Ideas and insights for the discerning investor
Welcome to the Independent Investor website. I trust you will find something of interest here, whether that is an event, an article, a book, or information about my private circulation newsletter. 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 aspire to offer a guiding hand to professional and private investors alike through books, columns and interviews for the Financial Times and Spectator, the newsletter, 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
- James Anderson interview
This is a fuller version of an interview which first appeared in the Spectator in its May 22nd 2015 issue.
Interviewing James Anderson is a lot more refreshing than grilling your average fund manager, as befits a man who runs one of the country’s most venerable investment trusts in a most unvenerable way. The Scottish Mortgage Trust, established in 1909 by Baillie Gifford, has been taken in a new and more adventurous direction under its latest managerial team, which pairs Mr Anderson, a historian, and Tom Slater, a computer scientist, as co-managers.
The new direction is most evident in the list of names that now make up the trust’s biggest shareholdings. The top ten include no less than three of the biggest US Internet stocks, Amazon, Google and Apple, and two of their newly emerging Chinese rivals, Baidu and Tencent. Further down the list you will find Facebook, LinkedIn and (less happily) Twitter. No other mainstream fund in the UK has made such a large and concentrated commitment to the global digital revolution, or so robustly challenged the conventional wisdom in fund management circles that these stocks are both richly valued and most likely heading for a dramatic fall one day.
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 from time to time for publishing or helping to commission a handful of titles that I believe 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. Subscribers to The Investment Reader can access a list of my recommended books, publications and websites.
I am a founding shareholder in a Brazilian farmland development company, Genagro Ltd, which directly and through its offshoot Agrifirma Brazil now has a substantial equity interest in 77,000 hectares of land in Brazil. The company transforms unproductive scrubland in central Brazil (nowhere near the rain forest, incidentally) into fertile arable land to provide food and feed to a hungry world. This article in The Spectator explains how I came to be involved in this new venture. Five years on from its formation, Agrifirma, the business which Genagro seeded, is setting new standards for sustainable farmland development in Brazil and is targeting a stock market listing. Although illiquid, farmland has more than proved its worth as an investment asset over the past decade, with prices in Brazil having more than doubled in that time.