Articles (136)

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  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    The 2nd Quarter of 2017 in Review

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, July 21, 2017

    Markets continued their climb during the 2nd Quarter of 2017 with most of the gains coming from outside of the United States. In the U.S., home sales reached highest levels since its peak before the 2008 Financial Crisis, job openings hit hew highs, the unemployment level fell ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Bridgeway Capital Management: A Deeper Look at The Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, July 5, 2017

    Multi-factor investing is slowly becoming a more common investment strategy among professional investment management firms. These firms, more informally known as “quants,” use statistical models to understand the common factors that drive performance in markets ...Read More

  • Dimensional Fund Advisors

    Global Market Breakdown

    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Tuesday, June 27, 2017

    The global market breakdown represents the value of capitalism among the U.S., International/Developed, and Emerging Markets around the world. Investors can use the global market breakdown as a starting point in determining their overall equity asset allocation and then make ...Read More

  • Dimensional Fund Advisors

    When Rates Go Up, Do Stocks Go Down?

    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    Should stock investors worry about changes in interest rates? Research shows that, like stock prices, changes in interest rates and bond prices are largely unpredictable.[1] It follows that an investment strategy based upon attempting to exploit these sorts of changes ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Dimensions of Expected Return: Patience is a Virtue – 2017 Update

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, May 29, 2017

    Giving investment advice should always aim to meet investors at their level of understanding. We do not expect everyone to have a PhD in Economics, so it is important to focus on big ideas that are the most crucial to understand. This can include ideas such as diversification, ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Legg Mason: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    Legg Mason, Inc. has been a powerhouse in the world of asset management for over a century. Founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1899, Legg Mason is a publicly traded company (NYSE: LM) manages $710 billion in assets across six continents and employs over 3,400 professionals across ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Does Dollar Cost Averaging Really Work?

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, May 8, 2017

    Dollar cost averaging is the process of investing a lump-sum of money over a predetermined period of time. For example, let’s say you have $120,000 to invest. You can either invest the entire $120,000 or spread it out over a year - investing $10,000 every month. Here is ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Cambria Funds: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, May 2, 2017

    The explosion in ETFs over the past decade has been substantial. Marrying the ideas of fund management with the ability to trade throughout the day, ETFs have become one of the most popular vehicles utilized by investors. In fact, according to the 2017 Fact Book from the ...Read More

  • The 1st Quarter of 2017 in Review

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, April 27, 2017

    2017 started off on a positive note for global investors. With international and emerging markets leading the way, most global indices on are track for another great year. In the U.S., jobless claims fell to their lowest point since March of 1973, housing starts climbed to their ...Read More

  • The Importance of Global Diversification

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Investing, in a nutshell, is really about dealing with risk and uncertainty.  While most of us like to focus on return aspect of investing, it is important to remember that return is only one side of the “investment coin.” Risk and uncertainty is on the other ...Read More

  • iShares vs. Dimensional: Through a Statistical Lens

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    In Step 11 of the IFA 12-Step Recovery Program for Active Managers we talk about the implementation of our 100 IFA Index Portfolios. As strong proponents of a passive investment strategy, we have options in terms of what strategies we would like to utilize to build our globally ...Read More

  • AQR: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, April 14, 2017

    Applied Quantitative Research (AQR) was founded in 1998 by Clifford Asness, David Kabiller, Robert Krial, and John Liew. Similar to Dimensional Fund Advisors, AQRs roots stem back to the University of Chicago where Asness, Liew, and Krial originally met when they were doctoral ...Read More

  • Evolution of Financial Research: The Profitability Premium

    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Thursday, April 13, 2017

    Since the 1950s, there have been numerous breakthroughs in the field of financial economics that have benefited both society and investors. One early example, resulting from research in the 1950s, is the insight that diversification can increase an investor’s wealth. ...Read More

  • Vanguard vs. Dimensional: Through A Statistical Lens

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, April 3, 2017

    As advocates for passive investing, it is a common question amongst clients and prospects about why our 100 IFA Index Portfolios utilize strategies from Dimensional Fund Advisors versus better-known passive fund companies such as Vanguard or iShares. The answer is quite simple: ...Read More

  • Going Global: A Look at Public Company Listings

    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Tuesday, March 14, 2017

    Trivia time: how many stocks make up the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index (a widely used benchmark for the US equity market)? While the logical guess might be 5,000, as of December 31, 2016, the index actually contained around 3,600 names. In fact, the last time this index ...Read More

  • The Random Walker, Visualizing How Markets Work

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, March 8, 2017

    Since the firm’s founding in 1999, investor education has been one of the cornerstones of our business model. Understanding the link between investment knowledge and risk capacity, our commitment to providing empirical insight to how financial markets work makes our ...Read More

  • The 4th Quarter and Annual Review of 2016

    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, January 25, 2017

    There were a lot of great themes we could take out of 2016. Ideas like diversification and patience when targeting risk premiums all presented themselves this year. First, it is important to remind investors that 2016 had a very tough start. In the month of January, the S&P ...Read More

  • Alliance Bernstein: A Closer Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, January 5, 2017

    New York based money manager, Alliance Bernstein, has built a reputation of being one of the leading investment experts. They currently manage $490 Billion in assets, have 47 locations across 21 different countries, have close to 3,500 employees, and is currently traded on the ...Read More

  • Dimensional Fund Advisors: A Deeper Look At The Performance

    by Mark Hebner — Monday, January 2, 2017

    As many of our readers know, we don’t think too highly of the active mutual fund industry. Not because we have a personal vendetta against them, but because their pursuit of attempting to outperform the market using other investors’ money has only enriched themselves ...Read More

  • Hedge Funds and Fraud: Way to Break the Stereotype

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, December 29, 2016

    Hedge funds have received a pretty bad wrap since the last financial crisis. Some of the big stories that involved illegal behavior on behalf of hedge funds include Dreier LLP, Weavering Capital, Capitol Investments USA, Westgate Capital Management, Petters Group Worldwide, ...Read More

  • Putnam Investments: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, December 8, 2016

    Boston based money manager, Putnam Investments, has fallen on some hard times. As reported in the Boston Globe article, on Tuesday the company announced that it is going to cut 115 jobs or about 8% of its workforce given the continued outflow of assets from their firm. Currently ...Read More

  • Targeting Premiums & Diversification

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, November 29, 2016

    Diversification provides many benefits for investors. Not only can we increase expected returns for a given level of risk, but we can also increase the reliability of capturing premiums or “dimensions” of expected return. In other words, once we decide that we want ...Read More

  • The Power of Markets

    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Tuesday, November 1, 2016

    In 1958, economist Leonard Read published an essay entitled “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read.” The essay, narrated from the point of view of a pencil, describes the “complex combination of miracles” necessary to create and bring to ...Read More

  • The 3rd Quarter of 2016 in Review [VIDEO]

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, October 21, 2016

    The 3rd Quarter of 2016 was a great example of the disconnect between markets and economies that many often believe are closely tied together. While economic indicators are extremely important in terms of the market’s anticipation of long term growth, the two do not ...Read More

  • Timing Premiums: Why It Is Not A Good Idea

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, October 14, 2016

    Many investors have caught on to the idea of the different dimensions of expected return or “premiums” such as the market, size, relative price (value), profitability, and capital investment factors. We at IFA have long advocated for a passive investment strategy ...Read More

  • Dreyfus Funds: A Closer Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, September 8, 2016

    Jack Dreyfus, also known as “The Lion of Wall Street,” founded Dreyfus Funds in New York City in 1951. A 1964 Life Magazine article attributes Dreyfus as revolutionizing the advertising of mutual funds, which were largely a part of institutional investing (i.e. ...Read More

  • BNY Mellon Mutual Funds: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, August 15, 2016

    The Bank of New York Mellon, officially, has only been in existence since 2007 from a merger, but its roots span all the way back to the birth of our nation. The Bank of New York was founded 232 years ago by the first US Secretary of the Treasury, ...Read More

  • Columbia Funds: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, August 4, 2016

    Columbia Management is one of the largest investment management firms in the world. With close to 7 full decades of industry experience and expertise and over 100 individual investment strategies, Columbia has become a staple within the fund industry. As of year-end 2015, their ...Read More

  • The 2nd Quarter of 2016 in Review [VIDEO]

