Our Philosophy

Have you noticed how every firm out there seems to have a ‘philosophy’, but when you begin looking closely at them, there are some striking similarities. When it comes to financial firms, you can see that their ‘philosophy’ is often just the set of investments and products they sell. It’s amazing how many companies have exactly the same philosophy! In fact, this is less a “philosophy” and more an approach … an approach shared by most advisors. And, how valuable is a philosophy that rarely changes with the economy, tax laws, market behaviors, or even when you move from the asset accumulation phase of life, to the asset distribution phase? One size simply doesn’t fit all.

“Expect everything, I always say, and the unexpected never happens.”

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth


Look a little closer and you might hear some talk about their ‘process’, stressing “individualized plans” and “world class customer service”. Those are valuable things indeed, but is it a philosophy?

A philosophy should describe the attitudes, beliefs and mindset of how a firm and its people conduct themselves and their attitudes towards their clients, as well as how they approach Wealth Management, financial planning, financial products, investment strategies, and the incorporation of both tax and estate planning. We believe philosophy applies to three areas, and each area has a core set of beliefs:

Our Clients

Our Clients

  • Know our client well
  • Understand what our clients want, not just what they need
  • Educate them, don’t ‘sell’ them
  • Be a fiduciary and do what is best for our clients
  • Be their family “CFO.” Make the best recommendations, but let them choose what feels right.
Our Investments & Products

Our Investments and Products

  • One size does not fit all
  • Know what’s out there, and understand how it performs, and how it’s best used
  • Understand the benefits and limitations
  • Be aware of the tax implications now, and down the road.
  • Know the history of the product and the company
  • Be aware of any law that might affect the product, or its use
  • Anticipate changes that might affect the product, or its use
  • While there are certainly “bad” products, many aren’t inherently bad but are just badly used.
Ourselves and Our Firm

Ourselves and our Firm

  • Never stop learning
  • Consistently monitor, but don’t react emotionally
  • Persistently test and explore
  • Keep informing and educating ourselves
  • Be flexible and adapt to a changing market
  • Don’t follow the crowd… you don’t know where they’re going
  • Unless you’re the lead sled dog, the scenery never changes.
  • Never recommend a client take on more risk than they need to
  • Manage risk first; it’s more important to avoid losses than to squeeze out every possible ounce of gain.

Our Unique Approach

Close up view of the compass on old paper
True philosophy is more than a set of ideas; it directly affects how we think, and how we act.  The above set of beliefs show the relationship between our views and the way it affects how we advise our clients and manage our business.

Having world class customer service is of little value if someone does not do, or even know, what is best for the client.  Having an individualized plan is fantastic when one knows what the client wants and needs, and truly understands the range of available options.

One cannot become an expert in managing money just from reading a few books, taking a class or two, getting a practitioner’s license, or even from learning from a more seasoned advisor.  The marketplace, the array of instruments and investment, and the investment strategies available today are daunting and few advisors really have the expertise to do a great job for their clients.

If a family member received the news that they needed brain surgery, how would you feel about letting a paramedic perform the operation? No?  Even if they had shadowed a brain surgeon for five years? Would you feel that person had the same expertise, training, knowledge and skills required for you to entrust the life of a loved one to them?  Imagine the same question about your lawyer, or tax advisor, or even your optometrist.  We live in an age of specialization, and financial management is a complex one and one of the most heavily regulated.  We have spent our careers understanding and working in the financial markets.  And, we keep learning, watching and adapting.  Then we keep informing our clients of changes that affect them.

PlanningOur philosophy and approach has developed over decades of both education and experience, as well as collaboration.  You can read about our founder and key personnel in the Our Team page.

Today, we are vastly different than most firms.  Though every firm claims to be different, we have reviewed the portfolios of hundreds of people, and found that their holdings and market approach were pretty similar.  In other words, probably 90% to 95% of advisors do exactly the same thing.  The stocks or mutual funds may differ, but the approach is the same.

Insurance Agents sell Life Insurance and Annuities, because that’s what they know, and that’s what they have in their arsenal.  They will tell you how dangerous the market is, and how you should stay out of it, and they’ll tell you that you’re a great candidate for whatever they have to sell, because if not, they have nothing to sell you.  Similarly, Brokers and most Investments Advisors will usually tell you how horrible an investment Insurance is, and to put all of your money in the market instead.  Why?  Because that’s what they do, and that’s what they have available.

So, what makes Matrix Private Wealth Solutions different? Our philosophy has a direct impact on how we conduct ourselves and our business. We use a vast array of products, because different clients have different needs, and like doctors, we cannot recommend a prescription, until we know the ‘test results’.  This is the fundamental difference between ‘pushing products’ and ‘offering solutions’.

Our philosophy of planning consists of key attributes that go into every plan we design.  These are not products, they are a way of approaching each clients’ situation; a framework for producing a consistent and effective plan, customized to each clients’ unique needs.  While the details are complex, they include some very critical components. First off, we employ risk-management.  Risk management has become a hot buzz phrase, but few people, or advisors, actually understand it.  It’s not just about diversifying across stocks or mutual funds, or even across asset classes, like stocks, bonds and real estate.  When properly employed, it is a uniquely different approach to protecting you from major market corrections, across your entire portfolio.

True Diversification

This doesn’t mean we just put you in more mutual funds, or split your portfolio 60/40 between stocks and bonds. Investment Advisors and Registered Representatives (stock brokers) usually offer only ETFs, REITs, UITs, Mutual Funds and common, exchange-traded assets. Why, because that’s all they have access to, or are allowed to offer.

