Clients First!
Mike created Clients First! to serve investment clients in the manner they deserve: their interests come before anything else.

What you get as a result: a portfolio of investments tailored to meet your personal and financial objectives. Based on your preferences, it will be designed to limit downside risks without overly limiting long-term performance.

What you would have: an effective three-part investment strategy.

  1. Asset Allocation. After establishing a relationship, a balanced portfolio with appropriate asset allocation is created. This reduces volatility and reductions in value due to a down market. But performance will not necessarily diminish as volatility does. It depends on your preferences. For example, a client may have a high tolerance for risk and want to be aggressive with all of his or her funds, i.e., investing everything in stocks. But adding bonds, even as only 10 percent of the portfolio, would have a dramatically positive effect on a portfolio's performance when markets fall.

  2. Correlation of Assets. The second part is to set up a good correlation of assets. This means having assets in different types of investments. Different investments move in different directions each year. An obvious example is large cap stocks versus mid-term treasuries. 2008 was a terrible year for large cap stocks (big corporations). In contrast, treasuries with about a 6 year term were the best performers in 2008 (according to the Wall Street Journal). But who knew and who would have predicted it? So having the right correlation of investments, given that picking the winning category's nearly impossible, is critical. That way the portfolio benefits regardless of which assets outperform the market in a given year.

  3. Tactical Allocation of Assets. Third, allocate investments well tactically. With the right expertise and software, the first two parts aren't too difficult. This part is the toughest. It means investing more in different asset classes and sectors based on which are most likely to perform best. So once the asset allocation is suggested and the right correlation of assets is recommended, the question becomes if there are 5 asset classes, for example, does each get 20 percent? Often clients will already have stock index funds so it's partly a question of figuring out how to work with what's there so as not to have the client incur any unnecessary costs from buying or selling or from the related tax consequences. Will U.S. equities outperform foreign stocks? After the tech bubble burst, the experts Mike is learning about this approach from were pretty sure (correct as it turned out) that small cap stocks would perform better than the overall market as the market improved. They had recommended that their clients put more of their investment funds in small cap stocks and less in other types of assets.

How you benefit: You would have an investment approach you understand that is customized to meet your needs. It would reduce your downside risk and increase the likelihood that your investments will outperform the market.

Background. Mike's exciting new direction is consistent with his success as an expert in U.S. Soviet relations, international trade negotiations, and residential and investment real estate. Each avocation has been characterized by a burning passion, by driving to master what's most important, and by an intense desire to serve others effectively. Initially he develops the necessary expertise, then markets his services, earns testimonials and positive performance statistics until a steady stream of personal referrals results.

The formal training was a rigorous series of six, three-month CFP courses. After completing the fifth course, on investing, Mike discovered investing was his real passion as opposed to retirement planning and insurance. So Mike is now actively investing in equities. In 2010, his first year, he invested in and held stocks in the companies selected for an average of 6.5 months with a return of 15.5% (beating his benchmark, the S&P 500). In 2011 and 2012, he held stocks for 8.5 - 9.0 months on average. His 2011 and 2012 returns matched the S&P 500 (unchanged in 2011, up 13% in 2012).

In 2013, Mike continued to do well investing in equities but he also took the plunge with a start-up company, Cliffton Dry. Cliffton Dry produces a refreshing cider. It is an organic, low-alcohol, low-calorie and lightly carbonated drink. Unlike other ciders, Clifton Dry is made from the best apples available. It is a product which takes advantage of the healthy eating and drinking trends sweeping the industry, the farm-to-table movement, and the 20 - 40% annual increase in U.S. cider consumption (versus low or no growth in beer and other beverages) . His investment results in 2013 were up 41.2% compared to the S&P 500, which was up 29.6% for the year.

Real world experience builds on the investment experience he developed over the years. More importantly, valuable lessons have come from a nearby company whose client-centered approach is outlined above (asset allocation, correlation of assets, tactical recommendations). The objective is to help clients meet their goals without a transaction-driven business. Establishing the fiduciary relationship, with appropriate disclosures, gathering data, creating their financial plan, and then implementing and monitoring it serves clients best.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP,
Certified Financial Planner, and federally registered