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.”

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.