Here we will post articles on investing, family matters, highlighting our contrarian and unique approach.

June 21, 2024 | François Sicart

Almost two years ago, I sent a memo to my clients entitled: “What does it mean to be rich anymore?” (Sicart Associates. 6/25/2022) I opened the discussion in this fashion: For the past two decades, I have belonged to the ranks of the 1 percent — presumably the richest people in America. In truth, I … Continue reading PREPARING OURSELVES

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Sell in May
May 29, 2024 | François Sicart

I recall that there used to be a common Wall Street Almanac refrain that urged investors to “sell in May and go away.” I never paid much attention to presumed patterns of seasonal stock market behavior, yet here we are in May, and times have changed. I began investing in the late 1960s under the … Continue reading Sell in May

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A Letter to a Younger Self
September 28, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

What if you could write a letter to a younger self today? What if an older self could write to you today? What would you write? What would you like to hear? I’ve been wondering about those questions both as an investor and an individual. Why? Maybe it’s the end of summer mood; perhaps it’s many conversations with young, aspiring professionals I’ve had in the last few months.

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Making the Impossible Possible
August 17, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

Imagine you’re staying at a 5-star resort, and you want to put the chef’s promise that anything is possible to the test. What would you ask for? A rare, freshly picked mango in the middle of winter or a Maine lobster if you happen to be on a tropical island with scorching heat outside? I’ll let you ponder, but in investing, too, there are some impossible asks. However, I have good news: there is at least one way to make some of them possible! Let’s explore.

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Is Time Really Money?
July 20, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

I recently stepped out of Zurich Airport on a warm summer day, a stark contrast to my last winter visit. Banks and watches come to mind when many think of Switzerland, followed by chocolate. Let’s indulge in a bite of chocolate and converse about time and money. Zurich Airport is one of the few places filled with ads referencing both money and time. One ad even proclaimed that money is time. We are more accustomed to hearing “time is money.” Which is it, then? Both make money and time seem equal and exchangeable to a certain extent. But that’s not entirely accurate. Let’s delve into this.

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Game-Overs and Do-Overs
July 6, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

I imagine a bomb squad member on his knees, sweat trickling down his forehead, clutching two wires in his hands. There’s no room for do-overs in this profession, and he faces a potential game-over every time he shows up for work. For me, in investing, business, and life, it’s wise not to solely aim for … Continue reading Game-Overs and Do-Overs

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Plenty of Room at the Top
May 25, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

Are life and investing an Olympic sport with one sole gold medalist?

I had the privilege of having deep conversations with some of the brightest minds of investing lately, both on my podcast over the last few months and more recently in Omaha at Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. Those conversations inspired and resurfaced the idea that maybe we are looking at the world the wrong way and there is plenty of room at the top in life and investing. Let me explain.

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Return on Kindness
May 11, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

If I were to describe the three-day experience in three words, I would say with no hesitation: the Return on Kindness. Here I was in the middle of Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Meeting – the Woodstock for Capitalists held in Omaha, Nebraska, each year. It was my turn to speak; I said: “Thank you for making our lives better.” My words echoed back, confusing me for a moment; I proceeded with the question, nonetheless! 

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The Odds of Success & Failure
April 27, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

When I share sometimes that the lack of success doesn’t imply failure, and the lack of failure doesn’t imply success, my audiences seem baffled. First of all, what is a success, and what is a failure? For the purpose of this essay, let’s call success the achievement of a chosen goal. Failure would be then reaching the least desirable outcome. They are not opposites or two sides of the same coin. They are two destinations in different directions. On our journey towards the desirable outcome, we may fall and get uncomfortably close to the undesirable one. It’s helpful to see success and failure this way, making life and investment decisions. Let’s see how and why. 

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The Easy Pile
February 28, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett share that sometimes, certain investment ideas get rejected and end up in the “too-hard pile.” It’s the easier investment that they find appealing. In a recent conversation with a good friend Sophocles Sophocleous, the host of the Cyprus Value Investor Conference, we discussed how the best investments could be obvious. Let’s call them an easy pile, but as you’ll see in a moment, they are far from easy, at least in the common sense of the word!

