I came to the world of investing quite easily through my employment at, what was at that time, one of the leading technology companies; we were leaders in internet-based technologies and our DNA was “connected”. My day was spent online long before Microsoft acknowledged The Internet, around the time that Marc Andreessen unleashed this thing called a browser on unsuspecting geeks.
I understood where we were going, and investing in my company seemed like a no-brainer. Many things seemed like “a no-brainer”: Oracle, Cisco, along with my employer were referred to as three of “The Four Horsemen of the Internet”. And thus I created my first real pain, having to absorb huge losses as my concentrated portfolio of tech companies crashed and, in the case of Sun Microsystems, burned. No sooner than I had rationalised my ownership. (I still clearly remember pontificating around the water cooler about SUNW at 100x earnings: “insane; hardware companies aren’t worth more than 18x”.)
Knowing that I knew little about the greater world of investing, I consumed the available materials, and mutual funds were the vehicle for neophytes like me; certain big names dominated the landscape and were touted in virtually every media (medium?). I entrusted my kids’ education funds to one of these names and for 18 years (seriously?? WTF??) watched it move sideways. By the time that I fired them, compounded gains came in at an anaemic sub-one-percent. (Particularly telling was the VP, Client Services’ response – but more on that in a later post).
Having been able to establish ~12% CAGR over a period of 10 years with my own “method”, I knew that gains that did not even beat money market rates was a Bad Thing™. And yet the media continued to tell the tales of a mutual fund industry that took you for greater than 2% MER, while delivering less than one percent on funds entrusted to them.
Now, at 52, in early retirement as a result of a business model that no longer values 25 years of Customer Service in technology, I find myself preparing to “eat my own cooking”.
So, hopefully my ramblings will serve others as they consider their place in the investment community, or their likelihood of success as they embark on a journey such as this. Hopefully, it will be instructive. Hopefully I will find a voice that enriches in some fashion.</>