Wealth Protection

Setting the Tone a Modern Approach to Investing

For nearly 20 years, Hunter H. Irby had a front row seat as an equity trader with clients who were some of the world’s most successful investors. Though he was there when the markets performed spectacularly, he learned even more as his worldview evolved during the Long-Term Capital Management implosion in 1998, the dotcom bubble of 2001, and the financial crisis of 2008—the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

When Irby had the opportunity to run his own business, he took it. He and his team, all of whom come from the institutional side of the business, opened Tone Capital, LLC in Richmond, Virginia in 2016. Irby serves as Chief Investment Officer and is architect of the tactical ETF strategies that inspired the firm.

tonecapitalirbyactionAlthough the intention was to build the firm as a product provider, when the partners began marketing the strategies to friends, family, and extended networks, almost immediately they were asked if they could manage retirement accounts, 529s, and more. The partners quickly found themselves in the wealth management business, which Irby has found rewarding.

“Some of our clients were in situations that were not ideal, and I feel like we’ve been able to educate them and positively impact their financial situation. Going forward we will continue to be the product-centric firm we had imagined, but we will always have a wealth management business for select clients.”

Tone considers a large part of their mission to be educational; what really adds value as opposed to what’s just marketing. One of the factors they focus on is cost. The cost discussion has become much more front and center in the press in recent years, but Irby believes most people still just don’t spend the time to understand the investment management business and are wasting money by paying too much to their adviser and too much for inferior investment products. The missing link, he says, is education, and that is a core component of the firm’s mission.

The firm uses technology extensively; for financial planning, client risk assessment, portfolio risk management, and for performance measurement. But the largest value-add from a technology standpoint is in their investment process. They believe a factor-based, systematic approach to investing maximizes returns over the long term. They trust in their models, and the software used to create them. “Staying lean and keeping our costs low so that we can keep our clients’ cost low has been and will always be a top priority.”

When asked about the risks consumers may face in using robo-advisors and other apps that “gamify” financial planning, Irby replied that he doesn’t see a lot of risk in the gamification aspect. “I think the robos have done a very good job of making investing more accessible. I consider anything that gets young people to start saving and investing at an earlier age a good thing. The risk may be in staying with these platforms as account values get larger; they’re pretty basic from an investing standpoint.”

Irby recommends investors find an advisor they trust will act in their best interest, and that will charge a reasonable fee. “It’s worth the few extra basis points to be able to speak with someone that understands your situation and is committed to doing the right thing for you”, he says.

Irby and his partners are quietly building an impressive investment advisory business a bit off the beaten track in mid-town Richmond, Virginia, away from the large office buildings of the city’s downtown, which aligns perfectly with the firm’s “cost-focused” culture. Tone’s principals have significant experience in trading, portfolio management, and financial operations. The firm is independent and fee-only and accepts no third-party compensation.

For more information, visit their website at Tone Capital, LLC.

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