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A Stock for a Grandchild
January 5, 2023 | Diandra Ramsammy

I was sipping my coffee one morning, and I got a phone call from my partner, Francois Sicart. He likes to surprise me with interesting questions, and that day was no different. He said: “if you were to pick one stock to recommend to a client as a gift to a grandchild, what would it be?” I gave him an answer immediately, and we had a long conversation about it, which planted a seed for this article.

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New Year’s Resolutions 2022/2023: Consistency of a Sustainable Effort and Respectable Results
December 22, 2022 | Diandra Ramsammy

It’s that time of the year again. The Earth did a full circle around the Sun. A year ago, about this time, I wrote a short article about New Year’s Resolutions (read it here). I mentioned how many may like to set ambitious goals, but it’s the process built on helpful habits that lead to favorable outcomes in life and especially investing. A year later, I have further thoughts and observations on the topic, I call it: consistency of a sustainable effort & respectable results. Let me explain.

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Round Trips and Second Chances
December 8, 2022 | Diandra Ramsammy

A long time ago, I was having sushi at a tiny restaurant in a less touristy part of Tokyo. It was just my Texan friend among mostly local clientele and me. We stood out. Everyone was sitting around a revolving sushi bar with chefs working in the middle. If you liked something but missed it, the same dish would likely come around in a little bit. You just had to be patient. If you can’t be patient in a Zen-filled Tokyo sushi restaurant, I don’t know where you can. Investing is similarly full of round trips and second chances that require patience and caution. Let me explain.

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Brewster’s Millions
July 7, 2022 | Diandra Ramsammy

What have your summer reads been? I read a cheeky novel from a hundred years ago. It tells a story of a man who inherits a million dollars from his grandfather, only to find out that he has to spend and lose it within one year, and become penniless to inherit seven million from his uncle instead. Between excessive spending and poor investments, he learns a lot in the process; I know I have reading his story. It dawned on me that this hundred-year-old novel by George Barr McCutcheon — Brewster’s Millions may hide keys to successful wealth preservation.

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June 25, 2022 | François Sicart

For the past two decades, I have belonged to the ranks of the 1 percent – presumably the richest people in America. Truly, I never felt that rich, and it brought me no particular pride – perhaps, instead, a touch of guilt thinking about the other 99 percent. Things have changed in the last twenty years or so, however, with the arrival of newer “ultra-rich” (the 0.1percent).

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April 13, 2022 | François Sicart

In past writings, I have occasionally been critical of family scions of the third generation, often calling them the “cursed generation” and implying that they are the ones most likely to waste or lose the fortunes accumulated and preserved by their ancestors. This is not specific to my clientele or to any culture: the equivalent of the American saying “From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” exists in practically every language and country, as I pointed out in my book Luck Is Not Enough.

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Investigators and Statisticians
January 31, 2022 | François Sicart

 I have recently been exposed to the work of what is called a “forensic accountant.” These specialists analyze financial information to investigate fraud or embezzlement. Their job is to reconstruct the entire succession of actions that led to the suspected misdeeds. I was frankly amazed at what one can uncover by assembling a puzzle of disparate and often incomplete information and trying to reconstruct the process leading to the final result.

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December 1, 2021 | François Sicart

Richer, Wiser, Happier (Scribner, 2021), a book by Wall Street columnist William Green, is a wonderful collection of interviews of highly successful investors that also have developed valuable lessons for life in general. Mr. Green does not approach these interviews as a traditional “groupie” only impressed by investment performances and dollars earned but elaborates on the character and life disciplines of his subjects.

