September 2018 | Posted By PJ McDaniel

As Matt Hall touched on in his post, “Exactly Why Fiduciary Matters,” Hill Investment Group was founded on the premise that every investor deserves excellent client care, fiduciary levels of advice, and access to well-structured investment solutions. While we’ve not figured out how to scale HIG to serve the entire planet just yet … we’re working on it.

One big step in that direction started last spring, when I was hired to launch Hillfolio, our ground-breaking new digital platform for investors of more modest means. This summer, we soft-launched the program. On October 1, we’ll launch it publicly, first in St. Louis and Houston – close to Hill Investment Group’s two existing offices – then nationally.

Our alliance with Schwab has been key to the launch.

“We’re excited to see the commitment Hill Investment Group is making to Schwab Institutional Intelligent Portfolios. We recently added the
ability to add mutual funds to our ETF-based portfolios. Hillfolio is leading the charge to use this new flexibility for the benefit of their clients.”

You’ll find additional details about our Hillfolio launch in this press release. Stay tuned for more updates soon!

September 2018 | Posted By Rick Hill

When I discovered Jonathan Clements 20 years ago, I noticed right away we had a lot in common. We were both early advocates for evidence-based investing (or “passive investing,” back then). We both knew better than to heed all the “noise” from the vast majority of the popular press. We knew even then, our jobs were to help investors focus on the essentials: reducing costs, managing market risks, understanding the science of investing.

There was one difference between us. While I was a fiduciary investment advisor for a then-small firm, Clements was the personal financial columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and one of the few voices of reason in the media. His columns left me optimistic, knowing we were not alone.

At the time, I did not notice a physical resemblance. Funny what a few years will do. These days, I see we now share a similar hair style as well!

Two white-haired gents: Jonathan Clements (left) and Rick Hill (right)

Whatever. We’re both still going strong doing what we love: I, in my role at Hill Investment Group, and Clements, as proprietor of the Humble Dollar blog and author of the newly published, “From Here to Financial Happiness.”

One of his recent posts, “Tell Us a Story,” caught my attention. We often employ story-telling in our client conversations here at HIG. But, as Clements points out, it’s important to not let random anecdotes distract you from the greater story of evidence-based investing. “Detail the inevitable failure of most investors to beat the market,” he says, “and someone will bring up the neighbor who purportedly bought Amazon’s stock at the initial public offering and never sold.”

I agree. There’s always “the neighbor,” or cousin, or co-worker who hits the random jackpot. Good for them. But, as Clements concludes: “The weight of our many mediocre investment decisions eventually sinks in – and (you were expecting me to say this) the logic of indexing proves irresistible.”

If you’re looking for other thoughtful ideas about achieving financial happiness, you might find Clements’ materials irresistible as well. From one white-haired gent to another: Hat’s off to you, Jonathan!

September 2018 | Posted By Jared Machen

Abby Crimmins, Client Service Associate

At Hill Investment Group, we are always looking to add quality individuals to the team. We get extra enjoyment when we are able to “rescue” them from what we refer to as the dark side of the financial industry … as Matt Hall describes here.

In that context, please join me in welcoming Abby Crimmins as our new client service associate. Abby comes to us from a wirehouse. In her own words, “After an unsettling start to my career, I was eager to find a financial firm that emphasized exemplary client service and aligned with my core values.”

Fortunately, a family friend introduced Abby to HIG, and to Matt’s book, Odds On.  After reading the book, she knew where she was meant to be. As good timing would have it, we too were seeking an individual with Abby’s talents to build on our client service team.

Augmenting her wirehouse experience (where she was selected to participate in an executive leadership development program), Abby is a University of Missouri-Columbia “Mizzou” graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance and real estate. Her attention to detail, process-oriented mind, and can-do enthusiasm will also be valuable assets to us and our clients, as she covers tasks that are perhaps best described as “a little bit of everything.”

During her Mizzou days, Abby traveled to New Zealand and Australia as part of an international business program. She also used the opportunity to try sky diving! When she’s not jumping out of airplanes (just the once … so far), she enjoys spending time with family and friends, trying new restaurants, attending concerts and working up a good sweat at the fitness center.

Abby also loves meeting new people and can’t wait to be helpful to you.

September 2018 | Posted By Buddy Reisinger

For years, we’ve been sharing the results of Dimensional Fund Advisors’ annually updated “Mutual Fund Landscape” analysis.  As we first expressed back in 2013, “This analysis of the US mutual fund industry performance casts doubt on the ability of investors to form a winning long-term strategy by picking outperforming funds based on past returns. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of investment strategies that attempt to add value by identifying mispriced securities.”

This is one message that bears repeating. Especially since, this year, somebody got creative over at Dimensional and produced an engaging video version. Check it out!

