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Austin Pryor

Austin Pryor

Founder and Publisher

Austin leads SMI, the newsletter business he founded in 1990. With over 35 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

Make Sure Your Investment Decision-Making Is Inside-Out

SMI regularly suggests that one’s investing decisions usually can be made with little regard for what’s going on in the investment markets. This seems counterintuitive. Let us once again make our case, then we’ll apply it to the question of deciding whether now is a “good” time to sell some of your stock holdings.

Where do investment decisions originate for many investors? The starting point is found in the impersonal “outside” world of current events, magazine articles, and “expert” recommendations. Their decisions are guided primarily by outside considerations. As they respond to the data thrown at them — sometimes buying, sometimes selling — their personal “inside” financial worlds take shape. Their thinking is “outside-in.” They need a continual stream of outside information to stimulate their thinking and provoke them to action. Decision-making would be impossible without it.

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Plans Fail for Lack of Counsel, but with Many Advisers They Succeed

It’s a great time of year for the Pryors — Susie and I are getting ready to leave for our annual vacation on the Carolina beaches! While we’re there, we don’t buy newspapers, turn on the television, read any news, or do any work. We’re there to unplug, unwind, and connect.

Our vacations haven’t always been so care-free. Because I did all the research and writing for the first decade of SMI, I had to plan our (shorter) vacations around our monthly deadlines. In fact, the first issue of SMI was finalized at Fripp Island, South Carolina, during our 25th wedding anniversary getaway (taking your work with you is not a recommended way to relax and celebrate!).

The reason that’s no longer an issue is the Lord has given SMI a great team of writers to help carry the load. They’re talented, experienced, and dedicated to our mission of teaching financial and investing principles within the boundaries of God’s word. I’m grateful for each one, proud of them, and thought it would be encouraging to our newer members to learn more about the people who bring you our content and recommendations each month.

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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 also 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 and Fund Performance Rankings with Data through 4-30-17

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings report have been updated to reflect mutual-fund performance data current through 4/30/2017. The Tracker and FPR are typically updated monthly between the 10th-14th of the month, depending on when the weekend falls.

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker is our most popular web tool. It allows SMI members to easily personalize our mutual-fund rankings to their specific situation. The end result is a personalized monthly report showing only the funds each member is interested in, ranked by momentum and sorted according to SMI's risk categories (or without the categories, if a member prefers). This allows a member to take the 20,000+ funds SMI tracks every month and instantly transform those rankings into a concise report covering only the specific offerings of their 401k (or other plan).

The Fund Performance Rankings report contains performance data and momentum rankings on more than 1600 no-load funds and ETFs. The funds included have been selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability. You'll find help in understanding how to use the FPR (page 2), an overview of the 70+ risk categories that help you compare "apples to apples" (page 3), and explanations for the various data-column headings (page 4).

You can sign up to receive an email each month when the data goes live. Just go to the SMI home page and click on "My Account" under Quick Links. From there you can go to the "Email Subscriptions" page and check the box next to "FPR/Tracker Update" to receive the monthly email notification.

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker and Fund Performance Rankings with Data through 3-31-17

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings report have been updated to reflect mutual-fund performance data current through 3/31/2017. The Tracker and FPR are typically updated monthly between the 10th-14th of the month, depending on when the weekend falls.

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker is our most popular web tool. It allows SMI members to easily personalize our mutual-fund rankings to their specific situation. The end result is a personalized monthly report showing only the funds each member is interested in, ranked by momentum and sorted according to SMI's risk categories (or without the categories, if a member prefers). This allows a member to take the 20,000+ funds SMI tracks every month and instantly transform those rankings into a concise report covering only the specific offerings of their 401k (or other plan).

The Fund Performance Rankings report contains performance data and momentum rankings on more than 1600 no-load funds and ETFs. The funds included have been selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability. You'll find help in understanding how to use the FPR (page 2), an overview of the 70+ risk categories that help you compare "apples to apples" (page 3), and explanations for the various data-column headings (page 4).

