Your life. Your goals. Your money.
Round Table's portfolios are specifically crafted to your financial plan and constructed utilizing the science of capital markets.
Our Investment Process
The plan comes first. Investments serve the plan.
In researching advisors, you may come across some who market themselves primarily on their investing acumen. Other advisors are primarily financial planning specialists, some of whom may outsource portfolio management to third parties who charge an additional fee.
At Round Table, we seek to position ourselves in the middle of this spectrum. We believe investment decisions should be individually tailored to serve your broader financial plan. The plan and the investments set aside to target that plan ideally work together hand in glove.
We bring to this process years of experience in both financial planning and various aspects of investment management, as well as multiple relevant credentials and degrees (CFP, MPAS, CRPC, M.S. in Personal Financial Planning, MBA).
Where possible, target investments to specific goals.
It is often possible to direct some of your money into financial products or investment strategies that pay out when specific needs arise. One example is insurance, which pays out precisely when (and only when) a specified event occurs, such as a house fire or medical expense.
Less obviously, investment strategies can be crafted to produce returns that match such needs as inflation-adjusted income in retirement, or the capital required for an expected major purchase or life event in the future.
Such strategies may involve giving up some of the potential for higher return with part of your portfolio, in exchange for the expectation that the money you need will be there when you need it. We can talk you through the tradeoffs and help you figure out when they are worthwhile.
For everything else, make diversified, risk-controlled investment decisions.
Not all goals can be matched with investments specifically tailored to produce them. Indeed, some goals are more aspirational, such as growing your nest egg or leaving as large an inheritance as possible, without taking an unacceptable level of risk.
Once you’ve targeted specific goals where possible, the remainder of your assets are free to be invested in an intelligently crafted portfolio that balances return with market risk.
See the section below for our investment philosophy, which we have developed through the study of many decades’ worth of in-depth academic and industry investment research. Much of this research has been implemented successfully by asset managers whose investment products we utilize in our clients’ portfolios.1
Our Investment Philosophy
Capital markets do a good job of fairly pricing all available information and investor expectations about publicly traded securities. We believe it is extremely difficult to outsmart the market by picking specific stocks in the anticipation that they are undervalued and will therefore outperform.2
Conversely, a diversified portfolio can harness the power of capital markets to efficiently fund the activities of a broad cross-section of the world’s companies, thus participating in global economic growth.
Diversification is key.
Comprehensive, global asset allocation can neutralize the risks specific to individual securities.
Through the purchase of broadly diversified stock and bond funds, we invest your money in thousands of securities across the globe. Such broad diversification can help take the guesswork out of investing.
Portfolio structure explains performance.
The asset classes that comprise a portfolio and the risk levels of those asset classes are responsible for most of the variability of portfolio returns.
Moreover, decades of financial research have identified dimensions of higher expected returns in the global capital markets.3 Portfolios can be structured around these dimensions, which are sensible, backed by data, and cost-effective to capture in diversified portfolios.
Risk and return are related.
The compensation for taking on increased levels of risk is the potential to earn greater returns.
However, not all risks come with greater expected return. For example, individual stocks are often extremely volatile, yet much of that volatility can be eliminated through diversification without sacrificing expected return.
In addition, some types of investment risk will be a better fit than others for your financial goals. Concepts with fancy names like “lifecycle finance” and “liability-driven investing” can yield valuable insights about which kinds of investment risk—if any—you should be willing to take. And don’t worry, we’ve already done the research for you!
Timing the market is extremely difficult and can add significant costs.
At Round Table, we generally agree with the conclusions of numerous studies that find little to no evidence that market timing is a value-adding activity.4 It can create unnecessary expenses and we believe it is unlikely to add value in the long run.
“Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future.” Warren Buffet5
The cost of your investments has a direct impact on portfolio performance.
“Control what you can control.” While we don’t believe market timing or stock-picking are beneficial approaches to producing superior investment results, there are other steps you can take to tilt the odds in your favor. In our opinion, one of the most important is controlling your costs.
We focus on lowering costs (both fund expenses and trading costs) through the use of institutional funds, index funds, and ETFs with low expense ratios and low turnover. We also look for ways to lower the tax burden on our clients by focusing on tax-efficient investments and tax-loss harvesting.
- “A Different Way to Invest”, Dimensional Fund Advisors (2021)
- “Vanguard’s Principals for Investing Success”, The Vanguard Group, Inc. (2020) https://about.vanguard.com/what-sets-vanguard-apart/principles-for-investing-success/ISGPRINC_062020_Online.pdf
- Sources include the following:
- Bessembinder, Hendrik, “Do Stocks Outperform Treasury Bills?”, Journal of Financial Economics, Volume 129, Issue 3 (September 2018), https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2900447
- “Don’t Bother Trying to Pick Stocks”, Dimensional Fund Advisors (2019), https://www.dimensional.com/us-en/insights/dont-bother-trying-to-pick-stocks
- Sources include the following:
- Fama, Eugene F., “The Information in the Term Structure”, Journal of Financial Economics, Volume 13, Issue 4 (December 1984), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0304405X84900138
- Fama, Eugene F. and Kenneth R. French, “The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns”, The Journal
of Finance, Volume 47, No. 2 (June, 1992), https://www.jstor.org/stable/2329112?seq=1
- Jegadeesh, Narasimham and Sheridan Titman, “Returns to Buying Winners and Selling Losers: Implications for Stock Market Efficiency”, Journal of Finance, Volume 48, Issue 1 (March 1993), https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1540-6261.1993.tb04702.x
- Carhardt, Mark M., “On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance”, The Journal of Finance, Volume 52, Issue 1 (March 1997), https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1540-6261.1997.tb03808.x
- Novy-Marx, Robert, “The Other Side of Value: The Gross Profitability Premium”, Journal of Financial Economics, Volume 108, No. 1 (2013), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304405X13000044
- Fama, Eugene F and Kenneth R. French, “A Five-Factor Asset Pricing Model”, Journal of Financial Economics, Volume 116 (2015), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304405X14002323
- Sources include the following:
- Sharpe, William, “Likely Gains from Market Timing”, Financial Analysts Journal, Volume 31 (1975), Issue 2, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2469/faj.v31.n2.60
- Henriksson, Roy D., “Market Timing and Mutual Fund Performance: An Empirical Investigation”, The Journal of Business, Volume 57, No. 1, Part 1 (January 1984), https://www.jstor.org/stable/2352889?seq=1
- Goetzmann, William N. et al, “Monthly Measurement of Daily Timers”, The Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Volume 35, No. 3 (September 2000), https://www.jstor.org/stable/2676204?origin=crossref&seq=1
- Ptak, Jeffrey, “Tactical Funds Miss Their Chance”, Morningstar (February 2, 2012), https://www.morningstar.com/articles/648444/tactical-funds-miss-their-chance
- Elton, Edwin J. et al, “Target Date Funds: What’s Under the Hood?”, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, January 2017, Number 17-2, http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/IB_17-2.pdf
- Buffett, Warren, “To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.” (1980), https://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/1980.html