Posts

MC Stories – Poker Play – Optimizing your investment approach

I am fascinated by the markets and all things related to investing. I have always enjoyed solving puzzles and various brainteasers. I enjoy deep-thinking games and activities that involve a constant change of information. One of my favorite games to play is poker. I love the game for the challenge it presents—playing the cards, playing the people, playing the odds—all while not letting emotions get the best of you.

With each round of betting, new information is learned and a new decision tree is spawned. Each hand delivers a range of potential outcomes and, depending on how you play the hand, you can either end up adding chips to your stack or biding your time for a better opportunity. Poker is a game of skill; however, even the best, most disciplined players will not win every time because there is a level of uncertainty with each hand played. Despite that uncertainty in the short term, over the long term the right strategy combined with a disciplined approach often becomes a winning strategy.

In this way, poker is very similar to investing. Having the right investment strategy and staying disciplined often leads to long-term success. In poker, you combine various cards of different suits and numbers to create the best hand. With investing, your “hand” is a diversified portfolio and it contains a combination of various asset classes (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.). When investing (just like in poker), some combinations are better than others, based on the specific goal. Depending on what type of poker you are playing, sometimes the best hand wins and other times, technically speaking, the worst hand wins (Razz and 2-7 Triple Draw, for instance). Similarly, when it comes to investing, if you do not know the objective or the goal, then it is often difficult to know which “hand” of assets will give you the best chance to achieve the outcome you are seeking.

To have long-term success in poker or investing you must have a disciplined approach. Oftentimes people believe poker to be a game of excitement and thrills; however, those who play poker professionally are affectionately referred to as “grinders” for spending long hours playing through the monotony of poker, hand after hand, in order to make a living. When people think of investing, they conjure images of day traders or getting rich overnight, but, when done correctly, investing is boring. As the renowned investor George Soros once quipped, “If investing is entertaining, if you’re having fun, you’re probably not making any money. Good investing is boring.” Whether playing poker or investing, making educated decisions based on the information available as well as the probabilities related to historical outcomes is necessary to consistently make decisions with confidence.

In the short term, it is difficult, if not impossible, to consistently predict the outcome. For instance, during a single day, the markets will either be positive or negative, and in poker you can do everything right, with the odds in your favor, and still end up losing a hand. If this continually happens, without a plan or a strategy, it can be frustrating and can sometimes lead to poor decisions driven by emotions. In poker, a player making emotional decisions no longer based on strategy is considered to be playing “on tilt,” whereas an investor making emotional decisions is often acting out of fear—fear of losing in a market downturn or fear of missing out (FOMO) during a market rally. Regardless of the activity, poker or investing, emotional decisions typically lead to poor decisions with unpredictable outcomes.

The goal then is to be aware of these emotions so when they appear you can objectively evaluate your decisions to determine whether the correct action is being taken. How do you do this? In poker, you can work with a coach to evaluate your play and review how you played during specific situations to ensure you are always playing with the optimal strategy. In investing, you can work with an advisor to create a financial plan based on your specific goals to determine your appropriate long-term strategy. Either way, having an independent third party can be a valuable resource to keep you on track.

Uncertainty can be challenging, but it can also create opportunities. Remember this the next time you get together for your monthly poker game or are analyzing your investments. In order to capitalize on an opportunity, you must first identify the goal. Then, with the goal in mind, you can create and implement the correct strategy. That will allow you to stay disciplined and consistently take the appropriate actions. And then, when emotions come into play (and they always will), to improve your chances for long-term success, have a system or person in place to help with decisions to counteract those emotions. Do this consistently and over time you will find success at the tables and in your portfolio.

 

MC Stories – A 22-Year Love Affair with Alternatives

I met Lon Morton, the eponymous founder of Morton Capital Management, in 1984 when our family business was looking for a pension administration company. My father and I then started investing with Morton Capital in 1987, just three weeks before something called Black Monday, when the markets dropped about 50%. I remember calling Lon and asking, “What do we do now?” He said, “We do nothing.  Unfortunately, these things can happen, no one is able to predict it, but we are going to stay the course as markets tend to work themselves out.” With hindsight being 20-20, it was good advice as the markets did work themselves out and we had solid returns for the next few years.

I sold my company in 1996 and left in 1998, telling Lon that I was intended to retire at the ripe old age of 40. He firmly told me that I was NOT going to retire and that I was going to work with him at Morton Capital. We had worked together investing for many years, and he wanted to tap my experience in managing a company. Little did I know how wonderful a relationship and lifetime adventure it would turn out to be.

As luck would have it, I started investing my final company sale payout in the second half of 1998 and was met by a significant downturn in stocks. Disappointed, I came home to my wife and said, “I will never let the stock market be the sole dictator of our financial future.”  Thus, my love affair with alternative investments began.

