We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthew Fox and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthew, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The thought process behind starting my own business was a culmination of years of work in the asset management industry. After working as a portfolio manager for half a decade, I identified what exactly I wanted to do. Help people compound their wealth by encouraging them to invest in the stock market, and managing those investments for them. I was able to learn the ins and out of the financial advisory industry after serving as an investment committee member managing $4 billion in client assets at a regional bank in New York. Two things prevalent in the industry did not sit well with me though: 1. high account minimums of to open an account and retain an advisor, which often excluded a sizable portion of the population from benefiting from financial advisory services, including young millennial professionals, and 2. high investment management fees of 1% – 2%, which while may not seem like much up front, can add up to tens of thousands of dollars (if not hundreds of thousands) over the lifetime of an investment portfolio, significantly impacting a clients retirement trajectory. I thought if I could offer quality financial advice to anyone who seeks it, regardless of what stage they’re at in life, and if I could charge lower fees than the average financial advisor, then I would be in business. The idea stewed in my mind for years. but high startup costs and technological limitations prevented me from acting on the idea. It wasn’t until I discovered Altruist, a fintech platform, that I was able to realize my vision of offering quality financial advice to anyone who wanted it.
What should our readers know about your business?
Ithaca Wealth Management is an independent financial advisory firm. We offer financial advice and investment management services to individuals, families, and business owners. We’re different from most advisors for a number of reasons. First, we’re fee-only fiduciaries. That mean’s we act in your best interest. We’re not a stock broker, we don’t sell you complicated investment products and receive a commission on the side, or try to sell you annuities or insurance products. Instead, we manage an investment portfolio consisting of mostly US stocks and bonds that is customized to the individual client based on their personal goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. We charge an all-in fee of less than 1% based on the amount a client decides to invest with us, well below the average financial advisory fee of 1.1% to 2.0%. We’re digital, which means we house our client’s accounts on a technology forward investment platform that allows $0 trading fees, fractional share investing, and a mobile app to monitor your investments. The digital platform also allows a quick and painless 2 minute account opening process, all online, which avoids the often long and drawn out account opening process at a traditional advisory firm. We offer $0 account minimums, so anyone has access to a quality financial advisor regardless of where they’re at in life financially speaking (i.e. just starting out). The best way to sum it up is we are a digital robo advisor investment platform with a human advisor you can reach out to with questions or to talk about the stock market any day of the week. I got here today after working in the industry for half a decade, managing investment portfolios for clients and communicating and educating advisors and clients why they’re invested in the stocks they’re invested in. A lot of the challenges in the financial industry is human behavior/psychology based. For example, when clients are scared and want to sell their stocks during a market crash. A lot of the job is keeping calm, and reminding clients why they’re invested, which can be hard in the face of a 35% market sell-off like we saw during the COVID-19 crash of March 2020. Overcoming these challenges has been possible by studying, and experiencing first hand market psychology and investor sentiment. Humans tend to let two certain emotions dictate their decisions with investments and money: fear and greed. Once you can identify those emotions and observe them first hand, you are able to overcome the challenges of letting your emotions get in the way of making rational decisions with your money/investments. I want the world to know that Ithaca Wealth Management is dedicated to offering quality financial advice and investment management services to anyone who is seeking it out, regardless of their current net worth and soci-economic status. Building wealth starts with two main ingredients: time and consistency. It’s key to start investing early and often. Anyone can build wealth with those two ingredients, no matter what their background is, and I want to enable more people to build and compound their wealth through sound investment management services.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A trip to Ithaca, NY requires a few must see destinations for anyone visiting. First, I would bring my friend on a hike to the bottom of Taughannock Falls, which is the tallest water fall east of the rockies at 215 feet. From there, a trip up the west side of Cayuga Lake to stop at the local Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery for some wine tastings would be in order, followed by a trip to Finger Lakes Cider House at Good Life Farm for a cider tasting. Then it’s off to dinner at Hazelnut Kitchen in the next town over, Trumansburg. An after dinner drink at any of the great establishments in the Ithaca Commons, like the Watershed, is a solid way to end the day.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shoutout to my wife, Mia, who has offered unwavering support in each stage of launching my business, and encouraged me to make the leap in the first place. Having someone who believes in you, and expresses that to you, even in the midst of great challenges impacting your business, is all the difference in breaking through and succeeding. It means the world to have a strong support net, and that positive reinforcement is what can help improve your mindset and help you achieve what you set out to achieve.
Other: Subscribe to my Ithaca Wealth Insights newsletter (signup form found near bottom of my website), where I break down what’s going on in the stock market, what we can expect going forward in the market based on historical analysis, and how it can impact your life.