Ep65: Dann Bibas – The Case for Passive Investing. Fewer Grey Hairs, Better Returns

Dann Bibas is a co-founder of Fountain financial services in the United Kingdom, a digital wealth manager combining new technology with certified advisors to make personalized investing more accessible. He was an equity derivatives associate at Citigroup, working closely with some of the world’s largest financial institutions on equity, cross-asset and volatility products. He is also a member of the Founders of the Future community in London, the Tech Nation Founders’ Network and is a regular speaker at start-up and fintech events.

 

“Stock picking, for myself at least, is really difficult.” 

– Dann Bibas 

 

Die-hard passive investing shares hard-won beliefs 

  • Investment in the market for the long term is the maker of winners 
  • Dann has felt this way most of his adult life since the following story of loss 
  • He started to invest in stocks when he was a student majoring in finance at McGill University (Bachelor of Commerce)  

 

Watching stock closely a nightmare of ups and downs

  • As he learned micro and macroeconomics and financial concepts, he and his friends became interested in investing as they were learning a lot about markets and how to evaluate balance sheets.  
  • Early forays involved using small amounts of money earned during summer jobs through a friend in his group’s TD Ameritrade account. 
  • They bought few hundred dollars of shares in Citigroup (a fact Dann used later on during his interview for entry into Citigroup’s graduate program.  
  • This was the first ever investment he actually took seriously. Perhaps too seriously, because his lingering memory is that it was very anxiety drivenbecause he was focused on this one company, watching everything that was happening to it. 
  • He had a clean thesis and thought he would become rich quickly. Then the stock was hit by an earnings report that was negligible below expectations.  
  • Then some macroeconomic event happened and the price fell further.  
  • Then there was positive news and it bounced up.  
  • But the stock can also be affected by other banks’ earnings reports, impacting the sector.  
  • So he went from thinking he had an effective thesis but that his stock was getting “hit on all sides” both up and down.  There were too many variables:  
  • How’s the sector doing?  
  • How’s the broader market doing?  
  • How are its peers doing?  
  • Is there a specific event that was not factored into the share price that is now happening?  
  • Also stressing him out was a Forex issue. The money he was earning was in Canadian dollars, and his band of brothers was investing in US dollars.  
  • So on top of all the above, he was having to look at how the USD/CAD was trading.  

 

“I think it’s safe to say I was very, very overwhelmed. I think we just about sold out of our positions to break even … my first one or two gray hairs came from those couple of weeks or months of investing. 

– Dann Bibas 

 

  • Definitely since this experience, he has followed what Warren Buffett preaches, converting his investing style from active to passive investments 
  • And, he’s very happy with it.  

 

Lessons learned 

1. Stock picking is really difficult because:  

  a. Accounting for all the many variables is a lot of hard work 

  b. Coping emotionally with the ups and downs of a stock and all the elements that have an impact on it is also very difficult  

2. Full conversion and commitment “to the faith of passive investing  

  a. Because of the long-term benefits  

  b. Passive investors do actually end up outperforming stock pickers 

  c. He much prefers reading about wider economic growth than looking into the balance sheets of individual companies 

3. Such lessons drive the advice he now gives clients at Fountain 

 

Andrew’s takeaways 

1. Work and investing habits must suit your personality. Some people in the market just like to watch the price changes rather than beat the market “What makes you happy?” 


2. It’s amazing how many people put money down (investing) without knowledge of the market. It’s a little bit like jumping in the car not knowing what a seat belt is or what the gas pedal is, just slamming down hard on the gas 

 

The end result of that is that you’re taking on risk that you don’t necessarily know about for that person. And the world doesn’t care.  

– Andrew Stotz 

 

Actions listeners should take to avoid such errors 

  • Try to learn the bigger picture of economics, not just balance sheets
     
  • Learn about the effect of compound interest through long-term investment in the market, especially as outlined in the book about Warren Buffett, The Snowball  

 

What is Dann’s No.1 goal for the next 12 months? 

Growth of Fountain in terms of subscribed users and products ranges for customized personal investment tools, not only in the UK but in other parts of the world. 

 To the audience: “A lot of you out there still value that human expertise, still values the human touch when thinking about your money, your financial planning, financial security, your families’ … So how can we get more of you to benefit from Fountain’s offering, which is all the efficiencies of a digital experience, everything going through your app, everything super smooth at an affordable price? Because we have those efficiencies in place, but also without forgetting the human touch that is so valuable when thinking about your money and your long-term planning? 

 

Final words from Dann  

Happy New Year to your audience!  

 

Final words from Andrew 

Keep that wealth growing! 

 

You can also check out Andrew’s Books 

 

Connect with Dann Bibas 

 

Connect with Andrew Stotz 

  

Further reading mentioned:  

 

About the author, Andrew

Dr. Andrew Stotz, CFA is the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research, a company that provides institutional and high net worth investors with ready-to-invest stock portfolios that aim to beat the benchmark through superior stock selection.

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