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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

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

Following is an excerpt from the preface to Tactics, a book I very much enjoyed and one I’m offering as a Christmas gift to our current SMI members this year.

See the details below this article to find out how you can receive your copy.

In 1995, I began what has become an annual Christmas tradition: offering, as a gift to our active members, a book that has been meaningful to me in my Christian life. I do this for two reasons. First, because it’s appropriate for SMI to express appreciation for your support. And second, we want to encourage you in areas beyond the mechanics of stewardship. How we handle God’s money is important, but how we walk daily with Christ and share Him with others is life itself.

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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 10-31-20

We've updated SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings with performance data through Oct. 31, 2020.

• The Portfolio Tracker: Using the online Tracker, you can personalize SMI's fund rankings, making it easier to apply our Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or another retirement plan.

SMI's fund-performance database tracks the monthly returns of more than 25,000 traditional mutual funds and ETFs. The Tracker can filter that large amount of data and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s).

If you're new to the Tracker, watch our introductory video.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 38-page downloadable PDF file containing performance data and 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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Nevertheless, A Time for Thanksgiving

“David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying...

“‘Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.... ‘Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.’”
– 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

This year has been a tough one. A global pandemic has taken nearly 1.2 million lives, leaving behind grieving family and loved ones. The financial costs are difficult to grasp fully, with multiplied millions out of work and countless businesses closed forever. Here in the U.S., the scale of the economic disruption has been unlike anything since the Great Depression.

Tough times can act as a mirror of sorts, showing us where our confidence lies. When conditions are difficult, who (or what) we turn to to make us feel better is revealing. I would argue that if we’re looking to anyone or anything other than the Lord as our hope, we’re bound to be disappointed.

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Attention Husbands: You Should Know About SMI’s Ministry to Widows

In the mid-1990s, I was in talks with Moody Publishers about the possibility of writing a second book. They asked what topics interested me, and among the ideas we discussed was a book tailored to the financial needs of widows. Due to writing fatigue after my first book, coupled with the time demands of the SMI newsletter, that follow-up book never got written.

I know from the correspondence we receive that the SMI newsletter has been helpful to many widows, and for that I’m grateful. These dear women often turn to friends and relatives for advice, who refer them to financial professionals they know. But far too many times that results in widows being sold high-commission investments inappropriate for their situation. It grieves me to read of the ways they are taken advantage of, and their needs have remained on my heart.

I want to see widows get the kind of personalized, objective financial advice they need. However, due to legal/regulatory restrictions, we at the SMI newsletter are not allowed to offer individualized counsel. A widow needs a trusted and competent advisor who will listen to her story, review her financial situation, and suggest a prudent course of action.

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 9-30-20

We've updated SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings with performance data through Sept. 30, 2020.

• The Portfolio Tracker: Using the online Tracker, you can personalize SMI's fund rankings, making it easier to apply our Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or another retirement plan.

SMI's fund-performance database tracks the monthly returns of more than 25,000 traditional mutual funds and ETFs. The Tracker can filter that large amount of data and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s).

If you're new to the Tracker, watch our introductory video.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 38-page downloadable PDF file containing performance data and 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.

Continue Reading

Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 8-31-20

We've updated SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings with performance data through Aug. 31, 2020.

• The Portfolio Tracker: Using the online Tracker, you can personalize SMI's fund rankings, making it easier to apply our Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or another retirement plan.

SMI's fund-performance database tracks the monthly returns of more than 25,000 traditional mutual funds and ETFs. The Tracker can filter that large amount of data and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s).

If you're new to the Tracker, watch our introductory video.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 38-page downloadable PDF file containing performance data and 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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The 7 Qualities of a Disciplined Investor

When it comes to investing, learning what you’re supposed to do is relatively easy. But doing what you’re supposed to do, well, that’s surprisingly hard. We can be our own worst enemies, especially when the market becomes unusually volatile, as it has this year.

The one quality that separates the top professionals from the rest of us can take years to develop: emotional self-control. Our emotions interact with news and market events in ways that incline us to act at precisely the wrong time. We all want to “buy low and sell high,” but emotionally, it’s quite difficult to do either. Experience shows that most investors do the opposite.

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Invest In Your 401(k) or Pay Down Your Home Mortgage?

“We’d like to start prepaying our mortgage. But we also want to invest as much as we can for retirement. Which should have the priority?” That’s a common question — but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Considerations include your age, tax bracket, attitude toward debt, and how long you expect to live in a particular house.

Another factor is whether you gain any tax savings from paying mortgage interest. Under a 2017 change in the law, fewer taxpayers are eligible for such a deduction.

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 7-31-20

We've updated SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings with performance data through July 31, 2020.

• The Portfolio Tracker: Using the online Tracker, you can personalize SMI's fund rankings, making it easier to apply our Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.

SMI's fund-performance database tracks the monthly returns of more than 25,000 traditional mutual funds and ETFs. The Tracker can filter that large amount of data and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s).

If you're new to the Tracker, watch our introductory video.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 38-page downloadable PDF file containing performance data and 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.

Continue Reading