My guest today is Tim Koller, a partner in McKinsey’s Stamford, Connecticut office, where he leads a global team of corporate-finance expert consultants. Tim has served clients globally on corporate strategy and capital markets, mergers and acquisitions transactions, and strategic planning and resource allocation. For over 90 years, McKinsey & Company has helped corporations and organizations make substantial and lasting improvements in their performance. Through seven editions and 30 years, Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies, has served as the definitive reference for finance professionals, including investment bankers, financial analysts, CFOs and corporate managers, venture capitalists, and students and instructors in all areas of finance.
The topic is his book Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio we discuss:
Recession and Recovery
The first half of 2020
Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies 1st Edition
George Anders is a New York Times best selling author and journalist who has written for national publications spanning over 30 years. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1997, while at The Wall Street Journal. Michael is a huge fan of George’s classic, “Merchants of Debt” published in 1992. His most recent work is “You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education.”
“You Can Do Anything” shows how humanizing technology has become one of the fastest growing jobs. 6% of technology jobs are programmer based with the other 94% being human relations based. Social media, branding, psychology, etc.–they have nothing to do with coding but are just as essential to running a successful technology based company. George gives one example of an exceptional sales person he met who happened to be an English major. He sat beside her and witnessed first hand why she was so exceptional at selling – it was how she talked to people and fostered relationships with customers over the phone. You don’t need a business degree to sell. You just need an intuitive social way of talking with people and making your customer feel comfortable. Building a successful company takes a combination of tech savvy and psychology.
Having the confidence and audacity to take a risk and reach out to some of the highest achievers in a field of your interest could be your greatest chance at a dream job. To be the best you learn from the best and you won’t get very far if you are shy about it. George also stresses that no matter what your major was in college (or if you even went to college), it is important to know that you can go in any direction with a career path. Michael and George end the podcast talking about climbing Mt. Fuji. George describes the gorgeous landscape, scenery, and a mistake he made that anyone following in his footsteps should avoid.
Robert Carver got his start in finance working at trend following firm AHL in 2001 during his final year of college. He was introduced to quantitative trading while at AHL and for the first time began thinking of finance in a systematic way. He later went back to AHL, working there from 2006-2013. His newest book is “Smart Portfolios: A Practical guide to building and maintaining intelligent investment portfolios.”
It took a lot of research and digging for Robert to decipher which financial tools available to traders were appropriate for him. He knew he was not the only trader with this problem so he decided to write a book laying out what he had found through his research. Robert gives actionable tips and guidelines for others who may need help finding what trading instruments are right for them. Robert also wanted “Smart Portfolios” to be a book for the average investor. He wrote it in a way that is not over complicated. Any trader, new or professional, can pick it up and find it useful.
Robert bases portfolio selection around three questions: 1. What should you invest in? 2. How much of your capital goes into those investments? 3. Do you make changes to your portfolio along the way? Whenever he receives questions from people, those questions usually fall into one of the above categories. There is never perfection when trying to predict how a portfolio will perform but Robert stresses that if you start your investing answering the above questions, you will be on the right track. After the right portfolio and financial tools have been selected it’s necessary to understand different types of returns. Michael and Robert finish the podcast discussing differences between geometric and arithmetic returns.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Warren Buffett trading
Expected average performance
Leveraging a portfolio
Luck vs. Skill
“Most people probably spend much less time thinking about their portfolio’s than they do thinking about getting their car fixed.” – Robert Carver
Mark Kritzman is a Senior Lecturer in Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management, founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Windham Capital Management and serves as a senior partner of State Street Associates. Mark has written six books, his latest titled “A Practitioners Guide to Asset Allocation”.
Mark began his career on Wall Street in 1974 and was immediately drawn toward systematic trading. At a time when there were not many quantitative traders, he was affectionately titled a “token quant” within his company.
Over the years Mark has been an advisor to many funds. While working with various companies it became clear fund managers were mixing how they invest with how they would choose asset classes. He decided to break down the most basic and logical ways of organizing the investment process. What are some components of an asset class: stable composition, be investable, internally homogeneous, externally heterogeneous, raise the utility of a portfolio, and you should be able to access it in a cost effective way. From there, depending on a persons risk, different combinations of asset classes would make up a portfolio.
Being in the game as long as Mark has, he has been able to witness the enduring and turbulent nature of markets. He saw one silver lining come out of the 2008 financial crisis – it provided a context where investors could go back to the basics of trading, and in particular, recalibrate how they manage risk. Mark finishes the podcast talking fixed weight portfolios, Peter Bernstein on scaling portfolio risk, dynamic asset allocation and explaining Samuelson’s Dictum.
