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Today’s market is nothing we haven’t seen before.

Michael Smith, Advisor, Capital 19

 

Hello there,

If there’s one thing financial markets have taught me, it’s that nothing should be taken for granted. There are peak times where markets and investments perform smoothly, and bleak periods where it seems as though we are stuck in an endless cycle of negativity. But these ups and downs are what also provide opportunity. If it were not for the insights I’ve gathered throughout these bull and bear markets, I wouldn’t be where I am today, running a $100m portfolio with Capital 19 that attracts significant investor interest thanks to its dedicated focus on high-growth US stocks.

But let me step back to where it all began. I first became interested in financial markets at 15 while growing up in New Zealand. My father had just purchased Contact Energy shares on my behalf, which became my first investment. However, it set the wheels in motion that would captivate my interests and lead me to continue investing since.

A few years later I attended university to study chemistry and subsequently worked as an industrial chemist. After a few years I realised that I wanted to make a series of bigger changes in my life to secure my future wealth – something I’m sure many reading this can relate to. So, without much convincing, I packed my things and moved here to Australia some 10-12 years ago.

All the while, I continued to invest in the market, always looking to the future to spot the next big trend. My chemistry background ensured I had an avid passion for all things technology, so it was an area that I began to study back to front. The growth trajectory of tech companies would catch my eye, knowing they provided the best opportunity to ride the direction the world was heading.

Many of my investments enjoyed a multi-year bull run. Inspired by my success in the market and passion for investing, I turned to the financial services industry for a change in career. I secured my first job on the trading floor at Commonwealth Bank of Australia delivering the mail. It was a humble start, but I knew the opportunity would open doors elsewhere.

Soon enough, I was promoted to manage CBA’s margin lending book from a risk perspective. I spent a few years actively investing and ensuring the bank wasn’t overexposed to any one particular stock or sector. This experience refined my investment philosophy to better appreciate risk and the importance of fundamentals in businesses. I learnt that while technology was the ‘it’ sector for growth and would lead our future, at times it was necessary to roll into safer, cyclical opportunities. But above everything, the importance of a flexible and hedged portfolio became paramount.

Not long after I began working in the industry, the GFC was felt all over the world. Much like every other investor at the time, this period would soon serve as a reality check that not everything in financial markets was smooth sailing. I would learn that sometimes you have to be prepared to yield to show true strength of character.

By the time I left CBA, I had accumulated a wealth of experience through the worst recession since the 1930s. I felt however, this represented one of the best opportunities markets would see on the back of debt-fuelled central banks supporting the global economy. Once again, it would be the forward-thinking companies operating in huge growth channels that could offer significant upside to build long-term wealth. Suddenly, opportunities were there to be seized.

My next move saw me join Capital 19 as a portfolio manager. I found Capital 19’s investment principles aligned with my own personal approach. Not only the continual focus on uncovering opportunities but the company’s emphasis on encouraging clients to outperform local investors by building diverse, sustainable and flexible portfolios from international stocks and options.

The post-GFC period was a tough time to convince investors to part with their money, but as sentiment slowly turned, I built trusted relationships with my clients. They knew my mission was to build their wealth, and they shared my vision that high growth opportunities coming out of the technology sector would underpin that. I always looked out for companies with larger than average growth potential, those which stood to gain from the way the world was changing.

I also chose to invest solely in the US market because I believe at the time it had and still offers, the greatest growth opportunities of any market. Whereas Australia only makes up about 3% of the world’s investment opportunities, US-listed companies are truly global.

The timing for my clients and I couldn’t have been any better, allowing us to take a successful journey together. Over the last 8 years, I have managed to build approximately $100m in funds under management, with the target of transforming this into $1bn over the next 8 years. But I’ve always maintained that a portfolio manager should lead from the front, with skin in the game to show conviction in their strategy. As such, I have regularly made personal contributions to the fund to ensure a direct alignment of interests with my clients. Every dollar that I invest on behalf of my clients is like it were my own, with no room for error, only constant research.

The thing I’ve found most rewarding while working for Capital 19 is helping my clients fast-track their wealth, achieve their financial goals and set themselves up for a prosperous future. While the journey hasn’t always been easy, and there have been times where it’s been necessary to hedge against downside risk, what’s evident is that even when markets don’t behave as we’d expect, opportunities arise. Thankfully, my journey to this point has equipped me with a pragmatic view of financial markets, but I also know if you want to seize your opportunities, your ambitions need to be aspirational.

If you’d like to learn more about my journey and investment philosophy, contact me below to arrange a time for us to chat face to face.

 

Yours sincerely,

MICHAEL SMITH

m.smith@capital19.com