Our Approach



Here at Williams Investment Management, we remain resolutely old fashioned.  We do not view that as a problem; in fact, as we survey what the investment industry has largely become, we see it as a positive advantage.  We have all worked in larger organisations which purport to put clients’ interests first but we suspect it is their own that usually assume the greatest importance.  It is a central tenet of our offering that we manage client capital in exactly the same manner we manage our own.


It may surprise you to learn that many businesses operating in this industry have employee targets for revenue generation.  It is our contention that to act truly in your clients’ best interests, it represents a conflict of interest to be given a target before the event.  If you are genuinely doing so then who can say what revenue should be generated by the firm over a 12 month period in pursuit of those interests?


We have also seen how those that are struggling to hit their target towards the end of the financial year, often find transactions that, with hindsight, did need doing after all.  Such behaviour exemplifies our assertion regarding organisations putting their interests before those of their clients.


We offer service, honesty and our own brand of investment management. This concentrates upon absolute returns rather than those of the relative variety, which compares investment performance to that of a particular index. It took the FT-SE 100 index until February 2015 to breach its previous all time high of 6,930, achieved in December 1999. Potentially, to outperform an index over 15 years, yet make no meaningful capital return is nothing short of pointless, in our view.


You cannot spend relative returns which is why we only exchange your cash for investments we truly believe offer the realistic possibility of an acceptable outcome.  If we do not see sufficient value then we simply wait until we do.  Holding cash is no problem to us because as we have mentioned previously, we manage client capital like we do our own.  We adhere to super-investor Warren Buffett’s maxim that while holding cash might be uncomfortable, it is not as uncomfortable as doing something stupid.


It is our belief that investment management today is all too often sold like a commodity; in the same manner that a supermarket sells soap powder.  We are also of the opinion that marketing concerns frequently take precedence over investment matters.  To us, the latter always takes priority.  As such, we have no interest in offering investment ‘solutions’ or mission statements.  Furthermore, we do not insult our clients’ intelligence by telling them we are ‘dedicated’ or ‘passionate’ about them; being self employed, without customers, we would have no business.


There is a certain type of client we look to act for.  We value long term relationships with individuals who understand what we are attempting to do.  We want the time and freedom to look for investments that we perceive make sense on a five year view because that is exactly what we do for ourselves.  To those concerned with ‘outperforming’ the stockmarket over relatively short periods of time or owning a portfolio that reflects the sectoral breakdown of major indices, our style of investment management is probably not appropriate.

 

So, we are not salesmen.  We also prefer to leave descriptions such as ‘financial planner’ or ‘wealth manager’ to others.  We are managers of capital and our role is not to resort to marketing flimflam to deliver an upbeat message, come what may.  Rather, it is to do our level best to deliver pleasing long term returns that, crucially, have been garnered without the assumption of excessive degrees of risk.


EMAIL




Investment Strategy



It will come as little surprise that our investment policy is conservative.  Over the long term, our aim is firstly to secure and subsequently enhance the real value of our clients’ capital.  In our experience, attractive opportunities do not present themselves everyday, no matter what the investment industry would like you to believe.  It is naïve in the extreme to expect the stockmarket to automatically deliver acceptable returns.


It is for that reason, we only invest when we believe the odds of a worthwhile outcome are in our clients’ favour.  Fads and fashions we avoid like the plague; you will never see us buying hedge funds, multi manager funds or structured products.  We conclude that far too many investment advisers deal in such fare simply because others do likewise and they therefore believe it is expected of them.  However, sheep like behaviour is unlikely to set the foundations for long term success.  To some, such independent thinking may seem unusual but in our opinion, this is what our clients are paying us for.


Enthusiastically to chase short term speculative profits, at the risk of permanent capital destruction, is in our view a dereliction of duty.  It is easy to lose money in the stockmarket which is why we shy away from today’s casino mentality where, from our perspective, many asset managers are enthusiastic participants (with other people’s money) in rampant excess.


As with many occupations, financial management is one where all too often, so-called advisers are uncomfortable if their investment views to do not coincide with the majority.  However, agreeing with a consensus point of view doesn’t ensure a favourable outcome.  We invest capital in a very different way to George Soros but we agree with his sentiments that the consensus is hardly ever correct.  Perhaps that is why he has been so successful by betting against it.


Soros is not the only eminent mind to make this point.  The Canadian economist, J.K. Galbraith, opined that “in any great organisation it is far, far safer to be wrong with the majority than to be right alone”.  Likewise, the famous British economist, John Maynard Keynes, noted that career risk drives institutional investment.  Being wrong with others is fine but do not be wrong alone.


That said, while it may be rational for City investment managers to protect their highly paid jobs, it is irrational to expect such a system to provide adequate results for the client.  It leads to herding and unsustainable bubbles which have nothing to do with true investment, as we would define it but then, it’s not designed for that purpose.  That is why it bears repetition when we say, to our minds, too many organisations put their interests before those of their clients.  It’s also why we labour the point that we invest clients’ capital in exactly the same way that we do our own.   George Bernard Shaw observed that all professions were a conspiracy against the laity.  It was the medical profession that originally provoked his ire although we would argue the investment industry is a far more worthy target.


Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the hugely successful U.S. company chaired by Warren Buffett, points out that investments fluctuate wildly in price.  There can be huge differences between intrinsic and quoted value and “we are looking to purchase more intrinsic value than we pay in quoted value; it’s that simple”.  Munger makes another important point when he says “it is amazing how much long term advantage we have got by not being stupid rather than very intelligent”.


Investment undoubtedly has fashions.  While we recognise the fact, it is not something we wish to participate in.  We live in a world of instant gratification but agree with another titan of Wall Street, Philip Carret, that patience is absolutely vital to successful investing.  Carret enjoyed an 80 year career and died in 1998 aged 101.  His results were so impressive, Buffett believed Carret had the best long term track record of anyone he knew.  Which, once again, indicates that while the rational deployment of capital may not always be in favour, the fruits of its deployment will never fall out of fashion.


EMAIL

 




BACK TO TOP

 










 

 

" It may surprise you to learn that many businesses operating in this industry have employee targets for revenue generation.  It is our contention that to act truly in your clients’ best interests, it represents a conflict of interest to be given a target before the event."















" You cannot spend relative returns which is why we only exchange your cash for investments we truly believe offer the realistic possibility of an acceptable outcome.  If we do not see sufficient value then we simply wait until we do."

















" There is a certain type of client we look to act for.  We value long term relationships with individuals who understand what we are attempting to do.  We want the time and freedom to look for investments that we perceive make sense on a five year view because that is exactly what we do for ourselves."

 

 

 

 

 





















"In our experience, attractive opportunities do not present themselves everyday, no matter what the investment industry would like you to believe. It is naïve in the extreme to expect the stockmarket to automatically deliver acceptable returns."

















Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the hugely successful U.S. company chaired by Warren Buffett, points out that investments fluctuate wildly in price. 
There can be huge differences between intrinsic and quoted value and “we are looking to purchase more intrinsic value than we pay in quoted value; it’s that simple”.