What an Investment Advisor does
“Specialization is one of the hallmarks of civilization.”
—Crane Brinton, writing in A History of Civilization: Prehistory to the Present
For the thousands and thousands of years that we were all hunting and gathering—that is, for the vast majority of time humans have existed—there wasn’t much need for investment advisors. Life was pretty much day-to-day; when there was a successful hunt, everyone in the tribe got a fair share. Everyone knew to store food for the lean times, but the choices were not that complicated.
It was the invention of agriculture that began to stretch our future planning capabilities. Not only did cultivation and animal husbandry necessitate considerable forward thinking to pull off, but the resulting surpluses created both incentives and opportunities for some folks to engage in mental rather than physical labor. Among these were priests, who were responsible for ensuring the gods remained happy so that harvests were good, political leaders, who dealt with issues comcommitant to maintaining order among ever larger numbers of congregated humans, and merchants, who managed the disposition of the surpluses. Humans generally being eminently adaptable and responsive to incentives, the ins and outs of finance waxed in flexibility and complexity.
Old Testament investment advice
One of the great early investment advisors was Joseph. Yep, that Joseph, he of the coat-of-many-colors. His relationship with Pharoh was emblematic of what a good investment advisor ought to strive for. Joseph took the time to listen to Pharoh and to understand his concerns, cardinal among which was an anxiety about providing for his subjects so acute as to cause him nightmares! Joseph’s advice made Egypt in general and Pharoh in particular considerably wealthier, which was good, and when the lean years came, averted a catastrophe, which was great—but even had there been no lean years, Joseph would have had a well satisfied customer.
Today, the world of finance is notably more complex than it was in the time of ancient Egypt. However, the role of an investment advisor remains pretty much the same: to synthesize general knowledge of the ins and outs of investing with the particular knowledge of each client’s needs and concerns to produce fruitful advice.
What we do at Intelledgement
At Intelledgement, we have the inclination to pay attention to the strategic-level financial stuff and work out how it is likely to impact all our lives. And we also take the time to understand tactically where our clients are coming from. We work hard both to address your particular investing concerns and to ensure you are up to speed on any significant big picture eventualities (e.g., the prospect of seven good years or seven lean years).
For most clients, we manage their investment portfolios. The broker we use is Fidelity; prospective clients who don’t already have a Fidelity account generally need to open one. The account is in the client’s name and Intelledgement cannot withdraw funds from the account, but we can and do enter buy and sell orders as appropriate. We encourage clients to actively participate in investment decisions but how much attention you pay to the process is entirely up to you. In any event, you get monthly statements from Fidelity (with the numbers) and quarterly reports from Intelledgement (with an analysis of relevant macro developments).
Should you become a client, our primary focus will be on managing your investment portfolio. Should we mutually determine that you have needs in other areas such as insurance, retirement planning, estate planning, etcetera, Intelledgement will either offer to work with you on a consulting fee basis if it is a matter within our competence or refer you to an appropriate specialist.