Reading Time: 6 minutes It’s all anyone’s talking about right now as the dust settles on the chancellor’s Mansion House speech… I want to try and challenge three of the accepted wisdoms here: – That the U.K. pensions system is a big and significant investment force – That private markets make for great investments and – That channeling U.K. … More Investing for Growth in the UK
Reading Time: 5 minutes If you dive into any of Warren Buffett’s many shareholder letters (and you absolutely should – they are a master class of communication style as well as an awesome throwback to the late-90’s early-internet-chic design style) the apparent lessons to take away is that the route to investment success is to buy a small number … More The Real Lessons of Buffett
Reading Time: 5 minutes tl;dr: niche strategy allocations to private markets can be great and good managers have opportunities, but be wary of the mounting received wisdom that all private markets are inherently great investments. One of the clear trends in asset allocation this past decade has been into private markets. You don’t have to look much further than … More Beware the Private Markets pedestal
Reading Time: 3 minutes For potential fans of a 4-day work week a big study just dropped- but realistically what does it tell us? Sky News covered it as a “Major Breakthrough”, but was it? The bbc went with the more mundane observation that most firms were planning to continue the pilot. A few thoughts: Must have been a … More Who wants a 4-day work week?
Reading Time: 5 minutes The curious case of the stock market, the pension funds, in the library with the lead piping … It wasn’t the pension funds wotdunnit! It’s becoming a national obsession to lament the demise of the London stock market … there seems to have been a spate of articles recently such as this one in the … More No, it wasn’t the pension funds that killed the London stock market
Reading Time: 8 minutes Edit: updated for stats from Credit Suisse yearbook Tl:dr Prediction is difficult … especially about the future. Take them seriously not literally. I do love a well put-together set of expected returns, and it’s been great to see asset managers getting more comfortable sharing their own in recent years (in a previous post I said … More Tour d’Expected returns
Reading Time: 6 minutes How many ideas are you exposed to each year – dozens certainly. Hundreds? Maybe even thousands. But how many do you really remember once you’ve left the room or closed the phone? let alone a week or month later. But some ideas do stick. They burrow into your brain somehow and manage to take up … More Eleven ideas that stuck in 2022
Reading Time: 6 minutes Ok so I listen to a lot of podcasts. Each year for the last few years I’ve put together a list of the best. The ones that made me think different, unearthed a tonne of insight or just forced me to hit rewind and listen again. 2019’s is here, 2020 is here & 2021 is … More Top podcasts of 2022
Reading Time: 7 minutes It’s that time of year. I’m pretty skeptical of market outlooks, generally they either end up being a nowcast, or get thrown out before the ink has dried (see: 2022 forecasts), or they reiterate a bland consensus which isn’t useful or they are too vague or they tell you more about the forecaster than anything … More Not another 2023 outlook …
Reading Time: 4 minutes Full article on LCP Vista at lcpuk.foleon.com I’m talking about voting but don’t worry! It’s nothing to do with the latest UK prime minister or US mid-terms. I’m talking shareholder voting. Getting to grips with shareholder voting in 2022 Should Sainsbury’s match workers’ pay to the Living Wage foundation? Should Tesla report on child labour … More Your Vote Matters
