Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The Only Mark For Me Today Will Be My Ball On The Green
This morning I am going to play golf with a good friend, and for a few minutes I will get away from the world of money, banking and the political-economy. But, before I do, I want to tell a story that for some of you might enlighten as to the kind of world Wall Street and big time investing is.
A few years back, when I was still working for the State of Ohio, we had one of our many investment meetings with fund managers presenting us with ideas for the State Insurance Fund to invest. This particular day we were meeting with one of our many private equity managers that we had invested in a couple of their funds. Today, they were pitching an energy fund that we should have invested in as I had suggested to no avail. The meeting opened with the usual small talk, pleasantries and introduction of the new man at the table from the private equity fund. He had been formerly with Goldman and proceeded to tell us all this piece of advise he had learned at his father's knee. "Son, he began, "when you sit down to play cards, you look around the table and see if you can spot the mark. If you can't spot the mark, then you are the mark, and you better get up from that table because you are going to lose your money." And, with that introduction, the meeting began.
Well, that little piece of philosophy runs Wall Street. No one is a client, and everyone is a mark. So, just as when you sit down at a table to play cards, no one is a client, so too, when you take on the responsibility of being an investor, you are looked at as a mark. Forget that at your own peril.