The View From our Home Office — Come and have a cup of coffee with us!
photo © SWM, LLC
WHAT SETS US APART FROM OTHER ADVISORS?
(1) We choose to be a boutique firm. We limit our client base to 75 individuals.
(2) We believe capital preservation is key. Opportunities are always available if we know where to look; not losing capital is what keeps funds available to take advantage of these opportunities.
(3) We don’t work on Wall Street. We have years of experience from that vantage point, but we choose to ignore day trading, dark pools, derivatives and other paraphernalia designed to enrich brokers, not clients.
OUR INVESTMENT APPROACH
The three pillars of our investment philosophy are:
1. Simplify to succeed. You can forget about hedge funds, futures, day-to-day market timing and all that other high-commission low-return nonsense. As Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify.”
2 — Risk management must be the first step. We believe every potential investment must first be viewed in the cold light of this question: “What could go wrong?”
3 — We seek opportunities in undervalued sectors at attractive valuations. We allocate assets based on geopolitical, economic, sector and industry review, and we re-allocate portfolios as appropriate. We own quality mutual funds and ETFs as well as exceptional companies.
OUR SERVICES AND OUR FEES
OUR SERVICES: Unless you already have a special brokerage relationship, we will assist you in selecting from the best of the online brokerage firms that provide you SIPC, FDIC and/or additional insurance, prompt trade confirmations, a written monthly statement and the finest service.
We will discuss your portfolio with you as frequently as you desire, execute all buys and sells, ensure that all transactions are properly documented, inform you as to actions we have taken on your behalf, and will provide a quarterly review of your performance versus the standard benchmarks.
OUR FEES: We see it as more challenging to allocate $2 million than it is to allocate $500,000 — but we don’t believe it is difficult enough to justify the high fees many advisors charge. The typical industry standard fee is 1% or more of assets under management. We start at 1%, as well. But then, on any amounts above $500,000 we reduce your fees on the amount above $500,000 from 1% down to 0.75% (or as negotiated.)
OUR PORTFOLIO MANAGERS:
Joseph L. Shaefer, our Chief Investment Officer, and Heather Williams, our Chief Operating Officer, will personally approve investment and custodianship decisions on your behalf. The buck stops with them. If you have an investing question, you may call Joe directly. If you have a question about your account balance, are requesting a disbursement, dealing with your IRA and other operational issues, you may call Heather directly. If either are unavailable, someone will take your call and have them get back to you promptly.
Both Mr. Shaefer and Ms. Williams have attained the highest levels of certification in the brokerage industry (Registered Principal, Financial & Operations Principal, Municipal Securities Principal, Options Principal, etc.)
Joe retired as Senior VP and head of the Fixed Income Division of investment firm Charles Schwab to found Stanford Wealth Management and to speak and write on investment and geopolitical / economic subjects. He is a 36-year veteran of the US Army and US Air Force, having served both active and reserve, stateside and deployed, retiring as a Brigadier General. He is the author of the investment classic Bringing Home the Gold. Joe has been interviewed on CNN, Fox, CNBC, ABC and other financial television and radio shows and has been quoted in Forbes, The Wall Street Transcript, Barrons, Financial World, the Wall Street Journal & scores of other publications.
Heather Williams began her investment banking career working with Initial Public Offerings for Birr Wilson and worked in a prestigious law firm before spending 14 years with Charles Schwab & Co., where she served as corporate trainer for what was then the fastest-growing company in the Fortune 500, as in-house management consultant to the branch network, and as branch manager of the Schwab Honolulu branch office. She has been a consultant to Goldman, Sachs and a number of other firms, and is an acknowledged expert in the brokerage operations community.
FAQs — Questions and Answers about Stanford Wealth
Q: Tell us your approach to managing money at Stanford Wealth Management.
A: Too many individuals and money managers start with a discipline, but then meander through a series of purchases based on rumor, inside information (that isn’t,) fear of missing something, fear and euphoria. They end up with a portfolio that looks as if 20 random strangers threw darts at the stock charts.
Ours is a more disciplined approach.
We reallocate our stock portfolios by reducing our equity exposure as traditional value barometers such as PE Ratios, Price/Book Ratios, Price/Sales Ratios, Free Cash Flow and Dividend Yields enter seriously overvalued territory, and increase our equity exposure as these barometers enter undervalued terrain. We only purchase after a thorough review of the risk parameters. This screens out a lot of great-sounding concept stocks and leaves us with more time to follow those investments truly worthy of our attention.
