Investment Advisory Services
We build durable portfolios that have long term predictable outcomes. We design portfolios and strategies to skillfully navigate our clients through changing markets. You will have your own unique investment allocation. In addition, we maintain a recommended buy list of investments so that we can take immediate action in case we need to react quickly to changes in the overall markets or to a specific investment.
We identify your specific goals and then determine the best way to achieve each goal by looking holistically at your entire portfolio. We seek to provide you with returns that are consistent, competitive and in line with your financial objectives. We strive to create portfolios that only take the level of risk needed to meet your goals, and we limit that risk by focusing on broad diversification and a disciplined approach. Once we have determined the broad asset allocation, we construct your unique portfolio from the bottom up by selecting a best-in-class manager for each asset category.
The following components are key to our investment approach:
Customized Goals Based Approach
Heffernan’s initial engagement begins with a conversation regarding your goals. We discuss your time horizon, income needs, risk tolerance, liquidity needs, tax sensitivity and the overall purpose and growth objectives of your funds. We incorporate whether you are in the asset “accumulation” or “distribution” phase of life in making our specific recommendations for you.
Once we have a clear understanding of your needs, we begin an overall assessment of your current portfolio. We review the existing Investment Policy Statement (if there is one) and asset allocation to see how well they support your objectives. We also conduct an evaluation of all existing investments.
We build portfolios from the top down by matching your risk tolerance with the asset allocation that is right for you. Our philosophy is to concentrate our efforts on the total portfolio composition and how assets are allocated throughout the various financial sectors. Our approach is based on the Nobel Prize winning economics work of Harry Markowitz called Modern Portfolio Theory. His work demonstrated a higher portfolio risk-adjusted return can be attained by adding non-correlating assets to a portfolio. Of the three ways to capture investment returns: asset allocation, security selection and timing, the asset allocation decision is shown to be the most important variable in market returns.
Our top down asset allocation ensures proper diversification, which is the key to good investment performance. Each portfolio is designed to provide growth consistent with your goals and your comfort level with risk. Portfolios are diversified among:
- Stocks, which may include large capitalization (“large cap”), mid capitalization (mid-cap), and small capitalization (small-cap) U.S. equities, as well as international and emerging market equities
- Bonds, which may include high quality and high yield securities, domestic and international, and various lengths of duration and maturities
- Alternative investments, which may include REITS, commodities, long short funds and multi-asset class funds.
The core of each portfolio is strategically designed for long term investment, with relatively low volatility and turnover. We will also utilize smaller holdings that tend to be shorter term investments with higher volatility than to complement the core holdings. Together, the strategies seek to deliver consistent performance, diversification, and a portfolio with several non-correlating assets.
We pay particular attention to managing risk in portfolios. The three main areas that we focus on are volatility, downside risk and broad exposure. We measure these on a macro level for all of our client portfolios. We reduce risk by constructing portfolios in which the returns of portfolio’s holdings are as uncorrelated to each other as possible. As we re-balance portfolios, consideration is given to how certain financial sectors will affect the overall performance of the portfolio and day-to-day volatility.
Incorporating The Impact Of Taxes
We construct portfolios to minimize the impact of taxes. We consider the differences between types of accounts that a client may hold: taxable, tax-deferred retirement vehicle, trusts and not-for-profit foundations. Each of these accounts may have differing tax considerations so it is important that a comprehensive tax strategy exists across all accounts. We will also employ a tax loss harvest strategy when appropriate.
Best-In-Class Manager Selection
In many ways, Heffernan’s manager search and evaluation method is similar to how a portfolio manager selects securities. It begins with a preliminary screening of information from a vast pool of investment managers. To narrow the field of potential managers in an asset class, we apply quantitative screens that identify managers with superior risk-adjusted performance over rolling three and five-year periods. Then, we embark on an in-depth analysis that combines both quantitative and qualitative research. At this next stage, we are interested in determining how performance was achieved and whether or not it seems repeatable. We pay particular attention to the manager’s investment process, firm stability, management talent, risk-return analysis and management fees.
We Control Investment Costs
We believe the cost to invest is critical in portfolio construction. Portfolios are constructed to represent the asset classes and markets we target at the least expensive cost. Once we find the managers we like, we utilize the most cost-effective method for which they offer their services, whether it be an institutional mutual fund, an exchange traded fund and/or a separately managed portfolio. Where appropriate, we manage individual client bond allocations in-house. With access to multiple institutional fixed income trading desks, we provide you with superior pricing and breadth, and the ability to create a laddered portfolio to control interest rate risk and to protect cash flows.
As a fee-based investment manager, we do not take commissions from anyone and we are not paid to direct business to any entity. We receive fees as a percentage of assets under management. This creates a fiduciary relationship with our clients as well as a long term partnership. Household balances over one million and income specific strategies have lower management fees.
For performance monitoring purposes, Heffernan independently calculates investment performance from each manager. Investment returns are monitored continuously and we prepare a customized performance report that is distributed to you on a quarterly basis.
Investment Policy Development
We have the capability and experience to create an Investment Policy Statement (IPS) for those non-profit, institutional clients and wealth management clients that want this service. This is a written plan that investment committees use to help monitor their long-term investment goals. A written investment policy allows them to clearly establish their investment time horizon and goals, risk tolerances, permissible assets and asset concentrations, as well as prudence and diversification standards.
Monitoring, Meeting And Reporting
Heffernan meets with our clients as frequently as each client requires. Generally, when we are first engaged, meetings (or calls) may be monthly while we go through the asset allocation, manager structure, investment policy development, and manager selection process. Once those decisions have been made and after we assist our clients in their implementation, meetings may become less frequent (typically quarterly or annual meetings).
Heffernan periodically has client seminars where we provide speakers of interest on topics such as current events, the economic climate or capital market updates.