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Frequently Asked Questions
 

Transparency is critical to successful investing. At Asymmetria, we would never invest in something we didn't understand…we don't think you should either. In that spirit, we have compiled a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions to assist both current and future clients that we continually update.

 

If you have a question not answered on this page, please use our web contact form or call us at 1-844-694-4675 (toll free) and select option 1.

 
Why was The Asymmetria Group created?

Asymmetria was created to give others access to similar investment opportunities used by large, savvy investors (e.g. large institutions, family offices, private equity, etc.). These investments – asymmetric investments – have high return potential with lower risk or the potential for higher returns but with managed risk. Because they can be complex or require an in-depth understanding of financial markets, they aren't typically available through financial advisors, stockbrokers, mutual fund companies, or other "retail" investment channels.

What is asymmetric investing? Doesn't a higher return require higher risk?

This is generally true for retail investing (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) but asymmetric investing challenges this paradigm. For example, with retail investing, stocks are riskier than bonds but stocks typically provide a higher return over time. While a bond may more safely generate 3-4% a year and a mutual fund of stocks may, on average, return 6-12% annually, the issue is 3-4% isn't much and stock mutual funds – like in 2008 – can quickly lose 40-50% of their value…it can take years to recoup one bad year (individual stocks are even riskier).

 

Many professional investors avoid retail investment vehicles because of the risks and relatively low returns for those risks. Rather, they understand retail investing is only a small portion of the vast capital markets, there is no price advantage nor ability to influence outcomes in retail investing, and potentially better returns with potentially less risk can be achieved with other approaches and vehicles. These vehicles include things like distressed debt, real estate, private financing and – in some cases – venture capital (VC).

What does Asymmetria mean by "Access, Expertise, Return?"

Access is one reason why few are able to leverage asymmetric investing. While asymmetric opportunities can exist with traded securities like bonds, most individuals don't have direct access to these markets nor do they have the intricate knowledge needed to be successful. Further, many asymmetric opportunities are in the private markets where access requires a sizable network and scale (significant capital) to participate.

 

But access is only one hurdle. The capital markets are so large and complex that there are a limitless number of opportunities – particularly opportunities that make others money, not you. Wall Street is notorious for a "I win, you lose" mindset so it is dangerous ground for the novice investor. Further, the number of smart, profitable opportunities with low risk is extremely limited. Expertise – experience, knowledge, and tools – are required to find and then vet these asymmetric opportunities. Asymmetria actually rejects many more opportunities than it acts upon due to our strict criteria, in-depth analysis, and vetting process.

 

Ultimately, most investors don't have the access, scale, or know-how to execute an asymmetric deal whether public or private. It's the combination of access and expertise that enables Asymmetria's clients – and us – to achieve asymmetric returns.

Why is Asymmetria opening their asymmetric opportunities up to others?

We believe asymmetric investing is one of the smartest way to grow wealth and we want others to benefit from this approach as well.

 

We also only present opportunities we're investing in personally so this isn't purely altruistic.  By pooling participating clients' assets, Asymmetria can participate in larger opportunities.  Clients – like Asymmetria's founders – benefit from typically higher returns and typically lower risks.

Why do Asymmetria's founders invest in each deal?

The short answer is because we also want to benefit from the typically higher returns and typically lower risks associated with these deals. The longer answer also includes our belief that aligned incentives provide additional controls – and benefits – to you. Because we're risking our own wealth in each deal, we believe you should have more confidence that only truly asymmetric opportunities will be offered to clients.

How does Asymmetria work?

Clients pay an annual fee for the opportunity to participate in 6-10 asymmetric investments (deals) that Asymmetria is participating in a year.  These deals range from high return / lower risk investments like distressed debt, real estate, and private financing to opportunities with even higher returns like venture capital that require managed risks.

 

A limited liability corporation (LLC) is created for each deal and clients choose which deals they wish to participate in and for how much. Those who participated own a pro-rata (proportional) share of that publicly filed LLC based on how much they've invested into the deal.

