Kevin is on a mission to explain complex financial concepts in simple demonstrations and deliver practical advice that works for people in their daily lives. Everyone has a different level of interest in learning, ranging from “I just want to know that I am investing responsibly” to “I want to understand my risk exposures to currency movements” and everything in between, so the educational experience is designed to be adaptive to each individual.
He uses a combination of economics and psychology to help clients understand and deal with the trade-offs of important financial decisions. You won’t leave the conversation with a secret investment strategy sure to provide you with instant fortunes, but you will likely leave with a concrete understanding of how financial markets work and how to make decisions about which combination of investments is appropriate for you. Investing can be overwhelming, but after talking to Kevin you will feel relieved that there is a way to sift through the constant barrage of information and noise using a rational approach to investing.
Kevin believes that making investments with the help of a financial advisor should be more of a collaboration than a proposal. As one of his favorite philosophers, Thomas Sowell, famously said, “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” When it comes to investing and many other decisions in life, there is no right answer. Instead, there is a range of possible decisions, each having its own range of possible outcomes. Finding the right fit takes a combination of education, effective communication and a commitment to intellectual honesty.
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- Finance BBA, University of Texas at Austin, 2004
- 2009 - Present, Managing Partner, Austin Wealth Management, LLC
- 2006 - 2009, Business Consultant, National Financial Partners
- 2003 - 2006, Analyst, National Financial Partners
- CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
Kevin was raised in a handful of mid-western towns, moving about every four years due to corporate consolidation during his father’s accounting career. The family finally landing in the Dallas area where he attended high school, then moved to Austin where he earned a degree in Finance at the University of Texas. He hasn’t come across a good reason to leave.
He was given an opportunity to work for National Financial Partners out of college, where he developed a consulting division and learned the good, bad, and ugly about the financial services industry. He sacrificed evenings and weekends for several years to earn the CFA designation which taught him about the investment decision making process, capital markets, ethics, and behavioral finance, which became his passion. Just after getting married and before kids, he left his career to start a financial planning business that would do something different from the norm at that time – deliver practical advice rather than focus on product sales. That business became Austin Wealth Management, LLC.
Kevin’s wife, Julie, is a scientist and administrator at the University of Texas. They have three children, Zoe, Jack, Isabel, and a Labrador Retriever named Lizzy. On the weekend, you will find this family exploring the many parks, swimming holes and trails around central Texas. His parents are retired in Georgetown, TX, and his sister is a fashion designer in Los Angeles.
Interesting facts about Kevin:
Kevin has a lifelong objective of picking up a new sport or activity every couple of years. The list includes mountain biking, trail running, kayak/canoeing, golf, windsurfing, adventure racing, boxing, parkour, rock climbing, and most recently, skateboarding (he realizes he should have started at a younger age).
- Favorites Band/Performer: Wilco
- Favorite Movie: The Big Lebowski
- Favorite Writers: Steven Pinker, Tyler Cowen
- Favorite Blog/Podcasts: EconTalk, Hardcore History
Videos by Kevin X. Smith, CFA
Blog Posts by Kevin X. Smith, CFA
What to do with all that home equity?
