Everyone keeps telling us that the strength of a business is measured by its profits. In college, the professors called it “maximizing the value of the firm.” Consultants today select the “top” firms in our industry based on the size of their profit margin. And even our friend Roger says that “BWFA could be much more profitable if you would just…” thus and such.
Profits are important, for sure. But what’s most important to most small-business owners is having the kind of firm they want. Most want a business that serves the community they live in-something of which they can be proud. BWFA was started 20 years ago, and from the beginning, our goal has been to provide our clients with:
The best comprehensive financial planning, investment, and tax services available anywhere at any price
We know that financial planning and tax services don’t provide good profit margins, compared to investment management. But we have always believed that helping our clients with financial matters requires that we provide planning and tax services. It’s fairly easy to do taxes, prepare financial plans, and manage investments. The difficult part is making sure it all works together in a cohesive way; that’s where our clients get the most benefit. And we are constantly trying to improve. For example, in recent years, we have really beefed up our estate and legacy planning in response to our clients’ needs.
Great long-term investment performance
Our clients have excellent long-term investment returns. As a matter of fact, $100 invested in the S&P 500 on January 1, 1999, would have grown to about $110 at the end of 2009. In comparison, our average client in our most popular model, Conservative Growth, would have accumulated $147, after all fees and expenses. We can accomplish these results because we buy independent investment research; because we limit the number of investments we follow to about 60-70; because we always diversify our clients’ holdings; because we make many small bets and stay away from making big bets that could go wrong; and because we manage each client’s assets so that we are not “forced” to sell good long-term investments to meet our client’s cash needs in down markets. Our results speak for themselves. But, we need to tell you that we can’t provide any assurance that future results will be the same or any better than past results.
Less investment risk
Our clients tell us that they would like to spend in retirement at about the same level as they did while they were working. Given their resources, this usually requires that they keep a significant amount of their investments in the most volatile part of the market-stocks. While stocks can provide higher returns, they also require more analysis, care, and attention. We measure risks in various ways at the individual stock level and at the client portfolio level. Risk management is a very important part of what we do for clients, and we can review our metrics and methods with you at any time.
We know that fees are important to our clients, so we are constantly comparing our fees with our competitors’ fees. When investors have to pay mutual fund fees on top of advisor fees, the cost mounts quickly, so we stay away from this as much as we can. Recently, there was an article in Investment News that reported that Charles Schwab, the big deep-discount broker, charges 1.35% annually to manage a portfolio of stocks for clients; that’s higher than our fees. Our tax fees are about half of those charged by most local CPAs. And our planning fees are in line with other Fee-Only advisors.
Our business has held up well over 20 years, and it’s going strong. Growth is healthy, client retention averages over 98%, and our assets under management have reached a new high above $225 million. We continue to reinvest profits in the firm at a significant rate, we have no debt, and the firm is financially healthy.
We would be delighted to serve your friends and family who are looking for better solutions, better services, and better value.