How to Select the Optimal Valuation Method to Build Better Price Targets (Part 1 of 3)

Buy-and-Sell-300x166In a prior post I noted all stock picking best practices (or “tips”) can be put into one of the four elements of our TIER™ framework (see image below).

If you’re asking “why should I care?”, I’d reply that the best stock pickers have a consistent philosophy and methodology for picking stocks. If you already have one, that’s great, but if you’re looking for one, you might want to start here and make modifications to fit your style or investment philosophy. This 3-part series focuses on the “T” of the TIER™ framework shown below.

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The Stewardship of Wealth: Successful Private Wealth Management for Investors and Their Advisors

StewardshipofWealthIn his latest book, The Stewardship of Wealth: Successful Private Wealth Management for Investors and Their Advisors, Gregory Curtis goes beyond a traditional study on investment policy, asset selection and monitoring, and risk management of and the fiduciary issues involved in wealth management by thoroughly investigating the aspects of stewardship of the wealth of prosperous families. Curtis is the chairman and founder of Pittsburgh-based Greycourt & Co., a wealth advisory firm that serves high-net-worth families and select endowments on a global basis. This book builds on his Creative Capital: Managing Private Wealth in a Complex World. It provides a moral, ethical, economic, and investment compass for the wealthy.

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When Fear of Bonds Exceeds Fear of Stocks

Worried about your bonds? You’re not alone.

In speaking with our investors in recent weeks, the most universal theme by far was concern over their bond holdings. Historically low interest rates coupled with the prospect of the first Fed rate hike since 2006 (“rising rates”) were causing anxiety. And most importantly, the average bond fund was down in the first half of the year. There’s nothing more fear inducing to investors than short-term losses.

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Going Beyond GIPS

GIPSGlobal Investment Performance 
Standards, better known as GIPS, are a 
voluntary set of standards established to
 create transparency in the calculation and
 presentation of performance. From 
improving the credibility of compliant investment firms to providing clients the ability to fairly evaluate the performance of these firms, GIPS has arguably become the gold standard in investment performance. As client awareness has risen, demand for GIPS is pushing investment firms in becoming compliant in order to maintain their competitiveness. While this is a positive in an industry that sorely needs standards that encourage fairness and credibility, it would be short sighted for firms to stop at GIPS when it comes to their performance. We must remember that performance is not a part of GIPS but rather it is GIPS that is a part of performance. Meaning that, in the ever-growing field of investment performance, stopping at GIPS would rob a firm of maximizing the benefits of performance that go beyond GIPS.

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Can YOU simplify investment commentary better than this?

I am not perfect. I don’t have all of the answers for how to best simplify the complex sentences that abound in investment commentary and related publications. However, we would all benefit if the smart investment professionals could communicate more clearly and economically.

To spur conversation, I’m posting some before-and-after versions of sentences inspired by what I’ve read in online and printed investment pieces. Most of my tweaks are minor. They don’t dramatically ratchet up the sentences’ effectiveness. However, their simplicity means that they demonstrate techniques that would be easy for anyone to implement.

If you’re trying to improve your writing skills, I hope that you’ll find some inspiration. If you’re a veteran writer or editor, perhaps you can suggest better alternatives.

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Growth of Large Companies May Be Driving Wage Inequality


The global trend toward wage inequality may be driven by a rise in the share of people employed by the world’s largest companies, suggest Professor Holger Mueller and his co-authors, Paige P. Ouimet of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and Elena Simintzi of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, in their new working paper, “Wage Inequality and Firm Growth.”

Using a proprietary data set of employee pay at a broad cross-section of UK firms (both private and public) from 2004 to 2013, the researchers examined how the wage differences between jobs of differing skill levels within a single firm (“within-firm skill premia”) varied between firms and over time. They found that the wage differences between high-skill and low- or mid-skill jobs increased with firm size. As company size grew (measured by either number of employees or sales – both had the same results), the wages paid for high-skill jobs increased significantly, while the wages paid for low- or mid-skill jobs remained the same or decreased slightly. For example, the highest-level job at a company in the 75th percentile of company size carried a wage 280 percent greater than the highest-level job at a company in the 25th percentile. The result of this phenomenon is that as firms grow larger, a divide widens between the high-level and both the mid- and low-level job wages, driving greater wage inequality.

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Interviewing Tips

Ok, your resume and cover letter have gotten your foot into the door – exactly what they are supposed to be used for. As for getting the job – well that's entirely up to what happens during the interview.

Do your research! And be prepared.

Prior to the interview, you need to do research on the organization and the position your are interviewing for. Only by doing your research can you ask and respond to questions in an intelligent and informed manner. The research will also allow you to assess how you “fit” with your potential employer.

