Some great feedback came through the other other day:
It’s because of you my friend that I’ve come to know so many in the space. Thanks for your efforts.
His personal message to me (above) was followed by his newsletter to his clients:
In my career, I’ve had many mentors, some of which I’ve met and some not.
Tom Basso is one of these people, and I was fortunate to get to meet him last week where he was generous enough to give me over two hours of his time over lunch in Scottsdale. Tom is also getting added to the email list and may be able to contribute some wisdom from time to time.
Tom is probably most known for being profiled in the bestseller, The New Market Wizards, where he was nicknamed “Mr. Serenity.”
The scope of our discussion was very broad… Tom left the money management business largely because of the frustration of working with clients who constantly made poor decisions that were rooted in fear and greed. Tom produced decades of double digit gains for clients on a very attractive risk-adjusted basis yet many never achieved these results because of emotions and performance chasing. As you know, I write on these subjects regularly because they matter that much.
One thing Tom mentioned that was particularly interesting was how at the later stages of his career (approximately 10 years ago) Tom put together a diversified program that was a combination of strategies, asset classes, and products (meaning futures, ETF’s, mutual funds, etc.). He said he himself was the largest customer and it seemed that many people just simply didn’t grasp the value. Regulatory restrictions about combining multiple products together (such as equities and futures) made it overly obstructive. This, in essence, is exactly what I’m trying to do with LCD (Lorintine Capital Diversified) as it mimics endowment level diversification.
The benefit of a multi-strategy single account is it doesn’t give you the opportunity to miss the forest through the trees and take from those who may be underperforming in the short term in favor of those who are currently performing best…essentially the process of buy HIGH and sell LOW where you should be doing the opposite. Tom mentioned how he had a client during the Black Monday crash of 1987 (largest single down day in history where the Dow lost over 22%) that he had set up one account as a stock portfolio and another account as a hedging portfolio where he would short equity futures based on his quantitative market measurements… The client ended up making money on Black Monday (about 1.5% from Tom’s memory) while of course the stock account was down significantly it was more than offset by the short futures account…The client ended up firing Tom as an equity manager because they couldn’t see past the losses in the stock account…yet if this would have been done collectively in one account they would have only seen the net gain (on the worst day in history where many traders went bankrupt). Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed much of this type of behavior in 2014 as some things never change.
This game is incredibly simple, yet not at all easy. It’s simple the same way that getting in shape or losing weight is – just get on almost any decent diet and work out consistently and you are almost guaranteed results… yet few have the discipline to do it day after day for the long term. Make it your goal in 2015 to follow your plan. If you don’t really have a plan it’s like not being able to spot the sucker at the poker table… because you’re it.
Enjoy the ride!