Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.
We’re all about the long term at 228 Main. And we’re interested in companies that are oriented to the long term… like the ones trying to take care of the environment, operating in ways that are sustainable for employees and clients and suppliers, removing barriers to entry—these are all long-term processes.
And in our opinion, we believe companies like this happen to do better, too.
Maybe you’ve heard about ESG investing—the practice of putting money into those investments that address environmental, social, and governance issues.
We’re not interested in fads, but this style is all about the long term.
Any human endeavor will have its flaws, but we’re figuring out how to bring the best qualities of ESG into our work with you.
First, we can keep certain kinds of companies off our buy list. Those businesses that deal in tobacco, alcohol, and gambling, for example, don’t align with many people’s beliefs about individual wellbeing.
Second, we can add certain companies that meet sustainability criteria, like environmental benchmarks or diversity among corporate leadership.
Trying to grow your bucket is always at the heart of our work. But we shouldn’t have to choose between performance and other worthy results. Let us know if ESG goals are a priority for you.
Environmental Social Governance (ESG) investing has certain risks based on the fact that the criteria excludes securities of certain issuers for non-financial reasons and, therefore, investors may forgo some market opportunities and the universe of investments available will be smaller.
Want content like this in your inbox each week? Leave your email here.
If you’ve been following along, you know my intent to work to age 92 dates a long way back. Therefore, I wanted a practice that would last that long.
The more we thought about sustainability, the more we realized that mere survival to a certain point in time was not fair to you—nor a sound plan for us. So the goal became building an enterprise that could thrive for decades.
If we automate everything that works better when automated and get human understudies for all the remaining activities, the organization will be more durable. It will work more smoothly day to day, and it will be more likely to last for the years and decades ahead.
The next phase is falling into place. Caitie Leibman has joined the team full-time as Director of Communications. We foresee three main benefits:
- Caitie will take over some communications-related duties now performed by Greg and me. This will give me more time to work with you one-on-one on your plans and planning. Greg will have more time for investment research.
- Our communications program could stand improvement in a dozen ways I know about and many more that I cannot now conceive of. Caitie will bring these to fruition. (I’m particularly excited about the blog collections she is weaving into book form. Stay tuned.)
- In time, Caitie will be writing in her own voice for new audiences, introducing 228 Main to new generations. Making sound planning and timeless investing strategies available to more people is an exciting part of sustainability.
These last several years we’ve used digital communications to stay close when personal circumstances turned time and geography into challenges. The digital presence we built proved to be far more valuable to you and to us than we dreamed; it makes sense for Caitie to become involved in the enterprise in this area first.
I’ll still be writing, of course. Caitie, with her degrees and experiences in writing and a firm grasp of the philosophy of our family firm, will be a major resource.
Clients, if you would like to talk about this, or anything else, please email us or call.
The more we think about it, the more striking it is. We are talking about the connections between major decisions and strategies in other parts of life, and effective investing.
Lengthening your time horizon enables you to look past normal market ups and downs, and perhaps enjoy long term gains. On the other hand, a short-term focus leaves people with a choice of potentially safer but stagnant accounts, or day-trading. Our experience leads us to believe that playing the long game pays. No guarantees, of course.
Likewise, thinking about where you want to be seven or fourteen or twenty-one years from now gives you a framework that shapes the choices you make day to day. You may be more likely to make progress toward your major goals in life. Not playing the long game may hurt your chances.
Many have had the experience of enjoying some product or service that seemed to be priced at unbelievable bargain levels. When we were young, a wonderful barbecue ribs place opened up nearby. Great food, all you could eat, an unbelievable price. There was nothing else like it. Customers flocked to it—we went back again and again.
For a few months, that is. Until it closed without notice or warning. The proprietor had not been thinking about the long game. He knew it was important to deliver a great experience to large numbers of customers. But he wasn’t paying attention to the need to cover his overhead and make a decent return. A dining room full of happy customers, the short term indicator, was not enough.
As customers, we would have been better off to pay sustainable prices to keep the restauranteur in business. His place might have become one of those beloved institutions that last generations. Instead, we got bargains on good food for a few months—then it was over.
In our business, we often counsel people about investments or insurance they originally purchased from an agent or advisor prior to becoming our client. Often some level of confusion or frustration has crept into their understanding of what they have. We are always happy help clear things up.
But this is an object lesson to us about the importance of being there for you. We are always thinking about the long game for our enterprise, too. Clients, if you would like to talk about this 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.
All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.
We think a lot about how to make things last. It is a key concept for your assets, our relationships, and the securities in which we invest.
But our enterprise here at 228 Main has to endure so we may continue to be of service. We therefore work diligently on its sustainability.
Thinker Morgan Housel wrote about the sources of sustainability in business. Relative to the competition, these attributes provide an enduring competitive advantage:
1. Learn faster.
2. Empathize more with your customers.
3. Communicate more effectively.
4. Be more patient.
These things resonated with us because they represent much of what we strive for. Patience is a prerequisite of successful investing. It is free, but not easy to practice. It also is what lets us be content to work with you at your pace, on your schedule, since we are talking about your money.
You know by now how highly we value effective communication! Listening to you and talking to you in various ways is one of our three core activities. We put a lot of effort into it.
Empathy—understanding what you are going through, where you want to go—is perhaps the key to being able to meet your needs.
We are surprised at how much we are still learning after so many years of experience. In this rapidly changing world, continuous learning is required in order to be able to survive and thrive.
Clients, we are not claiming perfection in any of this. But we are mindful of the things we must do in order to be a reliable partner for you through the years. If you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.