12 Aug 2016
Just as you wonder when the bad news cycle or political campaign season will ever end, something is announced which encourages you to think positively about the future.
Recent business news included the release of Commonsense Principles of Corporate Governance, www.governanceprinciples.org . Before you quickly conclude that I need a real vacation (yes, it’s scheduled), let me explain why the contents of this release are important to all of us as investors.
Everyone invested in the stock market, through individual stock holdings, mutual funds or ETFs, relies on the quality and competency of the leadership of the corporations in which they invest. This leadership comes from both boards and management, but the focus of these principles is with board leadership.
The Commonsense Principles of Corporate Governance were offered by a group of corporate leaders and institutional investors, including Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Jeff Immelt of GE, Larry Fink of Blackrock and Bill McNabb of Vanguard to name a few. The hope of the authors is that “our effort will be the beginning of a continuing dialogue that will benefit millions of Americans by promoting trust in our nation’s public companies. “
When something goes terribly wrong at a publicly held company, how often do you hear the question “Where was the board?” Too often there is concern (sometimes justified, oftentimes not) that boards are just cronies of top management, unwilling to ask the challenging questions or overlooking their responsibilities as fiduciaries of shareholders. This sort of thinking erodes trust in the very corporations that provide economic growth and employment in our country.
The letter from the authors of the principles states “truly independent corporate boards are vital to effective governance”. The principles cover best practices in a wide variety of areas from board composition to responsibilities to the public. It’s a virtual handbook of good governance, and much of it is applicable to private, governmental and non-profit entities as well as public companies. It even addresses diversity on boards, stating that “diverse boards make better decisions, so every board should have members with complementary and diverse skills, backgrounds and experiences”.
As an investor, I find the work of this group encouraging and applaud the leaders who participated. With the adoption of these guiding principles, we should all feel more confident of the actions of our corporate boards. How commonsense is that!
05 Apr 2016
If you are a movie enthusiast, you may have enjoyed 2015’s Bridge of Spies, a Spielberg/Hanks historical drama set in 1957. Hanks plays Ray Donovan, a New York insurance lawyer asked by the government to provide a pro bono defense for Rudolf Abel. Abel is accused and convicted of spying for Russia in the midst of the Cold War. (Spoiler alert – if you intend to see the movie, you may want to skip the first two paragraphs). Donovan’s argument before the Supreme Court saves the spy from the death penalty. The CIA then becomes involved and Donovan finds himself in a tense negotiation in East Berlin with the Soviets for a prisoner swap. (A bit more exciting than his normal insurance practice!).
The Russian spy was especially calm throughout his capture, trial, and subsequent exchange into the hands of the Russians who were none too pleased that he was caught. I cannot imagine what awaited him in Russia. When asked on several occasions if he was alarmed, or if he ever worried, his response was a consistent, “Would it help?”, a simple but powerful response.
I think about this as it relates to the ups and downs of the market. We all occasionally suffer from strong reactions to market downturns. Some of us cope better than others, but it does not feel good to see the value of your account drop. After all, the timing of a bounce back is unpredictable. Frustration and genuine fear are common and painful reactions.
Would it help to listen more to the financial news when the market begins a downturn? Would that help us figure out what to do? Knowledge is power, right? Unfortunately, much of what you hear is a dramatic sound bite or personal opinions regarding an uncertain future. Add the presidential election rhetoric and the drop in price of oil, and you can quickly become pretty depressed about the state of economic affairs in our country and around the world. This commentary is rarely useful for long-term investors or anyone with a well-diversified strategy. Bottom line – the noise doesn’t help.
Would it help to take action – believing that action is always better than staying still? Makes you feel more in control? Change up your investments so it doesn’t happen again? For instance, would it help to move to cash, recognizing that timing when to get back in to the market is a losing game? It is a likely prediction that the market will rebound before you are back in.
If your risk tolerance has changed due to your age or financial circumstances, then this should be fully considered. Otherwise, making a change in a downturn is rarely a smart move.
Staying the course is not indicative of not knowing what to do. Staying the course is a deliberate choice, which has proven to be successful when you have a well-developed long-term strategy. Despite that, staying the course is oftentimes the hardest choice of all.
As I write this, the market has rallied and erased the losses from the first two months of the year. Now the commentary suggests that it won’t last. We should brace ourselves for a very volatile year. Nothing is right in the world. but then again it never is.
As for me, I am prepared to stay the course, focus on the long-term strategy, and put the ups and downs into a balanced perspective. And that, my friends, is what I believe will help.
Suzanne T. Mestayer
Blair duQuesnay named to InvestmentNews “4o Under 40” list for 2015
New Orleans, LA (June 22, 2015)– Blair duQuesnay, Chief Investment Officer and Principal of ThirtyNorth Investments LLC, has been selected to InvestmentNews annual list of the Top 40 Under 40. This award recognizes 40 professionals under age 40 in the investment and financial planning industry across the nation, and the finalists were selected from an initial pool of 1,200 nominees.
The roles played within the industry of this year’s winners span from investment management, to media, financial technology and taxation. All recipients of InvestmentNews Top 40 Under 40 are being recognized as leaders nationally for their accomplishments, contributions to the industry, leadership and promise.
“Our 40 advisers and associated professionals are making a difference today,” said Christina Nelson, managing editor of InvestmentNews. When asked about the competition among the 1,200 nominees, she added “We had a tough time narrowing down the pool to just 40 – and that’s good news.”
Blair duQuesnay received a Finance degree from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. She is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Blair provides frequent insights into the investment and financial planning industry, across print, broadcast and social media.
The entire list of InvestmentNews 40 Under 40 can be found by clicking here:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Orleans, La. – ThirtyNorth Investments, LLC will be honored as one of the 2013 LSU 100: Fastest Growing Tiger Businesses during the LSU 100 honoree luncheon. The event is scheduled to be held Thursday, April 26, at the Crowne Plaza Baton Rouge.
ThirtyNorth Investments has been selected as one of the 2013 LSU 100 honorees based upon its percentage of growth from 2009-2011. The LSU 100 is hosted by the LSU Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute (SEI), which is housed in the E. J. Ourso College of Business. The complete list of 2013 honorees is available at www.lsu100.com.