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Clients Profiles  

Everyone has stories to tell about investing—how it went right, wrong or sideways. We think there’s value in hearing how other clients found their way to Cardiff Park. Note that the SEC prohibits endorsements on advisory websites (for good reason), so we’ve kept recommendations out of it. That said, if you would like to talk with a current client, we’re happy to provide a referral.

 

What brought you to Cardiff Park?

 

The Do-It-Yourselfer

I had managed investing on my own for many years. My wife and I were approaching 60 (I’m 71 now) and I was past the point of thinking I’m immortal. I wanted someone to keep it going if something happened to me. Finding someone at an affordable price was important. I did research on the Internet, but found that some of the passive investing folks charge similarly to active investing. Cardiff Park charges for services rendered, not the value of the portfolio. I liked that. I looked for several things: Someone who listened to what I wanted, was able to do the portfolio reporting I wanted (both tax and market-value reporting), and was willing to put together an investment policy statement with me. Cardiff Park worked with me to develop customized benchmarks. So now when I get my monthly report I get a blended benchmark to measure it against. It’s personalized for my needs, with very precise benchmarks and boundaries. Just what I wanted.

 

The Retiree

In 2006 all my stock was tied up in my company. I was retiring, and as I re-entered the investment world I was shocked. Like Van Winkle, I woke up. I like learning and so I began by reading a lot. I learned enough to know I wanted to be a passive investor. By the 2007 market peak, I had moved two-thirds of my money to Cardiff Park. Due to some restrictions, I moved the last third over a three-year period.

 

Then came 2008. I had majored in economics and finance and earned an MBA. I loved the markets, but had never experienced anything close to what we went through during that time. I was familiar with stories of the Great Depression, and now I was reading about all the shenanigans going on…how many of the publicly held brokerage-dealers proved themselves to be the opposite of “client loyal.” They were dumping their own portfolios on customers. I was thankful during those tumultuous times that both my advisor (Cardiff Park) and my custodian (Fidelity) were family-owned businesses with high integrity who stayed the course. Today Cardiff Park is my only advisor. You don’t need multiple advisors if you’re following a passive investment strategy.

 

The Family Finance Manager

I take care of finances in my family, and my husband isn’t involved. I got interested when my father died and I inherited a big trust. I bought Microsoft, Apple and Nike in the 1980s … I got lucky. I had an advisor I used for a while, but he was aggressive and made me uncomfortable. I didn’t feel well-informed making decisions with such a large amount of money.

 

At the time I moved into that advising relationship I had five Vanguard funds. That turned it into about 100 holdings. They made money but it was very risky. Fees were very high. Five years into it, I started looking up new advisors. I talked with several and thought “Maybe I can do it myself.” But I knew I needed someone to keep me from my own worst instincts. I know just enough to hurt myself. Then I found Cardiff Park on Bogleheads and other sites. What caught me was this line on the website: “I want to earn your trust.” I was listened to and interviewed, and there was intelligence in the conversation, not salesmanship. Trust and integrity; that’s what I was looking for. It’s very rare. I’m glad I made the move.

 

The Novice

I knew nothing about the market, absolutely nothing. When I retired, my first wife passed away and I had to get a lot smarter. I had done enough reading by then that I began to wonder why I had to pay 1%, which was a lot based on my assets under management.

 

Then I found Cardiff Park Advisors on the Internet. Here was a company following the same markets, risk tolerance, diversity, “don’t time the market” philosophy, and so on. But for a much lower fee! Based on everything I read about the financial services industry, it’s unfortunate how many people are getting their pockets picked. I view Cardiff Park as an ethical beacon in a swamp.

 

By the time the market took a nosedive in 2008 I didn’t need much hand-holding because I understood “don’t pull out.” My risk tolerance had been accurately assessed; at the time I was 40/60 stocks to bonds.

 

First rate service with low fees … that’s hard to find. Another reason I chose Cardiff Park is access to DFA funds. In my experience it adds maybe 1% or more to my returns. The beauty is that DFA investors don’t seem to panic when markets go up and down. Because when 50,000 investors are streaming for the exits, it hurts prices. DFA investors aren’t like that.

 

The Active Investor

Prior to CPA, I was with two different respected Wealth Management companies. Both had a similar story and a similar pitch. They both claimed to have cracked the secret code to “beat the market.” They promised to beat the appropriate benchmarks. Neither of them delivered on that promise. Not even close.

 

My experience can be summarized by the following. In a quarter where the benchmark(s) went up by 6% my portfolio would go up 4% (net of fees). I would ask why and in response I would get an 87-page PowerPoint that was full of charts and graphs. My advisor would go over it and the net-net was “Yeah we sucked this quarter, but we will make it up next quarter/year/decade.” I vividly recall the phrase “We sometimes underperform on the up side but we make up for it by protecting on the down side.”

 

Fast forward to a quarter where the benchmark(s) were down by 4% but my portfolio was down by 6%. Wait a minute – I thought you were masters of the universe on protecting in a down market?  Out comes another 87-page PowerPoint showing how historically they have outperformed in down markets, but, shucks-and-shazam, they just didn’t quite get it right this quarter. But they will do better next quarter/year/decade.

 

That was my experience in a nutshell. Year after year. Do you know how frustrating it is to see the markets go up and your stock portfolio go down? It is crazy making! It’s hard enough to be an investor in a turbulent market. It’s compounded when you have professional money managers who consistently get it wrong and underperform the benchmarks.

 

I started looking at passive wealth managers and Cardiff Park’s fees are well below others. Why do I need to pay a bunch of money to go passive? It’s an ultra-low cost way to invest.

 

I brought over all my holdings intact. It was complicated and a mess. I didn’t have any expectation of Cardiff Park managing that but they organized it in spreadsheets, broke it all down, categorized it, looked at my cost basis and tax implications, and crafted a plan about how to liquidate all that junk. It was drawn out over several months. Hundreds of positions. They were very conscious about me not getting stuck with a huge tax bill. It was fortuitous the way it worked out. It was all very seamless.

 

Allocation decisions were a partnership. I had the benefit of having evaluated other DFA passive fund managers. So I had some plan options to compare. We talked about the whole risk profile and put together a very well-diversified portfolio. I’m happy with it and sleep well at night.

 

I pay my Cardiff Park fee every quarter with the biggest smile on my face. It’s such a bargain and there’s so much more integrity. When I get a report and look at it, it’s just the facts. Here it is. Simple and easy to understand.