Rob Arnott is an entrepreneur, author, investor, and writer. He serves as Chairman and CEO of Research Affiliates LLC. advising on over $160 billion dollars in institutional investment assets. Rob is one of the world’s preeminent voices on investment strategy.
What was Rob like as a young man? At age 16 he was extremely mathematically inclined with an avid interest in both the stock market and astronomy. He wasn’t sure which path he wanted, but he knew his mathematical skills were good enough for a top tier job in finance, but not in astronomy. So he took his math skills and entered the world of finance.
Rob has been with quantitative investing since its inception in the 70’s. With the rise in computer capabilities, quant traders were able to start to make a name for themselves in the trading community. What is one of the biggest failings of the quant community? Traders have fallen into a trap of making systems so complex that the average investor can no longer understand them. He is a big fan of keeping things simple.
What is one rule Rob always sticks by? If you have an idea you think is a good, always try. There will be others that came before you, but that doesn’t mean your idea won’t be just as successful or more successful. However, if you never try, you will never know. When it comes to investing what is another rule? Diversification is key.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
An addiction to complexity
How to use valuation
Weighting your portfolio
“I think the quant community has a lot of issues. Some of them relate to an addiction to complexity and some of it relates to a willingness to obfuscate. If you make your ideas complex enough so that nobody can understand it, that creates a seduction attraction to some, but people shouldn’t buy something they don’t understand.” – Rob Arnott
“We are in a business where you win by making fewer errors.” – Rob Arnott
Jerry Parker was one of the original TurtleTraders trained by Richard Dennis. He has had unbelievable success over his four decade career. Jerry has a straightforward way of breaking down how trend following works.
Trend following has typical highs and lows. During the lows, there will always be people pronouncing it dead. Trend following systems are built to protect capital by using diversification and built in stop-losses to counter down periods. Said another way, there is “crash protection” built into a robust trend following strategy. On the flip side, trend following systems are built to exploit the market when it is trending up.
How easy is it to get into different markets with a trend following strategy? The great thing about systematic trading is you become an instant expert in any market. As long as you have the data, you can jump right in and trade. When you are looking at price alone, you come to find that stocks are all the same – Tesla and Coffee are traded identically.
What is the most important thing to keep in mind when trading a trend following system? Having the proper leverage is key. No system is immune to risk of ruin. Sometimes you need to adjust your leverage, reduce your risk, and do whatever you can to stay in the game. Trend following, at it’s core, is a boring strategy. It is simple and that is why it works. Choose an algorithm and from there you can choose how simple you want to make your system. But everything starts with an algorithm.
Are there any resources Jerry Parker recommends? Cliff Asness is a great resource. He is a smart, funny, and humble person that teaches valuable information to anyone that wants to listen. After all, the best way to gain knowledge is to probe the minds of successful people and learn everything you can from them.
Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University Stern School of Business teaching brand strategy and digital marketing. He has started nine firms and his weekly YouTube series has generated millions of views. Scott is also author of “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.”
Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are arguably the most influential entities in the world. These companies have deconstructed who humans are as a species and reassembled who humans are, in the form of for-profit companies. They have scaled up so fast and become so successful by understanding humans most common questions and producing answers instantly. Scott breaks down the specific reasons each of these companies have individually thrived: Google = God, Facebook = Love, Amazon = Consumption, and Apple = Sex.
Mediocre and cheap products have been pushed in years past. However, people have new tools allowing them to practice due diligence and find what product is best for them personally. A better product is the best and only way to brand in today’s marketplace. With customer reviews built into Google and Amazon, they have changed the entire course of how people buy.
These four companies have done a lot of good, but have they become so big that they have become bad for society? In some ways, they are leveraging their power to unhealthy heights. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google yield more money and more power than some foreign governments. This has allowed them certain privileges such as tax avoidance and immunity to government oversight. What is another negative? Amazon has literally sucked the oxygen out of other top companies such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Sears. Facebook and Google have taken over the digital marketing world. If you are not working with Facebook or Google, then you are marketing with newspapers or magazine — rapidly declining markets. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are not only in zero sum markets, they are creating zero competitors.
What are some great leadership qualities from these top companies? Jeff Bezos, for example, has always kept a long term outlook on consumption rather than short-term. He also has combined fast and free service. Tim Cook has tripled the value of Apple. Apple is the first company in history to have great quality and spend extremely low on production. Facebook has shown tremendous agility in their management. Michael and Scott finish the conversation talking government, and how these companies yield their power in the political arena.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook
Eco system of Silicon Valley
Zero sum nature of Amazon
Political views of Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook