The following is an interview with tt1254, an analyst who quit and started his own fund. He is also available to answer your questions, ask away.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself: Recent graduate from undergrad who started an equity fund after a year or so in s&t at a bb. Was ultimate goal since second year of undergrad and having interned in m&a, s&t, pe, realized investing in public markets best fit. First stock buy was VV (same as SPY) on Sept 1st, 2008.
- What experience/class in school best prepared you to start your own fund? Econ 101 - less about supply/demand curves and more about incentives that drive human behavior. Psych 101 is a close second.
- What experience outside of school best prepared you to start your own fund?
For me, it was reading and learning econ/finance on my own time - started with the classic market wizards, intelligent investor to the less well-known (and often more interesting) Mackay's Madness of Crowds, Guttman's Credit Economy. Ended up going to library a lot and reading a bunch of less-useful books as well.
- What motivated you to leave your job to devote your full time to this?
Always wanted to invest and realized job then (s&t @ bb) would be a very roundabout path to investing in equities. That + plus a belief that equities could be a possible outperformer in the next many years served as catalyst.
- What is your basic strategy? What do you like to invest in? what's your specialty? What is your AUM? How old is your fund?
Value investing in equities. Like to invest in companies with an emerging competitive advantage. Generalist. Very small fund which launch in May of last year (2012).
- What type of person is best fit to do what you do? What are some required skills / characteristics? Still just getting started, but so far most important has been self-discipline. Market doesn't care what you are doing (unless you are Ackman...), and so hope has no place for any position.
- How common is this for someone to leave their analyst role to start a fund? ie 1%? 5%? Turnover in general is pretty brutal- think 50% of class (bb s&t) was gone in 2 years. A few leave for startups
- What is one thing you wish you knew when you first started out? Plans are super-important and meant to be broken.
- Can you elaborate on this? Fund start best example - wrote out basic plan Before quitting, from service providers ( /acct/primes, got first meeting/quotes etc.) to rough aum goals, people to call, and of course which investments/strategy to follow. Had plan in place months before trigger. Of course, as in most businesses once leaving new problems arose and timetables for aum, people had to change - got investors I didn't expect, didn't get ones I did expect. The key was having a framework for handling these changes (even if just a word doc), so that when the expected happens(bad/good), wouldn't skip a beat (too much). After all, if a potential investor whips out the checkbook and asks for next steps or asks where you domiciled, better be prepared...
- Where do you see yourself ( and your fund) in 5 years? 10 years? Any interest in an MBA or jumping to a buy side gig? 5-yrs: doing same thing with 10x aum. Little interest for MBA (opportunity cost), buy-side if this doesn't work out.
- For someone who wants to do this while in college or as a young professional as a means to break into the buy side, how can you best harness this experience into a job? Find a semi-worthwhile investment (hard), learn as much about it, buy it, record/review why you bought, held, sold.
- What is your typical day like? 90% reading filings, organizing thoughts/investment theses on paper, 10% monitoring positions.
- How many hours a week do you put in? 60-80 but not really an accurate barometer bc don't have have to do anything. Decide for myself how much time to spend researching one idea vs managing current positions (sometimes reduce/increase based on new info). Most of time debating in my mind at gym/car etc. what to do. So can be as little as 40 when don't see cheap things to buy, 100+ when many things to look into (and those can be most interesting times!).
- Do you have employees and/or partners? If the former, what advice do you have for managing employees? Nope, outsourced most ops outside to focus on investing.
- Who do you outsource to? What types of ops do you outsource? Best example: use interactive brokers as broker (bc small fund) and so they provide 99% of the tax docs. Else I'd be filling out Form 8949 myself for schedule D now. Ppl with personal accounts know what I'm talking about :)
- Since you are an entrepreneur/business owner, how much time do you spend thinking about your own business / entrepreneurial mindset vs thinking day to day work of filings/positions? Still trying to balance that - bottom line is that it depends on whether market is active. I.e. first week of this year long mkt thesis played out, so thought about meeting more ppl/updated marketing presentation (banking memories!) so 80-20. Last summer it was 0-100, all day trying to figure out which securities shouldn't care about Europe (answer: most usa securities! J). For me though, it's less about fills than about whether to reduce a position if there is (irrational) selling to be had, etc. I'm in mostly liquid securities (e.g. aig) so getting a decent price is not hard.
- Anything else you'd like to share? I'm the junior analyst who you'd talk stocks and joke w/ about starting a fund - just happened to take the next step.
- What is the link to your blog? http://leverageforthought.blogspot.com/