Every investor is unique. Whether they’re looking for income, capital appreciation, security, protection from taxes, or they’re saving for specific needs like college or retirement, investors have different goals and different approaches to how their money should be managed.
That’s why at Charter Trust we believe that every investment plan should reflect the investor’s specific circumstances and aspirations. Each individual plan needs to include consideration of the full financial picture, including lifestyle preferences, goals, and risk tolerance, just to name a few. Our investment philosophy is centered on client objectives – balanced with economic and investment reality and opportunity
The investing world has never been so complex. Nor have people had so many options. The process becomes much clearer, however, when people understand themselves first. That’s why we spend a great deal of time getting to know you and your financial picture before we make any specific recommendations. Investment decisions have real effects; they are not mere statistical adjustments.
While every investor is unique, markets are fundamentally similar. Some are riskier than others and some offer greater opportunities for income or growth, but the essential dynamics are the same. By balancing the needs for growth, income, and security and being especially mindful of the full array of costs associated with any investment strategy, we help our clients meet their financial goals.
Most changes in an investment plan should be driven by changes in the client’s financial picture, in balance with changes in the markets. Markets come and go, but investors of character and conviction are the ones who profit in the long run.
Often, one type of investment will grow disproportionately to the rest of the economy while other sectors of the market languish. While it’s often exciting to “ride the wave,” prudence usually dictates taking a little money off the table and putting it into areas that many might consider boring. This kind of tactical management can add value but the real benefit is the peace of mind that comes from knowing investments are safely focused on areas of the global economy that make sense for the individual. This emphasis – on the investor, in balance with the markets – serves our clients well. Come see what we can do for you.
The Charter Trust investment process revolves around you, our client. It begins with a clear articulation of your objectives and goals. By understanding what you want to do with your money—generate income, protect it from taxes, grow it for the future—we can better understand what kind of return you require, and how much safety you need. These two factors are the cornerstone of our investment process.
After we understand these, we move on to look at specific issues, such as income requirements, your liquidity needs, what your time-horizon might be, tax issues, or other concerns. By developing an investment plan that is custom-designed for you, we design your investment portfolio before we ever buy a stock or a bond. Asset allocation is a key factor in this process—what kinds of stocks, bonds, or cash items you may need, in what proportions—on the road to meet your financial objectives.
Once this plan is in place, we begin the process of constructing your portfolio. Portfolios should be built over time to last. We do not believe in high-frequency trading. All that does is generate commissions for brokers. It seldom meets the needs of the client. By assembling your portfolio over time, we are able to take advantage of any market volatility to buy high-quality assets at reasonable prices. We have found that such investments provide stable incomes and secure returns.
Once the portfolio is designed and constructed, we rigorously test it to make sure that it is doing what it is supposed to do. As circumstances warrant, assets may be rebalanced, adding to assets that may have gone down in price, and trimming those that have appreciated. Such periodic rebalancing takes advantage of short-term fluctuations in order to increase long-term results.
Finally, we meet with you regularly to review your objectives, see if anything has changed, and make sure that your investments’ performance meets or exceeds your expectations. Such periodic meetings are a key part of what we do, and assure you that you are experiencing “The Charter Difference.”
The investment world no longer respects national boundaries. Your investment portfolio shouldn’t be limited by these artificial distinctions either.
It is well known that exposure to global stock and bond markets can reduce the variability of your total portfolio while increasing its returns. This is because not all economies are directly tied to the performance of the US. Corporations that serve markets outside of our economy will be on a different business cycle than our own. There are also a number of firms whose operations are principally tied to the fast-growing emerging markets. By investing in some of these we can profit from their development. In addition, there are truly global companies that do business around the world. It makes sense to invest in world-class corporations, irrespective of where their headquarters happen to be located.
The investment case for having a global exposure is therefore well-established. How do we accomplish this, then, and manage the risks? For the risks are real: currency risk, political risk, and accounting risk. By exposing ourselves to foreign markets, we take the chance that any of these things can move against us.
Finally, we use common-sense limits in our investing. While emerging markets can be hot investments, they also carry more political and accounting risk. We therefore use investments in countries like China or South Africa in the context of a globally diversified portfolio, but we don’t go overboard. In international investing, as in much of life, moderation is the best policy.
By investing in globally diversified portfolios our clients can benefit from global economic growth at a lower volatility than they would likely experience by just being invested in US markets. Just another benefit of investing with Charter.
Our domestic equity strategy utilizes the broad market of S&P 1500 companies. We focus mainly on large quality companies in the S&P 500 for individual investing, but we don’t limit ourselves to just those companies. The large cap companies that have solid sales and earnings growth, a healthy balance sheet with significant free cash flow, sound business models and industry leadership are likely to provide the best growth over time.
Within this strategy, we complement our performance with sector weightings based on evaluation of the current economic and market outlook. The sector weightings diversify the stock portfolio and are used to monitor overvalued and undervalued areas of the market.
The Mid Cap and Small Cap sectors play an important role in our domestic strategy. Our investments may consist of individual stocks, but more often will primarily consist of index Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). We use core, value, and growth-based ETFs to complement our other holdings.
Real estate is an investment we incorporate in our domestic allocation where appropriate.
The individual fixed income investments are in government backed bonds that consist of US Treasuries, US Agency bonds and Mortgage Backed securities along with high quality corporate bonds, preferred stocks, taxable municipal bonds and municipal bonds, where appropriate. Diversification is important in the bond portfolio, similar to the equity side.
All bonds have a credit rating of “A” or higher when purchased.
Our strategy is to build bond portfolios that take advantage of market volatility. A maturity ladder is typically structured to have a bond mature every year up through a maximum commitment of ten years. This has two benefits. First, we avoid the risk of having a major portion of the portfolio mature at a time when interest rates are low. Conversely, when interest rates are higher, there will be a steady flow of maturing assets to reinvest at those higher rates.