Q: OK, so how DO you select individual stocks?
A: The answer is, “Sometimes we don’t.” Sometimes we use stock market proxies like Exchange-Traded Funds, closed-end funds, and mutual funds, as when we want to be invested in an entire sector. If we believe the entire sector or industry is appropriate, we find the diversification achieved by these products provides an extra layer of protection against unexpected single-company risk. (Think of the Union Carbide fiasco in India many years ago or the more recent BP mishandling of the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.)
When we do select individual stocks, we use value indicators such as Price/Earnings Ratio, Price/Book Value Ratio, Price/Sales Ratio, and Free Cash Flow — after we verify the company’s leadership position in its industry, the moat it has around its business, the quality of its management, and its financials.
Q: What about takeovers — does that come into play in your consideration of a stock?
A: Yes and no. No, it isn’t part of what we think about when we buy a stock, but clients regularly ask us if we have some kind of inside information or stock tips because so many of our companies are acquired.
Honestly, we don’t have any information beyond what is available to anyone willing to tear into an annual report, a 10-k and a balance sheet! It’s just that we’re looking for the same financial and stock price qualities that potential corporate acquirers look for.
Since we look for the same things that many acquiring firms look for, we have a good number of stocks taken away from us at a premium. We don’t need tips, touts or inside information; we simply have an investing style that results in lots of our companies being acquired by other firms.
Q: How qualified are the money managers at Stanford Wealth Management?
A: A lot — 40 years or more. You want white hair, not white knuckles, on your side these days! Wed have spent decades in the brokerage and portfolio management business and have been Registered Representatives (stockbrokers), Registered Principals and NYSE Branch Office Managers (their bosses), Registered Options Principals (experts in listed options), Financial and Operations Principals (leaders in financial management and operations), and much more. We know the stock market cold.
Q: Do you believe in top-down or bottom-up analysis of stocks?
A: Yes. Each in its own season. Too many professional money managers answer that question in the most sonorous tones, “Well, we are basically top-down macro-economic investors,” or, “Our analysis leads us to believe that a bottom-up approach yields the most compelling returns.”
While we certainly think of ourselves as asset allocators, then sector and industry observers, then stock selectors, we don’t invest in a rigid manner. We are typically a big-picture manager, but if we uncover a company that commands our interest, we will immediately begin researching that firm, we’ll talk to their management, customers and competitors, we’ll find out all about them, and then we’ll decide whether to buy the stock or not. So while we consider ourselves top-down investors, we still buy special situations for our clients.
Q: Can an investor do the same thing you do — on their own?
A: Absolutely. All someone needs is the time to do the research and keep up with economic and geopolitical factors, a certain amount of experience to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and — most importantly — the discipline to stick to their asset allocation plan and industry and stock selection.
Q: Let’s cut to the chase. Where is the stock market going?!?!?
A: We haven’t a clue — in the short term. In the long term, we believe that the world is becoming more capitalist and free trade is growing more prevalent. Those two trends ensure continued growth in capital markets.
But there are three things in this world we know we will never know “for certain”: where the stock market is going tomorrow, how we have allowed government to become our master rather than our servant, and why teenagers do whatever they do. So we stick with what we do know — how to manage risk and how to find undervalued investments in any market environment.
Our clients typically become clients because they have a full-time career or recognize that they would rather spend their precious time on the links or with their grandchildren. They make more money doing surgery or building companies or guiding river adventures, so they devote their lives to what they are best at and ask us to handle the part we are best at.
Because we’re great doctors or great lawyers or great architects or ski instructors or schoolteachers or whatever, we assume we should be great investors, too. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’d be terrible lawyers or brain surgeons — but we believe we are both safe and good investors. Most of the time, the investing process is just too time-consuming to be done part-time.
Q: If I want you to manage all or a portion of my portfolio, what are your minimums and what will you charge me?
A: We provide the following rates, based upon total assets in the account:
Our minimums are $500,000 — We charge 1% of the first $500,000
On the amount above $500,000 — We charge 0.75%, or as negotiated
In addition, we enjoy special negotiated rates from some of the best low-cost brokerage firms in the country. The commissions you pay on equity, mutual fund, and other orders are so low (and sometimes free) that you may save enough, compared to a full-commission stockbroker broker, to pay 100% of our management fees!
Q: How can I discuss my needs with you?
A: Call us at 775 832-5440 or e-mail us at email@example.com. One of our two partners, Joseph L. Shaefer or Heather Williams, will respond personally.