Invest passively, think differently.

We don’t get much financial education in school. Even if you major in finance in college, there is not much focus on personal finance.  When personal finance is taught – in school, from parents, colleagues or mentors – it usually focuses completely on mutual funds, stocks and bonds. People are told to max out their 401(k) and save for retirement by investing in the stock market.  Most people don’t stop to ask if that is really the best way to grow wealth.  Left Fielders stop and ask.  We found out that there is a better way.

Who are Left Field Investors?

This group was established to share knowledge and expertise among individuals interested in growing wealth through passive investments in real assets that produce real cash flow.  Left Fielders invest passively in large apartment complexes, mobile home parks, self-storage facilities, industrial lease buybacks, ATMs, private money lending, notes and more.  The common theme for all our investments is that we buy real assets managed by others that produce current cash flow with likely future appreciation.

Left Fielders work together to identify sponsors who provide consistent deal flow with cash flowing assets at reasonable minimum investment requirements.  We analyze and evaluate these deals together and invest in them both individually and in small groups.

Who Were We? – Right Field Investors

Many of us have had large portfolios in the “standard” investment markets – stocks, bonds and mutual funds.  We didn’t know there was anything better.  We invested in these conventional, highly marketed products hoping the value of our investment would rise, and we could sell it to someone else – we lived with the ups and downs of the markets and that is how we evaluated our success and our wealth.  We see Right Field Investors as those who follow “conventional wisdom”.  They have W-2 income and max out their 401(k)s and IRAs. They invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds.  They believe they need a certain amount of money in retirement and they will take 4% out every year until they die.  They do this because this is how their parents did it or this is how it has always been done.  We do not think any of this is wrong or bad – we just believe there is a better, quicker way to financial independence and wealth creation – a sustainable get-rich-slow scheme.

What is passive investing?

The conventional definition of passive investing is investing in indexed mutual funds and staying invested regardless of market changes with the goal of reducing fees and achieving “market” returns.  This is often contrasted with active investing which is trading in and out of stocks, bonds and mutual funds based on market conditions, intuition, or a hot stock tip.

Passive investing is the most common type of investing – stocks, bonds and mutual funds are passive investments – though many refer to investing in stocks as “active” and investing in indexed mutual funds as “passive”.  The investor does not manage or control the asset.  Passive investing for Left Fielders is investing in real assets that you do not actively manage.  Passive investing in real estate syndications is passive because the investor provides the funds, but the sponsor manages the asset.

What are the benefits of passive investing in real estate syndications?

The main benefit of passive investing is you do not have to manage the asset – you pay someone to do that for you. The sponsor is responsible for collecting rent, doing repairs, hiring staff, finding tenants, reporting to investors and everything else that has to do with managing an asset.  Your job is done after you have screened the sponsor and analyzed the deal.  After that, you need only monitor the progress and watch the cash flow accumulate in your bank account.

Another benefit of syndications is diversification. You can invest in various asset classes, geographies and sponsors so you have a broad portfolio.

Why is it important that the Sponsor co-invests in the deal?

Most syndication sponsors invest in their own deals.  That means that they have an extra incentive to put the investors first, because they are investors as well.  It is still critical to do a proper evaluation of each sponsor because often the sponsor makes more on fees than their investment amount, but it is still an alignment of interests to have them have their own money at risk.  Contrast this with a typical investor using a financial advisor – how often is the advisor putting his or her money into the same investments as the client?

What is a syndication?

A syndication is a joining together of investors to invest in a specific asset. Typically there are general partners or sponsors who raise the money and put together the deal, and there are the limited partners or passive investors who usually provide most of the capital raised for the deal.

What is an Accredited Investor?

Generally, an accredited investor is someone who has earned $200,000 ($300,000 if married) in each of the past two years or has a net worth of more than $1,000,000 excluding the equity in their home.

Some sponsors will accept accredited investors only, and some will take both accredited and non-accredited investors.

