We manage our clients' assets with a dual attempt that is unusual: in the short-term (12-18 months), our attempt is to try to preserve capital, while in the longer-term (5-10 years, i.e., over a full economic cycle), we seek to perform better than equity indices (the MSCI All Country World Index in the case of our global strategy and the MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Index in the case of our international strategy).
The global strategy is typically used by investors who are looking for an “all-weather fund” where we are given the latitude to decide how much we should have invested in the U.S. versus outside the U.S. The international strategy is typically used by investors who practice asset allocation and want to decide for themselves how much should be allocated to a domestic manager and how much should be allocated to a pure “international” (i.e., non-U.S.) manager yet at the same time are looking for a lower risk – and lower volatility – exposure to international markets than may be obtained from a more traditional international fund.
We believe our investment approach is very different from the traditional approach of most investment managers. We are trying to deliver returns that are as absolute as possible, i.e. returns that try to be as resilient as possible in down markets, while many of our competitors try to deliver good relative performance, i.e., try to beat a benchmark, and thus would be fine with being down 15% if their benchmark is down 20%.
Why do we have such an unusual strategy (which, incidentally, is not easy to carry out)? Because we believe this strategy makes sense for many investors. We are fond of the quote by Mark Twain: “There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: the first time is when he cannot afford to; the second time is when he can.” We realize that many investors cannot tolerate high volatility and appreciate that “life’s bills do not always come at market tops.” This strategy also appeals to us at International Value Advisers since we “eat our own cooking” for a significant part of our savings (invested in IVA products) and we have an extreme aversion to losing money.
Here is how we try to implement our strategy: