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The mission of Cedarwinds Investment Management is to help our clients systematically build and preserve long-term financial security.
Cedarwinds, established in 2004, is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with offices in Florida and Illinois. We are an independent, fee-only investment advisor registered with the SEC. Our firm specializes in the creation and management of model investment portfolios comprised of structured index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). We are passionate in our core belief that a structured approach to investing using a disciplined blend of high performance, low cost index-oriented funds represents the most effective risk management strategy over the longer term. Our business model has been carefully designed to provide a comprehensive range of value-added investment solutions capable of meeting the specific needs of individuals, families, entrepreneurs, retirement plans, charitable organizations and other public and private entities.
Traditional money managers do one of two things: Active managers focus on picking individual stocks, the antithesis of diversification; index managers hold many securities but mimic arbitrary benchmarks. Cedarwinds uses a different approach. Our firm’s guiding investment philosophy is that portfolios having multiple index exposures and asset class diversification lead to higher expected returns on a more consistent basis over time compared with traditional money management approaches. Our philosophy has been shaped by the belief that successful investing means not only capturing risks that generate expected return, but reducing risks that do not. Avoidable risks include holding too few securities, betting on countries or industries, following market predictions, and speculating on "information" from rating services. To all these, disciplined diversification is the antidote. Proper diversification washes away the random fortunes of individual stocks and positions client portfolios to capture the returns of broad economic forces.
Our philosophy is consistent with the tenets of Modern Portfolio Theory. Specifically, our investment process is based on the strength of academic research and empirical evidence which convincingly demonstrates that over 96% of the variation in stock returns and risk can be explained by three systematic risk factors (“Three-Factor Model”) including: overall market behavior; company size; and company value as measured by its book-to-market ratio. According to this model, stock picking and market timing contribute less than 4% to portfolio returns over the long term, effectively representing a form of speculation. We believe that the thoughtful selection and construction of portfolios using a strategic blend of passive asset classes to “engineer” the risk-return performance attributes of these three factors represents the most consistent, predictable and effective way to meet longer term investment objectives.
Cedarwinds conducts its activities according to the highest fiduciary standards including: always putting our client’s best interest first; acting prudently with respect to exercising the skill, care, diligence and good judgment of a professional; full and fair disclosure of all important facts; and avoiding conflicts of interest. Supporting our structured investment philosophy is a disciplined investment process that includes a comprehensive assessment of each client’s objectives, risk tolerance and investment time horizon with the goal of generating maximum returns consistent with predetermined risk levels. In this regard, we encourage prospective clients to take an objective risk tolerance assessment, using a formal questionnaire designed for our program, before the establishment of investment objectives. All client portfolios are regularly reviewed for performance integrity and rebalanced as necessary in order to address changing market dynamics, shifting client objectives or other appropriate considerations.
Cedarwinds’ core investment style and solution offerings are based on a strategic alliance formed with Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), a Santa Monica, CA based index-oriented mutual fund investment company. Founded in 1981, DFA manages nearly $195 billion for individual and institutional clients. The firm is the premier commercial provider of capital markets research, historical risk, return and correlation data, investment advisor education, and mutual fund products that reflect the leading academic research.
DFA’s comprehensive range of index-oriented mutual funds is based on the efficiency of capital markets. They have constructed unique rules of ownership for their funds that allow investors to engineer portfolios with greater precision and efficiency. At the heart of their fund eligibility rules is the pioneering work of Eugene Fama and Ken French whose “Three-Factor Model” has become the gold standard among academic researchers for risk-adjusted returns. This model explains that virtually the entire variation of equity portfolio returns is due to three structured risk factors including overall market performance, company size and company stock price.
DFA has been consistently rated as the best-in-class fund manager by professional investment advisors through its offering of a broad range of high quality index-oriented funds. Their funds have enjoyed strong relative market performance and a gilt-edged reputation in the investment community. Their funds are not available directly to retail investors and can only be purchased through financial advisors like Cedarwinds that have met standards established by DFA.
Cedarwinds has developed a business relationship with BlackRock which allows for direct access to their extensive list of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) under the “iShares” trademark, along with other comprehensive analytical resources used in the construction of our proprietary Tactical Allocation model portfolios.
Cedarwinds has established alliances with Fidelity Investment’s Registered Investment Advisor Group and Charles Schwab's Institutional Group for the provision of high quality custody and clearing services for all client portfolios. Fidelity and Schwab are regarded as the two premier service providers to the investment advisor community. Our ability to offer both platforms creates flexibility and convenience for client servicing and support.
Cedarwinds has partnered with FinaMetrica, an innovative risk assessment firm, in the application of a risk profile system used to measure client attitudes concerning risk-return trade-offs. This system provides information profiles that are scientifically reliable, valid and accurate in terms of measuring client risk tolerance. This information tool is extremely helpful in objectively matching each client’s specific risk profile with an appropriate portfolio solution.