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Guided Investing™

Investment and Portfolio Management

Take control of your financial future and make progress towards your planned milestones.

  • Do you want to feel more confident in your investment approach?
  • Have you recently experienced an employment transition and you need to restructure your accounts? 
  • Is retirement on the horizon and do you want to make sure you’re on the right path? 
  • Are your finances reaching a new level of complexity and you want someone to guide you through the investment process?
A retired women dressed in a hat and hiking gear setting out for an adventure with a confident smile.

The United States is now in the Era of Personal Responsibility. 

Traditionally, employers were responsible for ensuring the financial security of the general public. Now that responsibility has been squarely pushed back onto the individual. In most cases, you can no longer work for the same company for 40 years and retire with a generous pension. If you want to survive and thrive in this new system, it’s up to you to make it happen. No one else is going to do it for you. 

Knowing how to properly invest and create your own prosperity is a vital skill to succeed in this new age.

Structuring your investments can be both an art and a science, and the vast jungle of investing information is both complex and confusing.

We understand this disconnect and are here to help! Our Guided Investing™ process combines the best of financial planning and investment management to help you create a master plan for your money and provide you with a guided framework to design a well-constructed investment portfolio to help achieve your objectives. 

We Will Show You How to Make the Most of Your Investments…

Guided Investing™ is our comprehensive investment management philosophy and framework designed with an aim to guide your investments to a new level of productivity and safekeeping. Starting by defining the why, this process can be applied to investors who are saving for retirement, building wealth, wanting to manage risk or all of the above. We have worked with Fortune 500 leaders, entrepreneurs, pilots, nurses and rocket scientists–everyone from Olympic Medalists to Primary Educators. And we would love to work with YOU!

Our Guided Investing™ is designed for a specific type(s) of individual:

  • You want to feel more confident in your investment decisions.
  • You want a financial guide to help you design a strategy to reach your financial milestones (e.g. retirement).
  • You want a professional to help you make the most of your savings.
  • You want to be certain of your risk and manage potential tax implications.
  • You want an expert to oversee your investments and monitor your progress.
  • You want a defined strategy for your investments that produces an expected return on your money.
  •  You are not interested in chasing the hottest stock or latest market trend with your nest egg savings.

Not all advisors are created equal.

Here is where we stand and why it matters…

As the world evolves, you no longer need to work with the giant firms on Wall Street to access world-class planning tools, research and high quality investments. Like other specialty practices, Hunt Country Wealth Management has pivoted away from corporate constraints to embrace independence.

Led by a husband and wife team, our independent firm offers no proprietary products or one-size-fits-all solutions. We have no sales quotas to fulfill, and we do not answer to the needs of corporate shareholders. Instead, we focus on developing processes that simplify the complexity of investing and guide individuals on making better financial decisions and the best use of their resources. We operate under and uphold strict fiduciary standards. Firm founder, Chris Merchant is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL ADVISOR™/CFP® and a certified Behavioral Financial Advisor™.

Another notable difference is our commitment to keeping your Investment Management in-house. In an environment of robo-advisors, and with most other advisors clustering to outsource their investment management responsibilities, Hunt Country Wealth Management takes our commitment to serve as your advisor seriously, and we never outsource to third-party money managers. The art of investing requires skill and competency. If a firm outsources the creation and management of your investment portfolio (Steps 3 & 4 of Guided Investing™), you may not be talking to the actual strategist behind your plan. We also believe  in-house management offers more transparency, increased personal control and more flexibility for customization.

We work nationwide with individuals like you on a 1:1 virtual/in-office basis. We have also packaged our thought leadership and investing framework in our breakout book: On Investing Well: The Elements of Good Investing available on Amazon and other retailers.

 

After completing our plan you will…

  • Feel Guided and Supported. 
  • Feel a Renewed Sense of Energy knowing you have a master plan designed to help you reach your future goals and milestones (e.g., retirement, etc.).
  • Feel Confident in your investment strategy and secure knowing your investment approach is built on a strong foundation based on principles and experience. 
  • Feel Knowledgeable and avoid emotional traps and knee-jerk reactions that may diminish your return potential and which may cause undue stress and anxiety. 
  • Feel Prepared as you progress toward your planned financial milestones. 
  • Feel Reinforced knowing your plan has professional oversight and monitoring.