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False Defeats and False Victories
November 11, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

Aren’t stocks a lot like heroes in novels we read? Six years ago, when I was putting the finishing touches on my first book: “Outsmarting the Crowd,” my UK-based editor, with a great affinity for novels, told me how much we can learn from works of fiction. Our conversation renewed my interest in novels, stories, and specifically how they are structured. Whether it’s a recent Hollywood production or a 5,000-year-old myth, the hero celebrates false victories and faces false defeats, very much like any investment we research. Let me explain.

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Fall in Love with the Process
October 14, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

What leads to success in investing? Many might think it’s setting lofty goals with precise deadlines. Some might believe it’s all about regularly beating market benchmarks, and others might focus on their portfolios’ daily, weekly, or monthly returns. The real secret, though, is to fall in love with the process. Let me explain.

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The Blessings Of Mentorship
August 25, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

I recently received a very kind email from our this year’s intern, Joshua. His experience was different than that of many of his predecessors that we hosted over the years. He was our remote intern working from his home. His words of appreciation for what he had learned with us made me think of my mentors, who blessed me with their generosity over the last two decades.  

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What I Might Do Differently If I Managed Only My Own Portfolio
August 17, 2021 | François Sicart

It has periodically occurred to me that, if I were managing only my own money, I would probably do it somewhat differently. For ethical reasons, I do attempt to manage my own money as closely as possible to the way I manage the money of my client families. There will always be some differences because individuals often have different patrimonial goals and requirements but, by and large, our portfolios tend to own the same investments.

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July 1, 2021 | François Sicart

These days, it seems, everyone has an opinion about everything.

Submitted to a deluge of information and opinions from traditional news media and now internet social networks, I’ve found that many people tend to simply repeat the views garnered from their favorite or most convenient source. So, most of the ideas that circulate in social venues such as dinners, cocktail parties or even conferences are just second-hand, recycled material that has undergone little or no critical analysis.

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The Trouble with Thematic Investing
June 17, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

Now, and then you might hear about all kinds of themes out there. Baby boomers are retiring – how to invest. Automation and robotics – how to invest. Climate change – how to invest. Each time we learn about some newly discovered theme, it seems compelling to chase it and ride the wave of alleged investment opportunities that may follow. Is it really a good investment policy, though?

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What Surfing Taught Me About Investing
May 27, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

It was over a year ago on a wintery New York day. I was all bundled up, ready to face the freezing weather. I was listening to an audiobook on my daily commute — Yvon Chouinard’s – “Let my people go surfing.” The book discussed much more than surfing, but surfing seemed like a pleasant topic to read about on a chilly day. At the time, I had never surfed in my life, and I had no way of knowing that later that year, I’ll be chasing waves and learning something new about myself, and investing in the process!

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The Importance of Slack
May 20, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

11.37am! That was the time of an apparently very important scheduled appointment in the early days of my career. As a junior stock analyst, I went to many meetings and visited so many office buildings around Manhattan that I could barely tell them apart. I thought that scheduled time was odd, to say the least. Apparently, it was the result of masterful scheduling efficiency. Living and working in New York City, I came across and embraced the ever-present affinity for efficiency, productivity, and busyness. Over time, I discovered that there are exceptions to that rule in life, business, and investing!

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I Changed My Mind
May 13, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

When I was a kid, I was not an adventurous eater. I was fascinated with Ancient Greece and Rome, though. My parents took me on an unforgettable trip to Turkey. That’s where many of the ancient seaports used to be, including Homer’s Troy. I learned that the Mediterranean Region has more to offer than history. Its cuisine wouldn’t be complete without olives. As much as I loved walking around the old ruins, I didn’t like the taste of this peculiar fruit. I changed my mind since. In the same way, my investment choices have evolved over time.

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We All Love a Good Deal
April 28, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

My investor education started in my grandma’s kitchen. Unpacking groceries, she would say: “It doesn’t have to be the cheapest thing you find, but it has to be good value.” I think we all instinctively know a good value in our everyday life, but we somehow forget it when it comes to investing our precious savings. 

