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Learning that drives better investment decisions

From the Inside

Why We Stopped Performance Appraisals at CoffeeWORKS

Twenty years ago I co-founded a coffee roasting factory in Bangkok, Thailand while I was head of research at an investment bank in Bangkok. I learned more about investing and valuing businesses from that experience than I ever learned from all my studies of finance, including my CFA exams.

The most valuable thing I learned is that you get the most from employees when they love their jobs and respect their teammates and the people they work for.

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Noodles in Exchange for Investing Advice

During my recent trip to China, I explored the topic of the Chinese stock market, which appears cheap at a 13x price-to-earnings (PE) ratio. However, this is distorted by a very low PE financial sector that is a third of overall stock market value. While visiting Hefei, Anhui province a friend took me to a noodle shop in. The owner of the shop had asked my friend if he knew anything about investing because he had lost a lot of money in the stock market.

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I Lost for 14 Years in a Row

I can remember within the first few months sitting down with my boss and telling him I want to be the number one analyst in Thailand. Year after year there were rankings of analysts by fund managers. My name never appeared for many years. But over time, my name started to appear, unfortunately at the bottom of the list.

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The Trade-off between Simplicity and Precision

In the trade-off between simplicity and precision, I choose simplicity. I have more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry. First as an analyst, then as Head of Research. Over those decades, my thoughts on the trade-off between simplicity and precision have, to put it mildly, evolved. These days I love to keep it simple!

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