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Our search for better solutions can lead to better outcomes

Culture

Environment that promotes high-quality decision-making

Client relationships

Enduring partnerships based on trust

Culture

Our culture is designed to encourage high-quality decision making by placing a lot of emphasis on meta-decisions (deciding how to decide) and how to create an environment for groups to thrive. Our culture is based on three principles:

1. Growth mindset

We are ultimately seeking universal truths. To do this effectively we foster a growth mindset environment where we cultivate curiosity, aim to expand our circle of competence and reduce our knowledge gaps. Seeking the truth means eliminating false narratives and widening our perspective. It also means not being overconfident about our skills, because no matter how hard we work, we can still be wrong.

We recognise we have imperfect knowledge and there is no perfect answer. Our strategy is to prepare for potential mistakes (pre-mortem) and analyse and learn from actual mistakes (post-mortem). Learning in general, and specifically learning from our errors, is a prerequisite to developing better judgment and personal growth.

We believe success is defined by how we learn from our challenges.

2. Meritocracy

We support an environment based on meritocracy. We want the best ideas to come from anyone and always win. Contribution matters more than title and tenure. What people do matters more than what they say, what title they hold and how long they have been with the firm.

We believe meritocracy is key to reducing the damaging effects of politics and unhealthy competition.

3. Mutual respect

We recognise the collective wisdom of a diverse group is an advantage and lead to better decisions1. A culture of mutual respect is a key requirement for groups to succeed where we openly and proactively share information. We encourage active listening and respect different views while encouraging honest and constructive feedback.

Specifically, our investment research is performed in groups and sector research responsibilities are rotated every three years. This promotes the free flow of information and no one monopolises the information. When information is freely shared it favours a multi-disciplined approach as opposed to relying on highly specialised experts working in silos that can lead to ‘the man with a hammer syndrome.’

We believe promoting the group collective wisdom is the key to eliminating ‘group think.’ Unchallenged decisions made by dominating leaders can lead to damaging results. Group think has been attributed to major corporate collapses such as HIH Insurance, Enron and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Client relationships

We seek out enduring partnerships with our clients based on three principles:

1. Alignment of interest

Our clients must embrace our investment approach. Specifically, you must understand our differentiated focus, independent thinking and be aware of our strengths and weaknesses.

Our margin of safety investment approach is unique and not suitable for all investors. We do not define success as beating a falling benchmark, hence at times our portfolio composition and returns will deviate substantially from the benchmark and that of our peers. If you desire returns without consideration to downside risk, we may not be the right investment manager for you.

We pay close attention to potential conflicts of interests and put your interests ahead of our own. We will not maximise profits with unbridled growth in funds under management. For you to benefit over the long term, we aim to keep our funds under management at a manageable level so we can preserve the sustainability of our performance.

2. Communication

We will be candid and direct in explaining our results. While we show our performance over various time periods, our commentaries will focus on the key issues over the medium to long term rather than describing the noise in the short term. We will explain what led to successes whether it be from skill or luck and not hide behind vague explanations for our losses.

3. Responsibility

We treat all investors equally. There is no-one more important than our smallest investor who trusts us with their entire life savings.

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Notes

1Although teams should be large enough to take advantage of diverse skills, groups tend to be less productive when group size increases (Ringlemann effect). Research has shown that highly effective teams comprise of no more than four to six team members (Steiner, 1972; and Hackman, 2011). Smaller teams are more productive because they tend to be more motivated and politics are minimised.

References

Steiner, I., 1972, Group Processes and Productivity, Academic Press, New York

Hackman, R., 7 June 2011, Six common misconceptions about teamwork, Harvard Business Review,