It's officially been one year since I left my corporate job at Micron to focus full time as a financial advisor at my own firm, Polaris Capital Management (PCM) I feel it's an apt time to write the anniversary blog. The goal of this blog is to share my journey as an individual investor, eventually culminating in the birth of PCM. It is less about PCM and more about how I got here. This blog includes a brief personal story and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
The Journey of an individual investor -
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” -- Isaac Newton
The quote above sums up my education as an individual investor - I was severely helped and influenced by the writings of Ben Graham, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Mohnish Pabrai, Aswath Damodaran and Joel Greenblatt.
I read my first book on investing in 2003 but, it was not until 2005 that I really ventured outside of Mutual Funds into the world of individual stocks. Between 2005-2006 I was dabbling in stocks from CNBC recommendations and other sources; not grounded in a sound investing framework but speculation and guess work. During this time, I was recommended (by a mentor), Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor and Warren Buffett’s Annual Shareholder Letters. By end of 2007 I had soaked up bulk of Buffett's annual letters, serendipitous given what was about to hit us in 2008-2009. The learning I had, gave me the courage to invest through the great recession.
My investing acumen took a step function after reading Mr. Buffett, but what skewed it exponentially (between 2010-2013) was assimilating Jeff Bezos’ annual letters. In my opinion, Bezos used Buffett’s capital allocation principles on steroids – if you can create more from every dollar ploughed back into the business do so, even if you are showing losses for a long time. It was always day one at Amazon!
To keep the blog concise, I will use the postscript with some pictures from my journal and on my learning curve, to illustrate the phases of growth. The journey continued onward and upward with my MBA and other knowledge sources on investing and financial advice.
Birth of PCM:
After obtaining my MBA in 2017 I was convinced that I wanted to start a financial advisory firm focused on portfolio management and asset allocation. But I was equally thrilled with the developments in the semiconductor Industry and my career at Micron. Every year though, I was bothered by the fact that I was not taking my entrepreneurship journey. It took me five years, until 2022 to take that big step.
For those in the finance industry it's common knowledge on how to look up a firm's progress. For the rest of the world here is a not-so-secret way to find out - a set of forms called “ADV”. Financial advisors are required to file these forms with the appropriate regulators and can be accessed via a search here.
For PCM, one useful metric is Assets Under Management (AUM) which stands at $3.63 Million at the end of 2022. Of course, be aware that this is just the assets under PCM discretion and not all the money under advisement. The role of PCM and other financial advisors goes beyond merely asset allocation and managing money.
At PCM our client’s financial goal is always top of mind and we will do the best for our client's financial health. I expect to build PCM to endure over decades from now and in the process create meaningful financial health and wealth for our clients. The goal is to do this for as long as possible, like Charlie Munger has said - " I want to know where I would die so I can never go there".
Thank you for reading!
The journal: (pardon the handwriting & the grammar)
In 2009 I started a journal; meant just for me to learn and look back. Little did I know that one day I would use this for the anniversary blog of my firm.
"This is a book for an account of my tryst with the stock market and the American economy. It's also about a brave journey to beat the Dow and the SNP, by a common investor. I am trying to adopt a method successfully employed by Graham and Buffett i.e. value investing. I hope that I can sustain this journey for a long period of time and successfully."
The Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B) purchase
I did not comprehend the value of what I had learnt and the timelessness of those principles until and after the great financial crises, when I started seeing how well good businesses can do. It was November 2009 when I finally invested into Berkshire's stock, the note below is a few months after that.
" BRK-B: As they say, your don't recognize what's in plain sight because it's in plain sight. It took me 2 years to put any money into my Guru's stock. Was an easy play on short term gain when it was decided for a 50:1 split, plus it would enter SNP 500 --> managers (Mutual funds/ETFs) have to buy this stock. Prediction:$80 stock for sure, could go up to $100. Bought it at $66+ so am happy so far."
The learning curve
This blog was written by Adarsh Shyamsundar, Owner & Financial Advisor, Polaris Capital Management, LLC, a Financial Advisory firm based out of El Dorado Hills, California.
No part of this blog should be treated as financial advice. Please refer to a financial advisor/fiduciary for any actions regarding investing on any equities mentioned in this article. Adarsh Shyamsundar and/or Polaris Capital Management have positions in the securities mentioned in this article.