Don’t skip the foundation… build down deep before you build up

Byron Moore foundation

Byron Moore

Moore for your Money


Question: I have as a goal to really start focusing on building my portfolio this year. Where should I begin?

Answer: If you want to build high, you should first go deep.

Almost immediately following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, there was popular agreement that another magnificent structure must take the place of the fallen Twin Towers. By 2005 a final plan was approved and in April 2006 construction began on the structure that would one day be called One World Trade Center.

During the first three years of construction, however, no small amount of grumbling went on concerning the “lack of progress” on the project. Many public figures complained about the “big hole in the ground” in Lower Manhattan.

In reality, it took three years to complete the foundation and “below ground” portion of the building that would one day be the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The structure was complete in July 2013. About half the construction time was spent below ground.

one world trade center foundationBut that’s how it is with skyscrapers…and portfolios – the larger the structure you wish to build, the deeper you must go with the foundation.

I know less than nothing about construction. But I assume that a skyscraper’s foundation must protect the building from at least two things: movement below the ground and high winds and other elements above the ground.

The taller (larger) you want your portfolio to stand, the deeper you need for its foundations to go. So, what are the foundations of a great portfolio?

Liquidity. The only reason to invest money is for someone, one day, to spend it. To make it first person personal – I save and invest money so that one day (usually during retirement) I’ll have something to spend when I am no longer willing or able to work.

That’s a great plan, but often the vagaries of the marketplace get in the way. Portfolios have a nasty habit of going through down, or “bear,” phases at just the time I need to withdraw money to live on. One of the foundations I need under my portfolio is a reserve of cash sufficient to weather these storms. Two years worth of expenses would be a minimum. Five years worth might just let you sleep peacefully.

Longevity. Money needs to last…certainly it needs to last longer than we do. Given enough time, a well designed, diversified portfolio has great odds of growing at a sufficient pace to do just that. But the fact remains, there are no guarantees in portfolios – just possibilities.

I’ve observed that retirees with a significant portion of their basic lifestyle (their needs, maybe not all their wants) covered by guaranteed, fixed income from Social Security, pensions or guaranteed income annuities both sleep better and make better long-term investors. Less reason for them to get nervous. Less reason to shoot their portfolio in the foot. More likelihood they will let their portfolio live to fight another day…to last.

Legacy. Most of us want to know there will be something that outlasts us. It may be nothing more than something left for our children or grandchildren. But given the opportunity, most want to leave a legacy. A portfolio is a significant, and perhaps the largest part, of that legacy.

But if I know that undergirding of the portfolio portion of my legacy is something guaranteed to be there when I leave this earth, it can give me a steady hand during rough investment weather.

Cash. Guaranteed income. Guaranteed legacy.

To the those unfamiliar with building strong, lasting structures, these can seem like a waste of time – like a hole in the ground.

But if you want to build wealth that will stand the test of time, learn from those who have done it before – don’t skip the foundation.

It comes first.

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Byron R. Moore, CFP® is Managing Director / Planning Group of Argent Advisors, Inc. Mike Jones is Managing Director / Investment Group of Argent Advisors, Inc. Write to either at 500 East Reynolds Drive, Ruston, LA 71270 or call (318) 251-5800. This newsletter is available via email on a free subscription basis. You can subscribe by clicking here. Direct any questions, comments or suggestions to Byron Moore at or to Mike Jones at
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Argent Advisors, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.
Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. The opinions of any single advisor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Argent Advisors, Inc. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Argent Advisors, Inc.. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.
Argent Advisors, Inc. is a registered investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Argent Advisors, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. Argent Advisors, Inc does not offer tax, legal or insurance advice. If you are a Argent Advisors, Inc. client, please remember to contact Argent Advisors, Inc., in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services. A copy of the Argent Advisors, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.


Argent Financial Group

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Argent Financial Group (Argent) is a leading, independent, fiduciary wealth management firm. Responsible for more than $30 billion in client assets, Argent provides individuals, families, businesses and institutions with a broad range of wealth management services, including trust and estate administration, investment management, ESOPs, retirement plan consulting, funeral and cemetery trusts, charitable organization administration, oil and gas (mineral) management and other unique financial services. Headquartered in Ruston, Louisiana, Argent was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.

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