You can sign up to receive an email each month when the data goes live. Just go to the SMI home page and click on "My Account" under Quick Links. From there you can go to the "Email Subscriptions" page and check the box next to "FPR/Tracker Update" to receive the monthly email notification.

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No Such Thing As “Normal”

By all accounts, 2008 was a most unusual year. The economy and financial system were rocked with abnormal events, and the prices of most financial assets fell sharply. Ever since, many have been eagerly anticipating a time when the markets return to normal. Some may even have sold all their stock holdings at that time, and are still waiting until normality returns so they can get off the sidelines and invest again.

There’s only one problem: when it comes to the investment markets, “normal” conditions don’t exist. A generation of investors has been taught that “the stock market averages gains of +10% per year.” Never mind the fact that this statistic applies to only one portion of the stock market—the largest companies that make up the popular S&P 500 index. More importantly, investors have failed to learn how those returns are experienced in real time. We suspect that even among SMI readers, what follows will be something of a surprise.

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker and Fund Performance Rankings with Data through 2-28-17

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings report have been updated to reflect mutual-fund performance data current through 2/28/2017. The Tracker and FPR are typically updated monthly between the 10th-14th of the month, depending on when the weekend falls.

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker is our most popular web tool. It allows SMI members to easily personalize our mutual-fund rankings to their specific situation. The end result is a personalized monthly report showing only the funds each member is interested in, ranked by momentum and sorted according to SMI's risk categories (or without the categories, if a member prefers). This allows a member to take the 20,000+ funds SMI tracks every month and instantly transform those rankings into a concise report covering only the specific offerings of their 401k (or other plan).

The Fund Performance Rankings report contains performance data and momentum rankings on more than 1600 no-load funds and ETFs. The funds included have been selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability. You'll find help in understanding how to use the FPR (page 2), an overview of the 70+ risk categories that help you compare "apples to apples" (page 3), and explanations for the various data-column headings (page 4).

You can sign up to receive an email each month when the data goes live. Just go to the SMI home page and click on "My Account" under Quick Links. From there you can go to the "Email Subscriptions" page and check the box next to "FPR/Tracker Update" to receive the monthly email notification.

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Things Are Not As They Seem

Sorting out the real from the illusory is one of the great challenges in investing, as in life. There’s often a disconnect between our perceptions and the underlying reality. Things are not as they seem. For example:

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Market Probabilities: What the Past Suggests About the Future

Even after the dreadful losses of 2008—and despite numerous past recessions and even a Great Depression—the remarkably resilient U.S. stock market has returned, on average, +11.5% per year since the mid-1920s. That’s for a portfolio of one-half large-company stocks and one-half small-company stocks (based on data from Ibbotson Associates, an industry leader in compiling market statistics). This assumes all dividends were reinvested and ignores the sad fact that in real life Uncle Sam may confiscate a hefty portion of your gains.

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker and Fund Performance Rankings with Data through 1-31-17

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings report have been updated to reflect mutual-fund performance data current through 1/31/2017. The Tracker and FPR are typically updated monthly between the 10th-14th of the month, depending on when the weekend falls.

SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker is our most popular web tool. It allows SMI members to easily personalize our mutual-fund rankings to their specific situation. The end result is a personalized monthly report showing only the funds each member is interested in, ranked by momentum and sorted according to SMI's risk categories (or without the categories, if a member prefers). This allows a member to take the 20,000+ funds SMI tracks every month and instantly transform those rankings into a concise report covering only the specific offerings of their 401k (or other plan).

The Fund Performance Rankings report contains performance data and momentum rankings on more than 1600 no-load funds and ETFs. The funds included have been selected on the basis of asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability. You'll find help in understanding how to use the FPR (page 2), an overview of the 70+ risk categories that help you compare "apples to apples" (page 3), and explanations for the various data-column headings (page 4).

You can sign up to receive an email each month when the data goes live. Just go to the SMI home page and click on "My Account" under Quick Links. From there you can go to the "Email Subscriptions" page and check the box next to "FPR/Tracker Update" to receive the monthly email notification.

Continue Reading