We believe that for most people there is tremendous value realizable by engaging in professionally facilitated planning. The world is inherently replete with risk, uncertainty, and a virtually unlimited array of constantly shifting choices. This essentially infinitely complex and ever-changing environment creates a swirl of constant navigational challenges for responsible individuals seeking to make conscious and well informed choices effecting their own and others' present and future existence and quality of life. The strategic thinking and process inherent in real, thoughtful, organized, and ongoing planning engagement and conversation is the best and most reliable way we know of for future-oriented individuals and families to optimize their clarity around, and chances of attaining desired outcomes.
As serious, duly certified, and longtime dedicated professional planners we fundamentally serve as change agents and decision makers' opinion leaders. Few if any clients ever hire us to help them maintain things precisely as they are. Rather, in nearly all instances, clients retain us to assist in efforts to either satisfice, or more often, optimize their circumstances, i.e., we work with our clients on an on-going basis to help in the continued co-creation or shaping of a desired and thoughtfully articulated future. In this same vein, we sometimes think of ourselves as "Resource Alignment Specialists" who help our clients better understand and align their financial capital and human capital resources with what matters most to them.
We've observed regularly over the years and with many clients that there is substantial useful meaning in the saying "Where attention goes, energy flows, and results show." That basic idea is foundational to our planning philosophy. In sum, we firmly believe that as one of our professional membership organizations once put it so cogently in an organizational tagline, "Planning pays off!"
As financial planners, we naturally tend to view investing as being one of the six typical aspects or "subsets" of personal financial planning. Even with our institutional/non-natural person investment clients, it's always personal, as human beings have responsibility, make decisions, and ultimately are always, one way or another, effected by the results.
Also as planners and strategists, our perspective on investing is a broad one, and one that can, depending on the case at hand, extend substantially beyond the traditional notion of marketable securities accounts and/or other promoted or packaged investments. We start with the fundamental understanding that the financial value of an asset is, other things being equal, essentially a function of the sum of the expected future cash flows, i.e., interest, dividends, rents, royalties, and/or sales proceeds, discounted back to present value at some reasonably assumed, opportunity cost based discount rate.
With respect to the capital markets, and more specifically, publicly traded equity securities markets or, "the stock market", we believe those markets to generally be far more efficient than not. In other words, we subscribe to what financial economists and professional investors refer to as the "Efficient Market Hypothesis". This means that we believe that overall, through time, information is sufficiently timely and broadly communicated that markets generally tend to price securities relatively fairly. Accordingly, we believe that long term value add from security selection, or "stock picking" effort and expense is very much of an uphill battle,...not impossible, but as some would say, "against the odds". To be a bit more fine grained about this, we believe that large company securities in developed markets trade most efficiently because they are the most widely followed by the most analysts and thus are associated with the most realtime and accurate information dissemination. Conversely, smaller companies and companies in less developed and thus more obscure market environments that logically have less following and less coverage by analysts, are likely least efficiently priced and thus offer the most opportunity for value-add, or excess return via security selection efforts.
From a reductionist standpoint, all of money management can, for practical purposes, be distilled down to two separate things, i.e., how active or passive one is with respect to security selection (what to own), and how active or passive one is with respect to market timing (when to own it). So, overall, as investment management consultants, we generally lean towards a low cost, very highly diversified, multi-factor, structured approach to investment management and advise utilization of active security selection on a limited and very selective basis. With respect to equity market timing, we generally believe that type of activity is best relegated to the margins of investment decision making. Put perhaps overly simply, yet in a manner we believe helps to make the point, we typically advise that our long term investment clients "Own almost everything, almost all the time." What varies most from one client to another or from one account to another is the degree of equity investedness reflected in the portfolio's asset allocation policy. We typically encourage our clients to invest, by policy, no more in stocks than they are comfortable having exposed to downside market risk during severe bear market periods where those equity prices may be cut in half or more.
Finally, our business philosophy of "add value most where we can add value best" dictates that our principal role in the investment process is as investment management consultants, and not as investment managers. As investment management consultants, we assist our clients in 1) discerning specific risk constrained and purpose-based investment assignments, 2) developing investment policy to govern managers that will be hired to execute those assignments, 3) selection and monitoring of those managers.