A Letter to Our Clients

To my dear friends and valued clients:

I write this memo to share a bit of exciting news with you about the future of our firm and our efforts to improve our capacity to serve you: Weise Capital is merging with Spotlight Asset Group, Inc. As Mark Twain once said, “If I had more time, I’d have written you a shorter letter.” I feel that is somewhat relevant here, although I’ve tried to make this letter concise while retaining the vital message.

In 2012, with the incredible support of my wife Beth, I founded Chandler Advisors (which we later rebranded as Weise). Our aim was to more transparently help clients understand their options and make quality financial decisions. I had noticed a few issues in the financial services industry, most of which were simply accepted as the status quo. Hence, I set out to give clients a better option by:

  1. creating an infrastructure to provide you with truly objective and impartial advice,
  2. providing greater transparency for you to make more informed decisions, and
  3. reducing costs to what was truly in your best interest.

I wrote about this in The Wealthy Physician (2012), reiterating what Vanguard’s John Bogle had been saying for years: conventional investment fee structures made no sense. Clients were often paying north of three percent per year for advisory and portfolio management services.[1] I pointed out that, over 25 years, a 3% annual fee could easily lead to an account balance 40% lower than a simple 1% annual fee. Circa 2012 these issues were surprisingly not widely acknowledged by the industry. Worse, clients usually received little to no value, other than market returns (and losses)—and maybe a new, very expensive, friend. Hence, over the past five years, my mission has been to build a firm that substantively helped clients move forward, sweeping away industry biases and pride that too often hinder real progress.

Throughout this journey, I’ve been fortunate to meet many wonderful people and I’ve learned a great deal (much of it the hard way[2]). I’ve become convinced it is impossible to build sustainable success without effective leadership and management, a team environment, and a culture with high moral, intellectual, and performance standards. Second, most people are as incapable in certain areas as they are capable in others. Therefore, at least for me, it has become apparent that awareness of weaknesses is often as or more important than awareness of skillset. For example, the distinction between professional roles (i.e. management, operations, sales, legal, finance, etc.) has become clearer as I’ve seen how effective leaders lead compared to how effective analysts analyze.

I’ve met a handful of great leaders in the financial and investment business—people who run some of the top financial planning and asset management firms. I noticed a pattern among the most successful organizations:

  • The focus was always on the team and the organization’s value to clients, rather than the importance of a single individual.
  • The founders, partners, and the overall team were very modest. They generally turned down opportunities to go on TV and ‘prove their brilliance,’ a trait I wouldn’t have assumed just five short years earlier. They shunned ego, seeing it as a distraction and deterrent to sustainable success.
  • They consistently and quickly dealt with reality, rather than running from it. Decisions were grounded in merit, rather than one or two person’s opinions. Problems were swiftly resolved (not allowed to linger). Personnel decisions were based on attitude and competence. And they had low tolerance for gossip, excuses, and other traits that tend to erode a culture.

In short, effective organizations are made up of people with varied backgrounds, specializations, and ways of thinking.[3] This is something I have strained to build over the past few years. But my thinking has evolved from “I can do it myself!” to “No one can do it alone!” Futility is the gift of trying to do everything yourself. We all need the right people in our lives; be it friends, family, coworkers, or professional advisors. We also need those people to remain focused on doing what they do well.

The Relevance…

Stephen Greco, founder of Spotlight Asset Group, is one of the leaders I was fortunate enough to meet during my journey. Mr. Greco left a lasting impression, not only because of his experience as head of wealth management for one of the nation’s largest independent firms, but, more importantly, because of his focus on integrity and transparency (hence the name Spotlight). Through many conversations with Steve, I determined it would be a much better fit to join forces (for reasons I detail below).

We will be merging with Spotlight, effective end of this month. With the Spotlight team, we will significantly increase our capacity to add higher levels of real value to clients. Far beyond simply creating a marketing perception, Spotlight’s objective is to help clients effectively merge goals and reality.

Benefits for You

  1. Lower fee structure. The integration into Spotlight will allow for a lower overall fee structure for clients. Additionally, Spotlight charges a true ‘all in’ fee – meaning, the investment management fee also goes to cover all trading and administrative costs.
  2. Higher levels of sophistication for you and your plan. The Spotlight team provides:
    • complex financial and estate planning strategies for high net worth individuals;
    • tailored investment and risk management strategies;
    • strict adherence to their fiduciary duties and an ability to navigate a complex regulatory compliance environment; and
    • a dedication to client service.
  3. Unparalleled Competence. Leadership and management with senior level investment, financial planning, insurance, trade execution, and regulatory experience and backgrounds.

