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Vanguard vs. Dimensional: Through A Statistical Lens

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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 ...Read More

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  • Understanding the Limitations of Our Own Faculties

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, March 30, 2017

    “We're blind to our blindness. We have very little idea of how little we know. We're not designed to know how little we know.”– Daniel KahnemanThe Intelligent Investor   Working in the financial services industry has been an interesting adventure. As an ...Read More

  • Separation Between Economics and Markets: An Important Distinction

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    It should be quite obvious to anyone that economics have an effect on markets. Predictions about employment, GDP growth, inflation, fiscal and monetary policy, trade balance, all have an effect on global enterprise and therefore have an effect on markets. What may not seem as ...Read More

  • What To Do With a Concentrated Stock Position

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    by Derick Kann — Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Many investors receive company stock or stock options from their employer as part of their overall compensation. What may seem like a small part of their overall portfolio, company stock can become a much larger part of an investor’s overall assets as time goes on, thus ...Read More

  • Luck vs. Skill Across U.S. Equity Asset Classes

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    When it comes to analyzing active management performance, it is important to understand the role that luck can play over various time horizons. Given the randomness of markets around the world, there is always a subset of managers who will outperform a given benchmark by chance. ...Read More

  • Going Global: A Look at Public Company Listings

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    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

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    The Random Walker®, Visualizing How Markets Work

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    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

  • Buffett's $1 Million Bet and Why You Should be an Indexer

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, March 6, 2017

    Back in 2007, Warren Buffett made a $1 Million bet with Ted Seides from Protégé Partners that a simple index fund will outperform hedge funds over the subsequent 10-year period. We have covered the story of this wager over time here and here. Armed with the ...Read More

  • A Belief in the Law of Small Numbers & The Gambler's Fallacy

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, March 1, 2017

    We often remind our readers that when dealing with random variables, like returns in the market, it is crucial that you are able to speak the language of statistics, which we call Riskese. In the world of random variables, there is no “black” or ...Read More

  • Investment Shock Absorbers

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    by Jim Parker, Dimensional Fund Advisors — Monday, February 27, 2017

    Ever ridden in a car with worn-out shock absorbers? Every bump is jarring, every corner stomach-churning, and every red light an excuse to assume the brace position. Owning an undiversified portfolio can trigger similar ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    The Academic Advantage: The Evidence and Research Behind IFA's Advice

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, February 24, 2017

    We take an academic approach to investing at Index Fund Advisors, Inc. We utilize an evidence-based strategy that relies on objective, peer-reviewed research that has been published in academic financial and economic journals. Using this research, we have created portfolios with ...Read More

  • 2017 Contribution Limits

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, February 23, 2017

    The beginning of the year is a great time to remind investors of the contribution limits for various savings vehicles in order for them to maximize their tax-preferential savings and avoiding, what can be, costly penalties. Contribution limits for 2017 for various accounts are ...Read More

  • Index Funds Advisors

    Tax Preparation Documents from Your Custodians

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    by Index Fund Advisors — Thursday, February 9, 2017

    As we start approaching April 18th, we wanted to keep our clients informed of when their 1099 Composites will be available online at Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, and Charles Schwab. The chart below details when tax preparation documents will be available for each custodian: ...Read More

  • Rule or No Rule: You Should Insist on a Fiduciary

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    by Mary Brunson and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, February 7, 2017

    The fiduciary rule issued last year by the Department of Labor (DOL) and backed by the previous administration is now under review at the request of the new administration and implementation may be delayed.   Setting aside the political aspects, let’s focus instead on ...Read More

  • The 4th Quarter and Annual Review of 2016

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    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

  • Managing Investor Expectations

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    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, January 18, 2017

    Expectations can be a double edged sword. On one side, expectations represent what is most likely to take place, which can have practical value when talking about planning for the future. On the other hand, it can also set an “anchor” in the minds of investors, which ...Read More

  • A Look Back at 2016

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    by Weston Wellington — Monday, January 16, 2017

    Every year brings its share of surprises. But how many of us could have imagined that 2016 would see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series, Bob Dylan receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, Donald Trump elected president, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average close out the year a ...Read More

  • Saving for College: Is the 529 Plan Optimal?

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, January 13, 2017

    Over the holiday weekend, I was having a discussion with a family member about saving for college given the recent birth of their daughter. This particular family member was looking into a 529 plan, but was concerned about some of the restrictions involved with having a 529. One ...Read More

  • Markets Are at New Highs: Is a Contraction on the Horizon?

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    After coming off of a performing 2016 and with certain indices, like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, at or near all-time highs, many investors may be wondering if a market contraction is on the horizon. Unlike many of the professional news pundits who use their ...Read More

  • Why Discipline is So Important for Investors

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    As we come to the end of the year it is important to reflect on some of the lessons learned from 2016. One of the biggest that comes to mind is the importance of discipline when it comes to investing, especially if you are trying to target specific risk ...Read More

  • Index Funds Advisors

    The Value IFA Brings to Your Personal Finances

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    by Index Fund Advisors — Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    As an investor it is important to understand the value your advisor provides for the fee they are charging you. While many traditional financial firms believe the majority of their value comes in the form of an actively managed investment portfolio attempting to outperform a ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Alliance Bernstein: A Closer Look at the Performance

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    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

  • Mark Hebner

    Dimensional Fund Advisors: A Deeper Look At The Performance

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    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

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    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

  • Retirement Funds: The "Off Limits" Money

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, December 28, 2016

    Saving for retirement, let alone saving enough for a retirement, is a difficult endeavor for most investors. With the majority of baby boomers being underfunded for retirement, the overall conclusion that investors having enough knowledge, resources, and will power to prepare ...Read More

