We’re 15! Our five original funds marked their 15-year anniversary this quarter, and our Founders Fund turned 10. Below, Tom Bradley reflects back on a decade and a half of managing money in his quarterly letter to investors.
Neil and I cut the ribbon on our new office at 1747 West 3rd on April 10, 2007. A lot has changed since that glorious spring day and yet, much has stayed the same.
I’ll start with the changes. When we opened our doors, few financial firms had a blog, let alone used it as a key communications tool. And delivering client statements on-line was just getting started.
Since then, the amount of assets needed to get an advisor has soared, robo-investing is now a thing, and the cost of investing has come down with low (or no) trading commissions and increased use of exchange-traded funds. More Canadians are doing it on their own, although many are speculating as opposed to investing.
When we started, the Canadian dollar was above par, and the prime rate was 6%. Both numbers declined in concert with dramatic changes to the world order. Countries are more heavily indebted today. China is now flexing its muscles while the U.S. has seemingly lost its way. Concerns about unemployment have shifted to a fear of labour shortages (despite the rapid digitization of the economy). ESG factors (environment; social; governance), which were not on the radar in 2007, have gained a foothold in the management of both corporations and portfolios. And markets are more prone to volatility, partly due to enormous amounts of borrowed capital driven by complex algorithms.
What hasn’t changed? Well, we’re still at 1747 (plus our Toronto office since 2009) and our team has grown around the original core of owners (excluding my wife and I, employees own 50% of the firm).
Investors still obsess about the Fed and overreact to news events. Fortunately, noise and volatility have little impact on long-term returns. On any chart, markets trend up and to the right.
As always, many fads came and went, each accompanied by a wave of FOMO. Investors were implored to buy index-linked notes, cannabis, SPACs, cryptocurrencies, oil and gold at various times, and ETFs using leverage, covered calls, and Cathy Wood.
In essence, investors faced many changes and challenges, but the key elements of investing remained the same, as did our core principles and investment philosophy. We remain:
- Long-term focused – we now have 15-year returns for most of our funds
- Aligned with our clients – 92% of our money is invested in the funds
- Transparent and jargon light in our communications
- Committed to fair fees with no commissions or additional charges
- Available to provide a steady hand when needed
The problems that we tried to solve in 2007 are still issues for Canadian investors. Too many portfolios are not linked to a goal. Reporting is far from transparent. Sales is rewarded over service. And while fees have come down, they remain frustratingly high in some areas, particularly where advice is involved. I’m proud to say we’ve fought the industry inertia and addressed these shortcomings, for 2,400 families at least. We have a remarkable group of clients who are interesting, engaged and sticking to their plan.
Going forward, Steadyhand will continue to adapt to the changing world but rest assured, we’ll stick to a simple model that revolves around you, our clients. Next stop: 20 years.
We encourage you to read the rest of our Q1 Report, where we provide more details on our specific strategies and what we've been doing in each of our funds.
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