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Our Investment Approach: Combining The Best Of Both Worlds

Active + Passive Management In Each Portfolio

We partner with First Ascent Asset Management to provide investment management services to our clients. You can be confident that your portfolios are in sound hands as their investment team has a combined 147 years of investment experience. They aren't forced to use the products of any one investment company and don't receive any compensation from any of the firms whose investment products they use. So they can be objective in their research and put your best interests first. All of our client's managed investments are held at TD Ameritrade, so you can be sure they are safe and secure.

Focus On What You Can Control

All of our client's portfolios are invested based on the philosophy that you should focus on what you can control.  You cannot control the direction of the financial markets, but there are many things you can control to achieve your objectives and improve your investment experience. This includes the following:

  1. Creating an investment plan that matches your needs and risk tolerance
  2. Your portfolios should be designed to achieve the goals set forth in that plan
  3. You should be diversified globally
  4. Combing active and passive management allows you to get the best of both approaches
  5. Your portfolios should keep costs low by managing expenses, turnover, and taxes
  6. You should stay disciplined through market dips and swings (we know this is easier said than done but don't worry, part of why you hire us to help you with this)

How Your Portfolios Are Designed

The core is the foundation of each portfolio.  It gives you broad exposure to global stock and bond markets. Then we can add funds to the portfolio that we call “satellites” when First Ascent has high conviction that they provide an opportunity to improve the returns or reduce the risk of the portfolio.

The core consists of low-cost exchange traded funds (ETFs) that provide a widely diversified mix of US and international stocks and bonds. First Ascent selects ETFs for the core based on the breadth of the exposure they give us to global markets, their liquidity, and their low cost.

First Ascent adds satellites to a portfolio to complement the core. Satellites may consist of actively managed mutual funds, passively managed index funds, or ETFs. The goal of adding satellites is to benefit from an asset class, skilled manager, or specialized strategy that may improve returns, create a new source of diversification, or control risk.

One of the benefits we can gain by combining actively managed funds with passively managed ETFs is that active and passive styles tend to outperform in cycles. During certain periods more passively managed funds tend to outperform and during other periods more actively managed funds tend to outperform.  The timing of these cycles is unpredictable, so First Ascent includes both actively and passively managed funds in the portfolio.  

Here’s another way we try to add value—First Ascent keeps the expenses of the funds they use very low. If fund fees are lower, you get to keep more of what you earn.

Our focus on fees, costs, and expenses pays off for our clients. The median global mutual fund has internal expenses of about 95 basis points (.0095%).  The First Ascent Global Explorer Portfolio expense ratios average between 18 and 23 bps (.0018% and .0023%).

This unique style of professional investment management is included for all of our Unlimited Plan clients at no additional costs. Since you only pay one all-inclusive flat fee for our unlimited plan, you don't have to worry about paying increasingly higher fees as your portfolio grows over time.

Lear More About The Unlimited Plan