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Helping you better understand your options.

Frequently Asked Questions

It's ok. Others asked too.

What is your onboarding process for new clients?

Guardian makes the transition seamless and straight forward. Our experienced team facilitates a the following Five-Step Process to ensure the least amount of hassle from you and/or your organization.

1. Collect Required Documentation: To satisfy regulatory standards, a certain about of identification, verification and documentation are required prior to preparing any transition paperwork.

2. Open New Investment Account(s): Guardian uses Charles Schwab—one of the industry’s leading independent, third-party custodian—to custody all investment assets. Guardian’s team facilitates all paperwork and necessary signatures from authorized personnel in your organization to open the appropriate investment account(s) at Charles Schwab.

3. Transfer Existing Investments In-Kind: All existing investments are transferred to Charles Schwab in-kind. This avoids market timing issues and the need to liquidate desirable holdings inadvertently.

4. Implement Appropriate Investment Changes: Once all transfers have processed, Guardian’s Investment Committee reviews the investment holdings to finalize the preferred portfolio construction. Some existing holdings may be kept, while others may be replaced.

5. “Dust Settlement” Meeting: Once the portfolio construction has been executed a “dust settlement” meeting is scheduled. This meeting allows your advisory team to (1) review the any changes that have been implemented, (2) verify client login access, (3) give any needed tutorials of the Schwab Alliance or Guardian Client Portal websites, (4) answer any follow-up questions you may have.

Who do you use as a custodian?

Guardian uses Charles Schwab as an independent, third-party custodian. Charles Schwab is one of the largest and most trusted custodians in the industry. Charles Schwab is used to establish investment accounts, take custody of investment assets and satisfy necessary regulatory, accounting and recordkeeping services. Schwab also provides an excellent and robust client interface, check writing privileges and quality customer service.

Guardian clients can login directly to Schwab Alliance and see their individual accounts at any time, OR use Guardian's secure Client Portal for a consolidated view of their entire household retirement portfolio.

What is your view on Active vs. Passive Investing?

Traditionally, both active and passive management styles can provide benefits to investors overtime, but not without a potential cost.

Active management seeks a higher return than market indexes by attempting to pick the winners and avoid losers. As expected, this approach comes at a higher cost to the investor and studies show that year-over-year consistency with active managers is extremely rare.

Passive management can reduce trading costs, eliminate emotional timing mistakes, and track market returns overtime with a buy-and-hold strategy. However, passive management alone does not allow for opportunistic trading during volatile markets.

Guardian’s portfolio management style uses both low-cost index funds (passive) along with active monitoring and opportunistic rebalancing (active) to achieve desired portfolio returns while avoiding unnecessary portfolio costs and risk factors.

How would you describe your investment philosophy?

Guardian Wealth Strategies operates under a well-defined investment philosophy underpinned by the following core beliefs:

An enduring belief in the power of markets

At Guardian, our investment approach is based on a belief in markets. Rather than attempting to predict the future or outguess others, we draw from information about expected returns from the market itself—leveraging the collective knowledge of millions of buyers and sellers as they set security prices.

Trusting markets to do what they do best—drive information into prices—frees us to spend time where we believe we have an advantage, namely in how we interpret the research, how we design and manage portfolios, and how we serve our clients. We take a less subjective, more systematic approach to investing. It’s an approach we can implement consistently, and investors can understand and stick with, even in challenging market environments.

Applying Insights from Financial Science

Guardian’s investment approach is grounded in economic theory and backed by decades of empirical research. We lean on that research and the peer-reviewed modeling of leading financial economist to better understand where returns come from.

This research has shown that securities offering higher expected returns share certain characteristics, which we call dimensions. We structure broadly diversified portfolios that emphasize these dimensions, while address the tradeoffs that arise when executing portfolios.

Pursuing a Better Investment Experience

Our goal is to provide a better investment experience to each of our clients. That means more than just returns. It means offering peace of mind because investors know that a transparent process backed by Nobel-prize winning research is powering every decision. For more than twenty years, we have seen the difference this approach has made in people’s lives.

