cost? [7:18]
  • We’re rooting for our competition, because the previously ignored investor wins.  [10:54]
  • How does Hillfolio invest [12:50], and are sustainable funds an option? [14:40]
  • The importance of investor behavior: HIG & Hillfolio going beyond the spreadsheet [15:57]
  • Who do we like to work with and who can we best serve? [19:40]
  • “Big rocks” and the biggest benefit to considering them first. [20:50]
  • Why are we doing Hillfolio? It’s what is in our heart. [23:33]
  • Matt and PJ reflect on Jack Bogle’s Legacy. [25:36]
February 2019 | Posted By Jared Machen

Financial simplicity, like many goals, is as desirable as it is elusive.  

Or so it seems. 

If you took a sample of 100 investors and asked each one about the vital signs of their portfolios – their fees, returns, and allocations – you’d be hard-pressed to find many who could speak confidently and accurately about them.

This isn’t just a guess from left field. In 2016, MarketWatch cited a Prudential Investments retirement preparedness survey that  found more than 40% of Americans had no idea how their investments are allocated. We’ve seen similar stats from other surveys published since then. 

What’s most disappointing about this apparent collective bewilderment, is that the system seems designed to be this way. We work in an industry where thousands of “advisors” are not only encouraged to sow seeds of confusion, they’ve made millions of dollars doing so. 

When a broker pulls an investor out of their comfort zone and into the weeds, the investor becomes vulnerable. Accordingly, advice becomes a sales pitch, and costs become confusing –  a pattern we see time and again. 

We know investors deserve better, so we’re on a mission to make the complex simple, to make financial conversations comfortable, and ultimately to shed a liberating light into the dark corners where families have been harboring their greatest financial fears for years. 

As our friend Carl Richards has embodied in his Behavior Gap sketch above, an advisor’s job isn’t to prove how much they know. It’s about helping investors see the few, elegant, simple changes they can make to their plan, to make a huge impact over the long-term.  

There’s nothing more rewarding for us at Hill Investment Group than seeing someone’s reaction when the air finally clears for them, and they realize that simplicity wasn’t as elusive as they once thought. 

In the words of pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, “Simplicity is the final achievement.” 

February 2019 | Posted By Henry Bragg

Whether the subject is sports, fashion or fiduciary investment advice, it’s always gratifying to be found in good company. We are honored our special friends Sid and Ann Mashburn recently added Odds On to their website, in Sid’s Home / Books collection. Better still, we’re right next to a favorite read of our own: Astroball, by Ben Reiter. And who doesn’t want to be seen hanging out with tennis legend and shoe icon Stan Smith (whose book I bought for myself at Christmas)?

If you’re from LA, Houston, Dallas, DC or Atlanta, you likely know what the Mashburns are all about, as these fine American cities are lucky enough to have physical Mashburn stores. For the rest of the U.S., with just a taste of their world through the web, know this: The Mashburn stores are as closely aligned with our evidence-based investment firm as any clothing retailer could be. It may sound weird, but it’s true. Their people, values, and vision all mirror our own. Sid said it best the first time we met him: “Either you stole my playbook or I stole yours.”

Henry and Sid (Houston, 2016)

Bottom line, we’re honored to have made the list and hope Odds On will continue to inspire and welcome readers to seek fiduciary investment advice for their wealth management. And even if you don’t walk away with a copy of our book from Sid and Ann’s site, you’ll still know more about one of the great emerging retailers in our country.

February 2019 | Posted By John Reagan

There are many aspects of wealth management we cannot control. Tax codes evolve. Global events come and go. The markets will go up and down. By carefully minimizing taxes due, we can exert an important degree of control over maximizing end returns – the kind you get to keep as your own.

It starts with our annual tax packets. Each year, we aggregate our clients’ Form 1099s from Schwab, and deliver them to their tax professionals for timely and efficient tax-filing.

That’s just one small thing. We are working all year round to help our clients keep a lid on their taxes due. Below are additional examples:

  • Asset Location: Locating the most tax-efficient holdings in taxable accounts, and the least tax-efficient holdings in tax-deferred or tax-free accounts, to minimize a portfolio’s overall taxes due.
  • Tax-Loss Harvesting: Acting on opportunities to reduce taxes through tax-loss harvesting when appropriate.
  • Tax-Managed Funds: In taxable accounts, using tax-managed funds whenever possible, to reduce the capital gains and dividends that fund managers must pass on to shareholders.
  • Tax-Favored Accounts: Helping clients establish tax-favored IRAs, 529 plan accounts, Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs) and similar accounts as appropriate.
  • Charitable Giving: Helping clients shift their tax-wise charitable giving plans following the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. For example, implementing Donor Advised Funds and Qualified Charitable Distributions when appropriate.
  • Estate Planning: Collaborating with clients’ estate planning and insurance professionals to consider advanced planning strategies for minimizing and covering taxes due upon estate transfer.

So, this spring – or any time of year – let us know if you’d like to explore how you might increase your overall wealth by decreasing your taxes due.

January 2019 | Posted By Henry Bragg

Who will you be rooting for in Super Bowl LIII on February 3rd – the Patriots or the Rams? Either way, you’ll be among millions of fans tuning in for the big game.

That means the pressure is on, for both teams. You’d think this would encourage players and coaches to give it everything they’ve got. By some measures, I’m sure they do. But I also believe there’s a secret weapon neither team will be taking advantage of: Forgoing the option to punt.

What if more coaches were willing to let convention-challenging research be their guide? They might end up featured in an HBO “Real Sports” segment. That’s what happened to Pulaski Academy Head Coach Kevin Kelley from Little Rock, Arkansas. He earned a reputation for being “the coach who never punts,” after he decided to heed the data, and employ an atypical tactic of almost always going for the fourth down instead of punting. Check out the trailer here:

Of course, we feel the same sort of data-driven strategy and disciplined perspective should be applied to your evidence-based investing. So do others, which is why our friends at AQR featured a conversation between AQR Principal Toby Moskowitz and the same Coach Kelley in one of their podcasts, “Hot Hands and Cold Feet.” (Fast-forward to minute 10:00 to hear the specific conversation.)

While we call Kelley evidence-based, others have called him “crazy,” “insane” or “mad scientist.” If he is, his results don’t show it. In his conversation with Moskowitz, Kelley notes his record at Pulaski Academy is 179 wins/25 losses, with seven state titles in the past 15 years.

Consider these insights as you enjoy Super Bowl LIII. Consider it, too, as you stick with your best-laid investment plans in our competitive markets. I say, go ahead and let others call you crazy, if that’s what it takes to achieve your personal financial goals.

January 2019 | Posted By John Reagan

Abby Crimmins, Client Service Associate

While our newest Client Service Associate – Abby Crimmins – has been with us for six months, she’s been missing from our website’s team section. That’s now been fixed! Check out Abby’s detailed profile, recently added. Some of you may be familiar with our website’s team section. If not, I encourage you to check it out. It has been applauded by top folks in our industry for showing both what our key people do and who they are as individuals.

Who are Abby’s best friends? What is her favorite 11 a.m. habit? What’s the scariest thing she’s ever loved the most? You’ll find all this and more by visiting her new profile. You’ll learn not only what inspired her to join us at Hill Investment Group, but also about her people, passions and personality – everything that makes Abby the amazing new team member she has fast proven to be.

While we introduced you to Abby last fall, we’re delighted to reconnect you with her at this time. Welcome to the team (again), Abby Crimmins!