Ideas and insights for the discerning investor
Welcome to the Independent Investor website. For more than 35 years my professional life has revolved around analysing the financial markets, initially as a journalist on national newspapers, latterly as a qualified investment professional. Aided and abetted by an extensive network of professional contacts, I offer a guiding hand to professional and private investors alike through books, columns and interviews for the Financial Times and Spectator, directorships and consultancy work, and speaking at public/private events. If you don’t know me already, you can find out more from the About link. I would be delighted to add you to my professional circle. Please feel free to join my mailing list and stay in touch.
Latest from my blog
- Having a laugh at the hedgies
Well, I know I should not be doing this, but I have had a lot of pleasure over the years in making fun of the pronouncements of hedge fund managers, given the poor results that many of them have achieved, despite their outlandish fees - it is no surprise to me that Warren Buffett is comfortably winning his bet that a simple index fund will outperform the average hedge fund over ten years. There are exceptions to the nonsense-speaking rule, of course, and some, like Martin Taylor and Hugh Sloane, who talk a lot of sense. But as a general rule it pays to take the wild and seemingly always confident pronouncements of hedge fund managers with a large pinch of salt. For an insight into what today's leading lights in hedge fund land are saying, try this report from a recent hedge fund gathering, as reported by the excellent Zero Hedge website. (One participant's revealing aside: "It's harder to make money without a beta tailwind" - i.e when markets aren't rising, which is exactly what critics of hedge funds rightly point out is what hedge funds promise but rarely deliver). However I loved veteran hedgie Leon Cooperman's riposte to the "coming China collapse" stance adopted by many of his high profile peers. "China growth has been slowing for 6-7 years. In 2014 we were hung up on Ebola, and then 2015 on Greece, I think China is overblown but I defer to these gentlemen who know more than I do. In 1992 Barton Biggs took me out for dinner. He said to short JGBs.[Japanese Government Bonds]. That was 25 years ago. These things take a while to unfold! I think the bubble is in fixed income. Equities aren’t even a standard deviation away from historical averages. Buying government bonds, on the other hand, is like walking into a room, seeing a rattlesnake and kicking it to see if it’s alive. Don’t do it. Bad idea".
Coming up in 2016
Look out shortly for the launch of Money Makers, a new collaborative publishing venture with Harriman House. It will include many more interviews and podcasts with leading professional investors, aimed at sophisitcated private investors, intermediaries and professionals. You can already find there Q and As with Sebastian Lyon, the CEO of Troy Asset Management, and hedge fund manager Hugh Sloane on why the Japanese equity market could easily double within five years. I have also added an interview with Mark Slater, the growth stock investor, and another with Aim stock specialist Chris Hutchinson of Unicorn Asset Management. On July 13 I shall be presenting a two-hour seminar How To Invest Like Warren Buffett for the Lecture Club in London. There will also be more seminars in which leading professional investors gave their views on current market trends and opportunities. To be kept informed of future events, simply sign up to my mailing list on this page.
Books: analysing professional investors
A new and updated edition of my first book, Money Makers, a study of eight leading professional investors, was released in 2013. In 2012 John Wiley in the United States published Templeton’s Way With Money, a fresh in-depth study of the investment methods of Sir John Templeton, co-authored with Sandy Nairn and timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Templeton’s birth. I have also edited and introduced Professional Investor Rules, a compilation of tips from leading professional investors on how to make money in the stock market (Harriman House 2013). The next project in my pipeline is a second book (after a gap of more than 20 years) about the game of bridge, which remains an absorbing second passion of mine, and a guide to investing in funds online.
In the past few years Independent Investor has been responsible for publishing or helping to commission a handful of investment titles that merit a wider circulation. These include the historian Edward Chancellor’s prescient study The Coming Credit Crunch? (2006), a stark warning of the looming financial crisis that broke in 2008 (now out of print), Fundology by John Chatfeild-Roberts (2007), a layman’s guide to investing in funds, and Beyond the Internet Bubble, a masterful historical analysis of technology booms and busts through the centuries by my friend and co-author Sandy Nairn. My most recent collaboration was with Mark Dampier, the Head of Research at Hargreaves Lansdown, on his just-published book Effective Investing.