From the editors of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors—the latest endeavor to bring you an independent, honest, unbiased voice on Vanguard.
Independent, honest, unbiased coverage of all things Vanguard.
Investment advice and education you can use, in a language you can understand.
Our Short Story
Dan and I co-wrote the award-winning The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors for more than 30 years. (Okay, Dan started it in the early 1990s and Jeff joined the project in 2011.) We have covered all things Vanguard as independent observers. We were unfettered by advertising or consulting contracts, which has often made us the only critical voice in a room full of “independent” analysts.
And we provided practical investment advice while demystifying the investment markets and economic mumbo-jumbo—in a readable, understandable way.
By playing a different game and refusing to make false promises, we earned a reputation for providing real advice that real investors can rely on. Of the hundreds of financial newsletters that clog inboxes and mailboxes with pitches every year, few end up in the pages of The New York Times as a cost-effective solution for retirees. We did.
You’d think there would always be a home for a project like this one in the established publishing world, but, well, the times they are a’ changin’. So, here is that same independent voice with independent advice on Vanguard—call it version 2.0. It's still here, still covering Vanguard and still providing advice you can use. The new format will get articles and information into your hands faster.
What follows is a bit more about our approach to investing and the markets and what you can expect.
Who We Are, What We Deliver and a Promise
We are long-term investors—not traders—who believe that partnering with institutional-quality managers via low-cost Vanguard funds is a recipe for investment success. We believe that there needs to be an independent voice advocating for Vanguard shareholders. We believe investors deserve practical, consistent and understandable investment advice.
Independent Vanguard Experts You Can Trust
From day 1 of our prior publication, this service has been completely independent—we have never been paid a penny by Vanguard. We have never taken advertising money. We are supported solely by our subscribers.
We value our independence. We call it as we see it.
Vanguard has done investors a world of good—arguably more so than any other investment firm in the country—but it is far from perfect. One charge of The Independent Vanguard Adviser is to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly.
Investment Advice You Can Use
What you’ll find is practical investment advice. The advice we’d want our friends and family to have. In a language that’s accessible and understandable.
No get-rich-quick schemes. No baffling with bulls%!#. Not here. (And if we slip up, please call us out on it!)
We Put Our Money Where Our Mouths Are
Our promise to you: We have meaningful investments in the funds and strategies that we recommend here.
Few fund managers invest in the funds that they manage. Few investment company board members own the funds they oversee—including Vanguard’s.
That’s not how we roll. If we recommend an investment, it’s because we’re invested. We follow our own advice and put our own money on the line. We won’t get every decision right—no one does. But you’ll know that if your accounts are moving up or down, ours are moving right alongside them.
Our Approach to Investing
We have always followed a few well-articulated principles.
Time In The Markets, Not Market-Timing
The first rule of compounding is to never interrupt it unnecessarily.
The stock market is a wealth compounding machine, but it doesn't run smoothly all the time.
The investment world is riddled with claims of profitable market-timing. They’re all hogwash. If we could successfully time the market, we would. But we can’t—no one can, at least not consistently. Successfully timing the market requires selling before markets fall and buying back in before they rise. Many investors have tried, but the evidence shows that most trading is detrimental to investor returns.
As long-term investors we know there will be corrections, bear markets and crashes. Rather than fear them, we see stock market declines as the price of participating in the compounding that stocks offer those with patience and fortitude. We view downturns as opportunities to buy when others are selling.
Every bear market of the past 100 years or more is now viewed (with hindsight) as a buying opportunity. It just doesn’t look or feel that way when you’re in it.
Active and Index Funds — Better Together
It’s not about active versus passive investing. It’s about high-cost versus low-cost investing.
It's a great time to be an investor.
You can get access to the stock and bond markets in a diversified, tax-efficient way at virtually no cost. We love index funds and ETFs for this.
However, we also believe that partnering with active managers can lead to index-beating returns. But you have to be very selective in the managers you partner with. The evidence is clear that most active managers don’t outperform their benchmark indexes or index funds over time.
So, we’re not stubborn. Where we can, we partner with the best managers in Vanguard’s stable. But we’re also perfectly happy to own an index fund (or ETF) where we don’t have confidence a fund manager can give us what we’re looking for in a piece of a portfolio.
Diversification of risk matters not just defensively, but because it maximizes returns as well, because we expose ourselves to all of the opportunities that there may be out there.
Diversification is essential because we can’t predict the future. In short, you should diversify because not all of our decisions will be right!
We see two sides to the diversification coin—risk reduction on one and exposure to opportunity on the other.
Owning a concentrated portfolio is a great way to make a fortune but it’s also a great way to go broke. Being diversified reduces the risk that any one investment will derail your portfolio. The hidden cost of a highly concentrated portfolio is missed opportunities; the things you don’t own that could be the winningest investment you ever make. Being diversified gives you a better chance of owning assets that compound your wealth.
To us, being diversified means owning stocks from around the globe. Yes, the U.S. stock market has been a compounding machine but there are great companies beyond our borders too. It also means owning bonds to offset the risk that comes with owning stocks.
You don’t have to go overboard with diversification. The textbooks (and Vanguard) often take things too far. We won’t.
Keep It Simple
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
-Often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci but that’s been disputed
You’ll never hear us say that investing is easy—it isn’t. But keeping it simple can be highly effective. Adding complexity to your portfolio doesn’t guarantee better outcomes.
Case-in-point, most college endowments—the epitome of complex portfolios—fail to beat a simple 60/40 portfolio of stocks and bonds like Balanced Index.
The Who (the details)
Jeff DeMaso is editor and founder of The Independent Vanguard Adviser.
He was previously the co-editor and research director of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors.
He also served as Portfolio Manager, Director of Research and the interim CIO at Adviser Investments, LLC—a leading investment advisory firm. He has been quoted in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, InvestmentNews, and Kiplinger, to name a few. Citywire named him a Rising Star of manager research in 2019.
He graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with a B.A. in economics in 2006 and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
What You Can Expect
We eat and breathe Vanguard and our research is ongoing. To keep you apprised of what we’re learning and thinking we post (and email) a Weekly Brief on Wednesday that provides an update on markets and the latest out of Malvern, PA (a.k.a. Vanguard). The Weekly Brief is completely free.
Paid subscribers get access to our Recommended Portfolios and Trade Alerts as well as the Performance Review with our buy, hold and sell recommendations on every Vanguard fund and ETF. Additionally, we’ll share an article a week (typically, Tuesdays) focused on the markets, Vanguard, financial planning, investing or some combination. Subscribers will also receive occasional Quick Takes—our initial reactions to Vanguard news or market events.
And we’re not stopping there! As we embark on this digital-only journey we will continue to explore ways to provide you with more data in easy-to-use formats. Just as Vanguard has made finding and comparing data on its website more difficult, we commit to providing you with data that is easy to find, easy to use and most importantly, is information that Vanguard simply won’t or can’t provide.
Welcome to The Independent Vanguard Adviser.