Article intéressant paru dans le Financial Times:Winners are brave, not lucky
OPINION: Good investors, like good poker players, set emotional attachments aside and often stick their necks out when others lose their nerve.
Will the rise of online poker create a nation of savvier investors? It is a widely held view within the investment community that the attributes of a successful poker player are much the same as those of a good investor.
But just playing the game is unlikely to transform people's ability to make better investment decisions. It takes a certain mentality to be a winner. However, investors looking for a top manager could investigate whether managers that look good in the performance tables also display skill at the poker table.
Robert Hagstrom, senior vice president at Legg Mason Capital Management, enjoys a round of poker, as does Bill Miller, the Legg Mason Value Fund manager who has beaten the S&P 500 in each of the past 15 years.
US-based Money Magazine decided to put poker-playing fund managers to the test last year, inviting Mr Miller and three others (Bill Gross of Pimco, Mario Gabelli of Gabelli Asset Management and John Rogers of Ariel Mutual Funds) to sit down with two poker professionals. Mr Gross was first out, followed by Mr Miller then Mr Rogers. Mr Gabelli beat the professionals to take the Dollars 2,400 prize.
On that showing Mr Gabelli must be the manager to follow - or maybe he just got lucky. One game is not a lot to go on.
So what are the qualities that top poker players share with good fund managers? Speaking at Legg Mason's London conference last month, Mr Hagstrom listed them as an understanding of probabilities, of money management and of fluctuations. These people know how much to bet and when, and that they will have bad days. Almost every fund that is above average spends some time out of fashion, Mr Hagstrom points out.
It sounds simple. It looks simple when applied by people like Warren Buffett or Mr Miller. But emotional psychology is what prevents most people from successfully following their example. It has cursed investors for 50 years, says Mr Hagstrom, and there is no sign that is about to change. "People behave in ways adverse to their own best interests."
If you picked five above average investors and explained the Warren Buffet approach, they would agree it is a sensible way to manage money, says Mr Hagstrom. But in the first bad quarter, they would switch.
The investment management industry is not good at helping people avoid this mistake. On the contrary, it seems largely devoted to encouraging people to chase the hot sectors and follow the star managers. It was no surprise to see high turnover rates when commission-based advisers were the norm in the US, says Mr Hagstrom. They had to trade to make a living. But the move to fee-based advice seems to have made no difference: turnover keeps going up. One of the complicating factors is the fact that people fear losses more than they enjoy gains. So they get their investment timing wrong, and presumably make poor betting decisions if they play poker.
In a study for the Financial Analyst Journal, John Bogle of Vanguard showed how, over the 20 years from 1983 to 2003, the S&P 500 returned an annual average of 13 per cent, the average fund 10 per cent, but the average investor only made 6 per cent.
The psychology underlying investors' mistakes affects fund managers as well. It is hard to go against the grain and make independent controversial investment decisions. The good portfolio manager is constantly uneasy, according to Mr Hagstrom.
Any unease Mr Hagstrom suffers must relate to the big bet on internet stocks he has taken in the Dollars 670m Growth fund he runs. Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon are four of his five biggest holdings, accounting for about 20 per cent of the portfolio. In his view, the internet is the most sustainable growth industry bar none.
It is not a popular strategy. People are ignoring the stocks for the same old reasons, says Mr Hagstrom - they are not performing, they are unfashionable. Investors are concentrating on energy, precious metals and other bull market areas.
It will be a while yet before investors learn the errors of their way. It will probably be a while as well before most online poker players win more than they spend playing. In the meantime, the big winners will be the internet gaming sites and the fund industry.
8 mai 2006
Laurent (Promo 2005)