I do quite a bit of travelling, and while it can be a grind, I think it is enormously beneficial to have face to face contact. Let me tell you what I mean.
A couple years ago I took in a Manulife mutual funds due diligence conference in New York. Part of the reason that I went to this particular conference was to renew my acquaintances with Third Avenue Management, a highly regarded money manager that we have placed a fair amount of money with. But I already know the Third Avenue guys. I know where they are coming from, and I have full confidence in their capabilities. The bigger part of why I choose this conference was simply because I wanted to go to New York. So I already knew I would like what I was going to hear from Third Avenue, but what surprised me was I found a few other opportunities that I could get behind. Following that conference we placed some money in these additional investments, and it has worked out exceptionally well.
Contrast that with another firm’s due diligence conference that I attended. This firm is a major global player, with a very broad product shelf. I went to this conference fully expecting to find something there that I would like. But when I heard first-hand from their money managers I reached a completely different conclusion. It’s not that this is a bad firm; it’s just that they just don’t fit in with What We Believe.
I recently returned from a Due Diligence conference with Empire Life, and it reinforced yet again why I prefer to personally meet with the people that we entrust money to. It was another validation that these are the exactly type of people that I want to work with. Hard-working, genuine, caring, and very, very smart. One of my tweets from the conference was that I “Love being with people of common convictions in world awash with asinine sensationalism of fleeting & inconsequential duration.”
There is an abundance of information out there. But when you are face to face with people you can see who is authentic. That’s the real value of face to face communication.
Brad Brain, CFP, R.F.P., CLU, CH.F.C., FCSI