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Forever or For Now
April 14, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

When I think of forever versus for now, I can’t help but picture Bill Murray’s 1990s movie, “The Groundhog Day.” I learned over the years that this innocent comedy has proven to be quite controversial. Some either love it, others the opposite. His character, Phil, a Pittsburgh weatherman, has to endure a work trip to report on the groundhog tradition in the town of Punxsutawney. The groundhog appears, and its shadow predicts earlier or later spring. Phil’s least favorite day repeats every morning, though, and his tolerable “for now” seems to have become his increasingly unpleasant “forever.” In investing, it pays to be able to tell the difference between what could be forever and what’s just for now.

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Between Curiosity and Caution
April 7, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

Recently, Megan and I had the rare opportunity to join a research boat for a day and watch humpback whales from afar. We wore face masks, used hand sanitizer, had our temperature checked, and then social distanced. COVID realities aside, we got to see a mother and a calf, a male whale breaching again and again, and a pod of whales doing circles around the bay sometimes heading straight towards the boat only to dive under us at the very last moment. We had close encounters with big sea life before, but this one was in a category of its own. Witnessing the mother and a little one made me think of the curiosity and caution that guide us in life and investing.

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I Like Monday Mornings
March 25, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

It’s no secret that most people don’t like Monday mornings. I’m a contrarian at heart, but that’s not the only reason why I like Monday mornings. Truth be told, though; I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Monday mornings. I had to be up early, shower, put on a suit, run to the train, fight the crowds, squeeze past others, race up and down the underground tunnels, and finally make it to my desk. Fire up my computer. If it was raining, snowing, or the trains were delayed, my morning journey quickly became an endurance test that could well be a part of a pre-triathlon training.

These aren’t my Mondays these days. I still fire up my computer, but there is no train to chase, no “triathlon” to win.

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Chopping Wood and Carrying Water
March 3, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

For six months last year, Megan and I lived in two cabins in the deep woods of the Appalachian Mountains. It was just us, curious deer, loud chipmunks, and an orchestra of birds with an occasional snake, lizard, or an oversized beetle. Many of our friends were worried about us, but we loved every minute of it. My regular routine entailed getting wood for the fireplace and bringing up 5-gallon water bottles uphill. Apparently, chopping wood and carrying water is also an old practice discussed in Zen Buddhist teachings.

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Slow Down
February 10, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

A few days ago, Megan and I were riding our little scooter on a charming windy dirt road. Our trusty two wheels and an engine get us places. On the way, we saw a road sign that said: “Slow down.” If I were to close my eyes over a year ago on the 2020 New Year’s Eve and open them today, I would have had many questions. Last year brought a lot of change; it turned our lives upside down (or right side up?). For Megan and me, though, it made us do exactly what the roadside called for: slow down! It taught us more about life, planning and gave me a refreshed perspective on how we should invest.

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In Search of Permanence
January 14, 2021 | Diandra Ramsammy

As we close one year and excitingly unwrap the new one, it’s an interesting moment to look back and look ahead. In life and investing, there are at least two categories of events and experiences. The first one, the more desirable, is that one we would like to keep forever. It could be a perfect sunset walk or this incredible investment that continues to surprise us on the upside. The other one, the unwanted one, could be that dream trip that turned bad or this lemon of an investment that we can’t sell fast enough. In the first days of 2021, we might be all thinking about how we’d like the COVID reality to be behind us and see it turn into a fading memory as fast as possible. We also realize what we would like to keep forever, what we cherish, and what we value. It’s the latter that sends us on a path in search of permanence.

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A Personal Touch
December 17, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

In this increasingly transactional, impersonal, fast-paced world, as an investment practice, we aspire to maintain our most significant advantage: a personal touch. This year has been full of surprises. It took Megan and me on a journey. Since we left the city comforts in the early weeks of the pandemic, we have stayed in the woods most of the year and in a quaint fishing town most recently. We got closer to several small local businesses on our path, and we stayed in touch with others that served us well in the past. We realized that what sets them apart from all the others is the personal touch they offer day in and day out.