  • The Hidden Weaknesses of Index Funds – From the Wall Street Journal

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, December 20, 2016

    The Wall Street Journal recently published a series of articles under the title “The Passivists.” Highlighting the merits of a passive investment approach, authors tackle topics such as the fruitless endeavor of trying to pick winning stocks to the “Do Nothing ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Putnam Investments: A Deeper Look at the Performance

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    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

  • Uselessness of Market Prediction Using Simple Logic

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, December 7, 2016

    “You make more money selling advice than following it. It’s one of those things we count on in the magazine business—along with the short term memory of our readers.” – Steve Forbes, publisher of Forbes Magazine It is officially that time of the ...Read More

  • 10 Reasons Investors Should Switch to Passive From Active

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    While we believe there are many reasons why investors should look into adopting a passive investment strategy that incorporates buying, holding, and rebalancing a globally diversified portfolio of index funds, here are ten.  1. Markets Are Random: Markets are moved by news ...Read More

  • Targeting Premiums & Diversification

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    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

  • 2016 Year-End Fund Distributions & Portfolio Management

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, November 21, 2016

    At Index Fund Advisors, it is standard operating procedure for us to tailor how we manage client portfolios at year-end in anticipation of dividend and capital gains distributions from the mutual funds that we ...Read More

  • The Gurudex: How Accurate are the "Experts?"

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, November 18, 2016

    It may come as no surprise to anyone who follows us, but just in case you forgot, we don’t think too highly of active management. It is nothing personal, of course. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority is not delivering on their proposed value proposition to ...Read More

  • Active vs. Passive? Choose Both – From the Wall Street Journal

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, November 16, 2016

    The Wall Street Journal recently published a series of articles under the title “The Passivists.” Highlighting the merits of a passive investment approach, authors tackle topics such as the fruitless endeavor of trying to pick winning stocks to the “Do Nothing ...Read More

  • Post Election Guidance From IFA – Stay the Course!

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    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, November 9, 2016

    Most of us woke up this morning with a certain amount of uncertainty hanging over our heads. Similar to what we witnessed during the “Brexit” vote just five month earlier, polls, statisticians, and markets didn’t expect the outcome of this election. As some ...Read More

  • The Dying Business of Picking Stocks – From the Wall Street Journal

    3,270
    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, November 9, 2016

    The Wall Street Journal recently published a series of articles under the title “The Passivists.” Highlighting the merits of a passive investment approach, authors tackle topics such as the fruitless endeavor of trying to pick winning stocks to the “Do Nothing ...Read More

  • Trying to Avoid the "This Time Is Different" Mentality

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    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, November 3, 2016

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr   We have all said it before. Whether it comes to our finances or any other situation that involves what seems like a high degree of uncertainty, we are all predisposed to ...Read More

  • Financial Planning: The Importance of Asking Why?

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    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, November 3, 2016

    “Why?” It’s the question that our children often use and abuse to the point of our own mental and emotional capacity. While we end up resorting to the very popular choice of last resort -“cause I said so” – I often appreciate curiosity and ...Read More

  • The Power of Markets

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    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

  • IFA By the Numbers - 2016

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    by Mark Hebner — Monday, October 31, 2016

    It has become a tradition that we reflect on the prior year by collecting our IFA statistics (or, what has grown to be known as IFA By the Numbers) on the abundance and wealth of information we provide in dedication towards replacing speculation with an ...Read More

  • The Importance of Hiring A Fiduciary as Your Wealth Advisor

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, October 27, 2016

    Fiduciary: one often in a position of authority who obligates himself or herself to act on behalf of another and assumes a duty to act in good faith and with care, candor, and loyalty in fulfilling the obligation[1] It should go without saying that the financial services ...Read More

  • The Presidential Election and Why the "Price" Is Our Only Crystal Ball

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, October 25, 2016

    We recently came across a survey from the asset manager Blackrock that reported the vast majority of investors are fleeing to cash ahead of this year’s general election. Specifically, “three-quarters of Americans believe the election will have a bigger impact on ...Read More

  • Your Wealth Advisor: The Educator and the Coach

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    by Mark Hebner — Monday, October 24, 2016

    “Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler” – Albert Einstein The role of a Wealth Advisor is constantly evolving. Most of our parents remember the days where the majority of “advisors” were simply stockbrokers who earned ...Read More

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

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    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

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    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

  • Presidential Elections and the Stock Market

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    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Monday, October 3, 2016

    Next month, Americans will head to the polls to elect the next president of the United States. While the outcome is unknown, one thing is for certain: There will be a steady stream of opinions from pundits and prognosticators about how the election will impact the stock market. ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Withdrawal Rates During Retirement: Are We Being Too Conservative?

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, September 26, 2016

    How much can one afford in retirement? It is the holy grail of retirement planning and has been through multiples evolutions over the last few decades. Why? In short, we are trying to give a solution based on uncertainty about the future. What are returns going to be like ...Read More

  • The Importance of Hiring a Fiduciary

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    Index Fund Advisors embraces the responsibility of putting our clients’ best interest first and foremost.  Being beholden to the fiduciary standard of care is not something we see as a barrier, but as a universal standard that should be applied to anyone who engages ...Read More

  • Capturing the Value Premium: Is More Necessarily Better?

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    Research over the last 4 decades has revealed a robust and persistent value premium – value stocks have outperformed growth stocks over many time periods and markets worldwide. In its most simplest form, value stocks can be defined as having discounted prices based on some ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Dreyfus Funds: A Closer Look at the Performance

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    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

  • The Law of Large Numbers: Bill Miller's Fall From Grace

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, September 2, 2016

    Bill Miller is widely considered one of the most successful investors of all time. At the helm of the Legg Mason Value Trust Fund (LMVTX) for over three decades, he earned the title of legendary by beating the S&P 500 for 15 consecutive years from 1991 through 2005. But ...Read More