What are some of the tax advantages of passive investing?

There are basically three buckets of taxable income reported to the IRS.  The first is Active Ordinary Income, and it is taxed at the marginal tax rates, which can be the highest rates.  This includes income from your job that is reported on a W-2 or a 1099.  The second bucket is Portfolio Income.  This includes income from interest, dividends or capital gains from the sales of stocks, mutual funds and bonds. This is often taxed at the highest rate or a reduced capital gains rate.  The third bucket is Passive Income.  This includes income from rental real estate and capital gains from sales of assets. This is taxed at the capital gains rate but passive losses can offset the passive gains.  The advantage of passive investing is that you can use paper losses (phantom deductions) to offset real money gains and effectively reduce your tax rate.  Passive losses can only offset passive gains – other than very limited circumstances, you cannot use passive losses from bucket three to offset any income from buckets one or two.

The more money you can shift from buckets one and two, into bucket three, the lower your tax liability will be.  Where do you get the paper losses?  Mostly from depreciation and cost segregation.

What is cost segregation and bonus depreciation?

Real assets are depreciated over their useful life, and typically real estate is depreciated over 27.5 years.  This depreciation can offset income from the asset.  Cost Segregation is when an engineer does a study and separates personal property assets from real property assets for the purpose of depreciation.  The personal property is depreciated on a faster schedule allowing you more deductions in early years.  Because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, bonus Depreciation allows for 100% depreciation of the personal property in the year the property is put into service.  Practically, this means that you could invest $50,000 in a syndication and end up with a paper loss of $40,000 to offset any other passive income you have.

Most syndications have minimums of $25,000 or higher, can I invest if I don’t have that much cash?

There are ways to combine funds with other like-minded investors to invest in passive syndications.  Group investing can allow you to diversify by getting into more deals using less capital allowing you to invest with multiple sponsors in multiple locations with different asset types.  TribeVest is a great platform to help you get started.

What are some downsides to investing in passive syndications?

The minimums are generally quite high – often $25,000 to $100,000 per deal.  These are also not standard, mainstream investments so the ease of investing is not like that of the stock market.  The biggest downside is the complete lack of liquidity.  Once you invest in a deal, you are in it until the sponsor decides to sell the deal.  This could be two years or twenty.  You have very little control and there is no secondary market.  There may be situations where you could ask to be bought out, which is very rare, and you will be in a position of having the price and terms dictated to you.

Bottom Line

Left Fielder Investors is a community of like-minded people who are interested in building wealth through investing passively in real assets that produce actual cash flow combined with the probability of appreciation.  Our mission is to educate people about these lesser known “alternative” investments and provide a forum for people to learn and network in order to build wealth through multiple, consistent income streams as a supplement or replacement for W-2 income.  In retirement, passive income will reduce the pressure for reliance on a 401(k) portfolio or Social Security by providing additional income streams. We believe the combination of current cash flow, future appreciation, and tax reduction or elimination make passive syndications a worthwhile addition to any financial strategy.

Jim Pfeifer is one of the founders of Left Field Investors.  He is a full time investor living in Dublin, OH.  He has invested in over 30 passive syndications in his quest to become financially free through the acquisition of real assets that produce real cash flow.  You can connect with him at

Nothing on this website should be considered financial advice. Investing involves risks which you assume. It is your duty to do your own due diligence. Read all documents and agreements before signing or investing in anything. It is your duty to consult with your own legal, financial and tax advisors regarding any investment.

Chris Franckhauser

Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner

Chris Franckhauser, Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner for Left Field Investors, has been involved in real estate since 2008. He started with one single-family fix and flip, and he was hooked. He then scaled, completing five more over a brief period. While he enjoyed the journey and the financial tailwinds that came with each completed project, being an active investor with a W2 at the time, became too much to manage with a young and growing family. Seeing this was not easily scalable or sustainable long term, he searched for alternative ideas on where to invest. He explored other passive income streams but kept coming back to his two passions; real estate and time with his family. He discovered syndications after reconnecting with a former colleague and LFI Founder. He joined Left Field Investors in 2023 and has quickly immersed himself into the community and as a key member of our team.  

