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During college football season, people always ask me, "Phillip, why do you like Alabama Football? You didn't even go there and you're from Texas."

Well the truth is, I don't really like Alabama football. I like Nick Saban. He is a process guy like me. The success of his team has less to do with his superior player selection. His success comes from his process.  

He has designed a simple, consistent process that allows his teams to be a championship contender year in and year out. He did the same when he was at LSU.  

You see the same thing in investing. The best investors are not great stock pickers.  

They are the best at sticking to their well thought out and evidence based process.  

Principle 1) Asset allocation is the major driver of returns

  • Definition: How much money you put into different asset classes

Principle 2) The economic environment is the major driver of which assets out-perform and under-perform

  • Economic expansion
  • Economic recession
  • Rising inflation
  • Falling inflation

Principle 3) Lower cost funds tend to outperform higher cost funds over time

  • I don’t necessarily look for the lowest cost fund, just the funds that score relatively low that also scores well on all of my other criteria.  

Principle 4) Low tracking error is important when selecting funds that track an index

  • I don’t necessarily look for the lowest tracking error fund, just the funds that score relatively low that also scores well on all of my other criteria.  

Principle 5) A culture of stewardship is more important that rules and regulations

  • You can tell a lot more about a fund company (or stock) by watching, listening, and/or speaking to the leaders and employees. You can fake numbers. You can’t fake a culture of stewardship (putting the needs of the people you serve ahead of your own).  

Principle 6) There is no such thing as a “safe” investment therefore, diversification is one of the best risk management strategies to implement when looking to grow and protect your wealth. 

Principle 7) Patience is a required character trait of successful investors


How do I use these principles to create portfolios?  

Here are the steps I use:

  1. Create a financial plan and/or an Investment Policy Statement based on my clients’ goals, timeframe and objectives. 
  2. Use fundamentaleconomic, and technical analysis to determine which economic environment we are currently in (no need to predict the future) which allows me to know which asset classes I would like to invest more money into and/or less money into.
  3. Select a diversified group of investment funds that invest in the asset classes I need to build the portfolio that are low cost with low tracking error from a company with a culture of stewardship
  4. Encourage and advise my clients to be patient. I have yet to meet anyone who has built long-term wealth overnight.  

There are a lot of systems and moving parts behind the scenes that go into building and managing this process, but it’s as simple (not easy) as it sounds.  

Phillip Washington, Jr.  is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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