Frequently Asked Questions.

How does Modern Income Investing Work?

We offer investment research and model portfolio services through a primarily combination of a set of web-based, online tools, model portfolios and trades, and  non-personalized online investment education courses. 

There are 3 membership levels: $4.99 a month, $99 a month or $299 a month. Subscribers sign up right on the site, and are billed monthly. Some membership levels offer discounts if you sign up and pay for a 12-month subscription in advance.

The number and nature of features differs according to which of our 3 subscription levels you sign up for. 

All membership levels include access to Rob Isbitts’ extensive library of investment “intellectual property.” This includes:

  • Broad market indicators
  • Up-to-the-minute investment views
  • Forward-thinking investment research
  • Ongoing coverage of a diverse group of 101 ETFs
  • Done-for-you model portfolios, with updates on every trade Rob makes in his own account. 

Our Modern Income Investing system takes all of those formerly-successful approaches to conservative and income-driven investing…and throws them in the trash! Because that’s where they deserve to be, for the foreseeable future.

Our process was designed with the retired or pre-retired investor in mind. Using our approach, you can set a “hurdle” or “spin” level. That’s where you decide that, for example, whenever that $100 climbs to $102, you withdraw $2 from your portfolio, and use it as you wish. Fund your lifestyle, do something special with the extra income, or take that profit and use it to invest in something else. Naturally, you can also just keep it in the portfolio. The choice is yours, we’re just here to deliver the system and process to help you get to that decision.

This is a continuous, ongoing process. The dual objectives are to carefully produce portfolio profits to withdraw, while maintaining the base value of your portfolio. This is similar to what bonds used to do: pay you regularly, while the principal stayed intact. But, if you have seen a bond portfolio or bond fund lately, you know that’s no longer something investors can count on the way people did for much of the past 40 years. Times have changed, and we need to change with them.

We think the approach used in the Modern Income Investor system is a refreshing, timely alternative to traditional investing methods. After all, wouldn’t you rather avoid taking the treacherous, emotional route to long-term investment success that so many of our peers are setting themselves up to do by relying on formerly successful approaches that are way past their expiration date? Maybe they are willing to put up with that. But you don’t have to!

That’s the easy question (for us)! Answer: to spin off regular distributions from portfolio profits, while keeping principal amount intact.

This is what securities like corporate bonds and dividend stocks used to do, but no longer can in today’s stock market and interest rate environment.

This might be THE most common misconception about our investment style. Think of it this way: if your long-term goal is to turn $100 into $200, getting there by way of a crash to $60 is not an easy approach. Because for all the talk in financial circle about “long-term investing,” the fact is that the stock market can go 10 years or more without producing a positive return. Sure, your $100 that went to $60 can “rally back” to $100 after a few years, like the S&P 500 Index did after the Dot-Com Bubble and Global Financial Crisis. But history shows that most investors won’t be that patient. And if you have made most or all of the money you believe you will need in retirement, why would you “let it ride” like you’re in a casino? This is the money you worked so hard to accumulate!

Naturally, we prefer our way: the best chance of turning $100 into $200 over time is to keep it as close to $100 or higher as you can, as often as you can. Because when the market crashes, and you have retained the vast majority of your portfolio’s value, it’s like being a sports team playing with a big lead. You can participate in the subsequent bull market, but not from the position of playing catch-up. As we see it, the best way to take emotion out of investing is to not let it reach the point of getting emotional in the first place!

Rob is a middle-class kid (born in 1964) from Northern New Jersey who moved to Florida with Dana, his wife of 30 years, in 1997. Rob’s first and most significant mentor in markets and life was his late father Carl, who passed away in 2013, and continues to be a daily inspiration for the ongoing investment innovation produced by Rob and his investment team. Carl taught Rob to chart stocks by hand, on graph paper, when he was 16 years old (1980). Carl was a self-directed investor who was a pioneer in using technical analysis as a vehicle to preserve, grow, and withdraw cash flow from his retirement portfolio. He did that for himself and Rob’s late mother Joyce for the last 25 years of his life. Today, after successfully guiding portfolios through more than 30 years and 6 bear markets, that is not lost on Rob and his family.

During his advisory career, Rob was selected 3 times to the Worth Magazine Top 100 Wealth Advisors list, managed 3 mutual funds and wrote 3 books (so we guess he has a thing for the number 3!). Rob is also an accomplished journalist (Forbes, US News, TheStreet.com, etc.).

These days, the vast majority of his most pointed, specific, investment strategy thinking is reserved for Modern Income Investor members. Rob prides himself on being a contrarian thinking, critic of his industry’s greedy ways and short-cut investing methods, and aims to be a consummate myth-buster. No, he’s not a super hero…just a middle-class kid from New Jersey.