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The Three Forgotten Powers: It’s Never Too Late to Start
December 10, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

Did you know that Warren Buffett made over 99% of his fortune after he turned 50? And over 96% after he qualified for Social Security, in his mid-60s. As much as I have read almost everything about this legendary investor over the years, I never looked at his admirable record this way. Morgan Housel shared this observation in his new book: “The Psychology of Money.” It got me thinking about the forgotten powers of compounding, persistence, and longevity.

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The Last Major Arbitrage
December 3, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

Imagine a small town divided by a river but connected by a bridge. Let’s say that you can buy oranges on one side of town, walk across the bridge, and sell the same oranges for a bit more. That’s a money-making arbitrage. You might be a faster runner, or you make better use of the available information. Still, one way or the other, the same oranges trade at different prices, and you can take advantage of market inefficiency. In investing, there used to be more arbitrage opportunities. As stock trading got faster, the markets more efficient, and the information spreads in a blink of an eye, the most apparent inefficiencies have become more scarce. There is one advantage, though, that is left, an advantage that may not only stay with us forever, but it’s bound to get bigger – I call it the last arbitrage, the time arbitrage. Let me explain.

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Decisions vs. Outcomes
November 5, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

Recently, after reviewing our investment ideas for the last 12 months, we identified some good picks and not so good ones (like any other year). A few truly stood out among the best-performing holdings, and one particular stock doubled in a year and tripled since March. We immediately thought what a great idea it was! We paused, though, and asked ourselves: what were we really praising – the decision-making process or just the outcome? For years, picking stocks and managing money, I already intuitively knew they are not the same. It wasn’t until I picked up Annie Duke’s books, especially the most recent one – “How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices,” that the distinction between the decision and the outcome became truly clear to me.

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Scary or Dangerous?
October 29, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

If you saw a shark swimming towards you or a warm bath waiting for you, which one would you consider scary, which one dangerous? I don’t claim to be able to read minds, but something tells me that the shark seems scary to most, and a bath in no way appears to be dangerous.

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The Numbers, the People, the History
October 22, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

After the TEDx talk I gave two years ago in California, someone from the audience walked up to me and asked me what got me into investing. I always really enjoy those impromptu questions. My speech was at a university, and it was no surprise that many attendees were students or recent graduates looking for guidance on their own career paths. I quickly said that I got into investing because of my passion for numbers, history, and people, and that’s what investing is really all about.

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Being the Least Wrong
October 8, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

The very first stock I ever bought, I bought with a clear intention: I wanted to be right and make money. It had a great story, a promising future, and I couldn’t see how anything could go wrong. Yet I lost money on that first investment. It turned out to be the cheapest and the most valuable lesson I could have asked for. It taught me much more than any successful investment that followed and greatly influenced my investing philosophy. I soon realized how many get into investing to be right and make money, and those who stay and remain successful are those who find a way to be the least wrong. They not only make money but also get to keep it! I believe that the real secret of investment success is not to be right sometimes, but to be the least wrong all the time.

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Breaking the 2000-Year-Old Principle: The World Beyond the Half-Hour Commute
September 24, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

This article has been inspired by countless conversations with friends, family, and clients around the world who, in one way or the other, have seen their work become remote in the last six months. This year’s proliferation of remote work has been a widespread and sudden phenomenon that seems impossible to ignore. It might prove to be the biggest challenge and opportunity of the decade.

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Four Years Already!
September 9, 2020 | François Sicart

Four years ago, I decided to leave the firm that I had founded 40 years earlier and founded Sicart Associates with the three partners who joined me in this adventure. Many friends were skeptical: why would I want to leave the successful money management firm I had created, now with ample assets under management, to start a tiny boutique with no name (except mine, but this was the idea of my co-founders) and younger partners who had yet to establish their reputations?

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Is passive index investing right for you?
September 3, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

This article has been a few months in the making, but it wasn’t until a comment from one of the readers that I realized it might be a good time to go ahead, finish it, and share it with you. The reader is a seasoned investor who worked with family offices on both sides of the Pacific, and his reaction to my recent article – Future-proof portfolio: does it even exist? – was: “How does passive index investing fit in the picture?” — So here are my thoughts on the topic.