Chris earned a B.S. from The Ohio State University. After years in healthcare technology and medical devices, from startups to Fortune 15 companies, Chris shifted his efforts to consulting and owning a small apparel business when he is not working with LFI (Left Field Investors) or on his personal passive investments. A few years ago, Chris and his family left the cold life in Ohio for lake life in the Carolinas. Chris lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina with his wife and two kids. In his free time, he enjoys exploring all the things the Carolinas offer, from the beaches to the mountains and everywhere in between, volunteering at the school, coaching his kids’ sports teams and cheering on the Buckeyes from afar.  

Chris knows investing is a team sport. Being a strategic thinker and analytical by nature, the ability to collaborate with like-minded individuals in the Left Field Community and other communities is invaluable.  

Jim Pfeifer

President, Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Jim Pfeifer is one of the founders of Left Field Investors and the host of the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast. Left Field Investors is a group dedicated to educating and assisting like-minded investors negotiate the nuances of the passive investing landscape and world of syndications. Jim is a former financial advisor who became frustrated with the one-path-fits-all approach of the standard financial services industry. Jim now concentrates on investing in real assets that produce cash flow and is committed to sharing his knowledge with others who are interested in learning a different way to grow wealth.

Jim not only advises and helps people get started in passive real estate syndications, he also invests alongside them in small groups to allow for diversification among multiple investments and syndication sponsors. Jim believes the most important factor in a successful syndication is finding a sponsor that he knows, likes and trusts.

He has invested in over 100 passive syndications including apartments, mobile homes, self-storage, private lending and notes, ATM’s, commercial and industrial triple net leases, assisted living facilities and international coffee farms and cacao producers. Jim is constantly looking for new investment ideas that match his philosophy of real assets producing cash flow as well as looking for new sponsors with whom he can build quality, long-term relationships. Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Chad Ackerman

Chief Operating Officer, Founder

Chad is the Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Left Field Investors and the host of the LFI Spotlight podcast. Chad was in banking most of his career with a focus on data analytics, but in March of 2023 he left his W2 to become LFI’s second full time employee.

Chad always had a passion for real estate, so his analytics skills translated well into the deal analyzer side of the business. Through his training, education and networking Chad was able to align his passive investing to compliment his involvement with LFI while allowing him to grow his wealth and take steps towards financial freedom. He has appreciated the help he’s received from others along his journey which is why he is excited to host the LFI Spotlight podcast and share the experience of other investors and industry experts to assist those that are looking for education for their own journey.

Chad has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Minor in Real Estate from the University of Cincinnati. He is working to educate his two teenagers in the passive investing world. In his spare time he likes to golf, kayak, and check out the local brewery scene.

Ryan Steig

Chief Financial Officer, Founder

Ryan Stieg started down the path of passive investing like many of us did, after he picked up a little purple book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The problem was that he did that in college and didn’t take action to start investing passively until many years later when that itch to invest passively crept back up.

Ryan became an accidental landlord after moving from Phoenix back to Montana in 2007, a rental he kept until 2016 when he started investing more intentionally. Since 2016, Ryan has focused (or should we say lack thereof) on all different kinds of investing, always returning to real estate and business as his mainstay. Ryan has a small portfolio of one-to-three-unit rentals across four different markets in the US. He has also invested in over fifty real estate syndication investments individually or with an investment group or tribe. Working to diversify in multiple asset classes, Ryan invests in multi-family, note funds, NNN industrial, retail, office, self-storage, online businesses, start-ups, and several other asset classes that further cement his self-diagnosis of “shiny object syndrome”.