In 2022, along with veteran journalist and financial advisor Kate Stalter, Rob Isbitts created Modern Income Investor. We aim to help today’s investors successfully navigate the increasingly uncertain, complex circumstances they face in the most unique market environment of our lives. At a time when bonds no longer do what they used to, the stock market has become a virtual casino, and geopolitics are a never-end threat, Rob and his motivated team provide clarity, a battle-tested investment process, and an alternative to the typical madness and salesmanship offered by brokers and newsletter writers.

Let’s try to keep this as simple as possible, in an admittedly complex industry: ModernIncomeInvestor.com is a subscription-based research service provided by Sungarden Investment Publishing (SIP). SIP is owned by Rob Isbitts. Rob founded SIP 2020, after he sold his investment advisory practice, Sungarden Investment Management (SIM), which he had run since 2012. Prior to that, Rob was a partner and the Chief Investment Officer of a $300mm Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) Firm, and then Chief Investment Strategist for a $3 Billion wealth management firm.

When Rob sold SIM in 2020, this opened up the potential for him to expand his reach as a model portfolio strategist, market commentator, journalist and thought-leader. While running SIM, where investment advisor services were provided by Dynamic Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), Rob was a licensed investment advisor representative (IAR). Rob dropped his investment advisor (series 65) license in 2021, since that license relates to his former work as a provider of customized investment advice to individual investors. Today, Rob and Sungarden provide their thinking, research and opinions to a broader audience, but DO NOT provide customized investment advice. Thus, the creation of a membership-based, subscription program, Modern Income Investor.

Sungarden Investment Publishing, the research engine behind ModernIncomeInvestor.com, is:

  • An investment research company that takes an uncommon, contemporary approach to today’s markets
  • A sophisticated, experienced provider of ETF research for use in our model portfolios, or however a program member wishes to use that information.
  • A firm on a mission to fill a void in a noisy world of tired, traditional investment approaches
  • A place where “time is money” – our perspective, insights, and investment activity are updated frequently and consistently on our website, in sync with today’s volatile markets


What Do I Get and How Does It Help Me Become a Better Investor?

gives you a snapshot of what’s happening in the Markets and economy throughout the week. It is updated whenever our thoughts change, as soon as they change.

measures the risk associated with the potential reward available in the current environment. Its essentially a “weighing machine” that assumes that ANY investment is potentially profitable…but what risk are you taking to pursue that potential gain? The ICI assesses this for you by taking 5 hand-selected market indicators Rob Isbitts identified many years ago, and producing a rating that looks like a weather report: Sunny, Partly Sunny, Cloudy, Rainy, Stormy. Unlike some weather forecasters, the ICI aims to be as accurate as possible!

Investment strategy and positioning is a constant tradeoff between rewards and risks. To us, this means allocating to BOTH offensive and defensive positions AT THE SAME TIME. The simplest, most concise way we express this is through our proprietary ROAR (Return Opportunity And Risk) Score. We update it every Wednesday for all membership levels, and provide a 2-ETF model portfolio (stocks vs. cash equivalents) to provide a basic, introductory-level education tool for Modern Income Investor members.

is where Rob Isbitts applies his more than 40 years of charting experience to set S&P 500 Index risk ranges for 3 different time frames (weeks, months and years).

To us, technical analysis (charting price patterns) is an indispensable part of any serious modern investment process. But with so many would-be technicians running around today’s internet and social media, what we offer is different: real, battle-tested experience, rather than simply a copy-cat of technical approaches that have become oversimplified and/or overused. This makes them less useful to investors. This is not the case here!

stands for Market Outlook Factor Overview. This MOFO is our team’s opinion on what is driving global investment markets right now. Like the old “American Top 40” pop music countdown show, this list of 10 market factors is revisited, re-ordered and turned over every Wednesday. These are the 10 factors most likely to impact investors’ portfolios in the intermediate term. MOFO provides an at-a-glance view of risk and opportunity factors. We’ve done the research, you get the results of that ongoing research.

are familiar to sports fans. We are trying to make them just as familiar to self-directed investors. Our depth charts track a set of ETFs from which our model positions are chosen. So, in addition to showing you what’s in our model portfolios at any moment, you can see which ETFs are being considered for the models, but are not currently part of the models. This is where our extensive ETF research combines with Rob’s decades of portfolio construction expertise to create a flexible, easy-to-implement system for investors.

is where we list every trade we do in our models, including the dates, prices we bought or sold at, and our realized gain or loss after we sell an ETF. We share our trades with you every time we make a transaction. That allows you to be in sync with us, move by move, and determine for yourself how best to benefit from the Modern Income Investor system.

are the ongoing, continuously updated results of our market analysis, ETF research and portfolio construction process. Depending on your membership level, you get direct access to 3 model portfolios Rob invests his own money in. There’s a model containing just 2 ETFs, another that spreads things out over 4 ETFs, and our Platinum membership level, which features the most precise application of the Modern Income Portfolio system: our 7-ETF model.

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