You Might Get What You Are Asking For

For this month’s blog post, I thought I would share a listener’s question and my answer.  I think there is something to all people to glean out of this.  The user input his question in the “Ask the Experts” section on  I edited the question to shorten it.

Question:  I am interested in your seminar coming up in January, but I am not sure that it is right for my investment style. Most of my retirement $ is (tied up in my employer provided savings plan). We are only allowed to make 3 changes a month. I have spent 30 years basically following Warren Buffett's "buy and hold" philosophy. We (wife and I) have about $150,000 in other IRAs and such. As most people, I am always hoping to "beat" the market averages, but do not hope to get rich quick. A percent or 2 better would be great.

Response:  Thank you for the message.  I hear your concerns and expectations clearly. None of my management programs or education courses are designed to help you ‘beat the market’.  Instead, I maintain an objective to help folks better understand their goals by defining their desires and placing numerical targets to them.  Beating the market is great in theory, but at what cost (risk)?  Just think of the old proverb; "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.  Before you do any thing different with your investment philosophy, I’d highly suggest you define your goals so you take the appropriate amount of risk to achieve those goals.  Seeking additional return might be too dangerous for your existing savings.  Why?  Because you will find someone willing to take the risk to try to get you the extra 2% you are asking for.  This is a dangerous type of relationship to seek.  Just keep this in mind; nobody cares about your money as much as you do.

Instead, I’d suggest you define your targets to better understand what you need, versus what you want.  Do you have specific targets for your financial goals?  Are you on track to achieve them?  If so, then why take more risk?  And for what?  Bragging rights?  Or, if you are not on track to meet your targets, then how much more risk must you take?  Worse yet; if you do not know your targets, then how do you know your current investment theory is applicable to your scenario?  Just a few things to think about.

We (Tree City Advisors) offer planning in our office as a personalized service or in a classroom setting.  Both options have benefits and drawbacks.  Both are affordable.  Both provide you with targets.  We also offer Financial Independence Training (FIT) to help people establish their targets, then teach them how to manage their own investments to get there.  Additionally, we offer full service asset management for families who prefer an ongoing relationship with an advisory firm.  Lastly, we offer a guided do-it-yourself investment software program called Tree SAApp for investors interested in professionally designed portfolios without having the ongoing expense of an advisor.

To address your message directly; do not seek higher returns without fully understanding how your goals may be affected by the additional risk.  I highly suggest you look at taking our class in January.  I’ll make this promise to you; if you are not fully satisfied at the end of the course, then we’ll refund your full tuition ($400) without question.  Or, and perhaps a better option, you are welcome to schedule an appointment to meet with me and Alex.  We will learn more about you, your experiences, your desires, and help you make a decision about which path would be most suitable for your goals.  As it sits right now, my guess is earning an extra 1 or 2% is not the solution you need.

We hope to hear back from you with how you would like to move forward.