Do you want to be an investor or a gambler? The fact is, these days it can be hard to tell one from the other. At Griffin Black, we don’t want to gamble with your money. We don’t try to guess what the markets will do next week or next month. We make use of the latest research and analysis in finance, economics, and human behavior in order to build portfolios for clients that are financially sound as well as personally appropriate for them.


People sometimes ask us, “How did your clients’ portfolios do last year?” “Which one?” we reply. “The one invested for our 67-year old client’s ongoing retirement expenses? Or the 92-year old’s money that he doesn’t need but which is set aside for his kids to inherit some day? Or the 39-year old entrepreneur’s ‘safe’ money because the rest of his life is all risk and uncertainty?” Each client’s portfolio is different, because each client has a unique set of financial circumstances and life goals.

Once we understand what role an investment strategy is intended to play in its owner’s overall financial strategy, we build a portfolio to address those specific needs. In all cases, however, there are two important high-level questions to answer. The first is: What combination of different kinds of investments available should be included in this portfolio? The second is: which specific securities, and in what proportion, should we buy to represent the different investment types? In finance-speak, we need to make decisions about portfolio construction and security selection.

For the portfolio as a whole, we focus on making client-appropriate choices for risk versus return, for liquidity, and for income versus capital gains. And as the size of a client’s portfolio grows, we can consider more specialized – and sometimes less liquid –investments.

When it comes to security selection, there’s a growing body of research that supports the conclusion that certain kinds of stock in particular – small companies, value companies, profitable companies – deliver superior returns over the long run. One company in particular, Dimensional Fund Advisors, has built a business around turning this kind of deep academic research into real-world investment solutions. In particular, Dimensional (also known as DFA) has created a unique set of low-cost mutual funds that seek to deliver the benefits of the great ideas in finance to the investing public. Griffin Black is pleased to partner with Dimensional Fund Advisors, and uses DFA funds as the core component of our portfolios.

Learn More About Dimensional Fund Advisors

Are you tired of worrying about which investment approach is actually going to work? Do you find it difficult to believe the promises that some investment professionals make about ‘beating the market?’ Are you wary of the latest ‘special strategy’ being marketed to make money in the stock market? If so, you may want to learn more about the science of investing and Dimensional Fund Advisors.

Applying Science to Investing: An introduction to Dimensional for investors, this video underscores how science has transformed every aspect of our lives, including investing.

Dimensional Origins: Chairman and Co-CEO David Booth and others talk about the firm’s founding and its close ties to the academic community.

You can read more about Dimensional Fund Advisors’ approach to investing in this recent article.


We can’t foretell the future and we don’t control markets. Nevertheless, even in the face of this uncertainty, there are things that we as investors do know, as well as principles of successful investing that have stood the test of time. Here are several such principles that Griffin Black seeks to put into practice every day:

  • We seek to construct portfolios that will meet each client’s individual financial and emotional needs.
  • We invest for the long term. We think that trying to guess whether the market is going to go up or down tomorrow or next week is gambling, not investing.
  • We pay close attention to cost. We seek out investments with low internal fees. We use institutional class funds wherever possible.
  • We also pay attention to taxes. It isn’t a gain until it’s an after-tax gain. This means that we build portfolios out of combinations of different accounts in order to take advantage of the different tax treatment of investments in those accounts.
  • We build well-diversified portfolios. Specifically, when it comes to stocks, historical analysis shows that globally diversified stock portfolios perform better over the long run than single-country portfolios.
  • We rebalance only when positions in our portfolios get too far out of their target ranges. This limits risk and enhances investment potential by allowing us to invest in assets that are currently undervalued.


You may be surprised to find out how many kinds of investment opportunities we can help you take advantage of. The following are some of the different kinds of accounts that we help our clients invest in:

  • ‘Classic’ investment accounts, for both individuals and couples
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), either regular or Roth varieties
  • Trust accounts, both revocable living trusts as well as testamentary or irrevocable trusts
  • HSA investment accounts
  • 529 College Savings accounts
  • Low-cost non-qualified annuity accounts
  • Individual 401(k) accounts
  • Pooled company 401(k) profit-sharing accounts
  • Custodial accounts