I was seated at the far end of the counter at the Counter Cafe in Austin, Texas. The small restaurant was busy, as to be expected on a beautiful Sunday morning.
The gentleman next to me and I started talking, as he was midway through his great looking “house special,” and I was contemplating my order (one incredible and very large blueberry pancake, if you’re interested).
Eventually, he asked why I was in Austin. I told him I was here for a number of meetings, including a learning group seminar with other financial advisors, which Keith was also attending, to be held at the offices of Dimensional Fund Advisors’ (DFA).
He had actually heard of DFA, which is rare, as they don’t advertise, even though at $600 billion in assets, they are the 7th largest mutual fund firm in the US. I told him DFA was the primary mutual fund company we use for our stock investments.
We talked further and in response to a question, I told him that “deciding to work with DFA 15 years ago was one of the best decisions of my life. It has changed my life, the life of my family, my clients and the future generations of my clients.”
How could this be true?
When we founded our firm, we were searching for an investment philosophy and strategy that was different and better than others were using. The investment philosophy that DFA utilizes provided the consistent foundation for the stock investment advice we have given and implemented over the past 15 years.
Our firm has adhered to this core investment philosophy through good markets and very difficult downturns. This discipline has been rewarding for our clients.
For us, DFA has provided one manner of how to provide investment implementation. DFA’s funds have provided solid performance over the long term. They offer very tax efficient mutual funds for those with taxable accounts and the internal costs of their funds are far below industry averages. They rely on academic data and evidence, not guess work and forecasting. They are strong advocates of diversification at many levels. Their funds stick to what they are intended to do. This means that a small company fund does not have large company stocks in it. They do not rely on a few star portfolio managers. Their funds are managed by teams. All of these are important factors in successful long term investing.
While DFA has been a critical part of our success and to the benefit of our clients, we are continually monitoring their performance. We are always challenging ourselves to ensure that we are looking at other alternatives and ideas which are consistent with our principles and your best interest.
We are fortunate for the strong relationships we have developed with our clients. We have worked hard to earn your trust, through good and bad financial markets. We spend time to educate you about financial markets and to have realistic expectations about downturns and market corrections.
We are fortunate that many of you have involved us in important discussions in your lives, including estate planning and major life decisions.
While we are totally independent of DFA and not compensated by them, we are thankful that we made the decision to use some of their funds years ago.
Regardless of how or why you became a client of our firm, we have tried to provide you with a greater sense of financial security and peace of mind about your financial future. DFA has played a role in this. For this we are thankful.