Every year we meet with fellow money manager CEOs to discuss the state of the industry, our individual businesses, and the ever-changing challenges faced by our clients. This year our meeting was held on Monday in D.C. and was very productive. We discussed cyber-security, robo-advisors, elder abuse, and market conditions. The sharing of so much experience from firms across the country is very helpful in gaining insights that may better benefit our individual clients.
Each money manager in this group approaches investments differently. Farr, Miller & Washington believes in constructing portfolios comprised primarily of conservative individual stocks and bonds. We think of ourselves as long-term owners in a variety of great businesses. This approach has the advantages of being tax-efficient, transparent, and easy to understand. This approach has served our clients well since the inception of the firm nearly 20 years ago.
But how does one money manager truly explain his value proposition? I struggled to find the exact right words until I shared a story about a long-time Farr, Miller & Washington client.
A well-known, mid-sized, not-for-profit client of over 15 years has been through a lot. The organization has grown, renovated and moved into new headquarters, and supported a most worthy cause. We were a bit of a wet blanket during the late 1990s, fellow mourners after 9/11, a steady hand on the tiller during the dot-com bust, intense collaborators and counselors in 2008 and 2009, and to the best of our ability an ongoing steady voice through all that the markets and economy have brought and continue to bring. We have been through periods where there was fairly intense pressure to “go to cash” because markets were down and the newspapers suggested that even worse times were ahead. We have developed an institutional memory to support new Trustees and help educate them as to why previous Trustees made the decisions that were made and what their thoughts were about the future of the organization. The client’s accounts have increased, provided stability, and supported operational spending needs. We have spoken and met very regularly and been there for them through good times and bad. This has been an excellent client for us and a wonderful experience.
There are similar stories about individual clients of the same vintage. They are heartwarming and make us feel worthwhile and proud. Year after year we help establish new accounts for newborn grandchildren, plan for college funding, counsel with people who are marrying or divorcing, plan for retirement spending, discuss tax strategies and help widows and widowers endure loss and process the complexities of estate settlements. We have the great honor of being at our clients’ sides at some of life’s most important moments.
Do you want or need the sort of relationship I shared with the group? The answer is up to you. Younger folks are more prone to go solo, but as people approach 50 or so and begin to review their savings and investments with an eye to retirement, they tend to reach for help and the experience and expertise of others. An account number and passcode to engage the automated voice at the fund provider leaves many feeling flat when market maelstroms strike.
To our many clients: thank you. We are grateful for your trust, patronage, loyalty, and friendship. You make our jobs and lives worthwhile. It is a privilege to help with this critical piece of your lives. If you are not a client and this sort of relationship sounds attractive, we would be delighted to meet and discuss your situation and needs.
PS The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee took no action on rates today.