In The Black Investment FAQs
Q: How should I manage my account?
A: Brokers and Investment Advisors
You can use your own broker or investment advisor to purchase and manage your selected portfolios but we recommend FOLIOfn as our first choice. In The Black Investing and TheRetirementsolution.com, Inc. (TRES) have developed a special relationship with FOLIOfn wherein our model portfolio is posted and maintained directly on FOLIOfn’s broker system. We recommend FOLIOfn because they have special features such as "Basket Trading" and / or "portfolio Trading" that enable the subscriber to trade our large portfolios in a single, economical transaction as easily as trading a single stock. Using FOLIOfn results in totally capped and predictable investment expenses.
If you choose not to self-manage your own portfolio using FOLIOfn or other online broker to directly execute your desired trades, a second approach is to have a "registered investment advisor" manage your portfolio for you.
Self-management thru On-Line Brokers
First, if you choose to manage your own portfolio, as most of our subscribers prefer to do, then we recommend FOLIOfn.
FOLIOfn has developed a proprietary trading technology platform that allows investors to trade entire portfolios - even if they include odd lots of shares - all in a single executed trade. This is a significant advantage over almost any other approach. The cost of individual trades can mount rapidly, and FOLIOfn’s approach eliminates that possibility. FOLIOfn caps trading costs without sacrificing the flexibility to trade frequently, in odd lots, even partial shares. FOLIOfn empowers you to trade an entire portfolio based on your personal chosen investment amount in real dollars without having to worry about the exact number of shares to buy. Simply follow the In The Black Investing model portfolio (or employ another approach) if that is your investment strategy, and complete all the trades with one simple execution process.
In addition, there are other popular on-line brokers that can be used. There are, however, significant differences between various on-line brokers such as E-Trade, Scottrade, Vanguard and others and, so you should investigate these various brokers on your own.
Typical on-line brokers such as Scottrade, Vanguard, E-Trade, Charles Schwab, etc. provide portfolio management services including access to investment advisors that provide portfolio reviews for their clients. Trading costs typically run between $5 to $10 per trade and vary based on the number of trades or size of your asset base. Managing a large, diversified portfolio based on our In The Black Investing selections may seem a daunting task, but it simply requires a disciplined desire to keep each stock position current – by comparing new positions to previous ones - once you have initially set it up by purchasing the positions in the various stocks selected through your subscription.
Alternatively, and much more simply, investors who choose to use FOLIOfn receive exclusive regular email alerts to keep you informed when buy or sell actions are selected for any of the stocks in our model portfolio. Then, if you wish, by executing just the trades selected you can easily keep your portfolio updated to match our model portfolio with a minimum number of trades per month.
We believe that as our unique portfolios gain in market awareness and popularity, more on-line brokers and registered investment advisors will become more aware of them and may offer our subscribers special services tailored to trading and managing our larger more diversified portfolios. In order to better promote the use of our portfolios we have begun a marketing program to enlist the active participation of several of the more popular on-line brokers as well as developing a growing list of registered investment advisors familiar with managing our specific portfolios.
That is one reason why we have already enlisted FOLIOfn as our preferred broker. Their system will now recognize our subscribers’ unique ID number (given to each of our subscriber clients) which gives access to our model portfolio's through their portfolio trading services. In addition to FOLIOfn the Registered Investment Advisors shown on our growing list will recognize your unique ID number in order to provide dedicated service to you as a client of TheRetirementSolution.com and In The Black Investing.
Popular On-Line Brokers:
It is important to note that neither In The Black Investing nor TheRetiementSolution.com, Inc. receives compensation in any manner from FOLIOfn or any on-line broker from your investment account no matter the size of your portfolio. Our revenues depend solely upon subscription fees from you, our clients.
Management through Registered Investment Advisors
For our clients who want personal management of their portfolio's we provide a list of "Registered Investment Advisors" who are familiar with our unique portfolio's and are able to manage your portfolio and recognize your unique subscriber ID Number. We are actively enlisting additional Registered Investment Advisors that will become part of our growing network of these types of full service investment advisors.
Unlike on-line brokers these investment advisors execute the trades for you and keep your portfolio updated according to our regular updates and buy/sell selections. The fees for their services will generally include a management fee and often a percentage of the profits. The investment advisors also may require a minimum amount of assets in your portfolio. Using this method of having your portfolio managed for you, the regular E-mail updates with buy and sell selections would generally go direct to your investment advisor.
Again, as in the case of a "self-managed" portfolio, neither In The Black Investing nor TheRetirementSolution.com receives any compensation or consideration from any recommended investment advisor. Our revenues depend solely upon subscription fees from our clients.
Enlisted Registered Investment Advisors
Of course, we don't endorse one over another, so it's important you do your homework. That's why we have a few suggested guidelines to think about before signing up with a new broker. Plus, we'll give you an overview of how to open your own brokerage account.
Consider these guidelines before selecting a broker
Picking the right broker to help you trade your Retirement Solution portfolio is an important decision. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
Know what your financial goals are and have a solid understanding of your financial picture, including assets, income, and expenses.
Talk with different brokers and their sales representatives before taking the plunge. Make sure you quiz the broker about his or her investment experience, background, and education.
Check out any disciplinary history of a brokerage firm or a sales representative. You can do that easily by calling 1-800-289-9999, a toll-free hot line operated by the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD). The NASD will provide information on disciplinary actions taken by securities regulators and criminal authorities. Your state securities regulator can also give you additional information.
Get a handle on how the sales representative at your potential broker will be paid. Ask for a commission schedule. In general, sales representatives are paid based on the number of transactions they complete for customers and the amount of money invested by a customer in a transaction. Also, be sure to ask about fees associated with opening, maintaining, and closing an account.