I believe this move will make a significant, positive impact on our ability to add value for clients and it is my sincerest hope that you find the same. As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or thoughts. I look forward to helping you for many years to come.


[1] Mostly related to 401(k)’s and mutual funds. Most investors at the time were paying about 1% to 2% separately for both of advisory (financial advisor or planner) and investment management (portfolio manager) services, totaling an average close to 3% annually.

[2] Which is fairly predictable when people start businesses in their late 20’s.

[3] Rather than by people with very similar backgrounds and competencies.

A Letter to Our Clients

To my dear friends and valued clients: I write this memo to share a bit of exciting news with you about the future of our firm and our efforts to improve our capacity to serve you: Weise Capital is merging with Spotlight Asset Group, Inc. As Mark Twain once said, “If...

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Desiring What Doesn’t Exist

By B. Chase Chandler, CFP®

Decision making in the financial world can be challenging. You have so much information coming at you so fast, it’s difficult to process and think through all of it. But we can improve our financial thinking if we simply adhere to core principles relevant to every important area of life. When we internalize that core truths of business, relationships, and life are also applicable to investing and money management, we have an advantage. We’re less likely to be persuaded by harmful mental errors that threaten our long-term wealth.

Clients, employees, colleagues, and myself – we’re all prey to mental error. And one of the most common of these errors is the idea that a person can get something for nothing. Most people want the benefits before the work, the rewards without the risk. Given how much our society spends on lottery tickets, short-term diets, and the like, it shouldn’t surprise us that our natural inclination is towards solutions that promise the benefit without the sacrifice.

Imagine you observe a person very skilled at what she does. She has become a master of her craft. There’s a tendency for us to believe she’s simply gifted. But we must be cognizant of what we do not see ― years of experience, practice, preparation, long hours, and mistakes that built the skillset. Achievement in any endeavor doesn’t just happen. Purpose, commitment, focused action, resilience, and repetition of tedious tasks – these are qualities that build success. Or as Carol Dweck put it, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”

This relates to investment and financial planning because, by default, we want the easy road, leading us to desire what does not exist. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Focusing on short-term returns rather than result over entire lifespan
  • Looking at historical returns as an expectation for future returns (i.e. fixating on past results over the fundamental investment process)
  • Unknowingly ignoring what we don’t know – i.e. tax consequences, long-term income potential, downside risk, etc.

The signs are similar in managing a business. I seem to speak with at least one person a week requesting benefits without sacrifice. In other words, they want us to pay up for their talents before they’ve developed those talents (or proven they have them). They want us to fund their idea, introduce them to our clients, or pay them a salary but not hold them accountable. All of this because people tend to overvalue their “talents”, misunderstanding that they must first prove they have developed a skillset that adds value before they can be paid for it.

The point being – the sooner we realize we cannot get something for nothing, the sooner we can begin to make real progress. In financial planning terms, we must realize: (1) we cannot reap the rewards without accepting some risk, (2) we cannot build true success without building a valuable skillset, and (3) we can only build a skillset by putting in the time and effort required.

Don’t tell me how talented you are. Tell me how hard you work.”

– Artur Rubenstein

 

A Letter to Our Clients

To my dear friends and valued clients: I write this memo to share a bit of exciting news with you about the future of our firm and our efforts to improve our capacity to serve you: Weise Capital is merging with Spotlight Asset Group, Inc. As Mark Twain once said, “If...

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My client, Mr. B, was an artist in his late 50's. His late wife had been the decision maker, as well as the primary income earner. I had been the family's advisor for a few years at the point of her sudden death. Mr. B wasn't just devastated. He was in shambles,...

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By B. Chase Chandler, CFP® There are two primary factors to consider when planning for Social Security Retirement Benefits. Here is a quick overview: #1: Your Benefit Your Social Security Retirement Benefit will be based on your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings...

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By B. Chase Chandler, CFP® Decision making in the financial world can be challenging. You have so much information coming at you so fast, it’s difficult to process and think through all of it. But we can improve our financial thinking if we simply adhere to core...