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, July 26, 2016

    The second quarter of 2016 was mixed in terms of good and bad news as well as performance. While the Eurozone experienced a big shock in terms of the unanticipated “Brexit” vote, the United States experienced falling jobless claims, increasing in consumer prices, and ...Read More

  • Dodge & Cox: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, July 7, 2016

    San Francisco based Dodge & Cox is one of the most well-known investment management firms in the world. More impressively, they have been able to build a very sizeable asset base on the back of just 6 mutual funds. According to Morningstar, total assets under management as ...Read More

  • Bond Funds or Individual Bonds? What You Need To Know

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, June 17, 2016

    A common question we receive from clients has to do with bond strategies. Should we buy bond funds or build individual bond ladders? There are a few things to keep in mind when thinking the role of fixed income from a portfolio standpoint. As an investment advisor, we think ...Read More

  • Vanguard's Active Funds: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, June 7, 2016

    Vanguard is the largest fund management company in the world. Mostly known for being a pioneer in the development of index funds, they also carry quite a few actively managed funds in their lineup.                      ...Read More

  • Invesco: A Deeper Look At the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, June 1, 2016

    Invesco Ltd. is one of the most well-known investment firms in the country. Their operations span over 20 different countries around the world and are involved in investment management, wealth management, banking, and alternative ...Read More

  • T. Rowe Price: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, May 19, 2016

    T. Rowe Price has clearly stated their value proposition to their investors. But what exactly is that value and, more importantly, who is receiving the bulk of that value?                               ...Read More

  • The 1st Quarter of 2016 in Review [VIDEO]

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, April 19, 2016

    The first quarter of this year was a textbook case on the importance of having discipline when approaching the investment process. January was a punishing month for markets around the world as fears of China’s economic slowdown precipitated across all major asset classes. ...Read More

  • The Not So Midas Touch - A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, April 18, 2016

    King Midas of Pessinus was a well-known character in Greek mythology that was known for turning whatever he touched into gold, known as the Midas Touch. Some companies have embraced the story of King Midas and his touch within their own ...Read More

  • Oppenheimer Funds: A Deeper Look At Their Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    Oppenheimer Funds is a subsidiary of Oppenheimer Holdings & Co., one of the largest financial institutions in the entire world. Having roots dated over a century ago, the Oppenheimer name has acted as a beacon of financial expertise. Their services include investment baking, ...Read More

  • Wells Fargo: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, March 31, 2016

    Wells Fargo is one of the largest institutions in the world. In fact, it is considered a Systematically Important Financial Institution (SIFI), in which its failure could potentially lead to a much larger financial crisis, similar to what we experienced in 2008 and ...Read More

  • Oil Prices and Equity Returns

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, February 19, 2016

    No doubt one of the biggest stories over the last 18 months has been oil. Currently, oil prices (as measured by the WTI Crude Index) are at levels we haven’t seen for almost 13 years. While many see falling oil prices acting as a tailwind for the overall economy, ...Read More

  • The 4th Quarter of 2015 in Review [VIDEO]

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, January 20, 2016

    The best way we can describe the 4th Quarter, overall, is a great end to somewhat of an abysmal year. Stocks delivered positive results in the United States, International/Developed, and Emerging Markets. Global Real Estate and Foreign Bonds also posted positive results, while ...Read More

  • What Not To Put On Your New Year's Resolution List: Investment Strategy

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, January 12, 2016

    As we start the beginning of the year as we all customarily do, evaluating some of the things we neglected in the previous year, such as health and wellness, certain relationships, etc., and decide to reverse those trends this year, the one thing that should not be on the ...Read More

  • Recent Trends in the Global Market Breakdown

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, October 22, 2015

    The world economy is a continuously shifting system. Consumer preferences are in constant flux and new ideas for businesses are cropping up what seems like every single day. Where investors place value can tell us a lot about the future growth of any local or regional economy, ...Read More

  • The 3rd Quarter of 2015 in Review [VIDEO]

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, October 15, 2015

    The 3rd Quarter of 2015 could pretty much be summed up by one word: red. We saw a lot of it, all over the world, among pretty much all asset classes. While Greece was dominating the headlines during the 2nd Quarter of this year, those stories of uncertainty migrated ...Read More