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The Guided Investing™ Service Includes:

  • Professional Guidance and Analysis: With a top-down approach, we begin with the why. We help you articulate your goals and objectives and clarify what you are investing for. We then build an appropriate strategy to reach intended milestones (e.g., college, retirement, wealth, etc.). This includes taking the time to understand what you would like to achieve, your prior experience, tax status, liquidity requirements, time horizon, and risk tolerance. Considerations for what may be important to you: Preparing for retirement, creating income from your investments, reducing risk, performance expectations (second opinion), building wealth, or a combination of them all. 
  • Expert Recommendations and Strategy: Harness the power of our specialized knowledge and real-world experience to navigate the complexities of investing. In this step, we help you find opportunities to maximize your resources, address potential challenges, discuss potential tax implications and help you avoid costly mistakes. Investing is both an art and a science, and together we will define where you want to go and will provide expert recommendations on potential strategies to help you pursue your objectives. 
  • Expertly Curated Portfolio: In this step, we go to work building your Strategic Investment Portfolio™. Leveraging foundational principles designed by the Nobel Prize-Winning Modern Portfolio Theory, we curate and invest in a mix of best-in-class investments, bonds, cash and other assets that balance your comfortability with risk and time horizon, it’s rating and our evaluation of the selection. This mix or allocation of ingredients is like preparing a recipe. The right mix of ingredients in the right proportions will determine how much volatility your portfolio will experience and how much its value may be expected to increase. We also determine your custom diversification strategy that includes a mix of subclasses of assets  (i.e., sectors, size, location, valuation, etc.) designed to respond to changing markets and economies in conversely different ways (e.g., In a market correction, one responds by going down, while another responds by going up). In the end, you’ll receive a customized portfolio that you can be sure is structured to help you accomplish your strategic objectives. No more wondering if the “one-size-fits-all” investing options are the right fit or are delivering the right results. Think of us as hiring an architect vs. buying home plans online. 
  • Behavioral Coaching: Firm Founder Chris Merchant is a certified Behavioral Financial Advisor™. We recognize that successful investing doesn’t just include following traditional financial principles. It also involves managing the hardwired intricacies of the human brain. Humans aren’t computers, and we sometimes act outside of our best interests and make knee-jerk reactions based on emotional responses (e.g., fear, greed, FOMO, bias). The average person underperforms the S&P 500 or Barclays Bond Index over any given time frame not because of poor investment selections but because of poor investment decisions. Our behavioral coaching is designed to help you enhance your thinking and decipher real threats to your long-term plan from flash-in-the-pan news stories and tabloid selling headlines. Vanguard’s Alpha Study1 found that a good financial advisor can add 1.5% to a client’s net returns solely through behavioral coaching. Over the course of a $1,000,000, 40-year investment, this would yield an additional $800,000. 
  • Professional Monitoring: Although successful investing is rarely achieved by weaving recklessly in and out of the stock market, it is important to actively manage your portfolio on an ongoing basis. Our professional monitoring and investment oversight involves periodically checking to ensure your strategy is still in line with your goals, measuring your intended progress, conducting due diligence, and rebalancing your portfolio as necessary (e.g., selling over-performing investments to replace underperforming ones). This will leave you feeling reinforced and confident that your plan is being professionally managed and optimized as you progress toward your future. 

The Guided Investing™ Process is a series of three-to-four strategy sessions that incorporate virtual software and/or in-office technology, custom feedback, collaborative discussions, email and personal communication and action-oriented guidance. 

Guided Investing™ is an ongoing Investment Management relationship in which Hunt County Wealth Management actively monitors your investment portfolio. Our annual oversight includes ensuring your strategy remains in alignment with your ongoing goals, tracking progress to planned milestones, conducting due diligence and rebalancing accounts as necessary. You will receive quarterly financial statements to track progress, and we host at least one 1:1 session per year to collaboratively review accounts and discuss changes. 