With some effort, we survived the three years of the Y2K market crash and lived through the great financial crisis of 2008. Now we are faced with probably the biggest health and financial crisis in our lifetime: pandemic. With most of the world shut down, it will take all our combined resolve to overcome and beat the virus and get back to our normal lives. Having lived through a number of these disruptions in the markets, I firmly believe that our resolve and perseverance on the health side, and our asset allocation decisions on the financial side, will win the day!

Much of this is made possible by the incredibly hard work and dedication of the entire Morton Capital team. Being the senior partner, it is gratifying to see all our younger teammates working so hard and sensing the responsibility of service to our clients and making sure that they are okay. I have been fortunate to work with many good teams in the past, but there is no doubt that the current team at Morton Capital is outstanding. It makes me proud to be part of that diligence and compassion. I am even prouder of Morton Capital’s recent Give Back initiative: a community outreach to offer free consultations, advice, and guidance to help our community in this time of need. If you know of a friend or loved one in need of some direction, please see our Facebook or LinkedIn page for more information or just click here: Community Give Back Video

Before 2020, and after 22 years at Morton Capital, I figured I had mostly seen it all in the financial markets.  Leave it to a pandemic to prove me wrong!  But, the one thing that remains constant for me is my love affair with alternative investments and how they help round out my investments and exposure to a world where there are never any guarantees what will be coming next.

MC Stories – The Value of Diversifying, as Learned on a Farm

You may have heard about diversifying later in life when you started to manage your investments. I learned the value of diversifying much earlier, on the farm.

I grew up on a family-run farm in Iowa where we worked hard and played hard, together as a team.

On the farm, I learned that there is a natural cycle to things, and you can’t fight Mother Nature. If it’s winter and there’s a snowstorm raging around outside — that is a very good time to stay sheltered inside where you can be snug and warm and maybe enjoy popcorn and games with the family. It’s a very bad time to try to plant crops or expect anything to grow. But during those stormy winter days when our crops could not produce, my family figured out another means to survive. We took care of our milk-producing livestock and our hens who laid eggs – both of which gave us a nice source of income through the winter months. Then, no matter how long and cold the winter might seem, and no matter how dead those barren trees looked outside we knew we would be provided for until the harvest came. And as long as those trees had good roots, there would be a new cycle of growth.

When you apply these lessons to investing, you realize that it’s important to have diversified assets with some investments providing steady income and others providing longer-term, larger growth. And, all assets have a natural cycle. So, like Mother Nature, you can’t fight the cycles but you can be grateful for the growth cycle and patient during the “winter” as you wait for that next cycle of renewal.

Financial Bites – Life Insurance and Long-Term Care Video

We kicked off 2020 strong with the fifth session in our new Financial Bites lunch series, Life Insurance and Long-Term Care! The thing no one wants to pay for but everyone needs, life insurance, was this Financial Bites’ main course. Our advisors provided important how-to knowledge to ensure your dollar goes farther and that you get the most out of your insurance policy. Thank you to all our attendees as well as our outstanding wealth advisors, Kevin Rex and Patrice Benning, who presented.

Click on the above image or visit this link to watch our Life Insurance and Long-Term Care session:

https://vimeo.com/mortoncapital/fblifeinsuranceandlongtermcare

We hope you find this video valuable. Please feel free to share this link with family and friends and on your social media channels. Any feedback you have would be extremely valuable to our team, including any recommendations of topics you would like us to present on in the future. Financial Bites is a complimentary series and our upcoming sessions are filling up fast, so we encourage you to RSVP soon. Click on the link below to view all sessions and RSVP today!

https://mortoncapital.com/financialbites

We hope to see you soon and thank you for your continued support of Morton Capital.

The MC Team

White Paper – Multiple Advisors vs. One Advisor

Working in finance, it’s become clear to me that decisions surrounding money are commonly influenced by feelings. Those feelings can range from happiness and comfort to fear and greed—the list goes on and on. A natural result of these varied emotions is that people are often hesitant to use one advisor because they are concerned about “putting all of their eggs in one basket.” The choice to have one advisor or multiple advisors is very personal, but it shouldn’t be emotional.

Vice President, Joe Seetoo, Interviewed in About Money – Should You Own Alternative Investments in Retirement?

About-Money---Alternative-Investments-Large

By Dana Anspach, Money Over 55 Expert
Updated March 16, 2016.

Alternative investments can offer higher yields to retirees, but they aren’t for everyone. To present both the pros and cons I reached out to Joe Seetoo, Vice President, Morton Capital Management.

Morton Capital, a registered investment advisor in California, specializes in bringing hand-picked alternative investments to their high net worth clients. They receive no compensation from the underlying investments which puts them in the perfect position to offer an objective opinion and do the research and due diligence that needs to be done before venturing into the alternative asset class world.

Read More