Steward's Investment Philosophy as Featured in Forbes

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Executive summary

Steward's investment philosophy and risk management was recently featured in Forbes. Spoiler alert - we have a very different approach than "professionals (mostly of the older generation)" whose appetite for risk "quizzes had about as much credibility as the ones found in the latest of Cosmo", according to Forbes. Forbes's take on our approach? "That’s what it's all about, Charlie Brown." See the full article here, along with a blurb from the piece and more details on our full investment philosophy after the jump! 

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Written by
Ami Shah

Ami Shah is the CEO of Steward, a personal finance tool helping mid-career professionals to make the most of their money by investing smarter and saving on taxes, with minimal time and effort.

She's a Certified Financial Planner®, Harvard Business School and Harvard College grad. She served as a wealth and asset management consultant at McKinsey & Company and as a white-glove wealth advisor to ultra high net worth families. Ami started Steward to bring the clear, structured, and evidence-based set of rules white-glove wealth advisors use with ultra high net worth clients, to more people beyond the 1%.

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Ami Shah

Steward's investment philosophy featured in Forbes

Forbes recently featured our investment philosophy...specifically our unique approach to build highly personalized investment plans for our clients. Steward focuses less on wonkish risk appetite scores than most old-school advisors. We focus more on our community members' unique goals and financial circumstances (plain-talk: your actual need and ability to take risk).

Here's a blurb from the piece:

Chances are at some point in your retirement saving (or spending) life you’ve been asked a question or two about your appetite for risk. For a while, back in the era of Modern Portfolio Theory, the whole concept of “risk” and the investor was the cat’s pajamas.

Still, it’s not unusual to find professionals (mostly of the older generation) that continue to use these devices. “Too many of the financial world are focused on wonkish ‘risk appetite’ profiles and scoring systems,” says Ami Shah, CEO of Steward in Washington DC.

These surveys generally fail because “it’s hard to think about how much risk you’re willing to take on in the abstract, before the rubber meets the road,” says Shah. “Saying you’re okay with ‘high risk’ in advance, and actually stomaching a 30% loss on your hard-earned nest egg, are two completely differing things.”

Indeed, looking only at what you’re willing to lose misses the point entirely on the real risk you face. Most people would be more than willing to take a few losses if it puts them in a better position to achieve their ultimate goal. And that’s what real risk is all about, Charlie Brown.

After getting featured, we've received a bunch of questions on our broader investment philosophy. Some folks are looking for an "investing 101" and others are further along in their journey, but are looking for a second opinion on their approach!  We love the question, because...before you take any specific investment recommendations from an advisor, a friend, or a family member, there's one hurdle to clear. It's critically important that you're on the same page on underlying investment philosophy and that you agree their approach makes good sense. At Steward, we're looking to help clients over the long-term, so if there's a disconnect here, we won't be a good fit. If you have a different approach - all the more power to you! The most important things is (a) to have a philosophy in the first place so your investments are cohesive and strategic, and (b) have a philosophy that you can stick with.

So in the spirit of TLDR, here's..

Our investment philosophy (…in 99 words)

1. Personal finance is more "personal" than "finance".

Build an investment strategy based on your unique goals and financial circumstances.

2. Don't try to time the market.

Get in the market and then stay the course.

3. Diversify.

Take the guesswork out of investing by diversifying broadly across investment types and geographies vs. trying to pick individual winners.

4. Focus on what you can control.

Keep fees and lifetime taxes low, and ignore the "crisis du jour".

5. Simpler is (usually) better.

The optimal investing strategy is often the simplest.

6. Optimize for after-tax returns.

Coordinate investment and tax strategies.

More Resources

Does this investment philosophy resonate with your approach? Most important to us in taking on new clients, is finding folks who are aligned on investing approach! Steward is a personalized to-do list for how, where and when to invest and save on taxes in plain-English, with minimal time and effort. Interested to find other ways to save on taxes and invest smarter?  Sign up to give it a try here.

Written by

Ami Shah

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