When you talk to Kevin about investments, it may feel more like a visit with a professor during office hours than a discussion you would expect to have with an investment advisor. 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. Investments can be overwhelming, but after talking to Kevin you will feel relieved that there is a way to sift through the constant barrage of financial information and noise that leads to 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. For example, a sports car and an SUV will both likely get you from New York to Los Angeles, but with different risks, at different speeds, carrying different amounts of cargo, incurring different costs and providing different experiences. 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, finally landing with his family in the Dallas area where he attended high school. He then moved to Austin where he earned a degree in Finance at the University of Texas.
As a senior in college, he began work for National Financial Partners where he developed a consulting division and learned the good, bad, and ugly about the financial services industry. Kevin earned the CFA designation which taught him about the investment decision making process, capital markets, ethics, and behavioral finance – which became his passion.
Kevin’s wife, Julie, is a scientist working 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.
Interest 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 and, most recently, rock climbing.
- Favorites Band/Performer: Wilco
- Favorite Movie: Once Upon a Time in the West
- Favorite Team: Longhorns
- Favorite Writer: Steven Pinker
- Favorite Blog/Podcast: EconTalk
Videos by Kevin X. Smith, CFA
Blog Posts by Kevin X. Smith, CFA
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
The 5% Savings Challenge
Ready to crank up the dial and build wealth faster? The best way to make financial progress is to set an achievable goal and create a system so you don’t have to think about it. Saving an additional 5% seems…Read More
The SECURE Act is here. What are the big changes?
President Trump signed the SECURE Act into law on December 20th, 2019. The purpose is to help more Americans obtain retirement security. The following is not an exhaustive list of changes, but a description of changes that will likely impact…Read More
Your Budget in a Recession
As of September 2019, life is good here in Austin, TX and much of the United States. Wages are up, jobs creation is abundant, the business community is thriving, home values have been on the rise for years. People under…Read More
The Year of the IPO
Investors revel in the excitement of a beloved tech company ringing the bell on their opening day on the stock market. Months of media attention and speculation about the opening price lead up to this celebrated event. Will this company…Read More
Strategy Breakdown: Selling the Highs and Buying the Dips
One of the most commonly referenced investment strategies must be “sell the highs and buy the dips”. Why is it so popular? Makes sense. Hard to argue against. Easy to apply (in theory). Low cost to execute. High profile investors…Read More
New Financial Planning Software
Financial planning just got better with the addition of RightCapital, a fresh new cloud-based program for organizing financial information and visualizing financial concepts. We have been using eMoney for almost 10 years, waiting for a competitor to develop a better…Read More
Risk Level is SOOOO Important
The amount of investment risk you take will probably make the biggest difference in how your account performs over short and long periods of time. It deserves our attention more than almost any other topic. The two competing investment objectives…Read More
529 Plan Defaults are Deficient
College funds are designed to be simple so the largest number of people will use them. Signing up is easy. Linking your bank account is easy. Accessing accounts online is easy. Now investing is easy… maybe too easy. Choosing investments…Read More
2018 Year-End Trading
The stock market brought us gifts just in time for Christmas. The chart above show the % declines from all-time highs over the past five years for the S&P 500. Christmas Eve just happened to be the most significant pull…Read More
Saving taxes in a bad stock market
There are two great things about bad stock markets: 1) opportunities to buy at attractive prices, and 2) opportunities to harvest tax losses. We have been hard at work over the last couple of weeks finding ways to save our…Read More
A tiny fraction of the population loves budgeting and has years of spending data stored in Excel models. The rest of us would rather scrub grout between bathroom tiles. Using a budget is how to make financial progress on purpose….Read More
From Vanguard on the Future
Vanguard stepped up its research capabilities and provided more information to investors in 2018 than ever before. Their market outlook for 2019 is particularly well assembled. My cliff notes are below and you can find the entire paper here. Short…Read More
My Lunch with Ben Bernanke
Ben Bernanke can smile… and he is actually kind of funny. The perfectly formal and stiff Bernanke we remember from appearances during his tenure at the Fed spoke freely with occasional wit and humor at a November 2018 lunch meeting…Read More
Year-End Planning Tips: Your Charitable Fund
A Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is kind of like your own personal endowment, but without the administrative costs and hassles. A DAF is an investment account that receives your charitable donations, allows you to take the tax deduction in the…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.