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Future-proof portfolio: does it even exist?
August 20, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

Over a year ago, I spoke to a group of investors in Southern California. The point that I raised that drew the most attention was the challenge of the buy-and-hold forever approach to investing. Most value investors learned by watching Warren Buffett’s and Charlie Munger’s tremendous success buying stocks and keeping them forever. It worked well for those investing giants, but the next 50 years of the stock market might look very different. While researching the most successful families of the last 200 years for my book Money, Life Family I learned that not only change is the only constant, but that the rate of change has never been faster.

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A Fresh Perspective
July 30, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

I have a vivid memory from early in my career: sitting in an investment meeting in a Manhattan high-rise while two portfolio managers got into a heated exchange about an investment idea. One of them was doing his best to poke holes in the investment case, which is perfectly standard practice. Finally, he concluded his counter-argument saying: “Why wouldn’t the doorman just get it for you?”

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What’s better than a crystal ball?
July 23, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

I wrote an early draft of this article in the first days of 2020. I had no way of knowing what a roller coaster ride awaits us on all fronts: health, economy, everyday life, and of course, investing. I chose to put some final touches, and share it with you now. We might have entered the second half of the year, but our visibility for the following 6-12 months hasn’t gotten much better, but maybe there is a solution to that.

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Two Types of Capital Gains
July 16, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

Whenever I’m invited to talk about investing, I like to begin by asking if anyone has ever lost money in the stock market. A few hands go up. Then I ask if anyone has made money investing, and almost all hands go up. It’s harder to talk about the losses and more fun to celebrate the gains. However, there are two types of gains in investing, and they are easily confused: realized and unrealized gains. It’s especially timely to look at those two concepts now after an exceptionally fast stock market recovery with some market indices reaching again new all-time highs. After a period like this it’s to be expected that both types of gains may appear in many investors’ brokerage accounts.

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The Last Stockpicker and the Unreal Hunting Grounds
July 9, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

How do you find a perfect stock? That’s a frequent topic of talks I give to curious audiences interested in the art of stock picking. It is always very inspiring and encouraging to me to see others getting curious about becoming active stockpickers in a world where passive investing, high frequency trading, robo advisors, bots, machines, and algos seems to have become all the rage.

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What would we do with a million dollars?
July 2, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

Little over a year ago, at an intimate investor conference in Zurich, I gave a talk about the next decade of stock investing (here are some ideas I discussed: Fighting the currents; a metaphor for the next decade of stock investing). Over lunch, one of the attendees asked me an interesting question: “What would you do with a million dollars right now?”

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Good stock, good business, good investment
June 25, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

In a fast-rising market post the March correction, many may start to feel like heroes. With earnings falling, and stock prices rising, investing may seem easy to some, and confusing to others. Even bankrupt companies recently saw their stocks not only rise, but also become the “hottest stocks”.

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Infinite Investing: How do we win a game that has no end?
June 18, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

What if we saw ourselves not as winners or losers, but builders? What if we saw investing not as a game of making or losing money, but building wealth for ourselves and for generations to come?

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Money you don’t need, money you can’t lose
May 21, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

The stock market recently endured one of the fastest-ever sell-offs, which was followed rapidly by one of the speediest rallies we’ve seen, likely prompting many investors to rethink their investment philosophy. Here at Sicart, we have always seen investment capital as both the money our clients don’t immediately need, and money they can’t ever lose.

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Becoming Remote
May 14, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

About a year and a half ago, in Gran Canaria, Spain, I had the great pleasure of addressing a large audience of remote workers and digital nomads from around the globe. The event was organized by my friend Nacho Rodriguez, a restless entrepreneur and founder of Nomad City. The venue was a modern glass-walled lecture hall overlooking the brilliantly blue Atlantic Ocean. At that time, I had no way of knowing that soon enough, I would pack up my laptop, take an Uber home, and not return to the office for a long while.