Think about whether you are going to need a full service or discount broker. Usually a full service broker will not only execute your trades for you but will also provide recommendations, investment advice, and research on companies. That's why they usually cost the most. A discount broker, on the other hand, usually will just execute your trades for you.
Ask the broker if they are a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). If a broker becomes insolvent, the SIPC can provide limited protection. You can also ask if the firm has insurance coverage beyond the SIPC limits. But don't forget: The SIPC does not insure you against losses because the market value of your investment falls. For further information, contact SIPC at 805 Fifteenth Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20005-2207; or call (202) 371-8300.
Take your time when selecting your broker. There's no rush! Make sure you feel comfortable with the broker and the broker's firm. And beware of sales representatives that pressure you to act before you are ready.
Opening an account
Once you've selected your broker, you will then need to open an account with that broker. Generally speaking you can expect the following:
You will have to sign an account agreement and related paperwork. Make sure you carefully review these documents and understand what they mean. Don't sign any documents unless you fully understand them. And don't forget to ask questions!
You will need to decide who controls the decision-making on your account, which in most cases will be yourself. You will also have to decide if you are going to pay for your investments in cash, use "margin" -- which means you borrow the money from the brokerage firm -- or a combination of both.
Your new sales representative will want to know the details of your financial position, including your income, net worth, and investment experience. Make sure you are upfront and honest with your broker. After all, the broker relies on this information to make recommendations to you. You will also need to specify your overall investment objective in terms of risk.
The brokerage firm may ask you to sign a legally binding contract to arbitrate any future dispute between you and the firm or your sales representative. Make sure you fully understand the implications, which include giving up your right to sue your sales representative and firm in court.
Making your investments
Once you've selected your broker and opened an account, it's time to start investing! Of course, as a subscriber to The Retirement Solution, you will have loads of stock-picks to choose from. But like any investment, keep in mind the following:
Don't invest in a product you don't fully understand.
If you are interested in an investment, ask your sales representative for a prospectus, offering circular, or recent annual report.
Maintain good records of the trades you make, the information you receive from your broker, copies of documents, and the conversations you have with your broker.
Higher return means higher risk. Only makes investments you are comfortable with.
Check to see if there are any penalties if you sell an investment quickly.
Investment in companies with little or no operating history is very risky.
Securities investments -- including mutual funds -- are not federally insured against loss because of a decline in market value.
Past performance is no guarantee of future success.
For more information, contact the following securities regulators:
A: This unique Subscriber ID number is recognized by the Registered Investment Advisors on our growing list (see Brokers We Recommend under Education - Things You Need to Know), and currently by FOLIOfn (www.foliofn.com/tri). Your Subscriber ID Number gives you access to these TRS (StockDiagnostics Cash Flow Portfolio's) where the purchase of "Partial Shares" and "Odd Lots of Shares" allow you to purchase our recommended Portfolio with the proper "Weightings" and full list of "Names & Ticker Symbols" automatically in a single transaction using "Basket and/or Portfolio Trading" methods.
A: To follow the portfolio as closely as possible, when this occurs you would not buy any shares of that stock. This scenario cuts into the diversification protection benefits of our portfolio, but it also a common scenario for subscribers using smaller account sizes. Hopefully over time you can either add to the account size or our performance can help this account grow to a size that will make this kind of thing happen less and less frequently.
A: We simply sell our recommendations as a subscription. As a subscriber, you act as your own account manager, and can choose to invest in all, some or none of our recommendations. That said though, if you wanted to very closely follow our model portfolio, yes, you would want to enter as many of these positions as possible per the information covered above. As a new subscriber, that first round of entering positions is fairly heavy because of the broad diversification built into our program. But once you are in, subsequent changes to the portfolio typically involve only a small number of positions to sell, and new positions to add. In short, it gets substantially easier after you place all of these trades the first time.
A: When our proprietary systems identify changes that need to be made to the portfolios, those changes are highlighted for our team. Typically, this results in a list of positions to sell and a list of new positions to buy. These lists are rushed to subscribers via email ASAP. If you want to closely track our portfolio, it is important that we always have a valid email address for you.
A: Again, it's up to you how you choose to follow- or not follow- our recommendations. Only if you want to keep an account you might have set aside to closely follow all of the recommendations of our master portfolio, then yes you would probably buy the recommended amount of shares based on the weighting calculation (illustrated above).
A: One of two possibilities: 1. We are rarely "fully invested" at any given time; a sometimes-sizable cash reserve will be typical. 2. If your broker does not accept partial share orders and you are following the model of buying up to- but not in excess of- the dollar amounts calculated as described above, there is almost always some leftover cash that couldn't quite buy another full share of each position. Spread over all of the stocks in the portfolio(s), this remainder cash will add up at times.
A: Again, we simply sell our recommendations as you see them on this page. You are free to use them to help your personal investment decision-making in almost any way you see fit. That said, you can do what you are asking, but then your portfolio would not be synched up as closely as possible with the master portfolio. This could result in your portfolio outperforming, matching or underperforming what our portfolio does over time.
A: We recommend FOLIOfn since our Portfolios are set up in their specialized broker system and available for our subscribers using their unique subscriber ID issued by TRES.
A: No. Again, as a financial publisher we are not permitted to run a product like a mutual fund. We sell information, without handling or managing people's money or offering individual advice. Subscribers can choose to act on the information we provide with a broker of their own choosing or not act on it. This is a very important distinction that allows us to be strictly a publisher of online financial information.
A: The Auto-Bill function is a mechanism that ensures timely payment of In The Black monthly subscription fees to facilitate uninterrupted receipt of all subscription benefits. Auto-Bill will continue until the individual subscriber contacts the Retirement Solution and requests discontinuation of the subscription.