Elm Partners - Active Index Investing

Hey guys!

Anyone heard of Elm Partners?

They are headed by Victor Haghani (ex Solomon Brothers/LTCM/JWM trader,also known from "When Genius Failed" & "Liar's Poker" books).

Hows their reputation?

They have Active Index Investing strategy. More info on their website and on videos below:


Any thoughts on their strategies?
Do you think they would be an interesting place for a career?

Elm will make about $433,000 this year from its 0.12 percent management fee. Haghani stretches that to pay for a Jackson Hole, Wyoming, office and three employees overseeing $361 million on behalf of 80 investors.



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Comments (5)

Best Response
May 8, 2015 - 1:24pm

No, I do not think it's a special or an interesting place.

The only reason I have to believe this guy is not going to blow up the third time (the website fails to mention his participation in JWM partners) is that the strategy is so simple and unlevered that blowing up is not feasible. He's saying that his experience taught him complex strategies are not worth it. For him personally definitely not!

The funds are clearly aimed at not so sophisticated investors who are ready to invest after hearing a nice story. I didn't watch the first two videos because tedx format is unlikely to allow proper investment presentation, but the third link didn't impress me.

The fact that they use ETFs implies that they do not any instrument selection. However, they go on to say that it doesn't matter if stocks are 10% overvalued because in the long-run it's the dividends that matter. This begs multiple questions.

What do Elm Partners do if they don't do instrument selection and suggest that valuation of an asset class does not play the most important role either? Why can't I go and buy ETFs for dividend-stocks myself and earn my 4.2% real return that they projected? Why do Elm Partners implicitly assume clients don't mind (short-term) drawdowns? Why do I need ACTIVE management if it's all 4.2% return in the end? If historically dividend growth in the US was half of economic growth, does 1.5% real dividend growth look credible for our generation?

I suspect the answer to the first two questions is that they serve retail clients, so they execute the rules for the clients who otherwise would be too lazy to do it. I am not saying that their strategy is really bad or that their strategy is as simplistic as I described it, but inferring more from their "presentation" is impossible.

Jul 29, 2015 - 6:20am

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