My introduction to investing came while in the military in the late 1990’s. I was befriended by a sales person for Metlife while stationed in Germany. Back then, large US financial service companies had representatives working near bases overseas. Through him that I learned about the oldest mutual fund in the United States – the Massachusetts Investors Trust (1924). With a little extra cash laying around as as single soldier, I bought some shares. While not the best mutual fund at the time, the Investors Trust was the one that my friend knew best.

Now keep in mind this was before the internet. Further, being overseas meant mail took quite a while. To do any type of investment research meant going to the base library to read Morningstar Ratings. The early days of the paper Morningstar Ratings were single page, small print reports.

College Years

After leaving the military, I enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) to study European history. My initial intent was to study business but, at the time Pitt did not have an undergrad business degree (turned out to be a blessing). Most people would have picked another school. Being a Pittsburgh guy, there was never a question about the school I would attend. So, I looked down the list of degree programs and chose the next most interesting thing to me, history.

Thinking that the college years would be tight, I sold my mutual fund shares. As a full-time student, I cobbled together a meager existence of working nights and weekends as a bartender. I also had GI bill money to tap to cover my university fees. By my last year of college (1997), I found that I had a little extra money. The internet was still in its infancy. To find stock research one had to go to the business library in the city or a local brokerage office. I found that the Charles Schwab offices were the most generous with allowing folks to walk in and read their Morningstar Ratings.

Now you might be wondering why I was looking at investing in mutual funds and not individual stocks. Remember, it was expensive to buy small numbers of shares of stocks clear up until 2015.

Entering and Exiting Job Market

My first few positions in the financial services industry were support roles. While not the most challenging positions, I did learn a lot about how people approach investing. I also had free access to volumes of investment research that I studied as much as possible.

As you might expect, life began to happen around this time. I met the woman that would become my wife and we spent considerable time traveling the world together.

Working for others

Once back from our world travels, I buckled down and began studying for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. Along the way, I worked for a few boutique planning firms and learned a lot about professional asset management.

Once my CFP study was complete, I decided to narrow my focus on helping clients with investing. In most of the firms that I worked for, the investments were always allocated to funds. Even though my employers wanted me to focus on selecting funds, I started doing my own research. These were the years of learning about economic cycles, fundamental analysis and technical analysis.

In the years of working for others, I spent countless hours reading fund annual reports. Make no mistake you start to see strategies and trends by reading fund annual reports. There is a lot to learn from other skilled investors. There were two things I saw most amongst the most successful fund managers. First, was seeking companies with competitive advantages. Second, was analyzing return on invested capital.

As time moved on and boom and bust cycles happened I started to question things. As you might guess, A-type personalities that own most financial firms do not like questions. I questioned why were using funds that were closet indexes. I questioned why we used indexes that owned trash with treasure. I questioned the value proposition. That was the last straw.

Going my own way

In 2009, with our third son on the way, I set out on my own to provide investment management services. With my own firm, I was free to create portfolios using the research and strategies I refined over the previous decade. My business did well. Eventually, I merged my business into a larger concern of like minded folks. The new firm flourished and I found myself as the lead analyst for over $500 million in client money. In 2021, we sold the firm.

Today, I’m embarking on a second career and using TheMoatInvestor.com as my research outlet. I continue, and will always conduct, investment research as it’s a passion. And, I still have to manage my own portfolio. This site is where I share my knowledge and personal research.