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Your Quality of Sleep
February 19, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

I am often asked what I believe matters most in investing. I surprise many listeners when I say it’s the quality of sleep. From every single stock we pick to the portfolio as a whole to a family fortune, quality of sleep is what matters most. There are days when I don’t check our stock prices. I know what we own, and we are comfortable with those selections. If I had to, we could go for weeks or months without checking prices on our stocks. It’s an incredible peace of mind to know what you own, and why.

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How does a stock end up in our portfolio?
February 11, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

I love this question. A prospective client asked me recently, a very simple, yet profound question. How does a stock end up in our portfolios? Whenever I get asked about what we do, my face lights up, and if you only have the time, I can share with you the adventurous journey each of our stock picks took before it ended up among our portfolio holdings. The beauty of our process is how repeatable, and simple it is, yet far from easy to execute.

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The Path to Riches: Slow Millionaires and Forever Millionaires
January 22, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

What if I told you, though, that there is a slower, harder, but a more likely path to riches? That slow path to riches is followed by surprisingly few of those who want to grow rich (the slow millionaires) but — not so surprisingly — by everyone who chose to stay rich – the forever millionaires.

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The money we haven’t lost
January 8, 2020 | Diandra Ramsammy

In the investment profession, we spend a lot of time thinking about the money we’ve made (bragging rights), more time thinking about the money we wish we’d made (a source of fear of missing out), and almost no time on the money we haven’t lost. But it’s the last of these that’s the silent, invisible essence of successful investing.

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Black Friday: Value Investor’s Paradise
December 19, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

Did you know that the best place to learn value investing is while shopping for bargains on Black Friday?

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One Hundred Stocks, One Hundred Pages
December 11, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

Over the last few months, we have been going over the hundred-stock “wish list” that we at Sicart have compiled over the last three years. It consists of stocks with good businesses, have dominated their industries for a while, yet still have plenty of room to grow. We like to pick a few at a time, download their annual reports, and take them home. It’s remarkable how many annual reports you can get through in a matter of months, since most of them are only about a hundred pages long. This practice has given us a wonderful opportunity to take a more careful look at familiar businesses, refresh our memory, and get up to speed with what’s new with our hundred stocks.

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November 25, 2019 | François Sicart

I recently looked back, and reviewed the performance of some of my longest managed portfolios that date back to the 1970s. I noticed that the accounts grew net of fees only slightly better than the S&P 500 index, though the returns, and the performance versus the index varied year to year. But that small outperformance through over more than 40 years of compounding did make a big difference to the owner families’ ending wealth.

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What’s your measure of success? What is your finish line?
November 8, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

This fall, one October day, I was enjoying a chilly morning drive on a windy mountain road through the beautiful dense Oregon spruce forest. I was on the way to Intel’s Portland Campus. The sun was just rising above the mountain tops, and I was already wondering what kind of questions I will be able to answer on the spot, and what kind of questions will still linger long after I leave… During that half day at Intel discussing stock picking, and sharing my experience as an investment advisor to families and entrepreneurs, I kept hearing a very similar question asked in a dozen ways – What’s your measure of success?

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News vs. Noise
November 5, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

As investors, we are in the business of absorbing information, understanding the world, and drawing conclusions. Our goal is to deploy capital at the highest possible rate of return, while avoiding the risk of a permanent loss. We need to navigate around uncertainties in search of opportunities. That mission can only be successfully fulfilled if we limit the excess noise, but leave room for the relevant news to reach us. The more distracted everyone else becomes, the more our patient and disciplined approach shines in comparison

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September 17, 2019 | François Sicart

There is a famous proverb in the United States: “From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Interestingly, many diverse nations have the equivalent saying: “Rice paddies to rice paddies in three generations” in Japan; “Clogs to clogs is only three generations” in England; “Wealth never survives three generations” in China; “The father buys, the son builds, the grandchild sells, and his son begs” in Scotland: these are just a few colorful examples.