Reading Time: 2 minutes A few things about investing decisions … And a few I’ve learnt along the way 👇 1. Frameworks ground investment decisioning in a complex noisy world. VaR is a framework, returns are a framework. Loads of other possibilities, but you need something. 2. One of the most useful things you can do in investment is … More A few things I think I know
Reading Time: 3 minutes The scale of the big UK DB pensions asset reshuffle of 2022. I was wondering, can we use public data to get a rough handle on numbers and scale of the asset movements triggered by recent market events on a rainy Sunday? I think we can. Summary 🔄£270-380BN asset flow needed to rebalance (workings below). … More The Big DB Pensions Asset Reshuffle
Reading Time: 9 minutes Well well well. I’m sat here on a Sunday afternoon at the end of quite a week. Heading into the office Monday morning I had little idea that we would potentially be caught up in a serious market event that had global ramifications, and at the heart of it all would be the risk management … More LDI: how we got to now
Reading Time: 5 minutes Tl;dr Can your podcast app be more valuable than an MBA? It might. I’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to. Follow these 8 things to cut through the noise and get incredible access to knowledge & thinking to supercharge your investment career. Recently joined the investment industry? Congrats and welcome, you’re going … More New to the investment industry? Eight things you must follow 2022 edition
Reading Time: 4 minutes The Chartered Alternative Investment Association (CAIA) wrote an intriguing piece on the Portfolio for the Future, including 5 specific characteristics >> Diversification Private capital Fiduciary responsibility Actively engaged / Universal Owner Operational alpha We spoke to John Bowman about all this and more, here’s what he had to say ( web | apple podcasts ) … More The Portfolio of the Future
Reading Time: 2 minutes When you get chance to chat to renowned author and researcher Michael Mauboussin you take notes! You can listen to our full conversation right here (or here in apple podcasts or spotify), and below are my 6 main takeaways Investment Uncut · S3 Ep. 41 Multiples are not valuation with Michael Mauboussin 1. Expectations investing … More 6 Investment Frameworks from Michael Maouboussin
Reading Time: 9 minutes You don’t need me to tell you we’re in a bear market here. Those are fairly common. The slightly more unique feature of this one is that bonds are also in a bear market alongside equities. Is that a surprise? Not sure, it’s been predicted every year since about 2012 so in some ways it’s … More Bonds are Back: Navigating the bond bear market & 5 questions you should be thinking about.
Reading Time: 3 minutes Here’s a few of my top recent highlights for you, a few that are on the go, and a few I’m lining up for that summertime reading list. The Bond King (Mary Childs). Exhilarating, pacy and balanced romp through the weird and wonderful world of Bill Gross and PIMCO from the 70’s to the present … More So, what are we reading this summer?
Reading Time: 8 minutes Derek Thompson’s “Everything’s terrible but I’m fine” Atlantic piece (link here) certainly seemed to catch a moment. Doomism, and bleak/nihilistic outlooks have been a growing theme for a while (forever, some might say), but objectively in 2022 there IS a lot of bad sh*t in the world to get down about. Jon Clifton, head of … More The Case for Optimism: 6 reasons
Reading Time: 2 minutes We’ve asked this question to nearly 100 different guests on our pocast, Investment Uncut (subscribe here apple | spotify ) including investing legends like Rob Arnott of Resarch Affiliates, Charles Plowden of Baillie Gifford, fund researcher Deb Clarke, Professors like Allison Schrager, Ludovic Phallipou and Alex Edmans and authors Robin Wigglesworth, David Ricketts and Joe … More A Question: What is The Most Underappreciated Thing in Investing?
