Archive by Author


If You Like Vanguard, You’ll Love Wealthfront

I am often asked by people unfamiliar with our service, “Why should I use Wealthfront to buy a portfolio of Vanguard index funds, when I could buy the same funds directly from Vanguard without paying any advisory fee?” It’s a perfectly reasonable question, but it has a very simple answer.  Wealthfront can save you significantly more money in taxes than the 0.25% a year you’ll pay us in advisory fees — up to eight times as much, in fact. There’s also the comfort of knowing that you can take a “set it and forget it” attitude towards your investment, confident that professionals will be looking after the routine housekeeping tasks that are crucial for any investing strategy. Even Vanguard’s management […]

Our Advice After Election Night

Last night’s election results came a shock to many people. If the past is any predictor of the future, I would expect a lot of our clients to feel incredibly unsettled as a result. The situation reminds me a lot of what happened immediately after the Brexit vote. Most people have forgotten that the FTSE 100 (an index of the 100 largest market cap stocks on the London Stock Exchange) declined 3.15% the first day after the vote, but finished the week up 1.99%.  Markets around the world dropped, recovered, dropped again and then rose to a level well in excess of where they were before the election. So what’s our advice for worried investors? Same as always: Do nothing. […]

Passing the Baton, Again

I never thought I would be a founder.  After 25 years in venture capital, my intention was to focus my time on sharing what I had learned with the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Fate, as it would seem, had a different idea. After countless frustrating experiences trying to explain to my students why they couldn’t access quality financial advice, I realized that I should do something about it. But it wasn’t until I met Dan Carroll that I knew that I would do something about it. Dan and I launched Wealthfront at the end of 2011, and a new way to invest began to form. Not long after we launched, […]

Not all software is created equal

I am constantly amazed at how often people ask me, “Why can’t any bank or broker with a large budget hire a bunch of engineers and easily replicate Wealthfront?” The answer is simple: not all software is created equal. If it were, you probably wouldn’t be doing all your searches on Google and buying most things from Amazon. We believe our software is simply better than our competitors’. Real World Example: Tax-Loss Harvesting A great example of our superior software is tax-loss harvesting, an important feature Wealthfront pioneered in October 2012. The goal of our daily tax-loss harvesting service is to minimize investment taxes for our clients. The service does this by selling securities that are trading at a loss […]

The 2017 Wealthfront Career-Launching Companies List

Today we are pleased to present our fifth annual list of US mid-sized information technology companies with momentum. We publish this list because it is our responsibility as a financial advisor to provide the advice that maximizes your net worth. As proud as we are of our investment service, we think we can add even more value by helping you start your career on the right foot. That’s because choosing the right job can add far more to your ultimate net worth than making good planning or investment decisions. We believe the companies we list each year are the ideal places for young people to start their careers because they are all highly likely to turn into large businesses, and […]

Financial Advice for Young Lawyers in Debt

What to Do First? Invest or Pay off Debt? Among the many decisions facing young professionals as they embark on their careers is how to begin a lifetime of financial planning. And young attorneys have an especially tough call. Most of them leave law school with significant student debt, but without the sort of starting salary necessary to quickly pay off their loans. At the same time, they are usually smart enough to appreciate that they need to start saving for major life events, including a home, college for their children, and their own retirement. So what to do? Pay off their loans, or start in on a nest egg? The answer for young lawyers, just like it is for […]

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Benchmark a Diversified Portfolio

One of the biggest challenges for an investor is to determine how well her diversified portfolio is performing. The two most common benchmarks featured in published advice are: S&P 500 A 60/40 Stock/Bond portfolio Unfortunately, most published advice is incorrect. That’s because it usually encourages comparison to an irrelevant index or too generic of a model portfolio. In our opinion, the right way to benchmark a diversified portfolio is to take into account risk and taxes. Let’s Start with Indexes Most individual investors think they should benchmark their diversified portfolios against a stock index like the S&P 500®. That’s probably because such indexes are the only indexes with which they are familiar or the only indexes their financial advisors used in […]

It’s About Automation, Not Fees

Automated investment services are successful because they are automated, not because they are low priced. They are low priced because they are automated, but that’s not why most people choose them. Broadly, preference for automation is a generational thing, much like music. Baby Boomers who grew up on rock ‘n roll didn’t transition their musical taste to classical when they got older. They were conditioned as a generation to like a particular style of music, and stuck with it. We believe the same is true for the way people interact with the Internet. While older people like the convenience of the Web, they also like talking to people “in person.” In contrast young people who grew up “digitally native” prefer […]

Demystifying Venture Capital Economics, Part 5: When Should New Entrants Partner with Incumbents

At some point in its evolution, every startup faces the question of whether or not it should partner with a large company to accelerate its growth. On the surface, partnering almost always looks like a great idea. Unfortunately, the reality is seldom as rosy. Partner Motivation: The Chesbrough Framework In my experience, understanding your potential corporate partner’s motivations will tell you a lot about how likely it will behave post investment. In my product/market fit class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, I use Hank Chesbrough’s outstanding framework to describe the motivations that drive corporate partnerships (Hank is a professor at the University of California’s Haas School of Business). Like most compelling frameworks, it is based on a simple […]

Investment Fees Matter, But Taxes Matter Even More

For more than 40 years, our Chief Investment Officer Burt Malkiel has been telling investors that you can’t outperform the market, so you should buy index funds and focus on the three things over which you do have control: minimizing fees, minimizing taxes and staying diversified. Minimizing fees gets a lot of attention from personal finance bloggers, but minimizing taxes gets almost none. That’s because these tax-minimization strategies are often hard to understand and even harder to put into practice, and thus have mainly been used by high net worth individuals who are serviced by well-paid financial advisors. And that’s bad news for the portfolios of average investors like yourself, because as I will show in this article, taking steps […]