1) Substance over style.
You won't find us trying to impress you with cuff links, mahogany office furniture, or a shelf filled with leather-bound books. We want you to be comfortable when you come to visit us. We'll be polite and we'll offer you a snack and something to drink. But we don't spend our money or effort trying to knock your socks off with an ostentatious environment.
Our money and effort is spent on substance instead of style. Our focus is on your experience as a client, which means spending a lot of time listening to you, taking time to help you understand your options, and always responding to your needs in a timely manner.
2) It's your money, not ours.
In the financial realm, this is called being a fiduciary. That's a fancy word that simply means that we always act in our clients' best interest, not our own. It seems like this would be a universal principle for financial advisors, but unfortunately it isn't. For some advisors, it's evidently easy to lose sight of the fact that your retirement savings are there to fund your retirement, not the retirement of the person giving you advice.
3) Buy low, sell high.
You won't find anyone who disagrees with the financial principle of buying low and selling high. But when you look at the way a lot of people behave (including a lot of financial advisors), it seems that this principle, even though it's understood, isn't always followed. For us, buying low and selling high is a core investing principle that we never want to lose sight of.
4) Independence is key.
We believe that it's important to be an independent firm, not operating under the umbrella of a larger brokerage house that might be a "household name." We have nobody above us looking down and trying to push us to sell certain products or charge certain fees. We're able to make decisions based solely on what's best for our clients, instead of what a board of directors decided that we should do to maximize our own profitability.
5) We want to help.
When we're determining whether or not to bring on a new client, there's one main question that we ask.
"Can we make a positive difference for this person?"
If the answer is yes, then we want to work with you, regardless of whether or not the relationship will be wildly profitable for us. Our goal is to help. If we can make a profit in the process, that's great. If there's nothing in it for us, that's ok. If we can make a positive difference for you, then you'll probably say nice things about us to other people, which helps us in the long run.