Reading Time: 7 minutes I’ve realised that, when working in Responsible Investing, you can burn up an awful lot of energy and time responding to the same old tired arguments again – time that’s usually better spent elsewhere. That’s why on Friday when the video emerged of HSBC AM’s head of responsible investing Stuart Kirk’s now infamous FT speech … More What Stuart Kirk could have said …
Reading Time: 11 minutes Just because there’s noise around responsible investing doesn’t mean there isn’t substance. But the biggest risk to the movement right now is greenwashing by asset managers and others that’s taking place out there, every month, every day. While the intent is not malicious, it undermines the foundations of a movement that is genuinely starting to … More Greenwashing away trust
Reading Time: 5 minutes That choice between this “trinity” of masters seems to be the reality of modern knowledge work , and for those in senior roles (C-suite or equivalent) it’s often just one of those three that you get to stay on top of while the other spiral out of control. The modern media environment with its torrent … More Inbox, diary, to-do list: now choose just two
Reading Time: 4 minutes Ever wondered why ** every single ** private equity fund has a since inception “return” of 26% annually? Looks great compared to c8-10% in the public markets n’est pas? Especially in an era of low returns! Private markets must be the way forward … Yeah, nah, it doesn’t mean what you think it means … … More Inconvenient truths in Private Equity
Reading Time: 2 minutes War, climate change, pandemics, inflation, rising interest rates First published in LCP’s investment magazine – VISTA Original version available at lcp.foleon.com The job of investing involves reckoning with a huge amount of uncertainty and intersecting trends while making good decisions, screening out noise and resisting the temptation to overreact. That is, of course, easier said … More Turning points in uncharted territory
Reading Time: 2 minutes I asked the big question on Linkedin: what’s the most underappreciated workplace skill in 2022? Passive aggressive email drafting? Pretty powerpoint slides? Perfectly labelled excel spreadsheets? Here’s some of the answers I got back (crowd sourced): Teamwork The people who contribute huge value by making everyone around them a little bit better, though often in … More What’s the most underappreciated work skill in 2022?
Reading Time: 5 minutes Here’s my latest fortnightly real talk markets newsletter, in this edition: Q1 mumble, inflation, climate, the new triple-peak workday and Bill Gross is still standing. If you like it, please subscribe over on substack: How’s your week? I got followed by the real Bill Gross on Twitter y’all. So it’s been that kind of a … More Transitory inversion
Reading Time: 7 minutes Words like turning point and uncharted territory are easily overused in investing. No-one rings a bell at the top or bottom, and it’s always different this time, so usually they are no help. But it’s probably fair to say that 2022 is shaping up to present one of the more challenging periods investors will have … More Investing in a time of inflation: what they don’t tell you
Reading Time: 7 minutes I hereby call a meeting of the FAANG inclusion committee, on the agenda: Decade in review: how we the committee became one of the best stockpickers in the world Additions / deletions: Netflix Nvidia Microsoft Tesla Facebook/Meta 3. Two radical proposals for the future of the committee: 3.1 Renaming as GAMA 3.2 Dissolution of the … More Convening the FAANG committee
Reading Time: 5 minutes A reader asks: how do stockmarkets typically do in high inflation / interest rate rising environments (asking for a friend). You can see why the question is being asked: It’s the question we’re all asking right now (or should be). It’s funny sometimes when something that has been so widely predicted / talked about, actually … More Asking for a friend
Reading Time: 6 minutes Hypothetical question. How much is a business worth that does $120bn of revenue in a quarter , at a 40% profit margin. What if I told you earnings have been growing around 20% per year? Well, “a lot” would be one answer. But clearly Apple (yes, you guessed it!) is already valued at “a lot” … More 🍏
Reading Time: 5 minutes Getting comfortable with failure leads to better goals, helps you learn what works and moves away from a fixed mindset. I love new year’s. At a pinch I might even choose New Year over Christmas and all its forced consumerism. New Year is a chance to reset, refresh, reflect – looking both backwards and forwards. … More Why it’s great to fail your new year’s resolutions
Reading Time: 3 minutes how valuable is performance meaurement in investing, really? … More The Value of Measures
Reading Time: 7 minutes The best investment podcasts of 2021 … More A dozen podcasts that will help you think better about 2021
Reading Time: 7 minutes Over the last 20 years, one of the biggest trends I think we’ve seen during my career is the fundamental quantum unit of the portfolio shift from being stocks (usually domestic) to funds (global). This is true for large, institutional investors but it’s also true for individuals. As just one example of this, UK individuals … More From portfolios of stocks to portfolios of funds
Reading Time: 4 minutes First published in Vista Autumn 2021 Markets are hard to interpret at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. Some things you can explain, some you can’t, and some are just weird. Fans of clean narrative and clear cause and effect ought to stick to physics or engineering. Today’s markets … More Meaning from Mixed Messages
Reading Time: 5 minutes Do we stop to question received wisdoms as often as we should? The stories, words, metaphors and concepts we use to describe things do matter. They define the cast of characters on (or off) the economic stage, perhaps implicitly relegating important areas to marginal or non-existent roles, without even thinking about it . Adjectives and … More What if everything you were taught about economics & finance was wrong?
