At Unconventional Investor (UI), our approach to successful investing is built upon three important pillars:  sound portfolio construction, disciplined, sustainable investment behavior, and a client-friendly business model delivered with low costs and unusual transparency.   We first aim to understand you, your goals, your unique life circumstances, and your “financial temperament”, or risk tolerance in industry parlance.  With this mutual understanding, we develop customized portfolios designed to achieve your financial objectives by maximizing long-term investment returns and avoiding expensive yet all-too-common missteps.    

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UI’s evidence-based investment strategy is rooted in extensive research and sound financial principles.  Numerous studies have demonstrated that asset allocation, or the selection of a portfolio’s broad classes of investments, is the single most important factor in determining long-term returns.  At UI, we have identified a set of high-quality asset classes which we use to construct a portfolio designed to meet your individual goals and needs, and this typically results in a portfolio more heavily weighted towards equities (stocks) than bonds.   The specific index securities that UI recommends (typically from Vanguard) are chosen for their extremely low fees and tax-efficiency.  Importantly, since these index funds dynamically mirror their respective markets, they are suitable for a long-term, “buy- and-hold” approach.  The US stock market, international stock markets, and US Treasury bonds are examples of the asset classes we use. Further diversification is available via sectors that offer attractive and highly consistent economics, such as utilities or real estate.   The transparency and efficiency of this approach offers an important ongoing benefit: clear and manageable exposure to sustainable asset classes.    



Less appreciated, but equally as important as portfolio construction, is the behavioral discipline required to achieve satisfactory long-term performance.  As Warren Buffett notes, the most important quality in an investor is temperament, not intellect.  UI’s advisers provide long-term focus and ongoing guidance to stick with the buy-and-hold approach. With the ease of changing your investments online and the relentless media focus on the stock market, many investors feel compelled to react to short-term movements and often feel misplaced relief at taking action.  At UI, we take the long view and assist our clients in doing the same.  Ignoring short term market swings is crucial not only for an investors’ returns, but for their sanity as well. 


Life is going to throw unexpected events in your path, both good and bad, and these events often include a significant financial component. An inheritance, career change, or the birth of a child can mean the need for liquidity or require timely financial action. Rather than choose a suboptimal path or take no action at all, UI clients have a trusted partner ready to evaluate all options and help make a prompt, sensible decision. We help you integrate these events into your overall financial plan and continue on a successful financial path. Along the way, your UI adviser will continuously monitor and evaluate your portfolio and coordinate any changes that may be beneficial. 

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The third important element of working with UI is a consumer-friendly business model predicated on cost minimization and transparency.  Cost savings (no expensive advertising or high-end office space, for example) are passed directly on to our clients in the form of extremely low fees.  UI leverages the low-cost services of Vanguard and Schwab (our preferred custodians), who offer valuable but economical access to excellent index funds.  All of this is done with unusual transparency.  Our clients pay us via check (rather than funds swept from the investment account, which is how custodial advisers get paid), and this allows full clarity into fees paid each quarter.  This results in a relationship with perfectly-aligned incentives: with our low fees, UI will only do well if our clients are successful and choose to stay with us in the long-term. 


UI is local, with advisers in the SF Bay Area and Charlotte, NC, and we are truly independent.  We take seriously our fiduciary duty to only act in the best interest of our clients, and we do not take commissions, performance fees, or referral fees from any third party. We have taken great care to align the interests of you, the client, and us, the advisers, so that we can provide the highest quality service at the lowest possible cost.  We operate our business with the guiding principle that we are long term partners to our clients, and we work faithfully in your best interest.