Ben Black

I am currently self-employed as an independent fee-only financial advisor and am not affiliated with a particular broker-dealer. I am an investment blogger with the Motley Fool. I have also served as a market and demographics consultant to a promising tech startup; I was also heavily engaged in idea generation for platform enhancement and increasing user engagement, as well as utility for both end-users and institutions at the aforementioned firm. I am very entrepreneurial, self-motivated, and passionate about finance. Included in the suite of advisory services offered, retirement income, especially guidance on variable annuities, including mutual funds, fixed annuities, and immediate annuities is a high priority. I do NOT sell these products, however, but merely offer my opinions on various contracts. In developing a solid financial plan for clients, I consider securities offered, target allocations, risk tolerance, and myriad other factors to assist with wealth accumulation, preservation, and distribution. Income planning is a crucial, but often overlooked aspect of financial planning. I have recently enrolled in Richmond University's CFP Program to attain the Certified Financial Planner designation. I have also studied the entire CFA Level 1 curriculum, and plan on taking it after I am done with the CFP. I am also in the process of applying to Creighton University's graduate finance program - Masters in Investment Management and Financial Analysis. It's a CFA program partner and tracks along the CFA curriculum for the most part. I hope to earn the CFA Charter upon graduation, and then use the skills and knowledge acquired through both to help an endowment or non-profit manage its assets to best protect its mission and expand its reach (such as with education funding). As John Bogle has imparted upon me, true stewardship is something to constantly strive for as a portfolio manager.

General Information

Ben Black
Fool Since:
May 5 2012

Investing Basics

Investing Experience:
Risk Tolerance:
Medium High
Investing Style:
Motley (i.e. Anything goes!)
Portfolio Size:
Large (12 or more Stocks)
Types of Investments:
Out of favor blue-chips with strong earnings, wide economic moats, global growth prospects, strong management, and shareholder friendly policies (i.e. usually significant share repurchase and dividend programs, though not always). Small and mid-caps with strong balance sheets, heady growth prospects, niche markets, and efficient operations.
Stocks I Own:

Investing Favorites

The Intelligent Investor, The Intelligent Asset Allocator, A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Beating The Street, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, Stocks for the Long Run, The Birth of Plenty, A Splendid Exchange, Security Analysis, Common Sense on Mutual Funds, Devil Take the Hindmost, Barbarians at the Gate
Morningstar Advisor, WSJ, the Economist, Kiplinger's
Benjamin Graham, Peter Lynch, Warren Buffett, Philip Fisher, John Bogle, William Bernstein, George Soros

Investing Expertise

My Area of Expertise:
Financial Analysis
Greatest Investment:
Worst Investment:
Sadly, that's easier to answer - Evergreen Energy (EEE) - no longer even listed lol.
Money I Manage:
Mom's, Dad's, Father-in-law's, my grandmother's, and my own. I'm pretty much the family adviser.

Education And Work Information

School(s) Attended
University of Mary Washington
Job Title
Personal Financial Advisor
Company / Organization
Former Jobs
the one listed above


My Interests:
History, Philosophy, and Investing/Finance
Person(s) I'd Like To Meet:
Carl Sagan, Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, Napoleon, Marcus Aurelius, Christopher Hitchens, Chloe Kardashian... okay, just seeing if you were paying attention with that last one!
Favorite Sports or Teams:
University of Virginia Cavaliers (football and basketball), Houston Texans
Favorite Movies:
Gladiator, Brave Heart, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, Bourne Ultimatum, Lord of the Rings, Wall Street, Boiler Room, Good Will Hunting
Favorite Board Games:
Monopoly, Chess, Risk
Favorite Music or Musicians:
Classical, Classic Rock, Jazz, Grunge, some Indie Rock
Great Books Read Recently:
Cosmos, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, Pioneering Portfolio Management, Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Book Currently Reading:
Security Analysis (Graham)

An Interview with CoreAndExplore

Last updated: 5/7/2012
The Fool:
Who killed Kennedy?
The CIA or FBI
The Fool:
If you could be the CEO of any public company, which one and why?
I think it would have to be GE because I'd be at the head of a true multinational that pretty much dominates every industry in which it competes, and is going to be at the forefront of the infrastructure boom and alternative energy.
The Fool:
What has been your best work experience, and what made it so great?
Talking to several financial professionals about the prospects for certain industries (particularly railroads) several years ago. It was great because I felt like I was a security analyst for the first time and was so completely engrossed by the conversation.
[Read the full Interview]

My Story

Hmmm, that's a tough one. I'm a former history major with a passion for finance and investing. I got out of school and promptly became a financial advisor, only to discover that I hate sales and would much rather be on the buy-side of the industry, researching and analyzing investments, as opposed to solicitation. I'm studying for the 1st level CFA exam, looking for a MSF (Masters of Finance) program to enroll in, and champing at the bit to begin investing for myself again once I actually have enough money.

How I Invest

As my username indicates I abide by a "core and explore" investment philosophy. Essentially, I adhere to modern portfolio theory for the core (roughly 80%) of my portfolio which is comprised of mainly passive investments (index funds and ETFs) across all asset classes and geographies, which is duly rebalanced on a regular basis (annually). As for the other 20%, I explore other strategies, utilizing active management through certain actively-managed mutual funds, CEFs, REITs, and individual stocks and bonds of my own choosing. Overall, this investment strategy allows me to make money whether the efficient market hypothesis is true or not (my guess is that it's about 80% true, therefore my allocation reflects that), and also takes care of my need for intellectual stimulation and investment action.