What investments can Steward help me manage?
We can help you directly manage Brokerage Accounts (including joint + individual investing accounts, UTMAs/UGMAs, Trust accounts),IRAs (including Traditional, Roth, Inherited, SEP, SIMPLE, Rollover), and Solo 401(k)s, and include that in our invested assets fee.
We will actively recommend you take full advantage of other accounts including i-bonds, 529s, employer 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, 457 plans. We will offer guidance on these, to ensure they're well integrated into the rest of your investments. Given that these accounts are more straight forward, offer limited optionality, and require little management once purchased, we do not charge fees for this guidance.
Some families choose to keep a small "Vegas" or "Cowboy" account (5% of their investments) for individual stock picks or "moonshot" angel investments. We only work with families that are ready to ring-fence this part of their portfolio to <10% of their investable assets, as part of our commitment to stewardship for any family we serve.
Will I need to transfer my assets to work with Steward?
Your end goal is sailing your family's ship towards your stated destination. We strongly believe a well-operating ship has one captain. In this context, multiple captains invariably leads to tax mistakes (specifically triggering wash sales), inadvertent concentration on particular asset classes with duplicated holdings, increased work to keep various accounts in sync, and a "Frankenstein" portfolio with accounts all over the place.
We also completely understand it's a big decision to choose a trustworthy captain for your ship.
With that in mind, we waive our investment management fees year one, so that you have a chance to test if we're a good fit, and in year one we do the cleanup on the investments you're managing personally directly to take it off your plate. We are highly mindful of tax consequences in this transition. We'll diversify out of your existing positions only as needed to hit your target asset allocation, and as we have the chance to offset gains with harvested losses.
Then at the end of year one, you can either (a) "graduate" from Steward, with the benefit of accounts consolidated + a major "spring cleaning" completed on your personal finances (b) choose to work with Steward as your ongoing advisor. Absolutely no pressure to choose us as your family CFO, and we'll always recommend DIY to those with time, talent, and interest.
We’re aiming to make some major life decisions in the coming months (next career move, state to live in, type of house to buy). How would we work with you on them?
Given our niche, many of our families have one if not more major life change happening to them each year. As their family CFO, here's how we'll work through them. Once we determining that we're a good mutual fit, in our kickoff meeting, we'll set a roadmap for how to approach our first year together. We will come with an initial game plan for how to structure our conversations over four quarterly meetings for our foundation year. We're always happy to accelerate parts of what we cover together based on what's most pressing on your mind, or to add meetings as more pressing calls come up. Taking stress and anxiety out of major life decisions, by helping you do the nitty-gritty research, laying out your options and the pros/cons, and running the numbers for you so you can ultimately make a values-based decisions, is one of our favorite parts of our job.
What does success look like for Steward, 3-5 years from now?
For us, success is simple. Being of service to first-gen high earners and kids of immigrants in making the most of their money to help them to take care of their families and live life on their terms.
We get a lot of joy out of direct interaction with families (which our founder sorely missed when working one step removed in consulting). In practice, that means we will always serve a subset of families directly. We will encourage those who have time/interest/talent to DIY, so we can take on more families off our waitlist, and being of continued service to those whose work + family demands have grown.
We are highly motivated to grow Steward in order to reach more families. Particularly when we see the other players in the market and how short they are falling in serving. But we want to grow in the "right" way. That means taking on families that (1) we really enjoy serving (most often, friends and family of those we already serve!) (2) when we can offer them stellar service.
Our goal is to use technology to start a flywheel of reducing costs for the families we serve, and in turn to serve more families over time. We recognize that this will come "brick-by-brick". We've received several offers for VC funding which we've turned down since the risk profile associated with a VC business is not in line with the risk I'd ask families we serve to take on. We view protecting a family's nest egg as a sacred weight on our shoulders.
How does Steward compare with an accountant or CPA?
- CPAs and accountants are hyper-focused on the block-and-tackle execution and admin work of filing your taxes.
- Steward focuses on developing proactive tax optimization strategies for you, and integrating your tax strategy with your investing strategy and what you want to accomplish out of life. If the right hand isn't talking to the left hand on these, you're left with sub-optimal solutions!
How does Steward compare with a wealth manager at a bank or insurance company?
- Wealth managers at large investment banks or insurance companies, often build their own funds or insurance products and recommend them to their customers as part of their financial guidance, even if it’s not in the customer's best interest. This means they're also narrowly focused on investments, without accounting for tax strategies as well, meaning the left hand is left not talking to the right hand.
- Steward does not build its own funds or sell insurance, to ensure we avoid conflicts of interest. We give you advice on your integrated tax and investment picture.
How does Steward compare with a financial planner or investment advisor?
- Most financial planners and registered investment advisors (RIAs) focus on near-retirees, do not accept customers with under $1M or even $5M in assets, and work on antiquated tech.
- Steward is focused on mid-career professionals, who are looking for the “missing middle ground” between going DIY and ultra-high-net-worth wealth advisors. Steward’s powerful personalized advice technology and innovative approach, allows us to not have million $ + asset minimums.
How does Steward compare with Robo investing apps (e.g., Betterment, Wealthfront)?
Investing apps allocate and rebalance your personal investments.
Steward gives you more comprehensive end-to-end guidance
- access to a human advisor to talk decisions through with (how should i approach supporting aging parents? can i afford to take a lower-paying job? can we afford another kid?)
