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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

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 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.

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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 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

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 9-30-19

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

The Portfolio Tracker: The online Tracker personalizes 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 to produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s). If you're new to the Tracker, watch the introductory video.

We typically update the 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 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 Surprisingly Small Benefit of Perfect Market Timing

Following a decade of mostly rising stock prices, last year’s fourth-quarter correction of nearly -20% reminded investors that the stock market’s rewards come with substantial risk. Given weakening economic data in recent months, it wouldn’t be surprising if some investors are thinking it might be time to scale back any new investing (or even head for the exits altogether) and wait for the next bear market to pass.

Such timing moves are intended to improve long-term returns, but as we’ve explained before, that’s rarely the result. First, as the last few years have clearly demonstrated, it’s extremely difficult to time these moves correctly. But another reason is often overlooked — timing simply isn’t as significant a factor as most investors think.

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Determining Worth

“Dad, today I bought all these baseball cards at the flea market for $15 and my catalog says they’re worth $25! I’ve already made $10!”

Have you ever tried explaining to your children that a thing is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it? And that unless they intend to become dealers in baseball cards, it’s highly unlikely they will even be able to get their $15 back, let alone gain $10 in profits? My boys inevitably brushed off such explanations as being naive and out-of-touch with the financial realities governing baseball cards (or stamps, comic books, etc.), which apparently are exempt from the normal rules governing commerce. The fact that I had a college degree in economics and was a registered investment adviser carried no weight whatsoever. They regarded me with a kind of bemused tolerance (“Dad means well.”)

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 8-31-19

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

The Portfolio Tracker: The online Tracker personalizes 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 to produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s). If you're new to the Tracker, watch the introductory video.

We typically update the Tracker with the latest month-end data from the fund 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 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