We get invited to a plethora of investment conferences and are always reluctant to attend. Getting “sold to” and/or hearing biased investment information is a big turn-off for us. We aren’t product pushers and feel that real evidence is the only way to make the best decisions for our clients. This conference discusses “evidence” from a wide array of experts and allows us to decide how to use the information.
The line-up of speakers included AQR’s Cliff Asness, Vanguard’s incoming CEO Tim Buckley, Jason Zweig from the WSJ, Wes Grey from Alpha Architect, and many more. In addition to gaining insight from these learned people, we get to network and discuss our ideas with them as well. This is invaluable and helps us as we constantly monitor how we invest for our clients.
Here are the top 10 things we learned at EBI:
1. Josh Brown and the Ritholtz Wealth Management team are great hosts and Josh is pretty darn funny. His exit strategy for Bitcoin is to have his stolen from him.
2. Scott Galloway, NYU professor and author of The Four, New York Times bestseller book, showed how each of the big four (Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon) each appeal to a separate and specific instinct, or unique “organ.” I highly recommend this book.
3. 58% of the population has Amazon Prime, yet only 55% of the population voted in the 2016 election.
4. Three keys to living to 100: #3 is genetics, #2 is healthy lifestyle, #1 is how many people you love and care for.
5. Eddy Elfenbein, Portfolio Manager and Crossing Wall Street blogger, said that “being an investor means being at war with your own instincts.” People hate facts, so to be a successful investor you must fight your own instincts and emotions.
6. American billionaire hedge fund manager and co-founder of AQR Capital Management, Cliff Asness was asked what factor in the Fama-French 5-Factor model he most believed in. His response was, “Gotta love the market factor, but nobody is interested in talking about that.” (Most of a portfolio’s risk and return are driven by this factor). He also likes the value factor, it has the best story. He least likes the small cap factor saying the data says it’s not good and the story is not good. Of course, momentum is one of his favorites not included in the 5-factor model. (We call it the 6th factor.)
7. Vanguard’s Tim Buckley was asked “What’s your favorite stock?” He quickly retorted, “All of them.” Indexing is a big focus for Vanguard as is lowering fees. However, still over $1 trillion is invested in their actively managed funds. He says with all the brilliance in the finance industry, it’s tough to outperform.
8. Jason Zweig, WSJ columnist and author, shared a wealth of wisdom with us. Most notable was “the most dangerous bias is the bias we don’t know we have.” People are quick to point out the biases of others when they should be looking in the mirror to see their own flaws. Jason learned to question everything from Daniel Khaneman (who I believe should be required reading for everyone). At one point in his life he didn’t know why he did anything. Jason’s book Your Money and Your Brain is excellent. You should pick it up.
9. Best meme was of Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, from Galloway’s presentation.
That’s why we work so hard to be transparent, use real strategies that work, keep it simple, and act in the best interests of our clients. That’s what evidence based investing is for us.
Ritholtz and Co., thanks again for another great conference. We’re looking forward to next year!