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A Journey to the Past for Advice in the Present

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by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Let’s travel back 55 years into the past and see what the world was like. It was the early-1960s, where our country was still riding the coattails of a post-war economic and population boom. President John F. Kennedy would be elected into office, the United States ...Read More

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  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    The MFS "Active Advantage"... Really?

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    MFS Investment Management made very well scripted and produced commercials highlighting some of the typical selling points active managers like to make when speaking to investors. Let's take a deeper ...Read More

  • Independence & Financial Advice: Another Case That Proves the Point

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, November 6, 2015

    There has been a consistent theme within the financial services industry for far too long: conflicts of interest. What motivates your personal wealth advisor to give the advice that they give? It is sometimes not as clear-cut as some of us think. Ideally, it would be doing what ...Read More

  • IFA's Take On What's Appropriate for a Performance Monitoring Report

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, October 28, 2015

    One of the most important functions as an investment fiduciary is to monitor our entire investment lineup that we advise for our clients. It is almost like a report card for the advice we give. But not all performance-monitoring reports (PMR) are universal, and IFA’s take ...Read More

  • Recent Trends in the Global Market Breakdown

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    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

  • Advisor Risk - How Would You Rate Your Advisor's Risk?

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    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    When it comes to investing, we can identify many risks investors assume, either knowingly or not. At Index Fund Advisors, we see it as our core mission to get investors to take the risks that are worth taking (e.g. market, size, value, term and default) and avoid the ones that ...Read More

  • Index Fund Assets Still on the Rise

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    The Investment Company Institute (ICI) published its annual Fact Book back in May, which addressed the recent trends in the mutual fund and exchange traded fund investment strategies. One of the most common trends that the ICI saw in 2014 was the large inflow into index funds ...Read More

  • Advice That Adds Up During Down Markets

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    by Mark Hebner — Friday, October 16, 2015

    As recent global markets continue to test the patience of even some of the most stoic among us, how are you holding up? Are you finding it feasible (if not necessarily fun) to stick with your existing strategy, or have you been eying it with increasing suspicion of late? If ...Read More

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

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    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

  • The Role of the Advisor in a Retirement Plan

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, October 9, 2015

    We recently came across an article from Employee Benefit News that highlighted the overall disconnect that participants in small companies have with their 401(k) plan. The author stated very clearly, “small market participants, in particular, have less access to support ...Read More

  • Unhealthy Attachments

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    by Jim Parker — Wednesday, October 7, 2015

    Have you ever made yourself suffer through a bad movie because, having paid for the ticket, you felt you had to get your money’s worth? Some people treat investment the same way. Behavioral economists have a name for this tendency of people and organizations to stick with ...Read More

  • Considering Central Bank Influence on Yields

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    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

  • High Frequency Trading - Impact on Other Market Participants

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, September 29, 2015

    Without a doubt the global market structure has changed dramatically over the last decade. While many of our colleagues can remember the days of pit trading within the major stock exchanges, we now live in a world largely driven by computers. Using algorithms created by in-house ...Read More

  • A Focus on Fixed Income

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    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

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    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

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    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

  • Should Investors Sell After a "Correction"?

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    by Weston Wellington — Thursday, September 17, 2015

    Stock prices in markets around the world fluctuated dramatically for the week ended August 27. On Monday, August 24, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,089 points—a larger loss than the “Flash Crash” in May 2010—before rallying to close down 588. ...Read More

  • Considering an Annuity? Understand Their Role BEFORE Committing

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    by Tom Allen — Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    Financial planning is very similar to performing a juggling act. We are constantly monitoring and maintaining many different parts of a client’s financial well-being. Investments, insurance, estate planning, charitable giving, all with an overlay of behavioral coaching may ...Read More

  • The Importance of the Employer Match - Putting the Cart Before the Horse

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, September 11, 2015

    Index Fund Advisors is a big fan of employer-sponsored retirement plans. Giving employees the opportunity to save for retirement by utilizing the incentives embedded in the U.S. Tax Code is of tremendous benefit to both the employee and the employer. We have written articles in ...Read More

  • IFA Report Access

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    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, September 10, 2015

    Index Fund Advisors has always put our clients first. Whether it comes to investment advice, overall wealth management, a dedicated service team, or technological solutions to help with financial planning, we are all about making our client experience the best in the world. ...Read More

  • Forty-Two Years of a Random Walk Down Wall Street

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    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, September 3, 2015

    “If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to improve your personal finances, here’s a suggestion: Instead of picking up one of the scores of new works flooding into bookstores, reread an old one: A Random Walk Down Wall Street.” – New York Times If ...Read More

  • The Patience Principle

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    by Jim Parker — Friday, August 28, 2015

    Global markets are providing investors a rough ride at the moment, as the focus turns to China’s economic outlook. But while falling markets can be worrisome, maintaining a longer term perspective makes the volatility easier to handle. A typical response to unsettling ...Read More

  • When Times Are Turbulent – Invest and Relax

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, August 25, 2015

    No doubt the recent volatility in the market place has investors unnerved. Friends, family, neighbors, work colleagues, are all giving their opinion on where we stand and what will happen in the near ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Part 2: Fidelity Funds - A Deeper Look at the Performance

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, August 21, 2015

    We recently wrote an article that gave a high level overview of the performance of 64 different equity funds from Fidelity Investments. Our goal was to inform investors to be very careful when they hear “rumors” in the financial media about superior fund families. ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    Part 1: Fidelity Funds - A Deeper Look at the Performance [VIDEO]

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    It is not uncommon for us to receive questions from clients and prospects about a particular family of mutual funds. The financial media is always quick to highlight top performing managers (here is an example from Money Magazine) to entice investors into hopping on board with a ...Read More

  • Do Behavioral Biases Lead to Profitable Investment Strategies?

