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Austin Pryor

Austin Pryor

Founder and Publisher

Austin leads SMI, the newsletter business he founded in 1990. With more than 40 years of experience in the investment business, Austin provides overall direction to the organization while continuing to author many articles for the SMI newsletter and web site. Before founding SMI, Austin started and ran his own investment management firm, which ranked in the top 5% of all investment advisers in the U.S. during its first five years of operations. 

He is the author of the Sound Mind Investing Handbook, A Step-By-Step Guide to Managing Your Money from a Biblical Perspective, which enjoys the endorsements of numerous respected Christian teachers and has sold more than 100,000 copies.

Austin was once on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, working directly with founder Bill Bright, helping to develop the ministry’s approach to working with high-capacity donors. He was a founding board member of Pro Athletes Outreach, a Christian training ministry to pro athletes and coaches of many sports, and The Christian Embassy, an outreach ministry to government and diplomatic officials in Washington, D.C.

Austin received an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Kentucky. He and his wife, Susie, have three adult sons and 10 grandchildren, and live in Louisville, Ky.

Most Recent Articles

An Upgrading Overview: Easy as 1-2-3

Why Upgrade?

SMI offers two primary investing strategies for “basic” members. They are different in philosophy, the amount of attention they require, and the rate of return expected from each. Our preferred investing strategy is called Fund Upgrading, and is based on the idea that if you are willing to regularly monitor your mutual-fund holdings and replace laggards periodically, you can improve your returns. While Upgrading is relatively low-maintenance, it does require you to check your fund holdings each month and replace funds occasionally. If you don’t wish to do this yourself, a professionally managed version of Upgrading is available.

SMI also offers an investing strategy based on index funds called Just-the-Basics (JtB). JtB requires attention only once per year. The returns expected from JtB are lower over time than what we expect (and have received) from Upgrading. JtB makes the most sense for those in 401(k) plans that lack a sufficient number of quality fund options to make successful Upgrading within the plan possible. Here are the funds and percentage allocations we recommend for our Just-the-Basics indexing strategy.

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 2-29-20

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings have been updated with performance data through Feb. 29, 2020 (of course, much has happened since then!).

• The Portfolio Tracker: The Tracker can personalize SMI's fund rankings to your specific situation, making it easier to apply our momentum-based Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.

Using the Tracker, you can filter the performance data of 25,000+ funds we follow and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s). If you're new to the online Tracker, watch the introductory video.

We typically update the Personal Portfolio Tracker with the latest month-end data from the research firm Morningstar on the 8th of the new month, except when the 8th falls on a weekend (as it did this month). We wait until at least the 8th because Morningstar's database is subject to revisions during the first few days of the month. By the 8th, the previous month's performance numbers are reliable.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 38-page downloadable PDF file containing the latest performance data — along with SMI's momentum rankings — for more than 1,600 no-load traditional funds and ETFs.

The funds included in the FPR are selected based on asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability.

Check page 2 to learn how to use the FPR report. Page 3 includes an overview of the 70+ risk categories that will help you compare "apples to apples." Page 4 has explanations of the various data-column headings.

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An Opportunity to Grow

“God does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” Daniel 4:35

The market’s rapid pullback in late-February rekindled an emotion many investors hadn’t felt in a while — fear. It’s hard to feel confident about your investment portfolio when a mystery virus is wreaking havoc abroad and so little credible information is available about what the future scope of this health/economic crisis will look like.

Even prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus there was reason to cast a cautious eye on the market’s +40% rise since the late-2018 lows. This isn’t our first experience with a Fed-induced stock market climax. After suffering painful financial losses in 2000 and 2008, many uncomfortable historical parallels seemed to be percolating to the surface once again.

Most Christians, at one time or another, will ask God why He allows pain and disappointment to touch His children. When we meet the Lord face to face, we’ll have an opportunity to ask Him. I wouldn’t be surprised if part of His answer turns out to be: “Those things happened because I was answering your prayers, to give you what you asked for!”

As you consider the events of the day, can you imagine God saying to you as His child:

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Using SMI’s Portfolio Tracker to Manage a Limited 401(k) Plan

In 2006, SMI introduced an easy way to implement Upgrading within an employer-sponsored 401(k) — or a similar company retirement plan — even if that plan offered relatively few investment choices. This month we revisit that research. We offer some new thoughts, both regarding whether trying to Upgrade within a limited-choices plan is a good idea generally, as well as how to tweak the specific implementation to make it work more effectively.

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 1-31-20

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings have been updated with performance data through Jan. 31, 2020.

• The Portfolio Tracker: The Tracker can personalize SMI's fund rankings to your specific situation, making it easier to apply our momentum-based Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.

Using the Tracker, you can filter the performance data of 25,000+ funds we follow and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s). If you're new to the online Tracker, watch the introductory video.