Reading Time: 7 minutes Is inflation coming? How will my portfolio do, what assets help against inflation? … More Asking the wrong question on inflation
Reading Time: 8 minutes answering some common arguments ESG or responsible investing … More The Good, the Bad and the false. Addressing 9 arguments against ESG
Reading Time: 3 minutes There are a great many ways to succeed in investing , some involve doing very little (eg owning a passive index) others involve a lot more. I reckon you have at least 4 broad categories: 1. Seeing what others don’t (eg Growth investing: buying Amazon or Apple ) 2. Finding what others can’t (eg private … More Finding what others can’t vs seeing what others don’t
Reading Time: 5 minutes What returns should I expect from my investments? Easy question, difficult answer. A lot of books and many, many column inches have been taken up debating that one. Of course, the most defensible answer is “no-one knows for sure”, but this isn’t helpful. For financial planning we need a forecast to start from and we … More The million dollar question
Reading Time: 5 minutes As passive aggressive conversation openers go, that’s right up there, to which the only sane answer is: “hell no”. My wife has a slightly friendlier version: “the only thing I would say here is … “. In reply I’ve got fond of saying “Thanks for the feedback” , with just a hint of passive-aggression, which … More Is now a good time for some feedback?
Reading Time: 9 minutes Hell of a week for mega-cap stock earnings in the US. You’ve got 5, trillion+ dollar companies growing at startup type rates. It’s remarkable stuff. Usually, as a passive investor one of the great things is not needing to have a view on individual stocks, you have the luxury of just shrugging while knowing you … More Oops they, did it again …
Reading Time: 8 minutes Why Net Zero is the new investment target of choice as asset owners think more about climate, externalities and sustainability … More Your New Investment Target: Zero (Net Zero)
Reading Time: 6 minutes So look I get that no-one needs another piece debating the 4% rule. (I did write a piece doing exactly this last summer though, showing that the last decade of low rates had “broken” the 4% rule – in the UK, similar conclusions would hold in the US). The follow-up to that piece was surprising- … More How Much Would You Need to Retire In Your 40’s?
Reading Time: 3 minutes All the ingredients came together here to deliver a really tasty story: You’ve got a rare listing of a tech “darling” in London, in a climate where the UK government is desperate to “reawaken” London’s capital markets in a post-Brexit world and in a time of US-based SPACs stalking many private UK firms. Add to … More Delivering the goods or a bad taste in the mouth?
Reading Time: 2 minutes They’ve done the hard work so you don’t need to. It was great to see ShareAction’s list of the top 13 shareholder resolutions to watch this AGM season – every investor or adviser should be putting this to the asset managers they work with to hear where they stand on these issues. We’re in a … More Social Conscience: The New Asset Management Competitive Advantage
Reading Time: 5 minutes First published in LCP Vista If I had £1 for every article I’ve seen on inflation … well, I might just have enough for a basket of goods, at today’s prices! And it’s a big week this week for inflation watchers with Fed, BoE & BoJ So … I did my best to summarise all … More Will the Inflation Dog Bark?
