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Individual Investor

Individual investors (private clients) have a wide variety of options to choose from when seeking investment or retirement planning advice. There are thousands of planners, advisors, brokers, bankers, agents, and others that each meet the need in a different way. The first thing we try to do when we meet a potential client is to help them decide if Highland is a good fit for them.

Investment Process & Philosophy

  • We are strategic investors, not market timers. We help clients structure robust portfolios in a way that makes sense for their timeline and objectives.
  • Client strategies are generally implemented with diversified mutual funds or ETFs, leveraging the due diligence we perform for our corporate clients. We do not recommend or use individual securities.
  • We generally prefer to use low-cost funds that do not have any embedded advisor/broker compensation of any kind.
  • Even when we are only managing a portion of a client’s overall wealth, we anchor everything to the “big picture”: Lifetime cash flow planning that includes all assets, living expense needs, legacy objectives, etc.
  • We do not provide tax, legal, or estate planning advice – though we integrate elements of those topics into the overall Plan as appropriate.

Services

We believe in keeping all investment fees modest and do not believe in making you pay for services you may not want or need. Accordingly, we attempt to streamline our services to keep everything high value and reasonably priced; Standard service/fee elements include:

 

  • An initial financial inventory that allows us to reasonably model future cash flows;
  • An initial investment policy discussion set about the strategic asset allocation;
  • Assistance with opening Schwab accounts and consolidating assets when appropriate;
  • Semi-annual or annual meetings to review your investments and your Plan.

Investment Risk Management

Highland believes that thoughtful coordination of asset allocation and time horizon is still the preferred approach to managing investment risks in most situations. Other methods (market timing, Insurance products with guarantees, and alternative investments, etc.) can have strong emotional appeal. Still, we find that the “no free lunch” adage almost always holds.

 

  • We believe a client’s first consideration should be time horizon (how long until you need to spend the money and at what pace);
  • To be sure, there are times where traditional allocation focused investing is frustrating or downright scary. It’s in precisely those times that we turn to history for context. As a straightforward example: median US stock market returns over 1 year have been over 10% since 1926, but they have been as high as +54% and as low as -43%, making them nauseatingly unpredictable in the short term. However, over 20-year periods, the worst result is +3.1% per year (the best is +18% per year). This highlights the critical link between allocation and time horizon when making investment decisions;
  • Within this overall context of allocation/horizon focused investing, some of the other things we may do to help manage risks, include:
    • Diversifying the portfolio thoroughly by sector, region, company, etc. to dilute the effect of an substantial los from one corner of the markets;
    • Re-balancing the portfolio periodically to reduce risks after strong market runs and to incrementally increase risks after weak market runs; and
    • Hiring professional fund managers that have a strong record of risk management within their specific mandate (e.g., hire a large-cap stock manager that loses less than the S&P 500 during down markets).

Market Timing

We do not endorse market timing as a reliable risk management discipline. The appeal of getting out when markets are down, and back in when things are good is understandable. However, more than ever, modern markets are efficient and trade so swiftly that there is virtually no opportunity for investors to time entries and exits to good effect. We regularly evaluate professional managers with deep resources and seldom find someone who can consistently add value through market timing.