1Source: Bennyhoff CFA, Donald G., & Kinniry Jr. CFA, Francis M. (2016, June). Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha: Vanguard Research. https://www.vanguard.com/pdf/ISGAA.pdf

Within our Guided Investing™ framework, we help you manage the three big components of being a good investor: mindset, principles and methods. 

We believe investment success isn’t dependent on someone’s ability to pick the hottest stock or identify market trends. We don’t believe you should depend on luck, and we won’t bet your retirement money on the price of gold or the latest investment fad.  We think headlines that highlight investment methods, such as The Top 3 Index Funds to Buy or Best Dividend Stocks of 2021 won’t contribute to your long-term success unless they are first aligned with your strategic plan and you have mastered the mindset to get you there. The most important contribution to your investment success is your ability to create a plan and stick to it.

Our Investment Advisory Process: 

If you rank the principles every good investor should understand in order of importance, strategy would top the list. It contributes more to your investment success than any other principle. Strategy simply means having and executing a purposeful investment plan of action–a master plan– that allows you to reach your desired destination.

Brokerage Process: 

Within Guided Investing™, while we are constructing your portfolio, we sometimes suggest the use of brokerage products. In these instances, we work as independent brokers and represent your best fiduciary interests. As an independent firm, we have access to any publicly-traded investment product and we don’t have any proprietary relationships that would cause us to select one product over another due to a vested interest or special arrangement. Should you want or need access to brokerage-based programs such as life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities or certain other investments, we will shop the market on your behalf and curate best-in-class options for your review.

Here are the eight steps we take to help you invest your money in a disciplined and strategic way:

Take control of your financial future.

To get started schedule your 15-Minute Discovery Call™ now.

With our Guided Investing™ you will:

Feel Guided and Supported.

Feel a Renewed Sense of Energy knowing you have a master plan designed to help you reach your future goals and milestones (e.g., retirement, etc.).

Feel Confident in your Investment Strategy and secure knowing your investment approach is built on a strong foundation based on principles and experience.

Feel Knowledgeable and avoid emotional traps and knee-jerk reactions that may diminish your return potential and which may cause undue stress and anxiety.

Feel Prepared as you progress toward your planned financial milestones.

Feel Reinforced knowing your plan has professional oversight and monitoring.

Our Guided Investing™ framework has ranked as an Amazon Bestseller, in our book On Investing Well: The Elements of Good Investing.

 “One of the best new Personal Investing books” – BookAuthority

  • Ranked #3 in 14 Best Personal Investing Books for Beginners
  • Ranked #8 in 59 Best Personal Investing Books of All Time

As featured on CNN, Forbes, and Inc–BookAuthority identifies and rates the best books in the world, based on recommendations by thought leaders and experts.

Amazon Hot New Release and Bestsellers List Rankings for Retirement Planning, Stock Market Investing, Investing Portfolio Management and Analysis & Trading Investing Strategies.

 

The Modern Investor: Success vs. Disaster

We believe you can be successful whether you do your own investing or work with a financial advisor. But there is a caveat: Investing on your own is like doing DIY repairs on your home. Some people do them really well. For others, it can be a disaster and end up costing more than if they had hired a professional. The difference comes down to the homeowner’s knowledge and experience. According to a study by Vanguard, advisors can potentially add “about 3% in net returns.”¹ Like housing contractors, not all advisors are created equal. The firm/individual you have handling your financial future should be as skilled as the person you want to work on your home. Don’t miss financial opportunities, settle for underperformance or live with that nagging feeling of uncertainty. We can help!