  • Considering Central Bank Influence on Yields

    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Monday, October 5, 2015

    Many market participants presume that long-term interest rates will rise when a Fed tightening policy begins. However, history shows that short-term rates and long-term rates do not move in ...Read More

  • A Focus on Fixed Income

    by Mark Hebner — Monday, September 28, 2015

    Anyone who is keeping even a casual eye on financial headlines these days is aware that fixed income returns have been a moving target for a while now – at home and abroad. The general consensus is that rates will rise eventually. With almost nowhere to go but up, ...Read More

  • Goldman Sachs Enters "Smart Beta" World: Proceed With Caution

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, September 23, 2015

    There has been tremendous asset growth in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) over the last 5 years. According to the Investment Company Institute (ICI), net assets have grown from $777 billion at year-end 2009 to $1.974 trillion at year-end 2014 (250% total growth)[i]. Understandably, ...Read More

  • Mark Hebner

    RAFI ETFs: A Deeper Look at the Performance

    by Mark Hebner — Friday, September 18, 2015

    For about the past ten years, there has been an on-going debate in the world of indexing centering around whether index funds should be weighted by capitalization (the traditional method) or by fundamental factors such as dividends, sales, book value, et al. Proponents of ...Read More

  • Exposure to Greece and China in Perspective

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, July 24, 2015

    Many of our clients have been concerned about the issues involving Greece. Likewise, growth in China, the world’s second largest economy has begun to slow causing concern for investors about what the future holds from one of the biggest contributors to the global economy. ...Read More

  • The 2nd Quarter of 2015 in Review

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, July 22, 2015

    The 2nd Quarter of 2015 was quite a tumultuous one. With concerns over Greece existing the Eurozone, markets experienced significant volatility late in the quarter. For those investors who were able to ride out the volatility, they were rewarded in terms of performance. European ...Read More

  • Why DFA Is a Strategic Partner of Our Mission

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, July 6, 2015

    As most of our readers can probably tell, we are big fans of Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA). Our recommended mutual fund lineup, record-keeper for retirement plans, and experts for research in the field of finance all come from DFA. While most clients and prospects probably ...Read More

  • Gravel Road Investing

    by Jim Parker — Wednesday, May 27, 2015

    Owners of all-purpose motor vehicles often appreciate their cars most when they leave smooth city freeways for rough gravel country roads. In investment, highly diversified portfolios can provide similar reassurance. In blue skies and open highways, flimsy city sedans might ...Read More

  • How Mutual Funds Can Be Advocates For Their Investors

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, May 22, 2015

    There has been a growing focus in the area of corporate governance given the numerous and very significant financial events that have happened over the last 15 years like the collapse of Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco as well as the excessive risk taken by the biggest investment ...Read More

  • Q&A with IFA: Commodities (2016 Update)

    by Venkat Yarlagadda — Sunday, May 17, 2015

    Question: Should I have a separate exposure to Commodities in my portfolio? In short, we have concluded that the answer is no, and we will explain why below. Based on returns data for the last 10, 20, 30, 40, and 44 years, the S&P GSCI Commodity Index severely under ...Read More

  • Beware of Index Funds - What Is It This Time?

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, May 15, 2015

    There was a recent article published by Wintergreen Advisors that made two main claims against the use of index funds for investors. The first dealt with having overly concentrated portfolios, while the other addressed some of the ethical issues involved in having an index fund ...Read More

  • Book Review: The Great Beanie Baby Bubble

    by Thomas Brunson — Monday, March 23, 2015

    “It had gone from cute to heinous, and there was no good way for it to end”- Zac Bissonnette, New York Times bestselling author  At the height of the late 1990’s tech bubble, speculative mania also fueled a nationwide obsession in a cute-and-cuddly little ...Read More

  • Vanguard Wades Deeper into Alternative Investments

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Thursday, March 19, 2015

    If you find the above title puzzling, then you may not be aware that Vanguard offers a market neutral fund (VMNFX) that engages in a long/short equity strategy. Among all the Vanguard funds, it has far and away the highest expense ratio at 1.60%. Setting the minimum investment ...Read More