(hover over the icon below for more)

Insurance agents only sell insurance and annuities. Why? Because that’s all they have access to. A good plan uses various types of investments and products to achieve its goals, not just the ones the advisor can sell.  Diversification is therefore across assets, within the asset class itself, incorporates non-market correlated alternative investments, and diversifies you across taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free or untaxed buckets.  That doesn’t mean that each of our clients ends up with all of these products or investments or buckets.  But it does mean that we can consider the use and implications of a much broader array of options in developing a plan.

Tax Implications and Effects

Taxes are the main driving force for most professional investors, but for most individual investors, it’s rate-of-return. There is an old age, that “it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep”.

(hover over the icon below for more)

Tax considerations are a critical part of a well-designed plan.  Do you expect taxes to go up, go down, or remain the same in the future?  Does your plan take that into account?

Separately Managed Accounts

Over the year, many of our clients (actually, MOST) have told us that their prior advisor picked all of the stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc., that they recommended. It’s an industry secret, but they probably didn’t.

(hover over the icon below for more)

Imagine running a practice, meeting with clients, developing plans, presenting plans, doing all the paperwork, conducting periodic reviews, completing all of the paperwork, managing your staff, and also having time to do the research necessary to pick the best stocks and funds in the market from thousands of options.  Even if they had the expertise to do this, it simply isn’t possible.  These advisors are given ‘hot sheets’ from their employer or from a service.  These ‘hot sheets’ tell them what the hot stock or fund of the day/week is.  And for clients who come in the following week or month, it might be a completely different set of recommendations.  We don’t invest based on the ‘hot tip du jour”.  We use a concept known as Separately Managed Accounts, or SMAs.  We scour the nation looking for the best professional money managers with strong track records and a strategy that is based on market dynamics, rather than lucky timing or the right celestial alignment.  Our managers must have a history of outperforming the market (or their benchmark), with significantly lower drawdowns, or achieving the same returns with lower risk.




Managed Drawdowns

A drawdown is the maximum percentage decline, from a peak to a subsequent valley, that a fund, strategy, or stock has ever experienced. For example, in 2008 the S&P 500 dropped about 37%, but was up about 26.46% in 2009.

(hover over the icon below for more)

The problem with those statistics, is that the market kept dropping in early 2009, and was down a total of 50.95% from its high to its low point, before it began to rebound.  Did you ever hear THAT reported?  So, the market’s maximum drawdown was actually 50.95%.  A drawdown that would take a 100% gain to recover.  Imagine you had to keep taking money out of your accounts to live, while watching your portfolio drop over 50%.  How would you feel when that was happening?  Now imagine watching this happen when retired and living off of that money.

Non-Correlated Assets

Most investors won’t be familiar with non-correlated assets (NCAs), which are often “alternative investments”. Most brokers and advisors don’t offer them because of the due diligence burden on the firm. But NCAs are increasingly important for a good portfolio.

(hover over the icon below for more)

There are a range of solid, and time-tested investments, with a strong track record of returns, but little or no market correlation.  Why is that important?  Because the markets have become increasingly volatile, government spending and debt is out of control, social security is unsustainable in its current form, and US tax burdens are forcing many corporations to move jobs, and even their headquarters, overseas.  In addition, it is estimated that in 2016, given the rate at which Baby-Boomers are retiring, that we’ll reach a critical tipping point where more money will begin coming OUT of retirement accounts, than is going in.  That means more selling than buying, which will put downward pressure on stock prices.

Honest Math

This one probably takes the most explaining. We mean TWO things by this. First, Mark Twain said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Statistics are often used to make someone’s point or argument, but are frequently misused, or even misrepresented.

(hover over the icon below for more)

Imagine for a moment that you had a portfolio that went UP 50% in year 1 and DOWN 50% in year 2.  Where would you be?  Most people will respond quickly “You’d be even again!”  They would in fact be wrong.  If you began with $1,000,000 and the market went up 50% in year 1, you’d be at $1,500,000.  If it declined 50% in year 2, you’d be down to $750,000.  So while your “Average” return would be {+50% + -50%} divided by 2, or 0%, we know that you’ve actually lost 25% over the 2 years and your REAL average is about -12% per year.  Second, too many advisors use an average rate of return for a portfolio, and then apply that average over the client’s life.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in the world of averages.  If your portfolio does better in the early years and worse in later years, you’ll probably be OK.  But if it does worse in early years and better in later years, you may exhaust your money before you get to the later years.  We call this the Sequence of Returns problem.  Because we simply don’t know what returns we’ll get and in what order, we use a Monte Carlo simulation to test 10,000 different possible outcomes, rather than use an “average return”.  We want to make sure your portfolio, your plan, and your retirement can take the stress of things NOT going your way.




So our philosophy is simple.  We are not sales people, we are true finance professionals.  We recognize that the best use of our time and resources is to bring together the best team of professionals possible, using our decades of expertise to determine who the best professionals are.  Like a coach building a winning football team, we have found the best players for each position, and we know how to fit them together, and in the right proportions, for each of our clients.  No two plans are ever the same.  We have no cookie cutter or standard solution, just a standard process to achieve the optimal solutions for each clients’ unique needs.

We are a little more expensive than the average advisor, but like the best doctors, lawyers, CPAs, or even golf instructors, our results more than justify our fees.  After all, it’s the bottom line that counts.  Or said differently, “it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep that matters”.  Ask yourself this question; “Are you confident enough in what you’re doing now to get a second opinion?”

Call Us At  888-236-1739