Source: 1Kinniry, Francis M., Colleen M. Jaconetti, Michael A. DiJoseph, Yan Zilbering, and Donald G. Bennyhoff. “Putting a Value on Your Value: Quantifying Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha Vanguard. September 2016. Accessed February 04, 2018. https://advisors.vanguard.com/iwe/pdf/ISGQVAA.pdf

There are many misconceptions about investing. Here are some common ones: 

 

  • Investment Management is expensive and only for the wealthy. Getting quality advice generally isn’t free, and it’s certainly not reserved for only the wealthy. Not everyone has the time to be a financial expert. You may not have the inclination, tools, resources, specific knowledge or desire to successfully manage your portfolio. If you want an easy plan you can execute without having to worry about changes in legislation, the economy and/or within financial products, then hiring an investment manager is a worthy investment! Referencing the Vanguard study featured above, a good advisor can potentially add “about 3% in net returns.”1 So the goal of our fee would be that our advice and management more than pays for itself in measured long-term returns, peace-of-mind, and the avoidance of costly mistakes and missed opportunities. Like any professional, we only exist because we add value, and we want our client’s to feel the confidence of having a thoughtful plan and financial strategy. 
  • My Investment Needs aren’t that Specific, A “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach is Fine. We recognize that we aren’t everything to everyone, and there are instances where “one-size-fits-all” investment models may be beneficial when your needs are simple. This may apply when you are in your 20s and 30s and are just starting your investment savings. But as you advance toward milestones such as retirement or when your financial situation becomes more complex, the benefits of having a dedicated investment manager can be tremendously beneficial and may help you avoid costly mistakes and missed opportunities. “One-size-fits-all” options generally select investments based on your risk-tolerance alone, and the advice they dispense is the same even if you have vastly different financial situations and goals. For some, this approach is fine, while for others it could be way off base. You also need to consider your ability to monitor and rebalance as needed. “One-size-fits-all” options generally run on autopilot once your investment selections are made. So ask yourself: “Is the level of risk I am willing to take as an investor the only variable I should consider when planning for my financial future?” We don’t think so. 
  • There’s Nothing Wrong with a Company having Proprietary Products. When you’re working with a company with proprietary products or that has product affiliations, you may run into an issue of only being able to access products within their corporate atmosphere. This may cause an advisor to favor or receive pressure to offer one product over another, even if there are better-performing and/or less expensive options available. This is also where the fiduciary standard may come into play. Not all financial advisors are fiduciaries. Some work under what is known as a suitability standard which allows them to not always place their clients’ interests ahead of their own and they are not required to disclose when there is a conflict of interest. 
  • Investment Companies are Going to Try and Sell Me a Product. There is no denying that when you speak to many financial professionals within both the finance and insurance worlds. product sales take precedence. From the top-down, many firms are motivated by the transactional revenue of selling you a product. Making money isn’t a bad thing, but how you do it and why certainly matters.  Investment and Insurance products may be necessary to implement your financial plan, and they may be extremely beneficial. They just need to be used as a tool to implement a larger strategy–not as the strategy itself. That’s why at Hunt Country Wealth Management we focus on delivering results from our processes and start by designing a strategy and master plan to help you reach your goals and objectives. 
  • All Investment Companies do the Same Thing. Like all practitioners, there are generalists and specialists. If you are investing to prepare for retirement, feel confident in knowing that Hunt Country Wealth Management is a retirement specialist. We focus on the needs of today’s modern retiree. We integrate best practices across disciplines and blend traditional principles (finance, economics, investment management and insurance) with those of cognitive psychology to offer a comprehensive approach that guides clients into making better financial decisions.

Led by a husband and wife team…

Hunt Country Wealth Management is a financial planning and investment management firm that specializes in preparing modern retirees for retirement. Award-winning CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Behavioral Financial Advisor™ Chris Merchant has the unique ability and passion for helping others realize their potential and navigate the complexities of the investment world. Hunt Country Wealth Management is an independent financial planning and investment management firm which serves individuals nationwide from the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What is Guided Investing™?

Guided Investing™ is our comprehensive investment management philosophy and framework designed to help you optimize and preserve your resources.  Starting by defining the why, this process helps you create a master plan for your money and a guided framework to design, implement and monitor a Strategic Investment Portfolio™ to reach your planned milestones in retirement.

What if I Want to Handle My Investment Management and just want a Check-In or Second Opinion?

If you aren’t seeking Investment Management but are interested in having the experts at Hunt Country Wealth Management review your investment portfolio or provide a second opinion on your investments/strategy, please see our 90-Minute Strategy Session option.

Take control of your financial future…