However, with all of those reaches over the years, Ryan still believes in the long-term success and tenets of passive, cash-flow-focused investing with proven syndicators and shared knowledge in investing.

When he’s not working with LFI or on his personal passive investments, he recently opened a new Club Pilates franchise studio after an insurance career. Outside of that, he can be found with his wife watching whatever sport one of their two boys is involved in during that particular season.

Steve Suh

Chief Content Officer, Founder

Steve Suh, one of the founders of Left Field Investors and its Chief Content Officer, has been involved with real estate and alternative assets since 2005. Like many, he saw his net worth plummet during the two major stock market crashes in the early 2000s. Since then, he vowed to find other ways to invest his money. Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad gave Steve the impetus to learn about real estate investing. He first became a landlord after purchasing his office condo. He then invested passively as a limited partner in oil and gas drilling syndications but quickly learned the importance of scrutinizing sponsors when he stopped getting returns after only a few months. Steve came back to real estate by buying a few small residential rentals. Seeing that this was not easily scalable, he searched for alternative ideas. After listening to hundreds of podcasts and attending numerous real estate investing meetings, he determined that passively investing in real estate syndications was the best avenue to get great, risk-adjusted returns. He has invested in dozens of syndications involving apartment buildings, self-storage facilities, resort properties, ATMs, Bitcoin mining funds, car washes, a coffee farm, and even a Broadway show.

When Steve is not vetting commercial real estate syndications in the evenings, he is stomping out eye diseases and improving vision during the day as an ophthalmologist. He enjoys playing in his tennis and pickleball leagues and rooting for his Buckeyes and Steelers football teams. In the past several years, he took up running and has completed three full marathons, including the New York City Marathon. He is always on a quest to find great pizza, BBQ brisket, and bourbon. He enjoys traveling with his wife and their three adult kids. They usually go on a medical mission trip once a year to southern Mexico to provide eye surgeries and glasses to the residents. Steve has enjoyed being a part of Left Field Investors to help others learn about the merits of passive, real asset investments.

Sean Donnelly

Chief Culture Officer, Founder

Sean holds a W2 job in the finance sector and began his real estate investing journey shortly after earning his MBA. Unfortunately, it could not have begun at a worse time … anyone remember 2007 … but even the recession provided worthy lessons. Sean stayed in the game continuing to find his place, progressing from flipping to owning single and multi-family rentals to now funding opportunities through syndications. While Sean is still heavily invested in the equities market and holds a small portfolio of rentals, he strongly believes passive investing is the best way to offset the cyclical nature of traditional investment vehicles as well as avoid the headaches of direct property ownership. Through consistent cash flow, long term yield and available tax benefits, the diversification offered with passive investing brings a welcomed balance to an otherwise turbulent investing scheme. What Sean likes most about the syndication space is that the investment opportunities are not “one size fits all” and the community of investors genuinely want to help.

He earned a B.S. in Finance from Iowa State University in 1995 and a MBA from Otterbein University in 2007. Sean has lived in eight states but has called Ohio home for the last 20+.  When not attending his children’s various school/sporting events, Sean can be found running, golfing, shooting or fly-fishing.

Patrick Wills

Chief Information Officer, Advisory Partner

An active real estate investor since 2017, Patrick Wills’ investing journey began like many others – after reading the “purple book” by Robert Kiyosaki. Patrick started with single family rentals, and while they performed well, he quickly realized their inability to scale efficiently while remaining passive. He discovered syndications via podcasts and local meetups and never looked back. He joined Left Field Investors in 2022 as a member and has quickly become an integral part of the team as Vice President of Technology.

An I.T. Systems Engineer by trade, he experienced the limitations of traditional Wall Street investing firsthand in his career and knew there had to be a better way to truly have financial freedom.

Unfortunately, that better way is inaccessible to those who need it most. His mission is to make alternative investments accessible to everyone who seeks to take control of their financial future and to pursue their passions in life.

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