21st century

Writing the Book on Investing

© Can Stock Photo / alexskopje

In the 21st century, it is possible to be more open about every aspect of business than ever before. Digital communications enable us to describe in real time what we are doing, why, how, and for whom with a level of detail that was not possible in the last century.

We have always had a well-defined investment process. We know what we want to own, and why. Since 2015 we have been able to share insights about our views, thinking, philosophies, strategies, and tactics here on the blog at 228Main.com. Those of you who are regular readers have perhaps gained a good sense of what we are about.

It is time to take it to the next level. We are working to comprehensively document our investment management process, from philosophy to research sources to investment selection methods to portfolio structure to tailoring client fit to trading protocols to client and account review process. We will be writing a book.

As great thinker Morgan Housel wrote, “writing crystallizes ideas in ways thinking by itself will never accomplish.” So we expect to come out of this exercise with a tighter, better-defined set of processes and protocols. No guarantees, of course.

This will take time and effort. What are the other advantages in doing it?

• To provide even greater clarity for you.
• To gain a comprehensive business operating manual.
• To help new associates understand what the enterprise is about.

Bottom line, this is a step toward greater sustainability, one of our major objectives for the years ahead. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

Making Sense of the Data Flood

© Can Stock Photo / SergeyNivens

In the 21st century, information seems to be a thousand times more abundant than we could have dreamed of just a few decades ago. An insight into the olden days may be the best way to illustrate this.

When I first became qualified to work with investment securities, I would maintain a list of topics to research. It might be a specific company or an investment product, or some aspect of the economy. Day by day, new items would go on the list.

Every other week, I spent a morning in the library. Stock reports from S&P Marketscope and ValueLine were available there, in large binders. The financial newspapers and other reference works were available, too. I would chew through the items on my list all morning, then make telephone calls that afternoon and evening to report my findings.

No internet, no email, no cell phones.

Now, of course, we interact with economists and research analysts and portfolio managers in real time via webinars, Twitter, and conference calls. Research on thousands of companies is at our fingertips. Data and analysis subscriptions supplement the expert resources made available by LPL Financial and our other institutional partners.

Instead of writing research topics down in a notebook to be studied in the library days later, we often can respond to client inquiries almost instantly, and always quickly.

The key element in our approach is not the flood of information available. By itself, that flood would drown anybody. Instead, it is in the experience and knowledge we bring, in order to understand the narratives and themes lurking in the data. Context and perspective is vital.

When you have read thousands of pages of research, annual reports, and SEC filings, you develop an understanding of what is pertinent, and what may be disregarded. Greg Leibman, in his ninth year here, does a lot of the heavy lifting.

We are fortunate to be alive in this day and age, able to take advantage of the opportunities to operate more effectively on your behalf. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

Enterprise In The 21st Century

© Can Stock Photo / Eraxion

A business can serve one of two basic functions: solve problems for customers, or exploit their vulnerabilities.

Haven’t we all had experience with both kinds of enterprises? Some bad apples will do anything to take advantage of you. One of our wise clients told us she runs when she hears a fear-based sales pitch, the hallmark of exploiters.

On the brighter side, we also find enterprises that deliver more value to us than they cost, and make it a pleasure to do business. Some act as if they know what you and we know: what goes around, comes around.

We believe the way the 21st century is unfolding will help the good ones and hurt the bad ones. There are three reasons we think this:

• We can get up to speed on any subject more quickly than ever before, with all the knowledge in the world at our fingertips. No longer does anyone have a monopoly on information: prices, specifications and other factors can be checked out.

• Reputations, good and bad, can spread like wildfire through social media and other new forms of communication. It is harder for poor business practices to survive, and easier to find the solid professionals.

• Successful businesses can provide information and perspective to clients and prospective customers at very little cost. This makes it easier for you to figure out whether they focus more on your welfare or their profit, before you get in business with them.

We are always working to get better, continually learning, striving to stay at the leading edge. We make mistakes, as all humans do—but we’re excited about the opportunities unfolding in the decades ahead.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

Listen Consciously, Express Beautifully

© Can Stock Photo / kasto

Here in the 21st century, we all may be in the business of communication via social media, blogging, and other electronic formats. When we embarked on our 21st century communications, a friend pointed us to a helpful, useful TED talk by communications expert Julian Treasure. His life vision is the title of this essay.

His TED talk is ‘How to talk so that people want to listen.’ In an era of ubiquitous communication, isn’t this a key skill? What he had to say applies to Facebook posts and tweets as well as spoken communications—so we thought it might be useful to you, as well.

Treasure outlines four cornerstones of powerful speech. There is an acronym for these things that spells HAIL, a word that means ‘to greet enthusiastically,’ which is how we would like our ideas received.

• H – Honesty, being straight and clear.
• A – Authenticity, standing in your own truth.
• I – Integrity, doing what you say and being true to your word.
• L – Love, not romantic love, but wishing others well.

There is a flip side to these cornerstones—the habits that one should avoid, if effective communication is the goal. Treasure talks about ‘the seven deadly sins of speaking.’

They are: gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, excuses, exaggeration, and dogmatism. We all know what these things are, right? You can look up Julian Treasure if you want more detail.

We have all seen cases where words or images or actions are recorded and spread around the world—go viral, as they say—with large consequences, good or bad. So paying attention to what we say and how we say it may be more important than ever before.

Clients, if you would like to talk about any aspect of our communications, or anything else, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Only Thirty Years Left

© Can Stock Photo / stokkete

In the merry month of May a long time ago, I graduated from college in a new cheap suit and embarked on my career in financial services. The first entry on the resume was life insurance agent, the Prudential Insurance Company of America.

The insurance companies managed their affairs with vast armies of file clerks and secretaries and bookkeepers, filling towers of offices in major cities. There were no computers on desktops, long distance telephone calls cost a lot of money, and typing a letter was surprisingly time consuming.

Just a few years before, the New York Stock Exchange got so far behind in its record-keeping that it was forced to stay closed on Wednesdays for months in order to catch up the paperwork. This was due to the record trading volume of…wait for it…TWELVE MILLION SHARES A DAY.

Needless to say, times have changed a lot since I got in business.

I don’t understand how it happened, but I am turning age 62 this month. My plan to work to age 92 may be keeping me young. Between our digital communications, expansion of the team, reworking our systems and processes, keeping up with economic and market developments, and talking to you, there isn’t really time to feel old.

Thinking about the arc of this career so far, I began in the 20th century with a company founded in the 19th century. And now we are at the vanguard of the 21st century.

It feels like this unfolding age was made for us. We understand how to communicate with you in the new media. Being straightforward is a big edge when everything you say and do is visible. Word of mouth is a speed-of-light phenomena nowadays.

At this milestone, with so much left to do, we are grateful to be alive and part of it. With the best clients in the world and support by LPL Financial, we are very fortunate.

Clients, thank you all, again, for everything. If we can do anything for you, email us or call. Here’s to a great thirty years ahead, for you and for us.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Leibman Financial Services and LPL Financial are not affiliated.