Frequently Asked Questions

A deeper dive into Ballast.

Why isn’t institutional investing for the individual portfolio more popular among capital advisors?

The traditional industry and marketplace haven’t evolved to the point of forcing brokers or asset allocators into being investment departments. Institutional investing is common practice with pensions, mutual funds, and endowments, with companies hiring a department of investment professionals to work on behalf of the fund and the employer. Ballast brings this sort of department directly to you and your capital.

How often will I get updated reports?

We send out portfolio reports on a quarterly basis; however, your account is accessible 24/7 via your customer portal.

How often do we meet with clients?

At a minimum, we prefer to meet with clients semi-annually, but you are welcome to communicate with us at any time.

Does Ballast guarantee a rate of return?

We do not guarantee a specific rate of return, but we do guarantee a thoughtful selection of investment opportunities that align with your financial goals.

How frequently should I expect to see returns in my portfolio?

It takes 1-3 years to build a portfolio creating a consistent and reliable stream of cash returns.

What are the main differences between institutional investing for individuals and traditional retail investing?

Traditional Retail Investing

  • The main goal of the firm is to accumulate assets.
  • Typically involves an asset allocation implemented through the acquisition of funds.
  • Retail investing is a broad concept but can be thought of in two ways. Firstly, the individual investor acts on behalf of his or her own account, or secondly, the advisor uses off-the-shelf allocation software and invests through a suite of funds prescribed by their sponsor or clearing bank or broker.
  • Retail investing tends to have a disadvantage in size and skill.


Institutional Investing

  • The main goal is to accumulate assets that work to meet a required return.
  • Typically involves evaluating the investment objective and constructing a portfolio that strives to meet that objective through individual security selection.
  • Institutional investing utilizes a team of professionals who focus on the investment function rather than simply outsourcing to funds and relying on allocation software. 
  • Institutional investing benefits from scale and experience.

I am satisfied with my advisor. Why switch?

Switching to Ballast isn’t just about switching advisors. It’s about tapping into what the institutional investment process brings. You’ve worked hard to be in the financial position you are today, and you owe it to yourself and your family to seek out the best investment process.

What should I expect in the investment process?

Once we have an understanding of your objectives, we begin to conservatively vet and source ideas from the news, company filings, our professional network, brokers, and more. Our focus is on the fundamentals. What are the assets and means that will provide a return and fulfill the investment objective? We always want to emphasize the safe return of principle and cash-flow generation. Initially, we invest your cash in short-term securities to help keep your account productive. As longer-term investment opportunities become available, your portfolio develops into a cash flowing machine.

Do I have to live in Iowa to be a client?

No, our clients come from all over the country.

What is the first step?

As we are focused on building relationships with our clients, the first step is always a meeting to discuss your current situation and future financial goals. Here, we like to review your portfolio and analyze your positions. If you decide to move your funds to Ballast, we will then start the administrative process, connecting you to our custodian, RBC.

What is the potential for risk with institutional investing?

Risk management is of the utmost importance to us here at Ballast and is a central tenet of institutional investing. We use the same techniques in constructing your portfolio as we did with multi-billion dollar ones. Because risk is a function of portfolio construction, we consider our approach to have more granular risk management than traditional methods. The institutional framework involves us monitoring your investment objectives, defining asset allocation, and selecting and sizing investments to keep your portfolio aligned with your goals while minimizing capital loss.

What would your ideal client portfolio look like?

Generally speaking, our ideal portfolio owns a combination of asset classes that serves one of two purposes. First, it will own securities that generate a stable return, and second, it will own securities that add growth to the portfolio. Our goal is to construct a portfolio of line items that get you to a place where you can rely on their cash flows. We have found that it’s best to focus on cash flow and mitigating risk, and our clients aren’t subjected to the whims of the market like in traditional investing.

Do you act as a fiduciary?

Ballast is an independent fiduciary, so you can expect us to work in your best interest. Other advisors are not independent, which means they may be compensated for recommending certain products. Such a structure can create a conflict of interest, as advisors put their personal interests ahead of clients. 

What do you expect my portfolio to look like after transferring to Ballast?

Most portfolios that come to us lack emphasis on cash flow and are invested in funds and heavily weighted with equities. So, our transition process includes moving away from funds and equities and toward individual securities and fixed income.

Do you provide year-end tax reports?

Yes, our custodian RBC provides year-end tax reports that can be mailed to you or accessed online. For alternative investments, tax reports are prepared and will be delivered to you by their due dates.

Are your fees tax deductible?

Generally, yes, but you should always consult your tax advisor. However, you only receive a deduction for the amount that exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income. This amount, along with other itemized expenses, must exceed standard deductions.