Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A reputation build over 30 years can be destroyed in 5 minutes.

30 Jun 09, 17:32
RR: If you don't believe, or have some doubts on him.. then just forget about ICAP.
30 Jun 09, 17:32
RR: If TTB is my real life buddy, i think i would have put 90% of my portfolio with him. Just wanna stress again, ICAP = TTB. Believe TTB, hold/buy ICAP.
30 Jun 09, 17:30
RR: cause i actually believes WB said "I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will. "
30 Jun 09, 17:30
RR: So.. so far.. I am not with ICAP yet:) I mostly invest in things that the business itself has its own edge, without really counting on the person in charge.
30 Jun 09, 17:25
RR: the only doubts will be, is TTB a person who I can really believe in? A person with integrity where I can put ALL my savings with him? I personally am not sure..
30 Jun 09, 17:22
RR: So.. my 2 cents is that, if you believe in TTB that his investing style works and he will be employing this investing method as long as he lives. I think, you should keep holding the stock.
30 Jun 09, 17:21
RR: You believe what TTB believes. We believe him, because he has been publishing his method of investing for some time. We believe that he will continue with that style.
30 Jun 09, 17:17
RR: However, it is hard to see any durable competetive advantage ICAP has over other funds. ICAP is all about TTB.. If you are buying into ICAP. You must have known TTB well.
30 Jun 09, 17:16
RR: Taking RM1.80 as current price, ICAP has around 16% compounded return since 2005. As for me, ICAP is one of the business that I can understand and its performance is easy to track.


RR, I find your reasoning interesting and would like to offer my comments here:

The track record of iCAP closed end fund is short. Yes, it has given a very good return (cumulative total return and compound annual return). This cannot be extrapolated to future years. Investment returns are often unpredictable.

Over the longer term, it is generally expected that most funds will give returns close to those of the market returns. This is based on statistics and probabilities. We know that. In fact, given the cost of some funds, most funds will give returns lower that the market return.

If you are an enterprising investor, like Leno, with a proven track record, you should continue your own investing. On the other hand, if you have been an investor who has lost money consistently or with a very poor return from your investment, you should seriously consider whether you should be doing your own investing or otherwise.

The issue of integrity of the fund manager is important and cannot be treated lightly. In the light of Madoff, one cannot be too careful. But then, how do you judge integrity in the person? Review how you judged a person to be your business partner or a lady to be your life partner. What criterias did you use? What outcomes, deemed important, did you factor into these criterias? As much as you and I like to be totally objective, often judgement is also a very subjective matter.

Warren Buffett has written on integrity. He would like his managers to have integrity, intelligence and lots of energy. Above all, integrity. Without integrity, these traits of intelligence and energy in the manager will work against the interest of the owner.

Like Warren Buffett, we should only invest in a fund manager with integrity, intelligence and a lot of energy. The managers of these funds also realise the importance of their integrity in their business and their relationship with their investors. A reputation build over 30 years can be destroyed in 5 minutes.

This assessment of the integrity of the fund manager can best be summed up as difficult, subjective and based on your personal views. This view is also influenced by your interactions with others and this fund manager in the same industry. Eventually, in the majority of situations, it is a personal opinion.

For the defensive investor, what are the options? My personal advice, don't even buy a share, if you are not familiar with equity investing and the market place. It is far too dangerous a place for someone with no investing or financial education. Therefore, park the money in FDs and be grateful for the 'safety of capital' and meagre return these offer. But the risks are those of inflation eroding the real income and capital, and also, not meeting your investing objectives.

The next best thing, is to have friends or relatives who are able to invest for you or to advice you on your investments. I was fortunate to have this guidance for many years. But beware of professionals with some knowledge. I have known of investors who ask their remisiers for some stock recommendations with varying results.

Then, you are still faced with how to invest your money safely, for higher return, over a long period. Who do you turn to now?

Here is my suggested approach to investing into icap fund or any other funds. We start with a very big assumption, that the fund we invest in will perform reasonably well under a good manager, and over the years, the manager will continues to grow the value of the investment.

For the investors of the fund, it would then be the simple matter of investing into the fund at the time when it was trading at a bargain, usually coinciding with the market at a low point. However, there is still another important factor to consider.

It was Peter Lynch (I think), who wrote that during his tenure of his fund, the majority of investors who bought and sold his fund lost money. This was despite the fund growing in value at a compound annual rate of 30% or so, for almost 30 years.

The inference, even if you have selected the right fund or fund manager, your returns may be negative due to factors unrelated to them, but to yourself.

This is what I do for a portion of my money. But then, you are not me. Your circumstances will definitely be different. So, please follow your own analysis and make your own decision. You are the better judge of yourself, always.

Also read:
Games people play
To be a winner, choose the games one wishes to play in carefully. Investing is likewise not dissimilar. One need to have the investing knowledge before "playing this game" intelligently, lest one ends up not winning but losing.

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