Cognitive Investing Institute

Mentoring and tutorial programs for self-directed individual investors

  1. The Flagship program:   Cognitive Investing—Understanding the Investment Decision-making Process


This class covers all the essential topics necessary for one to successfully implement a cognitive investing portfolio management process.  We will address questions such as, “What is the relationship between the stock market and the economy? Why does the typical investor’s performance significantly lag the market averages? Is the investing strategy of buy-and-hold obsolete? How important is diversification?”  We will focus on the investment decision-making process and discuss why individual investors repeatedly make a wide variety of judgment errors, resulting in adverse financial outcomes.


This is a nine-month, self-paced class with tutorial support.  The goal is to provide students with tools to make intelligent investment decisions in a wide variety of investing situations.  The program describes the underlying reasons that lead to poor investment decisions and how to avoid them. At the end of the class the student will have developed his or her own personalized “all-weather” portfolio and management process and know what kinds of actions to take when market prices gyrate and personal financial conditions change.

Program details:

The areas of study include:

  • Financial literacy
  • Important events in the history of markets
  • The essential mathematics concepts that every investor should understand
  • Gambling vs. investing: the importance of process
  • Understanding risk
  • Investor psychology: the ten spectrums of cognitive investing
  • Portfolio construction
  • Reacting to the unexpected
  • Where to go for unbiased information and knowledge
  • Managing the portfolio for the long term

Instructor/learning facilitator:

Rich Willis is the author of Cognitive Investing: The Key to Making Better Investment Decisions.  He has been studying markets and the investing process for over 30 years.   He has managed client portfolios and provided investment education to individual investors for more than 15 years.  Rich has taught investing classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Santa Clara University and had articles published in Forbes ASAP magazine.

Assessment methods:

No formal assessment.  “Real world” results will be the ultimate judge of the success of any investment program, including this one.

Prerequisite knowledge:

None.  During the first several sessions, the instructor will assess the prior knowledge of the student and structure the classes to focus on filling gaps in critical areas.  The instructor will also determine what the student needs to unlearn.

Recommended reading:

Since the class is customized for each student, the recommended reading list will vary widely depending on the background, personal situation, and goals of each student.  The readings contain a combination of books, articles, web sites, and videos. The book, Cognitive Investing, forms the backbone of the class.

Student and instructor expectations:

The program includes two hours of one-on-one consulting each month.  The expectation is that the client will spend at least five to ten hours on readings and various other assignments per month.  Instructor will provide between-session email and telephone support.

Learning outcomes:

Student will understand:

  • How financial markets work
  • The difference between investing and gambling
  • Psychological biases and how they lead to poor investment decisions
  • How to deal with the emotional aspects of investing
  • How to balance and control the various types of risk
  • How correlation and volatility affect investment portfolios
  • How taxes and inflation affect investment portfolios
  • The role of diversification in an investment portfolio
  • The motivations and conflicts of interest of industry participants
  • The role of the media in the investment landscape

Student will be able to:

  • Manage his own portfolio as markets gyrate and personal conditions change
  • Distinguish between portfolios managed according to Cognitive Investing principles and those that aren’t
  • Make reasoned asset allocation, security selection and market timing decisions
  • Make tradeoffs regarding buying individual stocks and bonds vs. stock and bond funds
  • Make informed decisions about the types of funds to own
  • Make informed decisions when faced with unique circumstances
  • Understand when, how, and why to make changes to a portfolio
  • Eliminate unnecessary costs and minimize the necessary costs of managing a portfolio

Program cost:



  1. Flagship program, lite version:

This is identical to the Flagship program, except that it runs for three months and is priced at $1250.  This is an option for those who are unsure whether they want to make the full commitment to the Flagship program.  At the end of the course, it is upgradable to the Flagship program for $1950.

  1. Transition consulting program:

Suitable for those investors who want to convert their existing non-cognitive investing portfolios to a cognitive investing portfolio.  Pricing is an annual fixed fee of 0.15% to 0.25% of the portfolio value based on portfolio size.  The duration of the program is dependent on the complexity of the transition process.

  1. The one-time fix:

Intended for those investors who need only a “one-time” adjustment to their portfolios.  These investors are largely self-sufficient and can handle all ongoing maintenance and rebalancing tasks without further assistance.  The one-time fix includes at least two two-hour consulting/tutoring sessions and email and telephone support.  Pricing ranges from $400 to $800, depending on portfolio complexity.

  1. The periodic checkup:

This is a program for ongoing portfolio evaluation, once every six months or year, depending on portfolio complexity and investor’s needs.  It is suitable for investors who have made the transition to a cognitive investing portfolio.  Pricing is $200 to $400 per year, depending on portfolio complexity.

  1. I just want to buy a chunk of time:

$100 per hour.  We’ll discuss almost anything having to do with cognitive investing.

  1. Freeloader program:

Investor buys and reads Cognitive Investing; subscribes to blog, periodically asks intelligent questions, and evangelizes Cognitive Investing to friends and associates.  Cost is minimal; rewards are immense.


To enroll in any of these programs or discuss which program is most suitable for your situation, send an email to

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