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Saving for College: Addressing a Significant Financial Challenge (Second of a Three Part Series)

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by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In the first part of this series, we gave an overview of 529 plans and the due diligence that investors should perform before choosing one of them. One 529 plan that we find particularly attractive is West Virginia’s Smart529 Select savings program that features ...Read More

Article Library

  • 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

  • Why Winning in the Margins Matters in Retirement Planning

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, June 19, 2015

    “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it…he who doesn’t…pays it.” - Albert Einstein A very interesting article published in the Financial Advisor magazine discussed some of the top reasons why people ...Read More

  • Blackrock Looking for Answers to Their Troubling Performance

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, June 18, 2015

    What do you do when your entire active fund lineup is struggling? Well if you are the CEO of Blackrock, you invest hundred of millions of investors’ dollars and hire the more best and more brightest than you already have to try to fix it. According to a recent ...Read More

  • Evidence-Based Insights: Financial Gurus and Other Unicorns

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    by Mark Hebner — Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    In our last piece, “Ignoring the Siren Song of Daily Market Pricing,” we explored how price-setting occurs in capital markets, and why investors should avoid reacting to breaking news. The cost and competition hurdles are just too tall. Today, we’ll explain why ...Read More

  • The Evidence on the Evidence: Assessing the Validity of Academia

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    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, June 11, 2015

    There's a reason we refer to our strategy for building durable, long-term wealth as evidence-based investing. There are a number of other terms we could use instead: Structured (getting warm), low-cost (definitely), passive (sometimes), indexing (close) … the list goes ...Read More

  • Fidelity Has Found the Holy Grail: Oh Wait, False Alarm!

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, June 10, 2015

    One of the toughest (but also the most rewarding) aspects of being in the financial services industry is garnering and protecting clients’ trust. The tough part of the equation comes mainly from being grouped amongst all financial professionals, who for the most part are ...Read More

  • You vs. Uncle Sam: Taxes & Mutual Fund Performance

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, June 9, 2015

    “It's not brains or brawn that matter in taxable investing; it's efficiency. Taxable investing is a loser's game. Those who lose the least - to taxes and fees - stand to win the most when the game's all over.”- James P. Garland, Retired Chairman of the Jeffrey ...Read More

  • Give Your Graduate One More Piece of Advice

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    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, June 4, 2015

    The soccer games and ballet lessons are behind you, but as a parent, you may always feel the need to give advice to your children. At the same time, once they walk across that stage with degree in hand, seeking your advice may not top their list of ways to ...Read More

  • Evidence-Based Insights: You, the Market and the Prices You Pay

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    by Mark Hebner — Friday, May 29, 2015

    When it comes to investing (or anything in life worth doing well) it helps to know what you’re facing. In this case, that’s “the market.” How do you achieve every investor’s dream of buying low and selling high in a crowd of highly resourceful and ...Read More

  • Gravel Road Investing

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    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

  • Tax-Wise Investing Part II - You & Your Tax-Wise Team

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    by Mark Hebner — Tuesday, May 26, 2015

    In the first part of IFA’s series on Tax-Wise Investing, “You & Your Investments,” we explored how to engage in year-round tax-wise investing by adopting your own best practices as well as by favoring fund managers who are likewise keeping a tax-efficient ...Read More

  • How Mutual Funds Can Be Advocates For Their Investors

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    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

  • Tax-Wise Investing - You & Your Investments

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    by Mark Hebner — Monday, May 18, 2015

    While “tax season” may imply that there is an optimal time to think about your income taxes, the best way to minimize your annual “pay-triotic duty” is to engage in year-round tax-wise investing, with ongoing best practices in: Your personal tax-efficient ...Read More