We love traditions, so it was with particular delight that we reconvened here in St. Louis earlier this month, for our annual summer family party. The shindig celebrated a dozen years as a firm – and counting. In my career I haven’t ever been part of a group with better chemistry across all age groups. The team and family fellowship is one of the main reasons I still love what I do!
Since many of the market’s long-term rewards come from the risks you’re willing to take, making serious money usually hurts — at least when it appears to be out of favor with the “consensus.” Morgan Housel’s recent blog post, “Every Great Investment Hurts,” offers a fresh perspective on the source of that pain.
To trade profitably in highly competitive markets, you not only must make the right calls on future pricing, you’re best off making them when most other investors think you’re wrong. That’s what this simple diagram from Housel’s post suggests.
How do you end up in that profitable sweet spot? You can try guessing correctly almost all the time (super hard). Or you can embrace evidence-based investing, which should guide you toward being correct more often than not … if you stick with your plans. That can still be hard, but at least the odds are stacked in your favor.
Anyone who’s been with us for a while knows we’ve long felt that among our greatest roles is to help investors Take the Long View® with their wealth. But did you notice a subtle change? If you’re especially attentive, you may have caught that we’ve now established a Registered Trademark ® to more fully protect our defining tagline.
Until now, we’ve had the sentiment more lightly protected as a service mark. When our marketing team first suggested the mark back in 2005, we felt that “taking the long view” perfectly expressed our passion for changing people’s point of view about their wealth, offering them an improved vantage point – a symbolic Hill – from which they could see past the daily details toward their ultimate goals.
Our belief in the power of the expression hasn’t changed one bit. In fact, we realized we’d achieved an important milestone when people started repeating our tagline back to us, demonstrating how much they, too, valued the sentiment. We decided it was time to beef up our rights to ensure that Take the Long View® would continue to serve us, our clients and our community for a long, long time to come.
Would you like to Take the Long View® along with us? Let us know how we can help!
*PS We cleverly purchased www.takethelongview.com and, if you ever decide to try this address, you’ll notice it takes you straight to our site.
I’m obsessed with tennis, but especially Wimbledon. In 2015, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to attend the event, which I consider to be the greatest tennis tournament in the world. See that white-clad speck on the left? That’s Roger Federer. You can click to enlarge the image, but he’ll still be pretty tiny.
From my perfect vantage point, it was incredibly exciting to watch Federer play in person. It was also fun to watch him from afar this year, as he added another Wimbledon Cup to the pile. Nearing age 36, he’s clearly still achieving “firsts” and “bests” that most of his 20-something competitors can only dream of.
How’s he doing that? Federer seems to be a fellow advocate for our Take the Long View® approach. Consider this Wall Street Journal commentary published just prior to his Wimbledon victory:
“Federer … will play for a grand slam title after doing something none of his top competitors here did ahead of the feature event on the tennis calendar—he took a break from competitive tennis.”
In other words, he won over the long haul by knowing when it was time to compete, and when he’d be better off staying patiently put. In his own words:
“Once you hit 30 you’ve got to look back and think, ‘How much tennis have I played? How much rest did I give my body over the years or how much training have I done? Did I do enough? Did I overdo it or not enough?’ It’s always calibrating the whole thing.”
The WSJ called this a “new playbook” for tennis. New? When it comes to investing, we’ve been running with a similar playbook for years.
No doubt about it. All of us here at Hill Investment Group are one team, regardless of whether we work out of St. Louis, Houston or wherever our clients want us to be. That said, we’re not without our civic pride. Let’s just say some of us more loudly cheer on the Astros, while others of us favor the Cardinals.
What else makes our home bases special in their own rights? We thought it would be fun to launch a series to share some of our cities’ favorite features and interesting oddities. We’ll start with a few points of historical pride.
- St. Louis – Founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, named after the 13th Century French King Louis IX. Our famed Arch commemorates our reputation as the “Gateway to the West,” from where Lewis & Clark launched their 1804 expedition.
- Houston – Found in 1836 by brothers John and Augustus Allen, named after former General Sam Houston, a commander in the Texas Revolution for independence from Mexico. We’re probably best known for our oil and aerospace industries.
- Houston – Jeff Bezos, Beyoncé, George H.W. and George W. Bush, A.J. Foyt, Howard Hughes, Dan Rather, Renée Zellweger.
- St. Louis – Maya Angelou, Yogi Berra, George Foreman, Redd Foxx, Ulysses S. Grant, Kevin Kline, Charles Lindbergh.
- St. Louis – An early mecca for St. Louis blues, jazz, R&B and ragtime – Chuck Berry, Sheryl Crow, Miles Davis, Scott Joplin, and Ike & Tina Turner have called St. Louis home.
- Houston – Houston also hosts musicians across every genre – and who often cross multiple styles. Notables include Yolanda Adams, Clint Black, Lyle Lovett, Kenny Rogers and ZZ Top.
On Location (movies filmed or set in our home towns)
- Houston – “Apollo 13,” “Boyhood,” “Independence Day,” “Rushmore,” “Selena,” “Urban Cowboy.”
- St. Louis – “Escape from New York,” “Larger Than Life,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation,” “White Palace.”
Want to know more? In a future installment, we’ll share some of our favorite things to see, do, eat and drink in our respective home towns! And, by the way, if you’re ever visiting us in either locale, please let us know. We’d love to give you a grand tour of our favorite hot spots.
Have you ever wondered what Batman & Robin would be like if Batman were the understudy to a more famously popular Robin? It would probably be a lot like the real-life dynamic duo of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.
As Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett is the more familiar figure. He’s been featured in his own HBO special. He’s got his own “Oracle of Omaha” nickname. He’s chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Munger is vice-chair of the same, and often described as Buffett’s sidekick, even though he’s the elder of the two, is also an astute Omaha native, and was running his own successful holding company while Buffett was still learning the ropes. As Buffett himself describes of Munger:
“[W]e’ve never had an argument. When we differ, Charlie usually ends the conversation by saying: ‘Warren, think it over and you’ll agree with me because you’re smart and I’m right.’”
So who’s the real “Batman”? Let’s turn the spotlight on Munger for a change, showcasing some of his “elementary worldly wisdom” – a phrase Munger uses to describe how he builds models for converting isolated insights into applicable common sense.
Translating the complex into useful ideas. This is something we like to do here at Hill Investment Group as well. To get a sense of how a master like Munger does it, here’s a 15-minute YouTube video with excerpts from a talk on human psychology, which Munger delivered at Harvard in 1995.
Munger uses approachable analogies ranging from Pavlov’s dogs and New Coke, to target shooting and gallbladder surgery to entertain and inform us with “how humans trick themselves into making terrible errors of judgment.”
In our best judgment, Munger is well worth watching and reading, with plenty more elementary worldly wisdom to share. If that’s of interest, let us know and we’ll be glad to tell you more.
John Reagan and Henry Bragg literally went the extra mile recently, when a client suggested combining their usual financial review with an invigorating day hike up to Gudy’s Rest near Durango, Colorado. So, sure enough, Henry bought some new boots for the occasion, and John’s toting the financial materials in his backpack.
It was a beautiful day for it; John and Henry report it was one of their most fun (and breathtaking) client meetings ever! Also, check out the similarity between the background in the photo and our Take the Long View® logo.
In my early years with Hill Investment Group, here’s a question I would see in people’s puzzled faces almost every time I mentioned fund manager Dimensional Fund Advisors:
With the continued shift to evidence-based investing, the question has become something more like this:
“Who’s this ‘Dimensional Fund Advisors’ I keep hearing about?”
The name may be more familiar these days, but with their nerdy academic underpinnings and publicity-shy approach, it’s still a challenge to explain exactly what makes the firm tick. As the firm’s Investment Research Committee Chair Ken French says, “People at Dimensional care much more about getting the right answer than defending their answer.”
Fortunately, Dimensional has created a great new piece entitled “Inside Dimensional 2017.” Equal parts science, philosophy, and intellectual horsepower, it offers a fascinating tour through the firm’s inner workings – including an entire section dedicated to its “Data Dogs” and their use of computers to revolutionize the implementation of finance for investors.
Let us know if you would enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at Dimensional’s people and culture, and we’ll gladly send you a copy of “Inside Dimensional.”