Belief and Behaviour

One of my standard interview questions – for the owners of businesses into which we invest OR potential employees is “What are you passionate about?”

“Making money” is not the right answer for either category. I want to know about the character of the person that I am talking to – not about their bank balance. And if making money is what someone is passionate about then I can usually be fairly certain that not losing my money is not something that they are similarly enamoured with. The fact is that our passions, what we believe, influences how we act. It is central to who we are.

The only investment that we tipped last year that failed was one where I broke my cardinal rule and didn´t meet all the executive directors. I spoke to them all, met all but one, but didn´t meet them all. Six months later I am still furious with myself because had I met this guy I would have pulled investor money out 3 months earlier and avoided 50% of the losses that followed. At least four of the investors that lost money on that investment were retail investors and couldn´t afford to lose their capital.

Fifteen years ago today my life was fundamentally changed when I decided that instead of worshipping myself (!) I would do my best to follow the teachings and person of Jesus. I often fail but my beliefs have fundamentally changed the way that I live, work, and invest. I am no longer answerable only to myself and, given human nature, that can only be a good thing.

In the case of last year´s failed investment those beliefs, that accountability, means that Investment Owl and the Fund provider will be working together to repay all the capital losses of the four retail investors. We have no legal obligation and possibly no moral obligation but it is the right thing to do and the thing that we are doing.

And so that single investment failure is both a painful and an expensive lesson for me.

And the lesson for investors is that if you´re investment advisor/promoter/marketer/whatever isn´t committed to meeting with all the people behind the investment that they are recommending then you shouldn´t invest.

Incidentally, I also try and meet with all our investors so that they can make the same judgement about Investment Owl. If you would like to meet and talk about any and all things financial then let me know………