Many of you already know my business partner, Tim — the founder of Global Value Hunter and the African Lions Fund. He has also been actively writing for www.sovereignman.com since 2011, and managing investments for a small number of clients since 2009. I first met him in 2001 when I was transferred from Lehman Brothers’ Tokyo office to their Hong Kong equity research office. Tim and I started work at Lehman Brothers’ Hong Kong equity research department on the same day.
Tim was employed as the research department’s Supervisory Analyst (“SA”). The role of an SA was to vet all equity research reports (authored by the analysts) for consistency in logic, articulation of the message, and to ensure they did not have any statements that could get the Firm in trouble. All research product had to have Tim’s (or Michael’s) “green light” before they were sent to “buy side” clients. In short, Tim’s role was to take a big red pen to the research work produced prior to publication. He was good at his work.
My title at Lehman was “Business Manager” and my primary role was to help turn around and improve Lehman’s Asian equity research business. I engaged at all levels – from the back office, clients, the research product to the analysts. Some of the analysts were the big earners you see giving interviews on CNN and CNBC. They were usually the ones that were hardest to deal with.
With the march of time, I got to know Tim. I found his insights, in most cases, better than the analysts’. He was and continues to be an exceptional “stock-picker.” He wrote well and conveyed his message succinctly. His knowledge base had breadth and depth. I remember him talking about gold in 2001 way before its historical run up and hearing his frustrations on the work Lehman produced and, importantly, what should be happening to win the clients over to help them make money. Tim became my “go-to” person, rather than a highly-paid analyst, when trying to understand a personal investment decision I was making.
I enjoyed the work and culture at Lehman Brothers. It was a very flat reporting structure where you had to make yourself relevant and carve out your own niche. There were many interesting personalities and characters, and looking back, fun stories to be told (not so fun if you were on the receiving end of a dispute that needed to be resolved).
There were also the few late nights with Tim and other colleagues at Hong Kong’s favourite “watering hole,” Wan Chai, simply to de-stress. On one occasion, my birthday, we walked straight from a long drinking session to work the next day to conduct the 7am daily morning meeting and get the research product out. The culture and people made Lehman Brothers one of the best employers I had worked for – many people there certainly punched above their weight.
Tim and I lost touch briefly after we left Lehman in 2003. We reconnected in 2005 when I came across his “Rim of Fire” investment newsletter. It is amazing what can happen and the people you meet when you write a newsletter! It’s one of the reasons that motivated me to start Double Digit Dividends.
Over the course of the last 15 years I have got to know Tim better. We travelled together across six continents. And as Tim said in his recent article at Global Value Hunter, while we have different personalities, we have developed trust and tend to do business on a handshake. We don’t need a contract and we have a deep trust of one another. Tim now manages some of my growth and value stock portfolios. Together with Eunice (based in Koh Samui, Thailand), they both act as my SA here at Double Digit Dividends. Both of them no doubt shall be reading and editing this journal and I ask of them to please be gentle on the use of the red pen!!
Tim is an independent thinker. He is not dragged by those “wild horses” Plato refers to in his lessons. Speaking with, travelling with, and engaging with Tim’s many friends across the world has certainly made me become more libertarian in my political thinking. He has also expanded my investment thinking and helped with the discovery of more unusual opportunities.
Tim is currently “stuck” in a spacious villa in a semi-rural spot in south Bali. It is away from the “noise” of the big cities and gives him time to spend with his young family, to write, think and analyze the investment world only to (usually) be punctuated every four weeks with overseas trips mainly to follow up in person on investments and clients, or attend board meetings (Tim serves on two ASX-listed company boards of directors).
My journey with Tim, meeting other like-minded shareholders/investors, has seen me be a respondent to the Australian Takeovers Panel and a shareholder-activist to industry bodies. There are a few management sharks (basically bullies) out there, and the message is simple – you will not be granted one millimeter from shareholders when you abuse your corporate responsibilities.
Tim and I have now embarked on a new project. You will note at the bottom of the Double Digit Dividends’ website “ST Funds Management Limited | ABN 65 154 454 092 | AFSL No 416778.” We have purchased a firm which holds an “AFSL,” Australian Financial Services License.
ST Funds Management Limited is an Australian unlisted public company. The license permits us to provide general financial advice to wholesale and retail investors in Australia. From this, Global Value Hunter and Double Digit Dividends were conceived. And now Tim is finally realizing his long-held ambition of launching a fund focused on the emerging markets of sub-Saharan Africa (bar South Africa). Things are looking rosy, which is a remarkable blessing in this current economy. I am looking forward to where this journey leads us, including the launch of another fund, focussed on companies from all over the world with high-caliber managements and businesses that generate fat, juicy double-digit dividends.
So here’s a personal “thank you” to Tim for rowing my investment boat over the years, especially the last three whilst I attended to family matters and the invaluable advice and support during my tough days and months. You (and the few VERY special others not mentioned in these journals) have shown great wisdom, care and provided medicine for my soul.
Until next time,
In life, your happiness can be measured by the depth of your relationships with your family and friends.
Kids, you were both tiny then but I hope you still remember that time when we, as a family, saw the movie “Cars” in 2006. Below are the lyrics to the movie’s theme song “Life is a Highway.” It reflects my experiences since Lehman Brothers and mine with you. There is plenty to learn from it.
Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won’t hesitate to break down the garden gate
There’s not much time left today
Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
Well, I want to drive it all night long
Through all these cities and all these towns
It’s in my blood and it’s all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road and these are the hands
From Mozambique to those Memphis nights
The Khyber Pass to Vancouver’s lights
Knock me …