Before clients invest in a company, you need to help them assess its value and growth prospects.
And when starting this process, there are three key features you need to look for, says David Winters, CEO of Wintergreen Advisors in Milwaukee, WI.
First, a company must have a strong management team. Winters says, “You really need to have good people running a business. If management is engaged and wants to do the best for all investors, it makes a tremendous difference in how a company performs.”
Second, businesses need good corporate governance. This means investor-focused boards of directors that are transparent and willing to represent the interests of company shareholders. This helps companies encourage investor confidence, says Winters, and, in turn, can help generate wealth.
He finds effective boards of directors “make sure management is focused properly, that no shareholders receive preferential treatment over other[s], and that [company] information is disseminated properly.”
“Some multinationals have excellent governance and are very well-run, but there are examples of [companies] that need to be better run,” says Winters. There are also domestic companies that could be better-run, so investors are “[best] served by [looking for] companies that make sure their fiduciary duty is to their investors.”
The third characteristic of successful companies is a powerful brand. This can propel a company’s performance, notes Winters, who finds, “sometimes a brand gives people the confidence to buy.”
When evaluating prospective investments, Winters’ main strategy is to also use market volatility to his benefit. He aims to be patient and buy strong brands for a cheap price, but he also suggests good brands with high-quality products can be worth their premiums.
Also, you should let clients know that risk can never be completely avoided since good brands can depreciate over time. Take newspapers, for example, says Winters. There were “powerful brands, [but] the Internet came along and changed the way people perceived [newspapers]. People don’t advertise quite as much in newspapers as they used to.”