Reading Time: 5 minutes You know I had hoped to be able to get to a pub for a pint on my 40th birthday this year, sadly that dream went out the window (a small hardship compared to so many that have been endured over the last year for sure) so I used the time to write a blog … More The Twelve Biggest Lessons I Learnt in my 30’s
Reading Time: 3 minutes Look, I’ve always been pretty skecptical of Cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin. My typical argument would be that if you evaluate it against the characteristics of a typical financial asset you find that it has: no income, no claim to crytalise value and no inherent value. But perhaps that is too narrow a way of looking at … More Digital gold: the institutional case for Bitcoin
Reading Time: 7 minutes In 1981, an enterprising economist at the World Bank named Antione Agtmael was trying to win backing for the idea of a fund investing in developing economies. He was struggling with the name, and he knew this mattered. He was stuck on “third world equity fund”, but his colleagues weren’t sure. The name “Emerging Markets” … More The Concept of Emerging Markets is an outdated relic, we need a new paradigm
Reading Time: 3 minutes Now look I know we all want to put 2020 behind us and move on as fast as we can, but investors would be well served in reflecting on their decisions. Seeing we saw almost a whole market cycle encompassing fear, panic, greed and euphoria in just one twelve month period, we certainly got quick … More Investors: did you decide well?
Reading Time: 2 minutes I’m not one for predictions, especially when we’ve just lived through a year where many forecasts went out the window shortly after the ink on them had dried. However I feel I’m on fairly safe ground with the prediction that investors will find themselves asking at least THREE of the following FIVE questions at some … More Five questions that investors will be asking themselves in 2021
Reading Time: 5 minutes First featured on LCP Viewpoints I’ve seen several crises over my investment career most notably the 2008 crisis which occurred at a formative time in my industry development the lessons of which certainly influenced me – and I think many of my peers – for many years after (for better and worse). So I think … More Five things I learnt in 2020
Reading Time: 6 minutes GDP growth? US non-farm payrolls? Fed funds rate ? Oil price? VIX, change in the Baltic Dry index? All of those might make good candidates, but when it comes to overuse one number trumps them all thanks to its seductive power. The Price/Earnings ratio. Let me explain why. There’s quite a lot of psychology bound … More The most overused number in investing
Reading Time: 6 minutes For a spotify playlist of all these episodes click here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the quality of free content in blogs, articles and podcasts these days is I think on a par with what you’d get in a masters degrees in times past, if you know where to look. … More The Top 12 FinPods of 2020
Reading Time: 7 minutes The big question that every investor must be wrestling with right now as we go into 2021 is the prospect for future returns. Do we need to take more risk to earn decent returns in a world of zero interest rates? This could be biggest investing puzzle of our time (a question Josh Brown posed … More Good and bad answers to the biggest portfolio puzzle
Reading Time: 4 minutes The Economist recently put out an epic on the future of asset management. Some of the conclusions were fairly obvious and well-known (albeit still important) but a couple of others struck me as under-appreciated. Who allocates capital? When you strip asset management back to its core societal purpose it’s about allocating investors’ capital to the … More Who allocates capital these days?
Reading Time: 4 minutes It’s good news when the stock market hits a new high, right? Well … maybe, but it might not seem like it if you are about to put money to work in the market , considering how to invest ongoing savings, or even making a switch from one asset class to another. If the market … More Advice for investing at all time highs
Reading Time: 2 minutes I’ve got a whacky and unpopular theory, hear me out … The largest group of tech stocks have soared past many market cap milestones recently. If only I’d had £1 for every time I’ve read that Apple exceeded the market cap of the FTSE 100 (eye catching, but so what?) and more recently that this … More Why FANMAG stocks are under-owned
Reading Time: 9 minutes Think Like a Military Commander: The Red Team “One thing a person cannot do, no matter how rigorous his analysis, is draw up a list of thing that would never occur to him” – Thomas Schelling The commander had a serious problem. It was October 2010, a company of Paras had just arrived in southern … More The military’s powerful risk management technique
Reading Time: 4 minutes Contrary to first impressions, big wave surfing is all about risk management. In the late 1980’s legendary Hawaiian big wave surfer Brian Keaulanu looked at the new models of jet ski that were being produced like the Yamaha Waverunner that allowed the rider to sit down, and had a flash of inspiration. He realised that … More We’re all risk managers now