I feel privileged to be invested with some of the best managers worldwide. I like to stay invested for as long as possible with minimum turnover – at least many years if not decades – and thereby provide for stable, patient and understanding money that every manager comes to appreciate. If not, I probably made a mistake in the first place or circumstances changed in an unfavorable and unforeseen way.
That being said, I am constantly looking for new discoveries. Unfortunately, that cannot easily be achieved through a search on Google or Bloomberg. I rather stumble across my managers in random fashion and rely on a network of well-informed investors and business partners to point them out to me. Sometimes they also find me and I wish that would happen more often. So, here is what I am looking for and what I am not looking for:
I am decidedly unimpressed with size, a large institutional following, complicated processes with lots of boxes and arrows, armies of analysts, overdiversified portfolios, centuries of „accumulated investment experience“ – or a senile board of directors for that matter. I rather look for analytical skill, independent thinking, authenticity, fairness and a focus on results rather than AuM – preferably, and that is crucial, concentrated in one or a few individuals only. You had better not try to convince me of the grandiose merits of collective investment decision-making – I won’t buy it!
On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with being small, unknown, unconventional or otherwise „different“ if you are a true investor. I don’t mind if your track record is short since I am not placing much confidence in time series below 10 years in any event. If I like you, your approach and your setup and if I am able to understand what you are trying to tell me I might get very interested. If your track record is long and statistically robust, it needs to be superb or you had better demonstrate supernatural salesmanship.
I don’t harass my managers with questionnaires or quarterly conference calls. And I don’t question them immediately after a period of disappointing results – something that happens to every good manager sooner or later. In fact, managers that don’t underperform are unlikely to outperform in the long run. Managers that are shying away from placing bets against the consensus can rarely achieve anything but average. And, unfortunately, that is not enough because average is equal to nothing.