Peter McCluskey (peter_bayesian) wrote,
Peter McCluskey

The money managing profession

I spent much of the day with a group of Alcor members visiting the misleadingly named California Academy of Sciences (it's mostly aquaria and botanical gardens). It was full, and not at all worth the 1.5 hours it took to get in. The one interesting part was when a butterfly landed on my ear and stayed there for about 15 seconds. (Butterflies seem to like me - here's a a California Tortoiseshell on my chest).
But it was worth going because I got some important information from Mike Korns (who is about to retire as a hedge fund manager) about the effort required to make money managing investments for other people. I've talked with him before about whether I should try that and had been undecided (and in no hurry to decide until market conditions appeared more favorable).

He had previously led me to be somewhat pessimistic about the kind of people who might be interested in having me manage their money (e.g. reports that they often switch to whatever manager has been doing well recently; anyone smart enough to succeed at such trend following strategies wouldn't have much reason to pay someone else to manage their money). Today he mentioned that he typically spent 3 to 4 hours per client per month managing clients, which sounded like it was mostly marketing himself to existing clients.
I can sympathize with someone who wants a lot of information about a money manager before making the initial decision to trust the manager. But when trying to understand someone who wants additional information other than reports of results, I conjecture that the main reason is they are trying to apportion responsibility so that they can take credit for good results while blaming the manager for bad results. Even if there's some other reason, it's unlikely that the kind of people Mike describes are people I'd pretend to respect.
Sympathizing with mediocre investors could easily impair my ability to focus on questions that are being ignored by most investors, and make me more vulnerable to fads.
Further reflection influenced by some Taleb-like ideas we discussed leads me doubt that many sensible people would be willing to have their money invested based simply on past results (there are too many tempting strategies that work well for 5 or 10 years and then fail badly). Mike says systems that are fully disclosed never beat the market (I'm unconvinced, but I doubt I can get rich trying to disprove it). There are probably some ways a money manager could convince a wise person of his skills (a good test for rationality?), but they aren't widely understood.
Tags: cryonics, investing

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