Click image to open video

August 2018 | Posted By Katie Ackerman

What’s 100 years old, a member of the Hill Investment Group family, and the first and largest of its kind?

If you’re a St. Louisan, you may already know the answer is The St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre – or, The Muny, to its many friends. Founded in 1918, the Muny is the oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre in the nation. The HIG connection comes from the fact that its long-tenured President and CEO Dennis Reagan is our own John Reagan’s dad. (Reagan Senior has been a fixture at the theatre since he joined their ranks more than 50 years ago!)

To commemorate its centennial, we hosted a birthday bash for this beloved venue on August 12, including a pre-show dinner and backstage theatre tour, followed by the season’s closing production of (what else?) “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

A night at The Muny with the Reagan family, plus Rick Hill.


We were pleased to put on the event, enjoyed by a good number of our local friends. What a night it was. Because pictures will capture the event far better than words can, we invite you to stroll over to HIG’s Instagram page, where we’ve posted several other photos of the fun.

Here’s to the Muny’s next season … 101 and counting!

August 2018 | Posted By Rick Hill

Speaking of Vanguard versus AQR, another frequently asked question we get here at Hill Investment Group is why we typically use Dimensional Fund Advisors instead of Vanguard for the core of our portfolio builds. Vanguard typically beats Dimensional in terms of raw fund expense ratios (i.e., how much the investor pays to fund management). And we often emphasize how important it is to manage costs. Shouldn’t that mean Vanguard is the obvious choice?

Our answer: Expense ratios are an important consideration, but they’re not the only one.

At HIG, our Investment Policy Committee (IPC) is tasked with remaining current on these sorts of comparisons. To supplement our own, independent analyses, we also keep an eye on the work of respected colleagues, such as the BAM ALLIANCE’s Chief Investment Officer Jared Kizer, CFA. As a former colleague, Jared graciously agreed to let us share his own recent research report here: “Comparing DFA- vs. Vanguard-Oriented Portfolios.”

Click to open

I found Jared’s analysis compelling, and I hope you do as well. Enjoy the read.

August 2018 | Posted By John Reagan

For years, Capital One® has been hiring outspoken celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson, Charles Barkley and Spike Lee to ask folks, “What’s in your wallet?” It’s a memorable ad campaign – and probably a successful one, as they run it every year during March Madness. But perhaps a more relevant question these days is, “What’s in your digital wallet?” Do you have the apps in place to manage your wealth, wherever you may roam?

Here’s a summary of the apps you’ll find in our own digital wallets here at Hill Investment Group:

HIG Wealth Access – A handy overview of your total wealth, including assets and liabilities such as home(s) and debt loads.

HIG Client Portal – A place to check your financial portfolio, as well as to securely store critical electronic documents. HIG’s client portal includes accounts we manage as well as those held elsewhere (such as in a client’s company retirement plan).

Custodian Login – Custodian account logins (for us, that’s Schwab), so you can deposit checks, initiate other financial transactions, and review account information.

Banking/Credit Cards – Bank and credit card account logins, so you can keep an eye on your spending and saving activities.

One of our goals is to enable all clients to Take the Long View® by having easy access to their information. Please reach out to us if we can answer additional questions about what’s in your digital wallet or we can point you in the right direction for your set-up.

August 2018 | Posted By Matt Hall

There are a myriad of financial talking heads crowding the airwaves with baseless predictions. How do we find the few worth heeding? We look for intellectual curiosity – a thirst for understanding what is right and true, regardless of where it may lead. Inside of Hill Investment Group, we savor the voices who stand out in this way.

We point you, our tribe who are committed to Take the Long View®, to AQR Capital Management’s new podcast channel “The Curious Investor. We are especially impressed by its third episode, “Active versus Passive,” featuring a conversation between Vanguard founder John “Jack” Bogle and AQR managing and founding principal Cliff Asness.

As the father of the world’s first publicly available index fund, Bogle personifies passive investing like nobody else can. In contrast, Asness has structured AQR on the premise that he and his team can add value to investors’ portfolios by identifying opportunities to apply evidence-based methodology. He’s our modern “active” aficionado, as we’ve described in earlier posts.

You’d think the podcast would be a vigorous debate between these two legends. Instead, it exemplifies the considerable common ground and respect they share. Bogle explains:

“We do things very differently from an investment standpoint – to which I would say: So what? … [W]hat I’ve always admired about Cliff is his intellectual soundness. … I’ve always admired that in anybody. And it doesn’t matter whether their intellectual ideas align with my own or not.”

See what I mean? Especially when it comes to the science of investing, nobody has everything figured out. Even if we did, markets evolve over time, generating new insights, possibilities and questions – new subjects to debate.

That’s one of the reasons I love what we do.

PS: Here’s the iTunes Podcast channel link, if you’d like to “App it.”