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Review: The New Economics of Liquidity and Financial Frictions by David Adler

The New Economics of Liquidity and Financial Frictions is a book about a new branch of economics that is largely a synthesis of macro and finance. In many ways, it is a radical departure from the older, frictionless approach still prevalent in economic textbooks and most of academia. This book provides a new understanding and approach to asset pricing, risk measurement and management, central banking policy, and the overall working of today’s economy, including questions of financial stability.

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Banks’ Financial Reporting and Financial System Stability by Prof. Viral Acharya

Vacharya_photoThe use of accounting measures and disclosures in bank contracts and in regulation suggests that the quality of banks’ financial reporting is central to the efficacy of market discipline and non-market mechanisms in limiting bank debt and risk overhang in good economic times, as well as mitigating the consequences of risk overhang that could compromise the stability of the financial system in downturns. Professors Viral Acharya and Stephen Ryan examine how research on banks’ financial reporting, informed by the financial economics literature on banking, can generate insights about how to enhance the stability of the financial system.

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Cover Letter Tips

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.08.10 PM
The cover letter is probably the most underrated component of the job search. If written well, it can pique the curiosity of the employer and motivate him/her to carefully read your resume. If written poorly, the resume may never get read.

Basic Tips

  1. Write to a specific individual - never Dear Sir or Madam.
  2. Tailor your letters - don't mass produce them.
  3. Keep it brief - 3 or 4 SHORT paragraphs will suffice.
  4. Make sure to use terminology that is not too technical - this might come off as arrogant and demonstrates insensitivity to the audience.
  5. Use paper and print which match your resume. Use the same header.

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Struggling to Find Good Stock Calls? 10 Tips to Find More Time

“I have trouble coming up with good stock calls,” is one of the most common concerns I hear when starting a new one-on-one coaching assignment with an analyst.

There are dozens of skills required for great stock picking, but only one that burdens almost all analysts, regardless of experience level or geographic location: time management. To some, the concept of “time management” isn't worthy of being "learned" because they assume it's just a matter of using common sense…and that’s probably why time management is too often overlooked as a source of individual career advancement. If my hypothesis is right, we should coin a new buzzword to make this critically-important skill sound sexier; perhaps one of these:

  • “Efficiency Re-engineering”
  • “Prioritization Intensification”
  • “Accelerated Productivity”

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Book Review: Lodewijk Petram's The World’s First Stock Exchange

If you have the common, errant idea of the Dutch as universally meticulous, arrogant and deadly boring people, you will not be disappointed by L. Petram’s book, The World’s First Stock Exchange.  Happily of a “European” size—i.e. less than 300 pages—it might though bore you to death. What might have been the fascinating tale of colorful Conraad von Beuningen, a follower of Spinoza sent on ambassadorial missions to both France and England, and eventually Mayor of Amsterdam who went mad after losing his fortune in short selling, is reduced to the technicalities of how he avoided prohibition against short selling. Yet, it is necessary reading and a valuable reference source for scholars with a serious interest in markets, exchanges and financial history.

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Résumé Tips

WallStreetTrainingThis page is intended to serve as a reference for corporate related information, stressing the necessary preparations before the job hunt. This page is NOT intended to teach you how to find a job or where to look for a job. This page has been built with two assumptions in mind. Please keep them in mind as you read this page:

  1. The audience has a clear idea of the type of job they want
  2. The audience is aware of the skills that they possess, but would like tips on how to communicate this across in the job search.
Resume Rule: Never Lie
That's right – never lie on your resume. This cannot be stressed enough. It's the easiest way to lose an interview and is sufficient grounds for dismissal once on the job.

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11 Things Ultra-Productive People Do Differently

When it comes to productivity, we all face the same challenge—there are only 24 hours in a day. Yet some people seem to have twice the time; they have an uncanny ability to get things done. Even when juggling multiple projects, they reach their goals without fail.

Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose. —Thomas Edison

It feels incredible when you leave the office after an ultra-productive day. With the right approach, you can make this happen every day. You don’t need to work longer or even do more—you just need to work smarter. Try these 11 productivity hacks that ultra-productive people rely on:

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The Best-Seller for Equity Analysts to Master Their Profession

The most highly acclaimed and comprehensive learning tool available, Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts is an on-the-job reference filled with the practical knowledge and specific tasks buy-side and sell-side equity analysts need to claim their place among the most highly regarded in their industry.

Most equity research analysts learn their trade on the job, by apprenticing under a senior analyst or portfolio manager. However, these senior producers often have little time to train new analysts. Those who do have the time may not have developed research skills worth emulating (after all, over half of money managers underperform their benchmarks). Furthermore, in modern day equity research, analysts without a mentor don’t have time to learn on their own through trial and error because the stakes are too high.

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