SweetSpot Investments (SSI) is a publisher of investment data and research. SSI’s owner and Editor in Chief is Neil Stoloff, a former federal environmental lawyer and a student of investing for over 30 years. Since 2005, Neil has had most or all of his equity assets invested in the SweetSpot Investment Strategy.
Early in his investing career, Neil learned firsthand that the financial-services industry suffers from an inherent conflict of interest. His first broker — a relative by marriage! — churned his account mercilessly, caring only about generating commissions for himself while showing indifference toward Neil’s investment results. Unable to find a financial professional he could rely on to faithfully represent his interests, Neil seized control of his finances. He had to discover for himself, after much trial and error, what works and what doesn’t in the investment arena. After sharing what he learned with family and friends, he decided to expose SweetSpot to a wider audience.
Neil founded SweetSpot Investments LLC in 2007, registering the firm as an investment adviser in the State of Michigan. In 2016 he decided not to renew SSI’s registration, instead opting to offer SweetSpot on a subscription basis exclusively. Note: Neither Neil nor his firm has ever been the subject of any complaint, criminal or civil action, administrative enforcement proceeding, or proceeding initiated by a self-regulatory organization that would impugn his integrity or that of his firm.
It is ironic that before he could charge a fee for his services, Neil was required to join the ranks of an industry he scorns. Still, he has taken steps to ensure that his interests are fully aligned with those of his subscribers. He accepts no compensation other than what he derives from subscription fees. His strategy takes an investor-friendly approach that is hands-off; entails minimal “friction” costs (commissions, trading fees, etc.); and enjoys favorable long-term capital-gains tax treatment. The strategy is grounded in science but also easy to understand. Investors are thus less likely to abandon it in the face of short-term setbacks that can shake out those who don’t understand their investments. It is hoped that investors will accept the only conflict Neil was unable to avoid: that the payment of subscription fees will reduce their investment returns by a like amount…
The bottom line is that if the SweetSpot Investment Strategy performs well, Neil stands to do well and so do his firm’s subscribers. If it doesn’t, Neil will suffer more than anyone who invests with him, at least in percentage terms. That is just as it should be….
Conflicts of Interest
On May 28, 2010, SSI established a formal policy addressing conflicts of interest. Pursuant to the policy, SSI will at all times adhere to the highest fiduciary standard, expressed in five core principles:
1. Put the client’s best interests first.
2. Act with prudence; that is, with the skill, care, diligence, and good judgment of a professional.
3. Do not mislead clients; provide conspicuous, full, and fair disclosure of all important facts.
4. Avoid conflicts of interest, or the appearance of conflicts of interest.
5. Fully disclose unavoidable conflicts, and manage them fairly.
These principles closely track those advocated by the Committee for the Fiduciary Standard (and also track new rules issued by the U.S. Dept. of Labor that will apply to sponsors of retirement accounts beginning in 2017), purported to be the “highest” fiduciary standard. Yet SSI’s policy exceeds the Committee’s principles: In addition to actual conflicts of interest, SSI proscribes even the appearance of a conflict of interest (Item 4). In contrast, the Committee’s standard is silent on this point.
SweetSpot Investments (SSI) is a publisher of investment data and research, and is not a registered investment adviser. Subscribers are responsible for their own investment decisions. Information that SSI provides to subscribers does not constitute a recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. To the extent that any such information may be deemed to be investment advice, it is impersonal and not tailored to the investment needs of any individual. See more-detailed disclosures here.