Title: VP, Portfolio Manager, Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel
Started in the business: 2001
Book size: 100 families
What I wear to work: black pantsuits in various styles
What I don’t wear to work: industry jargon
Long-term, patient and value-based. I like managing money for people who aren’t itching to triple their money in a few months.
We seek companies with sound balance sheets and minimal leverage. We also look for companies that are misunderstood or disliked. We buy stock as if we’re buying the whole company—at a reasonable value, with thorough understanding of where future cash flow will be coming from. That way, you can ride out the noise of quarterly reporting.
LISTEN TO YOUR KIDS
Peter Lynch tells people to listen to their kids: go to the malls and watch what others are buying. I bet a lot of people are kicking themselves for not buying Apple stock when their kids started asking for iPods.
Many managers are only marginally different from the index. We consciously go against the crowd. For example, we avoided the tech boom and significantly underperformed in 1999. But the following four years, we tremendously outperformed. We’ve been avoiding today’s metal frenzy. You can get lucky once or twice in the cycle, but you can’t outperform with volatile companies in the long run.
We overweight companies that have high barriers to entry, high cash flow, well-run management, and discipline in reinvesting that cash flow. A 99% client retention rate, even during a recession, is a resounding testament to this approach.
My clients chose me because I know the gut-wrenching feeling of losing money. I’ve been investing since I was in high school; I put myself through university by trading stocks. But I’ve also lost money. I share what has worked and what hasn’t. People relate to the fact I’m not just a product hawker.
I’ve always done my own taxes, so I talk to clients about tax-saving strategies, and help them achieve the best after-tax performance.