The passive strategy, Zimmerman says, allowed the typical client's portfolio to remain about break-even from March 2000 to March 2003. It was also a crucial reason, he feels, for the influx of accountants that BAM has been able to achieve through both the bull and bear markets. The academia-based investment philosophy of DFA, with its preachings about efficient markets and emphasis on tax efficiency, strikes a cord with accountants and provides a comfortable entry into an unfamiliar field.

"It appeals to conservative CPAs who like to see evidence," Zimmerman says. "That's why they move so slowly; they want to see the evidence."

Helping Buckingham get its style message out is the fact that, two years after starting the firm, the founders recruited a prominent voice and author in the passive investment school to educate clients about what the firm was doing. Larry Swedroe, former vice chairman of Prudential Home Mortgage and author of several books, including "Rational Investing In Irrational Times," calls himself a jack-of-all-trades at the firm. His books are often given to clients of Buckingham and BAM in introductory meetings. Swedroe says he often meets with clients, and acts as an in-house consultant for advisors at Buckingham.

Zimmerman and Schweizer also say Swedroe was influential in the startup of BAM, feeling confident that accountants would gravitate to Buckingham's investment philosophy. "This is a natural for anyone who is an engineer or mathematically inclined because it's all founded on math," Swedroe says. "Accountants love it and get it right away."

Echoing a common refrain of the passive management school, Swedroe says this is in contrast to the average investor, who is too often swayed by the "investment pornography" of a Wall Street establishment that is bent on increasing trading volume. "Their interests are totally misaligned to those of the public," he says.

Elliott Garsek, chairman of Barlow & Garsek Professional Corp., a law firm in Forth Worth, Texas, says he was introduced to Buckingham through clients who used the firm for investment counseling. Garsek decided to become a client of Buckingham's himself two years ago. As he describes it, he was 53 years old at the time and getting less and less risk tolerant when it came to growing his assets.

He signed on with Buckingham hoping, on average, to gain about 9% to 10% on his investments each year. He says his portfolio was down about 11% last year, but that after analyzing his investments before and after joining Buckingham, figures that his losses would have been two-and-a-half times greater had he not made the switch. This year, he says, the portfolio is up about 11%. But he's more focused on the long-term picture.

"I have adopted the philosophy that it's a little like owning my house," he says. "Market conditions are going to cause values to go up and down along the way, but since I have no plans to sell it, it's all meaningless to me."

Sherman Doll, an accountant in Walnut Creek, Calif., is one CPA who decided to enter into the investment advisory business as a client of BAM. He says the decision to use BAM came after a period in which he had many brokers knocking on his door in hopes of the gaining access to his clientele. Yet a relationship with a brokerage never materialized because he and his partners weren't comfortable with the "here today, gone tomorrow" objectives that they felt the brokerage companies were following.

"They'd sing one song one day and another the next day," he says, noting that his accounting firm, Thomas, Doll & Co., began to investigate a transition into investment management during the zenith of the bull market in 1999. "We have very long-term relationships with clients. We could not afford to make a mistake."