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    We recently came across a research paper that examined the performance of “behavioral mutual funds.” We put this term is quotations since it is hard to nail down exactly what type of investment strategy these types of mutual funds are implementing other than the fact ...Read More

  • Acting as a Trustee: Understanding What You Can and Cannot Do

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, August 7, 2015

    Most of us, either through personal experience or someone we know, have had to go through the experience of being a trustee. There may even be some of us out there who don’t even know that we were a trustee (anyone own a business with a 401(k) retirement plan?). ...Read More

  • How Negative is the Negative-Sum Game of Investing?

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, August 4, 2015

    In theory, investing is a zero-sum game and in practice it is a negative-sum game. Everyday, millions of individuals transact with one another based on their estimates or perception of where value currently exists in the market. Through this repeated process of voluntary ...Read More

  • Debunking the Inefficient Market Hypothesis

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, August 3, 2015

    It is not uncommon to find financial pundits, analysts, financial advisors, or investment consultants that are willing to recommend indexing when it comes to a particular segment of the market; mainly, large cap and even mid cap companies within the United ...Read More

  • The China Syndrome

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    by Jim Parker — Friday, July 31, 2015

    The recent severe volatility in China’s share markets has raised questions among many investors about the causes of the fall and the wider implications for the global economy and markets. The Shanghai Composite Index—the mainland stock market barometer and one ...Read More

  • Investor Behavior and the Financial Planning Process

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, July 30, 2015

    The role of the “financial advisor” has quickly evolved over the last 15 years.  While the tradition of bringing clarity to someone’s overall financial life and planning accordingly has remained steadfast, the role of the “counselor” has become ...Read More

  • IFA Client Study - Maximizing Your Return Relative to a Benchmark [VIDEO]

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    by Mark Hebner — Tuesday, July 28, 2015

    What has been the value of following or not following the advice of Index Fund Advisors (IFA), regardless of what happens in the financial markets? A similar question was addressed by Vanguard Research in their Advisor’s Alpha article, where they estimated ...Read More

  • Exposure to Greece and China in Perspective

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    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

  • Greece is the Word

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    by Jim Parker — Thursday, July 23, 2015

    In recent weeks, the world’s markets and media financial pages have focused intensely on the standoff between debt-laden Greece and its international lenders over the conditions of any further bailout. For investors everywhere, both of the large institutional kind and ...Read More

  • The 2nd Quarter of 2015 in Review

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    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

  • Passive Investing: Seeing the Forest For the Trees

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, July 20, 2015

    Sometimes it is hard to focus on the big picture, often getting caught up in the minutia where we are expending our efforts for little benefit in return. Other times we lose sight of the purpose of our efforts in the first place. In other words, we forget to ask ...Read More

  • Maryland - Ready For an Investment Change

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, July 15, 2015

    No this is not a political campaign slogan, but more of a realization. The Baltimore Sun recently published an article highlighting the recent popularity of passive investing and how some of the biggest Baltimore based money managers are dealing with the situation. T. Rowe Price ...Read More

  • The Momentum Factor: An Empirical Update

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, July 9, 2015

    The Momentum Factor has been well documented since the early 1990s[i]. As a quick reminder, the Momentum Factor is the tendency of stocks that have outperformed (or underperformed) the market over the last three, six, and twelve month periods continue to outperform ...Read More

  • IFA is Ahead of the Trends in Retirement Plans

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, July 7, 2015

    A recent article published on benefitspro.com summarized the recent trends in retirement asset size and location. Not surprisingly, more and more assets are being geared towards individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and defined contribution plans (401(k), etc.) as investors are ...Read More

  • Why DFA Is a Strategic Partner of Our Mission

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    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

  • Celebrate Financial Independence - Invest & Relax

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    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, July 2, 2015

    In the next few days most of us will be thinking more about barbeques and bottle rockets than about freedom and independence. Cheers to those who fully partake in the uniquely American holiday. It’s with a grateful heart that I suggest we take a moment to think about both ...Read More

  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    JP Morgan: A Case Study in What is Not a Fiduciary!

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, July 1, 2015

    The investment advisory industry has grown tremendously in the last 10 years. We are no longer in the simple world of retiring with a pension and not having to worry about making it across the proverbial finish line. Employees and retirees are now facing uncertainty in their ...Read More

  • What Greece Means for Investors

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    by Mark Hebner — Tuesday, June 30, 2015

    Like a slow-motion glacier melting into a rushing river, it would appear that the markets have been swept into a period of heightened global uncertainty driven by a long-looming Greek debt crisis. If you’d like to understand the key factors involved in this economic ...Read More

  • Come On Hartford, You Know Better!

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    We recently came across the Second Quarter 2015 White Paper from Hartford Funds, which attempted to address the recent investor trend of shifting more and more money to passive investment strategies. But their message was a warning to investors stating, “much ink has been ...Read More