Elon is here and he brought Tesla. It seems like a new celebrity or ultra-wealthy tech investor moves to Austin every week, and I hear casual Austin references in podcasts so often I barely take note anymore. This type of…Read More
Game Stop Lessons
You may have read a dozen articles about Game Stop last week, or maybe none, but you probably heard the buzz: regular folks getting rich and hedge funds losing billions. There is much to learn from the story that created…Read More
Our Updated View on Bitcoin
We have been studying Bitcoin for a few years, trying to understand it from many angles to figure out why, how and when it might make sense to buy. ‘Because the price of Bitcoin has gone up dramatically’ is not…Read More
Tesla in the S&P 500
When you hear someone reference “the market”, they probably mean the S&P 500 index, at least here in the United States. It is a list of 500 companies (actually 505) selected by the US Index Committee that are meant to…Read More
Introducing My Kids to Investing
My kids are 3, 7, and 9. The first money concept I tried to teach them is that money does not fall from the sky, but Congress and the Federal Reserve keep proving me wrong. The older kids seem to…Read More
How I Invest My Money
I spend most of my time helping people think about their investing decisions and not much time on my own. An old saying goes “the cobbler’s son has the worst shoes in town”, or something like that. Rather than my…Read More
Post-Election Market Surprise
How did the stock market do after election day? Remarkably similar to four years ago. 2020 Post-Election Global Stock Index 2016 Post-Election Global Stock Index If you predicted Joe Biden would win a contested election with a (possibly) split Congress…Read More
10 Year Forecast (October 2020)
Predicting the future is out of the question, but developing reasonable expectations for planning purposes is necessary. Calculating expected returns on investments is a difficult task, but fairly simple models have been accurate enough to help with long term planning….Read More
Cracked screens and the sunk cost fallacy
I almost got tripped up by the sunk cost fallacy. Almost! This is a public service announcement to help others avoid a costly mistake. A sunk cost is the time and/or money already spent. It’s done. For example, you spent…Read More
What the heck is a 529 plan? Here you go…
What is a 529 plan? A 529 is a tax-advantaged education savings account that allows money to be saved and invested for a beneficiary, typically your child or grandchild. The earnings grow on a tax-deferred basis, and funds can be…Read More
Elections and the Stock Market
I did not predict anything about 2020, including that the Presidential campaign three months from election day would be so quiet. You can’t escape it if you are glued to cable news or Twitter, but by comparison to past elections,…Read More
Great companies at bad prices
Prices matter. In fact, we think prices matter a lot. There is a price low enough to make an unimpressive investment attractive. There is a price high enough to make an amazing investment unattractive. Today, investors in the US stock…Read More
Tips for day traders
There is more energy around day trading than I have seen in years. Maybe it’s because of quarantine boredom. Maybe it’s because tech stocks have been soaring and FOMO (fear of missing out). Maybe marketing genius Dave Portnoy is responsible…Read More
Three Mortgage Refinance Strategies
After a video interview with Nick Flanagan of Summit Funding, I asked if he could share some helpful examples of the different types of mortgage refinancing. Here is what he gave us. Special thanks to Nick for the education. Cost…Read More
How much MSFT, AAPL, AMZN, GOOGL, FB do I own?
When you own a diversified portfolio, it doesn’t feel like owning stocks. What you see on your statement is a list of ETFs or mutual funds with names that describe the type of stocks you own “US Large Cap”, “International…Read More
Podcast: “Personal Finances and COVID-19”
Follow this link to our latest podcast. This is a conversation with Austin-based tech entrepreneur, Kevin McLaughlin. He and I regularly discuss the financial challenges and economic opportunities of the Millennial generation. We talk about methods to deal with losses…Read More
Recession Risk by Life Stages
Early to Mid Career Income risk Younger executives and professionals in the process of establishing careers may be at higher risk of income loss, which can come in the form of reduced base pay, lower bonuses or layoffs. 30% rule…Read More
The elusive ‘bottom’
Seeking the bottom of the market is risky business. The conditions that caused The Great Recession of 2007/2008 had nothing in common with our current crisis, but the feeling of watching stocks fall is similar. Investors are struggling with a…Read More
All Bull Markets Will End… And Come Back
We are still technically in a Bull market and have been for about 11 years. When we zoom out and take a deep breath, there is some solace in seeing that Bear markets tend to be much shorter than Bull…Read More
Investing during a crisis: Coronavirus
Stock prices adjust to reflect the collective expectations of all investors. The basic formula for estimating a stock price is estimating future cash flows and discounting them based on risk. Lower expected cash flows = lower price. Higher risk =…Read More
We Believe in the Power of Integrity and Honesty
We serve as professional educators and advocates for the financial well-being of families in Central Texas. We believe that the business of financial advice can and should be rooted deeply in the research of America’s finest institutions and delivered with the same attention and care as a Four Seasons concierge.