 

When the deal concludes – typically 2-4 years later – participating clients receive their original investment plus any gains less any distributions already made and the profit share retained by Asymmetria on their actual gains.  Should an investment lose value, remaining invested amounts available are returned and no profit share is retained.  It's important to note that invested monies are illiquid (inaccessible) while the LLC is active as – unlike mutual funds or publicly traded stocks – these investments cannot be easily bought and sold. However, these investments are also unlike mutual funds or publicly traded stocks in that they typically have as good or better returns but without the inherent risks, tax implications, and hidden costs.

How does Asymmetria find asymmetric investment opportunities?

Access requires both a substantial network (for private deals) and significant cost for the trading platforms, staff, and tools needed for deals involving securities (e.g. distressed bonds).  Asymmetria's professionals scour the capital markets (public and private) for opportunities and – in conjunction with Asymmetria's founders and advisory board – vet and assess each opportunity's potential returns and risks. Asymmetria funnels potential opportunities through our criteria to filter them to the few that are ultimately asymmetric.

Who should join Asymmetria?

While asymmetric investing can help everyone, regulations require Asymmetria clients to be "accredited" – that generally means they have enough investible assets or high-enough income to invest in non-retail vehicles.  This can vary for couples so contact Asymmetria for details if you are unsure about your status. Clients must self-attest to being accredited prior to becoming a client.

 

We also recommend only those with enough liquidity become clients.  Asymmetria investments cannot be accessed for the duration of the investment and each will vary depending upon the investment type and thesis.  Asymmetria's goals are to build our clients' wealth so please ensure you will not be negatively impacted by a lack of liquidity and, if liquidity is a concern, please reconsider becoming a client.

 

Asymmetria will never pressure anyone to become a client nor will clients ever be pressured to participate in an investment opportunity.  We strive for complete transparency and to make investment opportunities understandable to all levels of investors.

 

Related, we encourage those considering joining to seek advice from others – including legal, financial, and accounting advice. Our value proposition is so strong we ultimately welcome – and seek – additional scrutiny.  One note of caution: Many financial advisors are incentivized based on "assets under management" (i.e. how much of your money are they managing).  This can create a potential conflict of interest if seeking unbiased advice. However, several recommend non-correlated investments so they actually refer people to Asymmetria.

 

Ultimately, do NOT invest in something you don't understand or trust.  That includes becoming an Asymmetria client or participating in one of Asymmetria's investment opportunities.  We're here to assist and will answer any and all questions to help.

How do I join Asymmetria?

We strongly suggest all potential clients have an initial session with Asymmetria's client services team prior to joining.  In this session, you will be presented additional information on Asymmetria, our past track record, and upcoming investment opportunities.  You will also have the opportunity to ask questions and will receive a unique ID giving you access to more information on this website about past and future investments.

 

When you decide to join, an application will be completed attesting to your ability to join and your understanding of the potential risks associating with investing. Upon approval and receipt of your annual fee, you will receive a new client welcome kit, your portal credentials, and will have an on-boarding session with an Asymmetria representative.

 

As a client, you will receive on-going updates on potential investments and quarterly statements on your current investments. Clients can also participate in regular review calls with Asymmetria's analysts.

 

Another benefit is Asymmetria can also review other investments you're considering and – like having your own personal family office – Asymmetria can represent you if others are approaching you for capital.

I'm highly interested, what should I do next?

This is an important next step toward growing your wealth. Choose any of the below options to have an Asymmetria new client representative contact you:

  • Call 1-844-694-4675 (toll free) and select option 2
  • SMS/text Asymmetria at 315-271-9931
  • Email us at chad.carstensen@asymmetriagroup.com
  • Or, click this brief online form

 

What types of returns can be expected?

While past performance is not an indication of future returns, Asymmetria is solely focused on identifying and then realizing asymmetric opportunities. Typical returns have ranged from the high-teens for lower risk opportunities upwards to multiples (2x+) for higher risk opportunities.

 

However, unlike a fund, you decide which opportunities to participate in and how much to invest based on your own risk and return desires. Materials will clearly articulate the potential risks and rewards but please do NOT invest in anything you do not understand. As a client, our desire is for you to have access to the information needed to make an informed decision.

How does Asymmetria reduce or manage risks?

The approaches used also vary depending upon the investment type and its specifics. For example, distressed debt generates high-yield interest because the bonds are purchased at a significant discount. Some bonds are secured by assets that, in worst-case scenarios, can still produce returns. In other cases, bond prices eventually rebound and can be sold at a profit. Additional scenarios can result in the bonds being converted to equity (stock), which can then potentially appreciate and be sold (often during bankruptcy proceedings). Asymmetria's analysts evaluate potential scenarios to minimize risk and maximize opportunity.

 

Real estate and private financing have similar risk/reward scenarios. Asymmetria's investments are designed to protect against downside risks while maximizing upside potential.

 

Unlike the other asymmetric investment opportunities, venture capital (VC) is inherently riskier.  For every Facebook, thousands of others fail. Even breakthrough ideas executed with excellence can fail.  However, successes generate significant returns for those who invested.  Due to this risk profile, VC opportunities are the exception at Asymmetria.  Only those with high market potential, excellent management and business plans, and with the proper capital structure are seriously considered.

 

Because every deal will be different, ultimately the approaches to manage its risks will be different too.  This is yet another reason to leverage the collective expertise of Asymmetria.

I've always invested through my advisor and done well – why should I join?

While retail instruments can play a role in an overall balanced portfolio, these investors have increased exposure (risks) to inevitable market corrections.  Some try to time markets – this is a losing proposition as supported by numerous statistical analyses.

 

Many aren't aware of the total costs of ownership associated with CD's, annuities, mutual funds, and other retail instruments either.  For example, many aren't aware that the costs of the stock trades within a mutual fund are passed onto customers.  These trades can also generate tax obligations for fund shareholders even if they don't sell their shares.  Forbes recently estimated the total cost of ownership for a non-qualified mutual fund to be 4.17% annually due to taxes and other fees.  Paste the following link into your browser to see the specifics: www.forbes.com/2011/04/04/real-cost-mutual-fund-taxes-fees-retirement-bernicke.html.

 

In comparison, asymmetric investments may generate higher returns but with lower and / or managed risks. Even small improvement in returns – particularly when avoiding losses – can generate wealth.  For example, many know an annual return of 7.2% doubles an investment's value in 10 years, and a 10% return doubles the value in 7.2 years.  Increasing returns to 20% doubles the value in 3.8 years and so on. Further, Asymmetria's fees are fully transparent, may be tax deductible, and returns are actual – not just on paper.

How does Asymmetria compare to venture capital groups?

VC groups – including crowd-funding entities like Kickstarter – deal almost exclusively in owning equity at various stages of new, start-up companies. Similarly, Private Equity groups deal entirely in equity positions of companies – some new and some existing through buyouts and other strategies. Equity positions can generate significant returns but these returns also entail significant risk.

 

Asymmetria differs in that the majority of opportunities will not be venture capital. Those selected will be thoroughly vetted and controls – including board representation and other tactics - are put in place to minimize risks where possible.

How are high returns achieved if most opportunities aren't venture capital?

High returns can be achieved with the right expertise and approaches. These approaches differ depending upon the type of investment and its opportunities.  For example, asymmetric opportunities in the debt markets generally involve a situation where a bond or company has become distressed but – due to market factors and industry nuances – prices have become irrationally low.  In real estate, properties may also be under valued or – with proper management – values can be increased.  In private financing, solutions that generate benefits for all parties with managed risks can be created.  Asymmetria targets returns in the high-teens or more with these approaches...all while minimizing the potential for loss.

I thought bonds were safe but low return investments – how can they be asymmetric?

Because bonds aren't mentioned often in the media and most trading is done by institutions, many aren't familiar with the nuances of debt and debt trading.  A bond is a type of loan provided to a company in exchange for interest (coupon payments) paid over time.  For companies with strong credit ratings, they're considered safe but low return investments.

