Sometimes you need hindsight to realise that one particular day represented a turning point in your life. Looking back, the day the Macquarie HR lady called me and said ‘I’ve got good news and bad news, what would you like first?’ was a turning point. At the time, 21 years old, I thought the fact that I had been rejected for a job in the credit department but asked to attend an interview in Nicholas Moore’s Project Finance division was moderately bad news. It turned out to be a Godsend.
As was the day I got a job in the mail room at UBS, 18 years old. I thought I had landed a job at parcel company UPS. Little did I know I was working for one of the world’s largest banks, that I was about to spend three years working with a very bright bunch of people and that they’d spark my interest in finance and send me off to university to study economics.
But some days you wake up and know it’s going to be a turning point. My first day at Macquarie was 14 February 2000. I clearly remember arriving about 15 minutes early and sitting in Sydney’s Martin Place soaking up the atmosphere of the city. The future was hardly clear, but I knew I was about to embark on a new life (a ‘secret admirer’ also sent a large bunch of Valentine’s Day flowers to the office, making it a day my colleagues didn’t forget for the next four years either).
The second of November this year was another day like that. No flowers, fortunately, but an undoubted turning point in my life. On a normal Monday morning for the past six years, I’d peddle my bike up the hill to our Bondi Junction office, sit down with the team and plan the week ahead.
On 2 November I strolled down the street to our new space in Rushcutters Bay and sat down in front of a computer with $7.7m of other people’s money to invest. That money belongs to the Intelligent Investor Value Fund and it’s now my job to invest it, and the contributions that come in on a monthly basis, sensibly.
I’ve made a start and invested about 20% of the fund. One short-term ‘arbitrage’ looks like it’s going to play out well (I’ll explain for anyone interested towards the end of next week). Other than that I’ve made a few high-yielding investments in the infrastructure space and am working hard to find attractive places to invest. There’s obviously no rush, but I’d like to get a decent chunk of the funds invested in the first few months.
I’ve got a lot I’d like to write about the funds management industry. I am, of course, now a part of it. But that’s only confirmed and crystalised the concerns I had before I started. Add up the advisors, distributors, wraps and multiple layers of managers, and the transfer of wealth from those that have it to the ‘helpers’ is truly extraordinary. I’ll explain more in future posts, along with a few solutions that I think could revolutionise the industry (wishful thinking, I’m sure).
For now, though, please post any questions you have about the fund in the comments box below and I’ll do my best to answer them. It’s an exciting time for the business, for me personally and, as many initial investors have already told me, for the early investors in the fund. If you want to join us, applications are processed at the end of every month. The next batch will be processed on 30 November, so get your paperwork in before then to be invested before Christmas.
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Forager Funds is a boutique fund manager specialising in a value investing approach. We offer an ASX listed Australian Shares Fund as well as an International Shares Fund both aimed at delivering returns for long term investors.