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What caught my eye this week.

I don’t write much about active investing on the blog these days – but I remain the same investing junkie who was buying housebuilders in 2011 and getting gold miners wrong in 2013.

I was therefore thrilled this week to meet a fund manager I’ve admired for well over a decade – Nick Train, who runs the Finsbury Growth & Income and Lindsell Train Investment trusts, among other things.

Train’s writings on the Lindsell Train website have been must-reads for me for years. But I was still steeled for disappointment on meeting the man in the flesh.

A lifetime ago I used to interview bands, and it was almost always underwhelming. The one time I did interview a band who truly lived up to my youthful notions of rock-and-roll1 I sheepishly retired from band-interviewing! I’m much older, a tad wiser, and have fewer delusions about people these days.

The funny thing is I don’t even invest the way Train does. I think it’d be great to identify and hold the best companies forever, Train-style, but experience has taught me I can’t do it.

I can’t even buy and hold Train’s funds! Although I do own a little FGT right now.2

So in some respects this was simple investor-groupie-ism.

Anyway, Train did not disappoint. He seemed about as level-headed as one of the best fund managers of his generation could be expected to be – and winningly paranoid about what the world and the market could yet do to his portfolio. He even warned against applying the word brilliant to anyone who owes their fortune and livelihood to something as capricious as the stock market, and to Lady Luck.

Fund managers get a rough ride these days, and understandably so. Academia – and common sense – has shown active investing is a zero-sum game – and a weight of evidence has demonstrated that after costs, most active funds lose to the market.

Nearly everyone reading this will be better off using tracker funds than active ones – let alone doing what I do, which is pick stocks.

But as I’ve said before – to some criticism from the passive purists among you – every fund manager (as distinct from wealth manager or banker, where this definitely does not apply) that I’ve met has been really interesting to talk to, and most have made me a little jealous of their day jobs.

Obviously it helps that we have a passion in common – but that’s my point. Criticize these guys for cognitive dissonance if you like, but don’t think the best don’t live and breathe investing. They fail to beat the market because it’s incredibly difficult to do so, not because they’re out playing golf.

The era of the star fund manager is long gone. I expect most readers under-30 can’t name a famous investor besides Warren Buffett, and amen to that.

But I don’t mind admitting I’m from another era, and a little weird.

And that I was a little bit starstruck – and a little envious – of Nick Train!

From Monevator

Simple maths for investors – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Perfect 10 investing – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!3

MSCI to quadruple the weighting of China A-shares in its global benchmarks – CNBC

Crowdfunding in search of the next Apple or Facebook [Search result]FT

Inter-generational inequality runs deeper than you think – Bloomberg

Tesla cuts price of Model 3 electric car to a more mass-market friendly $35,000 – BBC

‘Build-to-rent’ flats launched; utility bills w/ rent and no upfront deposit – ThisIsMoney

Premium bond Ernie takes quantum leap into fifth generation – Guardian

Debate is kicking off about Help to Buy and housebuilders profits – BBC & FT [Search result]

Dwindling numbers of buy-to-let property purchases [Search result]FT

Products and services

Citymapper to undercut Tfl with London travel card – Guardian

Household bills will go up across the board on 1st April… – ThisIsMoney

…but energy provider Bulb is cutting gas prices, against the trend – Guardian

Ratesetter’s £100 bonus effectively boosts your expected annual return on £1,000 to 14%  – Ratesetter [Affiliate link]

Fitch warns open-ended property funds could lock-up investor money, again – ThisIsMoney

Could your post-2000 banger be a classic car? – ThisIsMoney

How to use various Morningstar tools to benchmark your portfolio – Morningstar

Mid-century homes for sale [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

Quick thinking leads to bad behaviour – Morningstar

Eight questions to put the value of money into perspective – Humble Dollar

Cherish your exceptions… – A Wealth of Common Sense

…because numbers are not reality – The Irrelevant Investor

The lower the cost, the greater the chance of success [Blog and podcast]TEBI

Stock-bond correlation, and its implications for investors [PDF]DE Shaw & Co (via A.R.)

Edge over odds – Demonitized

The perils of idol worship: Lessons from Kraft Heinz – Musings on Markets

BAE Systems has significant problems as a dividend stock – UK Value Investor


US takes a tough line with UK in post-Brexit trade talks [Search result]FT

Manufacturers cutting jobs and stockpiling ahead of Brexit – BBC

Kindle book bargains

The Complete Guide to Property Investment by Rob Dix – £0.99 on Kindle

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini – £1.99 on Kindle

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

How to create reality – Mr Money Mustache

Workism is making Americans miserable – The Atlantic

The world’s top 15 global brands: 2000-2018 [Animation]Visual Capitalist

15 stories of windfalls that changed people’s lives – Topic

Countries with more butter have happier citizens – Big Think

Amazon rolls out day-of-choice delivery to cut costs, emissions – USA Today

The power of asking someone how they’re doing – HBR

Why Internet debate in comments/elsewhere is being wiped out – Slate Star Codex

Manhole mania – via Twitter

And finally…

“The ability to see the future is rare. The ability to rationalize the present is all too common.”
– Thomas W. Phelps, 100 to 1 in the Stock Market

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  1. Mercury Rev, if there are any indie musos out there.
  2. I never invest in open-ended funds, and only occasionally in investment trusts. The fun for me in active investing is finding great companies, not great fund managers.
  3. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.

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