Overview & Investment Philosophy
What is ETFPortfolios.com?
We are an investment advisory service. We cater to individual investors and financial advisors who believe that investing today is more than just buying an index fund and ignoring your portfolio for a decade or two. We believe that investment markets change, and we must change with them. Whether you are nearing retirement and want to fiercely protect what you have earned, a newer investor who just realized its time to get serious, or a financial advisor looking to provide greater insight and value to your clients, we are ready to help you get there. And, we do so on your terms.
Are you a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)?
No, but we are part of one. ETFPortfolios.com is the website for Sungarden Investment Management, LLC, a company founded by Rob Isbitts and his wife Dana in 2011. Sungarden is not an investment advisory firm. Certain members of Sungarden are Investment Advisor Representatives (IARs) who provide advisory services under Dynamic Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Our offering is focused squarely on portfolio management and investment research, as opposed to a "full service" approach. We don't provide financial planning service though we can introduce you to financial planners who partner with us. Our clients prioritize investment decision-making, whether we are helping them do it themselves, or managing assets for them. We price our services below many traditional advisory or wealth management services. In exchange for that lower advisory fee, our administrative support services are more streamlined.
What is your investment approach?
ETFPortfolios.com offers a contemporary, common-sense, analytical approach to navigating modern investment markets. It has evolved since the mid-1980s, when our founder's career on Wall Street began. This approach is designed for investors who don't want to settle for the usual Wall Street babble like "invest for the long-term," "market corrections are healthy," "buy the dips," and "asset allocation based on Nobel Prize winning theory. We learned all that decades ago. And during that time, we also learned that it is much more helpful to the broker, financial planner or wealth manager than it is to you, the investor. Instead, we take what we have learned about how today's investment markets work for and against you. And, we use that to help you turn the odds in your favor. We believe strongly that the type of returns most investors expect or require cannot be achieved the way they were in the past. Today, returns have essentially be engineered. We have been doing this for decades, and we have developed a process and structure that we are now making available to self-directed investors and discerning financial advisors.
What tools do you offer to investors?
Once you have signed an Agreement for our services and become a client, we offer educational video training, a guided portfolio strategy creator, cutting-edge investment research, model portfolios, trade notes, and frequent commentary from our investment team. We teach you our approach, and you decide whether to do it yourself and have us coach you, or hand the reins to us to manage assets directly. So, as the old saying goes, we can teach you to fish, or give you a fish! It’s up to you. Either way, our goal is for you to benefit from our decades in the investment trenches.
Once I became a client, what do I get and how do I ask questions?
Since this is an investment advisory service, we devote significant time to getting you up and running, whether you are using our service as a research resource, or having us manage assets for you. Once you come on board with us, you may email questions any time . We have designed our advisory service to include a significant amount of online training and education through our existing and ongoing video series. After your personalized onboarding process is completed, you may find that the videos and email communication with us is sufficient to keep you “in the know” and up to date. That said, you can always call us when you need us. Our service standard is to return emails within 24 hours of when we receive them. For Portfolio Management and the VIP Service, you will get quarterly investment review phone call with one of our portfolio advisors.
Am I locked into my service once I sign the agreement?
We want you to get as much out of ETFPortfolios.com as you can, for as long as you are happy with it. But if at any point you decide our service is not for you, you can terminate the agreement anytime.
What type of investor is a good fit for your service?
We occupy a unique space in the often complex and confusing investment advice landscape that investors confront in the internet and social media age. If you are frustrated by working with traditional wealth managers and brokers but yearn for more than a stock-picks list or a portfolio that contains the same, oversimplified, undifferentiated investment strategies that Robo Advisors, brokers and wealth managers offer, we think you have come to the right place!
How are you different from other Advisors?
Besides providing investment advice, we also offer investment education and portfolio construction tools to investors through our website, ETFportfolios.com. which will be made available to you once you become a client. We deliver specialized investment education, investment strategy, cutting-edge portfolio construction guidance, and investment research on ETFs. This is all driven by the investment approach created by and practiced by our founder since the late 1990s. So, you have the comfort of knowing that is not some new creation that was back tested 10 years so that it looks pretty, but is untested. Everything you see on our site represents the evolution of decades of thought, sweat and experience. Along the way, we have learned from our mistakes as well as our successes. We've navigated bull markets, bear markets and many environments in between. We think our experience can help you avoid many common pitfalls of investing.
Do I open an account with your firm, and have it custodied at your broker?
Your Assets will be held by an independent Custodian, not by the Advisor and it is up to you. Allow us to explain. Our goal is to provide services that fit your goals and your budget. No fluff, no fancy events, no nonsense. Just straightforward investment advice. If you are a do-it-yourself (DIY) investor or financial advisor that prefers to implement our approach yourself, you can choose the our Guided Portfolio Service. If you're looking for a portfolio manager that makes buy and sell decisions for you (or your clients), and and executes trades on your behalf, you can choose the discretionary service and open an account. Through Dynamic Wealth Advisors, we offer access to several leading custodians. The choice is up to you.
With so many investment sources already out there, why did you create another one?