Portfolio Construction and Opportunistic Rebalancing:

The foundation of your portfolio construction will be based upon an asset allocation model. This model provides built-in disciplines for trading parameters and opportunistic rebalancing thresholds.

Rather than trying to perfectly time the markets or actively pick stocks in an attempt to select the winners and losers, we identify the characteristics we desire for the portfolio over time. We then select a globally diversified lineup of low-cost investments that represent those desired portfolio characteristics

Diversification helps reduce uncertainty, manage risk, and improve the reliability of outcomes. Furthermore, diversification adds value by providing flexibility, which in turn allows for more effective management and trading of the portfolio.

The desired portfolio characteristics will be customized and influenced by factors including asset amount, time horizon, risk tolerance and long-term goals. The investment strategy will then be implemented, accounting for expected market returns in exchange for projected market volatility.

What is your approach to rebalancing and making tactical changes to investment portfolios?

When an investment portfolio is built upon the foundation of an asset allocation model, buying and selling decisions become much more disciplined. Guardian believes in opportunistic rebalancing of investment portfolios. We do not rebalance on a set date, or by trying to guess the future, but rather when market opportunities present themselves.

Each asset class and sub-asset class are given tolerances to avoid friction. When sub-asset classes are increasing in value, we are disciplined to take profits and purchase sub-asset classes that are out of favor and at a discount. This ensures that we are “selling high and buying low,” while removing any emotion or speculation that is often the primary cause of investor underperformance.

How are your fees structured?

Guardian collects a Relationship Management Fee based upon a transparent fee structure. A percentage of managed assets is deducted directly from managed account(s) on a quarterly basis. This pricing is guaranteed for the duration of the client agreement and is not subject to increase over time.

Guardian is a completely conflict-free investment advisor and does not have any proprietary funds to offer; nor do we have any revenue-share arrangements between Guardian, the selected investments/funds or the custodian.

In addition, Neither Guardian Wealth Strategies nor its employees are registered as a broker-dealer, eliminating many of the potential conflicts of interest which could be present being dual-licensed.

What is the difference between an Investment Fiduciary and an Investment Broker?

Guardian Wealth Strategies is an independent, fee-based fiduciary advisor as opposed to a dual-licensed investment broker. The differences between these two business models will make a significant impact on the way each presenting firm may respond to your RFP and the objectivity of their advice and recommendations. Please consider the following differences:

Standard of Care

  • Fiduciaries are held to the strict Fiduciary Standard, requiring that all decisions are always made in the client’s best interest.
  • Brokers are held to the suitability standard, allowing them to make recommendations they reasonably believe are appropriate for the client.

Commissions vs. Fee-based

  • Fiduciaries can only be compensated through transparent and disclosed fees. They cannot receive commissions, revenue-share, or remuneration of any kind that might reflect a conflict of interest.
  • Brokers may collect asset-based management fees and may also receive commissions; trailing compensation; or remuneration, like award trips on the investment products they sell.

Service Quality

  • Fiduciaries will select and manage conflict-free investments according to the pre-established parameters of Investment Policy Statement (discretion).
  • Brokers require client’s specific instructions and consent for every transaction (non-discretion).

Guardian has a commitment to remaining independent and conflict-free. We take an à la carte approach to identifying and designing solutions to meet your needs— only offering up options that are best suited for you and are in the best interest of your organization.

What is the difference between Discretion and Non-discretion?

Because of the strict legal requirements of the Fiduciary Standard, pure fiduciary advisors are often given discretion over investment accounts. This discretion allows the fiduciary advisor to execute investment trades that adhere to the Investment Policy Statement (IPS), while avoiding the potential timing constraints that may arise when “waiting for permission” from the client.

Traditionally, a non-discretionary arrangement is most common when the investment representative has a potential conflict of interest. Often in the form of commission, trailing compensation, or revenue-share from the investments selected. In addition, a potential drawback to non-discretion is the improper or lack of execution by the client themselves.

Guardian Wealth Strategies has substantial experience with both discretionary and non-discretionary advisory partnerships. As a pure fiduciary, our governing oversight requires Guardian to always make decisions that are in the best interest of our client and are in alignment with their defined IPS.

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