We typically update the Personal Portfolio Tracker with the latest month-end data from the research firm Morningstar on the 8th of the new month, except when the 8th falls on a weekend (as it did this month). We wait until at least the 8th because Morningstar's database is subject to revisions during the first few days of the month. By the 8th, the previous month's performance numbers are reliable.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 38-page downloadable PDF file containing the latest performance data — along with SMI's momentum rankings — for more than 1,600 no-load traditional funds and ETFs.

The funds included in the FPR are selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability.

Check page 2 to learn how to use the FPR report. Page 3 includes an overview of the 70+ risk categories that will help you compare "apples to apples." Page 4 has explanations of the various data-column headings.

Continue Reading

The Core Building Blocks of Successful Investing

It’s appropriate at times to step back from the details of your investing activities and assess the big picture.

Whether you’re a market-tested veteran or new reader putting together a plan for the first time, foundational principles are worth reviewing. And, as you get older and navigate changes in your circumstances, it’s wise to periodically re-evaluate — and perhaps tweak — your long-term investing approach in light of those principles.

We hope this guide will help.
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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 12-31-19

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings have been updated with performance data through Dec. 31, 2019.

• The Portfolio Tracker: The Tracker can personalize SMI's fund rankings to your specific situation, making it easier to apply our momentum-based Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.

Using the Tracker, you can filter the performance data of 25,000+ funds we follow and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s). If you're new to the online Tracker, watch the introductory video.

We typically update the Personal Portfolio Tracker with the latest month-end data from the research firm Morningstar on the 8th of the new month (except when the 8th falls on a weekend). We wait until at least the 8th because Morningstar's database is subject to revisions during the first few days of the month. By the 8th, the previous month's performance numbers are reliable.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 39-page downloadable PDF file containing the latest performance data — along with SMI's momentum rankings — for more than 1,600 no-load traditional funds and ETFs.

The funds included in the FPR are selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability.

Check page 2 to learn how to use the FPR report. Page 3 includes an overview of the 70+ risk categories that will help you compare "apples to apples." Page 4 has explanations of the various data-column headings.

Continue Reading

Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 11-30-19

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings are now available with performance data updated through Nov. 30, 2019.

• The Portfolio Tracker: The Tracker can personalize SMI's fund rankings to your specific situation, making it easier to apply our momentum-based Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.

Using the Tracker, you can filter the performance data of 20,000+ funds we follow and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s). If you're new to the online Tracker, watch the introductory video.

We typically update the Personal Portfolio Tracker with the latest month-end data from the research firm Morningstar on the 8th of the new month (except when the 8th falls on a weekend, as it did this month). We wait until at least the 8th because Morningstar's database is subject to revisions during the first few days of the month. By the 8th, the previous month's performance numbers are reliable.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 39-page downloadable PDF file containing the latest performance data — along with SMI's momentum rankings — for more than 1,600 no-load traditional funds and ETFs.

The funds included in the FPR are selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability.

Check page 2 to learn how to use the FPR report. Page 3 includes an overview of the 70+ risk categories that will help you compare "apples to apples." Page 4 has explanations of the various data-column headings.

Continue Reading

Building Your Eternity Portfolio

In 1995, I began what has become an annual Christmas tradition: offering, as a gift, a book that has been meaningful to me in my Christian life. I do this to express appreciation for your support. Without loyal readers, we could not have served the body of Christ these past (almost) 30 years.

This year, for the second time, I’ve selected The Eternity Portfolio by Alan Gotthardt. The Lord has used the principles in this book to grow my wife Susie’s and my capacity for generosity far beyond anything we would have imagined. I believe it can do the same for any open-hearted seeker of God’s will.

The following is adapted from the latest edition of the book. – Austin

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 10-31-19

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings are now available with performance data updated through Oct. 31, 2019.

The Portfolio Tracker: The Tracker can personalize SMI's fund rankings to your specific situation, making it easier to apply our momentum-based Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.

Using the Tracker, you can filter the performance data of 20,000+ funds we follow and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s). If you're new to the online Tracker, watch the introductory video.

We typically update the Personal Portfolio Tracker with the latest month-end data from the research firm Morningstar on the 8th of the new month (except when the 8th falls on a weekend). We wait until at least the 8th because Morningstar's database is subject to revisions during the first few days of the month. By the 8th, the previous month's performance numbers are reliable.

Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 39-page downloadable PDF file containing the latest performance data — along with SMI's momentum rankings — for more than 1,600 no-load traditional funds and ETFs.

The funds included in the FPR are selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability.

Check page 2 to learn how to use the FPR report. Page 3 includes an overview of the 70+ risk categories that will help you compare "apples to apples." Page 4 has explanations of the various data-column headings.

Continue Reading