- integrating your unique life and tax situation into your investing recommendations
- telling you how much to invest, when to invest, what proactive tax optimization strategies you can use
- explaining your different investment options, their trade-offs, and the “why” behind our recommendations in plain-talk
- including guidance for your employer-sponsored investments and savings accounts for your kids, beyond just your personal investments
- helping you get organized with CFO-style projections of your household finances in one place (money coming in vs. going out, what you own vs. what you owe).
How does Steward compare with Budgeting apps (e.g., Mint, YNAB)?
- Budgeting apps help you track your spending.
- Steward helps you optimize your savings, helping you “pay your future self first” and set up automatic investments for your longer-term goals. If you fill up the plate with veggies, there’s less room for dessert, and you can enjoy the dessert guilt-free.
What is your investment philosophy?
1. Personal finance should be personal. Steward structures your recommended mix of savings and investment types based on your unique goals.
2. Don't try to time the market. Get in the market and then stay in your seat.
3. Own the market. 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 low, keep lifetime taxes low, and ignore the "crisis du jour" and noise.
5. Simpler is (usually) better. The optimal investing strategy is often the most simple.
We eat our own cooking. The team behind Steward invests withSteward, and invests in the same assets that Steward recommends to clients.
Who’s on the team behind Steward and its mission?
Ami Shah is the founder and CEO of Steward. She's worked at the intersection of technology and financial services throughout her career. She founded Steward with a singular mission - to provide personalized plain-talk guidance on how, where, and when to invest in an optimized way, to more families - after seeing her own families struggle to navigate the black box of personal finance. You can learn more about her here.
What are the credentials of the Steward team?
We are a fee-only fiduciary SEC-registered RIA (Registered Investment Advisor). In plain-English - that means we put our clients first and only take payments from Steward users. No ads, commissions to push products, or shady hidden fees.
Ami Shah, who built our planning algorithm directly based off the wealth management and tax optimization strategies she used to serve ultra high net worth families as a “white-glove” investment advisor:
- is educated at Harvard, both Harvard College and Harvard Business School
- is CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ . The CFP® requires rigorous study (includes 72 principal knowledge Topics, passing a six-hour exam), work experience (6000 hours of professional experience), continuing education, and adherence to ethical standards. Only 1 in 3 professionals calling themselves “financial advisors” have earned this designation.
- has a decade of experience in sophisticated wealth management and tax optimization strategies, having served families directly at a registered investment advisor and single family office, and previously, the executive teams of many of the largest financial services firms as part of McKinsey’s Wealth and Asset management practice.
How does Steward make money?
Steward will only ever take payment from you, and in turn Steward’s first and only priority will always be to care for you and put your best interests first, as fiduciaries.
We don’t earn any revenue from the investments we recommend for your portfolio. We will never take kickbacks to push products on you, sell your info to 3rd parties, or bombard you with ads or credit offers.
Steward makes money in one way. Serving you. We’re are proudly, and fiercely, independent. Steward Inc. is an Investment Adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. See our pricing here.
How do you keep my data safe and protect my privacy?
We care fiercely about protecting your security, just as we would for our own family. We recognize that is just as important as my fiercely protecting your financial assets. With that in mind,
(1) We limit what information we have access to: As part of your account set-up with Altruist you'll share your SSN and setup a login and password and link to your bank account, but I will specifically never have access to that...and that's by design. Altruist has detailed security measures see more here.
(2) Our Tech Stack: We use SendSafely for secure filesharing, a shared google drive for file storage, a shared Trello system for dynamic agenda setting and progress tracking, with access rights only between myself and your family members. We use Dual Factor Authentication for each of these systems.
What information will I need to share with Steward?
Steward’s prospective client process is what allows Steward to build you a tailored action plan as your family's CFO. We'll ask you a structured set of questions about:
(1) you as a person - your big upcoming life events, your priorities, and the relationships that matter to you.
(2) your future finances - your rough estimates the money coming in and going out of your household
(3) your current finances - your estimate of how much cash you have on hand today, and the accounts you hold to help you get organized
We ask you as few as questions as possible, to get you to an optimized plan, to be mindful of your time and privacy.
How does Steward work?
Steward has a clear and structured 3-step process to working with prospective clients.
1. Fit check: A quick call (<10 minutes) to describe our process for prospective clients a ensure we might be a good mutual fit. Regardless of whether we're a fit, happy to point you in the right direction.
2. "Get Organized" Meeting: We interview you to understand your big picture - your questions, values, what you're trying to accomplish, and your current financial situation. We do some upfront work for you with no charge, to determine if we can make a significant impact and for you to get a good sense of how we work.
3. "Family CFO" Meeting: We share a second opinion on your investments, tax strategy, and prioritized financial actions you can take to move the needle for your family. We'll only pursue working together if can add significant value and align with your needs.
What’s included if I join Steward's community?
We serve as your family’s CFO closely integrating 3 services:
(1) Investment Management
(2) Proactive Tax Strategy
(3) Financial Decision Consulting and Optimization - Serve as your "go-to" resource to navigate your path to financial independence and retirement, family matters, personal finances, job/life decisions, alongside finding subject matter experts.
We help you translate ideas into action in simple doable steps, building you a sustainable financial system alongside a sound financial strategy.