dimensional fund advisors (DFA)
DFA is a privately-held institutional investment firm that has over $445 billion of assets under management. The funds managed by DFA are exclusively for institutional investors and the clients of a select group of wealth management firms. DFA restricts access to its funds in order to reduce turnover and trading costs and achieve greater tax efficiencies for shareholders. Our relationship with DFA is based on a shared view of how capital markets work and a common investment philosophy.
The funds managed by DFA have delivered solid long-term results for investors by targeting securities that are likely to produce higher expected returns, while adhering to strict cost, risk, and tax discipline. As of June 30, 2016, 86% of DFA funds with 15-year track records had beat their benchmarks over that time period (and of the funds that lagged their benchmarks, the largest underperformance was 0.29%). This stands in stark contrast to the mutual fund industry: only 17% of stock and 7% of bond mutual funds outperformed their benchmarks during this same period.
Schwab Institutional acts as the SEC-registered qualified custodian for our client’s assets. As the custodian, Schwab Institutional provides Ascend Wealth Management and our clients with access to its institutional brokerage platform, including trading, custody, reporting, and related services.
The value of a custodian is the separation of duties: Schwab is responsible for the safekeeping of client assets and we are responsible for investing those assets. Our clients can access daily account information, including balances, performance, transactions and tax documents at any time through the use of Schwab’s secure website.
Morningstar Office provides us with investment research, portfolio management, performance reporting, and customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities. As an independent advisor firm built on research, we value Morningstar’s access to the industry’s most comprehensive database of independent investment analysis and reporting tools.
Through a secure web portal managed by Morningstar, our clients can view daily portfolio analytics as well as access a secure document portal that we use to upload and share important documents. Morningstar® Back Office Services handles daily data reconciliation directly from our custodian, Schwab Institutional, to provide clients with up-to-date and accurate account information.