Q&A with Bruce Thompson,
Investment Counsel and Founder of the firm.
A few not-so-frequently asked questions about TWM.
Q: Why are your phones so quiet when the market seesaws?
A: In a word, trust. We protect our clients from short-term thinking tied to market vicissitudes. Our clients trust us to do what we do best, so they can enjoy the peace of mind to do what they do best. Think about viewing an impressionist painting. It might be interesting to look at it close up, but all you’ll see are a bunch of seemingly crazy brush strokes. Step back and with the benefit of perspective you'll see a beautiful picture. Focusing on news headlines and short-term fluctuations in economic data and stock prices will, more often than not, lead you in the wrong direction and detract from performance. Step back and look at a chart of the growth in our economy or the stock market over the long run, and you’ll see what I mean.
Q: Why do we talk about financial independence more than retirement planning?
A: That’s so 20th century. Retirement is a 20th century social experiment that is gradually becoming irrelevant for many people. We prefer to talk about planning for your financial independence. These days, it’s less about being put to pasture and more about living productive, satisfying lives doing the things we love. Success is being able to control how you spend your time!
Q: Why don’t we shout about the amount of our “assets under management”?
A: Because how each adviser manages is more important than how much. Because quality is more important than quantity; the more important metric for customers would be the ratio of clients to advisers. We have chosen to limit the number of clients we serve in order to ensure that each client has personal access and dedicated service.
Q: Why does our independence matter?
A: Because it’s essential to your financial independence. Wall Street is known as the “thundering herd” for a reason, and the best-known firms are guilty of, at crucial moments, leading their clients – everyday people -- away from sensible things, like asset allocation and diversification, and into risky positions. This happened leading up to the 1990’s tech bubble and the more recent financial crisis. It's impossible to work for or be a client of one of those firms and not be infected by “crowd thinking” from time to time. Our firm, our relationship and compensation models are all structured to give us -- and our clients -- the best chance of thinking for ourselves. That’s incredibly important to your financial security.
Q: Why is acting as a fiduciary important?
A: It means we always put our clients' interests before our own and we take responsibility, for example, from plan sponsors and other fiduciaries for investment decisions. That's how we roll and it's our obligation as a fee-only, SEC registered investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. It might be confusing because many players in the financial field use the title investment advisor (spelled with an "O" not an "E"), investment consultant, financial planner, etc. Whatever the title, a stockbroker, bank representative or insurance agent who accepts commissions based on the products or services they sell, cannot act as a fiduciary because they operate under a different regulatory standard. This allows them to recommend products and services that are "suitable" for clients, but not necessarily the best. The recommendations or products may favor the advisor or their firm over the client. That leaves open the door to selling the firm's higher cost and often inferior products.
Q: What is the Personal CFO?
A: It’s the closest we can get to a family office without being one.
Q: How come we don’t advertise our results?
A: Our client retention speaks for itself. The minute an adviser starts advertising results it becomes more about “the adviser’s results” as opposed to the “clients' results,” and this could affect investment decisions. As a boutique, we manage clients’ portfolios based on their individual objectives, restrictions and tax circumstances. Those portfolios might include concentrated employer stock options or positions with low tax basis. We think it might be misleading to market our services by advertising that performance.
Q: Why do clients stay with us for life?
A: Quality of life.