How to Build a Firm Through Candor and Consistency


“By demonstrating who you are and providing value to others on a regular basis with no expectation of something in return, you build a trust and respect which compounds over time. In the case of the team mentioned above, they have built a community of loyal followers (and likely friends, in many cases). The ultimate cost of acquiring a customer can be driven down dramatically by emulating a process similar to that of RWM.”  –Please Take My Money



I came home from a long weekend away to a very pleasant surprise: Conor Witt, someone I have never known previously, penned a lovely discussion about RWM.

It is very insightful as to our philosophy and how we approach the asset management business. Of course, he could not possibly know the inside history of the firm. I have discussed various parts of it over the years, and maybe one day we will write the full story. (creating a narrative from the events of your life surely brings some level of clarity). What Conor observed from afar, he got exactly right. His discussion about radical transparency and blunt candor is something that has been a part of our DNA for a long, long time.

There are really two stories here: this blog (and its derivatives) and the RWM firm. A few words on each might fill in some blanks.

Effectively, I got very lucky. I wish I was so insightful as to have thought to myself “I know, lets blog for 15 years, then open a firm and rake in the cash.” It sounds similar to the approach of a certain Seinfeld plot line involving a Dry Cleaner and Kramer’s shirt. But the actual story is a bit more nuanced – some of which you can hear on Jeff Sherman‘s podcast.

I am not a curmudgeon, but I do find many, many things terribly annoying. Much of this blog’s content was pushback against a financial press that was under-budgeted, underwhelming, and superficial. The BigPicture’s origin story comes from my own infantile frustration with how market events and/or companies were covered. That same frustration eventually led to trying a variety of different ideas, including having different voices post in Think Tank, my annual mea culpas, etc. The podcast too was created to be the opposite of the usual superficial FinTV, with a motto of “No Stock Picks, No Forecasts” all but unique for the genre.

My prior position at the old firm was not running an RIA, but developing interesting but ultimately unsuccessful analytical software for traders. I used it fairly successfully, but in hindsight either the marketplace was not interested, or I was the wrong person to run it, or some combination of the two.

During much of my career, I have been offered money to manage, but never felt it was the right time or place to do so. But as so many successful Tech Start-Ups have taught us, sometimes the Pivot towards what the marketplace demands is your best possible business decision. After Josh joined me in the old firm, we made that pivot. It turned out to be quite the fortuitous decision.

I mention luck frequently, and again, I got lucky with my partners, all of whom became rock stars. I mean, legitimate honest-to-goodness, rising stars in the world of finance. That sort of lightning in a bottle is rare, it is to be nurtured and appreciated. I hope we are doing just that.

When Conor discusses the “value of authenticity and arguably, a demonstration of where brands and marketing are heading,” I suspect he will be proven absolutely right.

Thanks for joining us on the ride.




Please Take My Money
Conor Witt, @UVA alum,
Aug 6 2017


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