So much of the investment industry still relies on decades-old theories that used to work. But as markets have evolved, that so-called "Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT)", in our opinion, is at best irrelevant, and at most dangerous. As we see it, Modern Portfolio Theory and the modern investor do not mix. That creates a huge void for many investors, who are tired of applying the same, stale approach to their portfolio. In addition to a lack of strong foundation in the areas of investment strategy and portfolio allocation, we also believe investors are not being taught the benefits of using ETFs to build portfolios. Much of the available guidance on ETFs is either oversimplified or too technical, and built for institutional investors. We created ETFPortfolios.com to fill that void.
Why are you so down on 60/40 portfolios? Haven't those been very successful?
We agree that there have been times in the past where 60/40 portfolios were useful to certain investors. However, we see 2 clear trends that stack the odds against 60/40 portfolios, at least for a while. The first is low bond yields. The second is that the stock market is now driven by very different set of factors than in the past. Our video learning series explores this in more depth.
What do see as the biggest flaws with existing investment sites and systems out there?
We realize that alot of investment "experts" have actually never truly managed money and had their performance evaluated. We also realize that many of those alleged professionals have never seen a bear market in stocks. And, even if they did, their plan for helping you protect your assets can be summarized as "don't worry about it, the market always comes back," or "buy the dips." We think that type of advice is not really advice. Its not really even investing! Its a cop-out, one born out of spending too much time enjoying a bull market without contemplating that the investing world is not all cake and ice cream (but don't get us wrong, we like cake and ice cream!). Our approach to building portfolios is different is different because we see investing as a path to the objectives you choose for yourself. The markets are just a tool to help you get there. This is why you see far more emphasis in our service on developing a better understanding of 2 things: establishing an investment allocation range that you feel is comfortable for you, and understanding how ETFs can be used to fill the "buckets" in your portfolio.
Products and Services
What is offered for free on the site?
Free Learning Videos: This series of 3-5 minute videos introduces the concepts that underlie the investment approach used throughout ETFPortfolios.com. They are free, and can be accessed through our site, or via our YouTube channel. They are narrated by our Chief Investment Strategist, Rob Isbitts, and other members of our team.
Free Articles: Some of Rob's most impactful articles from more than 20 years of investment writing are available on our site, as part of the free, public section of ETFPortfolios.com. New articles are added to the site as they are published.
Who is behind ETFPortfolios.com?
ETFPortfolios.com is part of Sungarden Investment Management (SIM). SIM was founded in 2011 by Rob Isbitts, an investment industry veteran, regular contributor to Forbes.com and US News & Word Report, book author and former mutual fund manager. Rob started his career in New York City in 1986. He and his family moved to South Florida in 1997, and they have lived and worked there since. ETFPortfolios.com is a collaboration between our internal team and the advanced resources, technology, data services, analytical platforms and people of Dynamic Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).
What is the background of Rob Isbitts?
Our co-founder and Chief Investment Strategist (Rob Isbitts) has been charting stocks for 40 years, since his Dad taught him at age 16. Rob has been a licensed investment advisor representative (IAR) since the 1990s and created the concept of Hedged Investing in the 1990s, when the Dot-Com Bubble was raging. He saw an urgent need to provide to his clients a portfolio management approach that could help them stay on track toward their goals, while greatly reducing the risk of a collapse in portfolio value along the way. In his more than 30 years in the investment business, Rob has devoted over 120,000 hours to investment strategy, portfolio management and investment research. He has been writing publicly about hedged investing and his observations on modern financial markets for many years, contributing to several major publications as a writer or source, and as a regular guest on podcasts, radio shows and other media formats.
Getting Value Out of Our Services
How do I create a portfolio using the site's tools?
There are many ways to get there. Our role is to provide you with the education, interactive tools and ongoing research to do it. Once you have signed an Agreement for our services and become a client, we also provide model portfolios, in case you prefer to piggyback in full or in part off of what we are doing with our own money. In other words, you can use the site in either of 3 ways: copy what we are doing, use what we are doing as a base from which to create your own portfolio, or do it entirely on your own after learning the hedged investing process. Its your call. We're just here to help you however we can!
What goes into a 3-piece portfolio?
Unlike our peers, who live in an oversimplified stock/bond/cash world, we see things differently. Sure, there is a set of individual stocks and/or equity ETFs that serve as the starting point for your portfolio. However, from there, we identify 2 other distinct segments. One is the Hedge segment, and the other is the Tactical segment. Essentially, this creates 3 sub-portfolios within your total portfolio. Importantly, we deliver our services to you both in segments (equity/hedge/tactical) and as a complete portfolio.
Why do you believe so much in technical analysis (charting)?
Because in over 30 years of investing, we have concluded that analyzing price patterns for stocks and ETFs is a far more reliable approach then analyzing "fundamentals," basing decisions on "valuation," chasing "momentum" investments, or asking your cousin who day-trades. Those other investment styles (ex the part about the cousin!) are all inputs to our process. However, we use them more to screen out very risky investments, rather than to proactively select those with strong risk/reward tradeoff. We have found that our way keeps big losses off the table, and that can lead to a higher probability of getting the results you desire.
Do you believe in using lots of leverage in portfolios, such as through 2X and 3X ETFs?
We think leveraged ETFs (2x, 3x) are day-trading tools. And, while hedged investing can be a very active process for some, we tend to avoid using highly-levered investment vehicles. That said, there are some ETFs we include in our investment universe that use a slight amount of leverage. We also include in the potential arsenal ETFs that use put and call options to try to help add to return, play defense, or both.
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