The Intentional Investor #8: Wes Gray

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In this episode, Matt Zeigler speaks with with Wes Gray, founder of Alpha Architect and ETF Architect. Wes shares his fascinating journey from growing up on a ranch to pursuing a PhD in finance at the University of Chicago, serving in the Marine Corps, and eventually building successful businesses in quantitative investing and ETF infrastructure. He discusses key moments that shaped his career, including early experiences with investing, his time in academia and the military, and how he identified opportunities in the ETF space. Wes provides insights into his entrepreneurial approach, the importance of community and collaboration in investing, and how his businesses have evolved over time. The conversation covers a wide range of topics including quantitative investing strategies, ETF structures, and Wes’s philosophy on building innovative financial businesses while maintaining a focus on family and work-life balance.

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  1. (Sharing this on social media and wanted to post it here too. Why I’ll never thing of cash cows" the same again!)

    Wes Gray grew up on farms.

    As a kid, he wanted to stop being broke as much as he wanted to get rich.

    When a lucky break on a cow he raised (shoutout Big Red) won him a few thousand dollars worth of prize money at a local fair (RIP Big Red), his dad said, “You’ve got more money than me! Better talk to Grandma Ginny.”

    Ginny introduces him to Buffett. Buffett gets him to Graham. An obsessed with value, country-traveling family farm kid started to discover his path out of never being broke again.

    There’s Wharton, there’s Chicago, there’s the PhD with not one but three legendary advisors (Fama, Frazzini, and Thaler… yeah).

    There’s the Yahoo Finance message board relationships, the Joel Greenblatt Value Investors Club membership, and the dissertation that binds them all.

    There’s the 4-year break from the PhD to go serve in the Marines. Read that last sentence again.

    There’s the 4-year break from the PhD to go serve in the Marines, which is where we start, and how his girlfriend-turned-now-wife said, “OK,” his parents just didn’t exactly understand (there might have been a white lie in there somewhere), and his doctoral advisors collectively approved even if it didn’t make much sense to them.

    Wes has got life experience. He’s got a deep sense of community building every step of the way. And, most of all, he’s got an undeniable desire to make sure no one around him is breakable.

    Not broke, and not with rich as the ultimate or exclusive goal, whatever those financial words even mean.

    But not broken.

    In spirit, in body, in wealth. He’s built to make sure his people know, if they’re on his team, they’re going to do this. Whatever this may be. And they’re doing it together.

    That’s why Wes Gray is an Intentional Investor.

    Watch/Listen to our talk on the Epsilon Theory YouTube Channel, or wherever you get your podcasts, he’s got a hell of a story:

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