FORBES FAMILY TRUST AND LGL PARTNERS
PARTNER AND DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH
What’s top of your to-do list right now?
Finding attractive opportunities for our clients. We are proponents of long-run asset allocation and encourage our clients to have a long-term perspective. We have to continually evaluate what we are doing and how we are accessing various asset classes. This process never ends.
What is keeping you awake at night (work wise)?
The calm before the storm. While there are a number of legitimate reasons for the VIX to be so low, the stillness of the markets belies the potential risks. We are in an unprecedented era of monetary policy, without a well-understood way forward. Don’t get me wrong – I am constructive on the US economy, and the challenging investment landscape presents numerous opportunities. We are excited. I just think there could be surprises along the way.
What was your best-performing fund last year?
It was a specialized private real estate opportunity involving self-storage assets. We invested a tremendous amount of time doing due diligence on the team and the investment case. The broad market opportunity, coupled with the unique operational and business advantages of the team, were compelling and it proved relevant to a number of our clients.
Best meeting you’ve ever had?
One of the best meetings I’ve had was in late 2008 with a manager we had been using for several years. It was a very trying time, and this manager’s portfolio was caught in the tumult. He came to us and laid out the situation. It was an existential conversation. We could have gotten out but we opted to stay invested. His candor and integrity carried the day. Over the next year and a half, the portfolio rallied tremendously. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but the results were worth it.
Worst meeting you’ve ever had?
I’ve had many more bad meetings than good ones. There is no excuse for not being prepared, tight and well-rehearsed if you are asking to invest someone’s money. If you can’t get your act together for a first impression, why would I think you would be any more disciplined and diligent behind the scenes? Not having business cards, or worse, having business cards from different firms and having to jump through hoops to explain why… not a good look. Talking too much and not listening is terrible too. Most likely you’re not Steve Jobs, giving people what they want before they even know that’s what they want. Sales in financial services has an unfortunate heritage of being tone deaf at best.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
Either commodity trading or researching and writing on the political economy. I grew up in Lancaster County, PA, and while not from a farming family per se, I saw agriculture and commodities up close and worked on a farm for many summers. They have always fascinated me. Likewise, the political economy is concerned with how resources are apportioned in society, and therefore encompasses markets and individuals’ motivations, biases and values. The rules of the game determine how fast an economy grows, which individuals and firms prosper, and ultimately, how we progress as humankind. What could be more interesting than that?
What are your interests outside of work?
My young son commands a lot of my attention, so there is not really a lot of time outside work and family. However, I am a current affairs junkie, and even though politics these days is unsettling and uninspiring, I can’t tear myself away from it.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’m a big fan of classical civilizations, so some sort of off-the-beaten-path archaeological tour of Italy, Greece, Asia Minor and the Levant. It would take weeks, so it’s sadly not happening soon.
If we gave you $1, 000, how would you invest it?
Broadly diversified small-cap equities. At the $1,000 level, you won’t be able to afford the hard work to identify an exceptional single company, so diversification is a better bet.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m very good with maps. I’ve been a US champion in orienteering, I'm a competitive cross-country navigator and for a number of years I have been on the US team for the World Championships.