 

However, asymmetric returns are possible under the right circumstances.  Several past situations ranging from bankruptcy situations to residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) have been documented in Asymmetria's "Investing Foundations" series.  This series explains – in detail – the circumstances that can lead to asymmetric distressed debt scenarios.  Speak to an Asymmetria representative or request a temporary system ID to get access.

How can real estate be an asymmetric investment?

Real estate can also generate asymmetric returns in the right scenarios.  These scenarios typically involve an under-valued property or a property whose value can be increased.

 

The tax benefits of property ownership and leverage can also increase returns.  The former uses depreciation to off-set revenues for tax advantaged income.  The latter is through designing the debt (mortgage) properly.  Please note: leverage can be extremely risky and is cautiously used only under the right circumstances.  The recent housing crisis is a good reminder, however, that these risks can also create opportunities.  For example, properties with long-term value could be acquired at significantly discounted prices during this crisis.

 

Examples of past real estate investments are available within Asymmetria's "Investing Foundations" series for additional information.  Speak to an Asymmetria representative or request a temporary system ID to get access.

What is private financing how can it be an asymmetric investment?

Private financing is a general term for providing similar activities that a bank may perform but through direct agreements between private parties.  For example, a company may wish to provide their customers the option to finance purchases.  To do this, a private financier may purchase the future payments from the customer at a discount so the company gets funds now and the investor receives on-going payments.

 

This is only one of many private financing examples that exist.  Like all asymmetric opportunities, these must be structured properly to mitigate risks while still generating targeted returns.  Worst-case scenarios are considered to create programs that are compliant, sustainable, and ideally beneficial for all involved.

 

Examples of past private financing investments are also available within Asymmetria's "Investing Foundations" series for additional information.  Speak to an Asymmetria representative or request a temporary system ID to get access.

Who should I consult prior to becoming a client?

Asymmetria firmly believes no one should invest in anything they don't understand so we sincerely welcome and encourage additional scrutiny.  We want all clients to be confident in their decision and we are confident in our abilities to deliver asymmetric returns.

 

We encourage prospective clients to consult family, friends, and trusted advisors – including their current financial advisors, accountants, or lawyers. Please note: some financial advisors may consider Asymmetria to be competition.  While we don't have that view, we understand many financial advisors are incentivized to manage as many customer assets as possible.

 

Related, we also encourage clients to consult others when considering which and how much to invest in deals.  In-depth materials are provided that are designed to be accessible to all levels as we want to ensure clients make informed decisions based on clearly articulated risks and potential returns.

 

We're ultimately here to assist. It is in our best interest to have informed and satisfied clients as our profits are based on your profits and most clients are referred from others.  Beyond our financial incentive, we are committed to being customer centric and transparent given our belief system rooted in ethical living.  We know of no other way to operate.

How much should I invest through Asymmetria?

How many deals a client participates in and how much they invest in each deal is ultimately up to each individual.  Each deal will have a different risk and return profile depending upon the opportunity and the investment type. Asymmetria's materials will clearly define each.

 

While there is no minimum, clients typically invest $25 to $50k or more in each opportunity.  Because they see 6-10 deals annually and Asymmetria's annual fee is fixed, clients are able to spread their annual fee across multiple deals.  In some rare cases, maximum amounts may be capped to ensure others (and Asymmetria) also have the opportunity to invest.

 

It should be noted that Asymmetria's annual fee, unlike fees charged by others, is fixed.  Asymmetria's costs don't go up when you invest more, so we don't think it's appropriate to charge fees based on assets under management (AUM).  That's yet another advantage when investing through Asymmetria.

Should I use Asymmetria for my 401k or IRA?

Qualified funds (those dollars used to fund tax-deferred vehicles like a 401k or IRA) can be used for most Asymmetria investments through opening a self-directed individual retirement account (SDIRA) with Asymmetria's selected custodian. Please consult your tax professional and see your Asymmetria representative for details.

How are deal opportunities presented to clients?

Once you're a client, you will have access to the Asymmetria client portal.  This portal shows the opportunities Asymmetria's analysts are currently evaluating and you can indicate which you want to track as progress in our vetting process.  Because most opportunities are rejected for not meeting our strict requirements, summary information is initially provided.  As selected opportunities progress toward becoming real, more information is provided – including an investment thesis and related background materials. Each thesis will clearly define the potential opportunity, its risks, and – if it is selected – how it met our requirements.  Clients then receive on-going updates on potential and active deals through quarterly statements, newsletters, and their client portal.

How do I actually invest in a deal opportunity?

As clients track opportunities, they are asked for their general, non-committal interest in each.  For those that proceed to funding, clients will be asked to give an initial commitment and investment level.  Once Asymmetria has evaluated all commitments, final investment levels will be allocated and formal commitment will occur (i.e. participating clients will be obligated to their investment amounts).

 

The LLC created for each investment has ownership proportions legally documented, filed, and publicly accessible via the Secretary of State's website in the state where the LLC is publicly filed (generally Iowa).  All legal documents are stored on the client portal for participating clients.  Clients are provided specific wiring instructions for when to transfer funds.  Wiring can generally be done at your local bank where your local banker will be able to execute our step-by-step instructions.

What happens after an opportunity is funded?

Once participating clients have transferred funds to an investment, Asymmetria's analysts will execute the deal according to the documented investment thesis.  In some cases, this will involve immediately funding the entire investment.  In other cases, investments will be funded over time depending upon the criteria defined within the thesis (e.g. investments may be staged based on market pricing at the time).

 

Quarterly statements are provided to all clients listing any investments and their current status.  Annual tax documents (K-1s) will be provided to participating clients as well until the deal concludes.  Some investments – like real estate, private financing, and bonds – may include distributions (payments) to participating clients.  These will be defined in the investment thesis and, if included, distributions are made annually to participating clients.

 

When an investment concludes, a personalized closing statement is created recapping the investment's performance and the client's return – both their gross return and their return net of Asymmetria's profit-share.  At that time (assuming the investment performs), clients receive their original investment plus any returns that haven't already been paid as distributions less Asymmetria's profit share.

 

Taxes are the responsibility of each client but each thesis will include tax implications within its overall opportunity assessment.  Yet another benefit of Asymmetria is – unlike a mutual fund or several other types of investments – taxes are only incurred upon receipt of distributions or payments at the conclusion of a deal.

Does Asymmetria do personal planning? If I'm considering other investments, will Asymmetria evaluate them?

While Asymmetria does not do personal financial plans, our investment professionals are available for specialized financial planning if clients have a specific investment or other large financial decision they are considering.  For example, Asymmetria can provide an initial consultation on the value and things to consider when structuring a deal if a client is considering purchasing or selling a business.  Asymmetria can also act as clients' personal family office if they're approached by others seeking capital.  This allows clients to access investment professionals to evaluate the opportunity or, in some cases, a way for clients to gracefully decline through Asymmetria.  In some cases, the opportunity may warrant consideration for Asymmetria's broader client-base as clients are yet another source for potential asymmetric deals.

How do I submit opportunities for Asymmetria to consider? For example, I'm considering selling my business to retire, will Asymmetria buy it?

Clients can either submit investment opportunities through the Asymmetria portal or they can call us directly to speak with one of our investment professionals.  In addition, all clients receive Asymmetria business cards they can use with those approaching them for investments.  These solicitors, if desired, can then be directed to Asymmetria as a convenience for our clients (similar to having your own personal family office).

 

Regarding Asymmetria purchasing a client's business, this is possible but may not be probable.  Asymmetria specifically seeks opportunities for clients – and Asymmetria's founders – that achieve high return potential with limited and controlled risks. These approaches – while fair to all – may not be tenable to all sellers plus equity positions tend to be riskier than other approaches.  With that said, Asymmetria will consider all opportunities provided by clients and we can assist clients with our advice when selling a business.

When I become a client, should I let others know about Asymmetria?

While there are benefits (and requirements) for keeping investment deal specifics confidential, there is no need to keep Asymmetria itself confidential.  Most clients join because a friend or family member referred them to Asymmetria.  While we believe everyone can benefit from asymmetric investing, please be aware that there are regulatory requirements on who can join (clients must be accredited) and that we have a cap on our number of clients.