The Problem with Brussels Sprouts

9+ I think it started in 2010. Within six months of patient zero, they were everywhere. Ev
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Demonetized
Member
Demonetized

This really touched a chord with me as I think about my own career path. I LOVE investment research. Real research, that is, not research! (a.k.a smart-sounding marketing material and simple statistical rankings of manager performance a sufficiently motivated admin or intern can run after a quick tutorial). Research! is soul-killing. Nothing more so than the manager selection merry-go-round.

Writing for ET and my own blog has been a kind of pressure release valve in that regard.

More and more I think the way to go is either find a very special investment organization (likely one with permanent capital) focused on Things That Matter, or go the financial planning and expense management route with individuals. The research! world is a wasteland.

Sorry to be a bit of a downer but I wrestle with this constantly.

3+
CMG
Member
CMG

I’m with you. I’m at something of an inflection point in my career, and looking to move from business valuation to a more investment management type role. In looking at firms, there are so many advertising the cartoon of expertise with no substance. There is such a need for investment management with integrity, reflecting the qualities Rusty listed, yet all I see are product shills disguised as “Advisors”.

My question is, I’m currently in the CFA program (for the knowledge, not just for the letters) — going forward, will CFA-type skills/knowledge be more valuable, or CFP-type skills? It seems like the latter.

4+
Demonetized
Member
Demonetized

Glad to know someone else is wrestling with this. I have both credentials, and I think you’re right. Going forward you’re going to want to be closer to the client. As close as possible per Ben’s comments in the Pricing Power series. The CFP-type skills are the ticket there (and, ironically, the oft-derided “soft” skills like writing and communication). From my experience the CFA/CFP combo is nice if you don’t mind taking tests and jumping through hoops.

0
CMG
Member
CMG

Couldn’t agree more, and thanks for your insight. I’m ~10 years into my career, and the decline in soft skills coupled with advances in “hard” skills of those coming out of college has been noticeable. Which is ironic, since the soft skills are what will set people apart going forward (in my opinion, and has been discussed around ET often). In the business valuation world, a DCF is a DCF — anyone can set that up in Excel. Give me someone who can understand and communicate the limitations of a DCF any time.

2+
cartoox
Member
cartoox

Just my opinion but I feel its part of a larger trend where younger people essentially interact with other’s via their ‘screens’. And are therefore almost always in their heads….
The soft skills so essential to human interaction come from actual human interaction…..
Our bodies have to learn this. Not our logical minds. And our bodies only learn through experience. Whether is learning to play tennis, the piano, or interacting productively with other humans.

1+
CMG
Member
CMG

I firmly believe that the first and last 5-10 minutes of a meeting, where all the BSing takes place, are the most helpful to a client relationship. And the more commoditized the service offering, the more important these interactions are. Young folks learn this lesson, some sooner than others.

1+
Rafa Mayer
Member
Rafa Mayer

This post by Rusty seems like Fiat News. I wonder if Rusty is working secretly on the side for the Ice Cream Manufacturers of America association. In fact, two farmers writing about financial markets? Sounds like some sort of weird cult out there in the boonies of Ct.

Y’know Rusty…there are some of us love eating Brussels Sprouts raw (although as you well know I do not object to lots of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on my food…who knew there was such awesome BBQ in Fairfield!)

Of course, I love liver too. So take my comments with more than a grain of salt (hah!).

🙂

(Loved the piece and agreed with it…just had to counteract all the hating on Brussels sprouts…plus woke up feeling snarky). If you can’t snark your pack, then what’s the use of being in one?)

1+
Scott
Member
Scott

If it makes you finance types feel better, over here in real estate investment we have the same cartoons, and there are days I feel like the only value I bring is my fly fishing skills and access to duck hunting spots. And the cartoon can adversely select – Tell your investment committee a guy actually needs ExpertAdvice!, and DeepMarketExpertise! and you’re in for a lengthy discussion about the validity of his personal financial statement.

0
Mark Kahn
Member
Mark Kahn

As always, really smart note and, darn, the comment section is incredible too. A few small thoughts / adds. The soft-skills will always triumph in building a client book. Yes, a few people will respond to your incredible credentials, amazing knowledge and detailed plan, etc., but most will respond to someone who simply appears smart and likable as most clients can’t tell the difference between deep and surface knowledge of the biz. It’s not an all or none as almost all the successful advisors / managers for retail to institutional clients have a good-to-very-good knowledge base for their type of client, but once you have that (and many, many do), the soft skills are what bring in and keep the client. I knew if a client was going to be a good fit for me if I could say something like this and the client responded positively: “You just heard our presentation with all the hard and (we hope) smart work that went into it, but let’s boil it down to what matters – your key goal (maybe two goals) are X and these [explained very simply] are the one or two things that we will do to hopefully achieve that (or mitigate the risk that we won’t).” It wasn’t BS, it was as clear eyes, full heart as I could get and the client response told me if it was going to be a collaborative and rewarding relationship or not. Oh, and I don’t care how much you salt,… Read more »

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