The Top 12 FinPods of 2020

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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.

Needless to say 2020 has been a single-issue year in many ways, but there were still plenty of podcast hosts putting out evergreen insightful investment content in conversation with some of the biggest founders, money managers, researchers and authors in the business. For this list I went for non-covid related content.

  1. The Knowledge Project – Bill Ackman

The Knowledge Project has consistently been one of my favourite podcasts for years, although without the commute I often find myself struggling to make time for the long-format interviews. This one with hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is a good one. Ackman was one of only a very small number of investors who correctly foresaw how damaging covid19 could be early in the year and put some effective hedges in place. It’s easy to draw the wrong conclusion from this though – what’s remarkable is how few managers were actually able to do this in practice, and it certainly wasn’t as easy as you might think from listening to the conversation.

2. Animal Spirits – Upside Down markets

This is the one podcast that is on my must listen list every single week, but the contemporary focus doesn't lend itself too well to lists like this. However a couple of episodes which aired right in the thick of the market disruptions have aged pretty well and remain a good listen for a reminder of how tough it is when markets are falling so violently.

This is the one podcast that is on my must listen list every single week, but the contemporary focus doesn’t lend itself too well to lists like this. However a couple of episodes which aired right in the thick of the market disruptions have aged pretty well and remain a good listen for a reminder of how tough it is when markets are falling so violently.

3. Odd Lots – Michael Mauboussin on intangibles.

This podcast has fast become one of my go-to must listens. The hosts have transitioned from a focus on market curiosities to some of the central themes of the day (or perhaps, in such an upside-down world they have become one and the same). This episode with researcher Mauboussin is an absolutely must listen for some background on his Expectations Investment framework, the role of intangible assets in today’s markets and how he believes these can be acounted for in popular market ratios. Honourable mention in this series also goes to the episodes with author of The Biggest Bluff, Maria Konnikova and conversation with Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari.

4. Capital Allocators with Annie Duke Decision Making in a Crisis

Annie Duke has written one of the investment books of the year in How to Decide. A highly practical manual for decision making which is as relevant to investors as any other decision maker. She’s done a good round of the podcast circuit this year and she had two great conversations with Ted (the other one which covers the book more specifically is here). These podcasts are worth a re-listen on regular basis. Ted is also worth following for his interviews with CIOs and allocators from around the world.

5. Masters in Business with Bill Miller

Barry Ritholtz has a habit of introducing every single guest as “extra special” but looking at the list which reads like a whos-who of the asset management and investment industry you can certainly forgive him. This episode with Bill Miller, a well-known money manager formerly of Legg Mason who describes himself as a value investor but has still held positions in stocks like Netflix is among the best. It narrowly edged out the episodes with Ray Dalio and James Montier .

6. Standard Deviations with Lisa Brenneman – Your Financial Personality

Lots of stuff in this episode really stayed with me – it gives some great insight into the 5-type personality framework and how this maps to investing. Well worth a listen.

7. Flirting with Models – Cliff Asness

AQR founder Cliff Asness has been on his fair share of podcasts over the years but is almost always worth a listen. Especially during a year when many of the strategies he champions have suffered extreme underperformance. As usual he mounts a frank but honest and logical defence of these strategies, and helpfully lays out the key findings of some of his firm’s recent research as he urges us to “keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out …”.

8. Rational Reminder – Brian Portnoy (underwriting a meaningful life)

Another podcast that has been really growing on me as the hosts tend to provide a really helpful and accesible overview of recent papers in the quant investing literature (which is far easier and more fun than reading through them all!). This episode with Brian Portnoy took a different turn though running through his framework for both investing and living a meangingful life. This episode captures well the intersection I am starting to see between individual investment advice and lifecoaching.

9. The Long View (Morningstar) with Carl Richards

One thing from this episode really stayed with me. Carl’s observation that the single question that is not asked as often as it should be institutional investors is why. Why hold this portfolio, this manager, this asset. It’s a great point. Carl is always interesting and this episode won’t disappoint.

10. Trillions – the secretive committe behind the S&P 500

This is one of the reasons I love podcasts. You can get really genuine insight from current or former market professionals in areas you just never would find in the text books. In this one hosts Eric and Joel speak to David Blitzer who goes into detail on the little-known committee behind the S&P 500 index – which he was part of for many years, which shot into the spotlight this year around the inclusion of Tesla.

11. The Economist Asks – Janet Yellen

Bill Gates and Philip Tetlock were examples of other great guests on this short, to the point interview show hosted by the excellent Anne McElvoy. Yellen’s episode was recorded way back in February but is due a re-listen.

12. Invest Like the Best – Public to Private Rotation

I know I know, this is the second Michael Mauboussin episode I’m recommending. Well, his stuff really is that good and he’s produced two epics this year on two of the most salient issues facing investors. This episode covers the dwindling public market for stocks and the booming private market.

Honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the list …

Bloomberg sure have a strong suite of podcasts and their daily markets listen : The Tape is short, varied, on point and has some great topical guests. In terms of all the covid related podcasts Prognosis probably covered it best with a short daily 15 minute shot on latest news and developments, although even this started to get tired for me after a while. Noah Feldman with Deep Background lives up to the name with some very deep & interesting expert explorations of key topics including science, the pandemic and law.

That’s my list! What did I miss?

For last year’s list click here.

I can’t end this without a quick plug for our own podcast, Investment Uncut which I co-host. We’ve got a whole year of episodes under out belt now and have had some great conversations with investors and advisers on a whole range of topics.

Here’s the Spotify playlist again … just one click, play and sit back and enjoy 11 hours of the finest investment content of the year mainlined straight into your brain. You’re welcome!

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