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What I learned sailing over an underwater volcano
July 31, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

Earlier this summer, with gusting wind in my hair, fine sand between my toes, and harsh salt on my hands, I was sitting at the helm of a 40-foot (12 meters) sailing catamaran. As a sailor I know that alertness and preparation are crucial to not only enjoyment but even, frankly, survival, in some conditions and locations. A particularly treacherous stretch of this trip was the crossing from the island of Carriacou to Grenada (in the Lesser Antilles, Caribbean Sea). This experience and a conversation with a dear friend, crew member, author and investor himself – Jake Taylor led to a discussion about our strengths and weaknesses. It was fascinating to note the way sailing and investing put both to a real test!

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Your Money Manifesto: The Three Rules of Thumb!
April 25, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

If I had only one sheet of paper and could only write down three rules of thumb for starting, building, and keeping a family fortune while living a happy, fulfilling, peaceful life, these would be my choices…

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Fortune Keeper’s Dilemma: The Three “Whys”
April 18, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

About a year ago, in California, I had the great pleasure of giving a TEDx talk on investing. It was a warm April evening, and the organizers generously hosted an outdoor book signing for me. Over the next couple of hours about a hundred attendees of all ages shared with me not just their impressions of the talk, but also their stories about money, wealth, and investing. Everyone had a story, but most of them also had a question: if building and keeping a family fortune is such a challenge, why should anyone bother?

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Eyes on the (snow)ball!!
March 18, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

Investing might not be easy, but it can be simple. I often get asked what I do for a living. The short answer would be, “I work in finance.” But the accurate answer would be, “I invest money for families and entrepreneurs with a hundred-year investment horizon.” A more vivid description comes from Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s business partner, who compares this kind of investing to rolling a snowball down a hill. With all the noise and distractions, let’s see what it takes to keep our eyes on that snowball!!

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The most precious dollars
February 19, 2019 | Diandra Ramsammy

What does counting pennies have to do with keeping and growing a family fortune? Why savings and inheritance are the most precious dollars you could ever have?

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January 9, 2019 | François Sicart

In a career devoted to managing family fortunes, I have grown increasingly convinced that – in terms of financial outcome — inheritors tend to be either blessed or cursed from the start.

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Apples, oranges or mangoes? Three types of managers
December 6, 2018 | Diandra Ramsammy

Recently, I found myself exploring a charming little fruit stand on the island of Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. While making difficult choices among the fruits on display, it occurred to me that my process was not unlike the challenge many clients face in selecting the right money manager.

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Not all returns are equal
October 22, 2018 | Diandra Ramsammy

During my recent European trip at a dinner with friends, someone asked me if the market was up that day. It’s a question I often get from anyone who knows that I’m an investment advisor and a stock-picker. I often disappoint them saying that I don’t know because I haven’t looked.

Are all up days or years in the stock market the same, though? From the outside, a gain of 10% of the entire stock market’s performance seems to be identical with a 10% increase in price, and thus good news for stockholders. In actual fact, not all 10% annual returns are equal.

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How to compound your wealth?
September 25, 2018 | Diandra Ramsammy

If we can only shift our mindset from getting rich overnight to compounding wealth over a lifetime, everything changes and our odds of success dramatically rise…

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September 20, 2018 | François Sicart

Like many fundamental (serious) investors, my early influencers were Philip Fisher and Benjamin Graham. It could be said that growth investors are looking for the next Microsoft, Apple, Google or Amazon. In contrast, value investors look for neglected stocks that are so cheap that bad news won’t hurt them much, while any good news could trigger a major upward re-evaluation. Both approaches, however, seek the same result: to uncover and analyze winning stocks.

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September 10, 2018 | François Sicart

As We Enter Our Third Year, Some Thoughts About How to Pick, and Be, the Right Money Manager

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August 22, 2018 | François Sicart

The advent of the knowledge economy is not making life easier for disciplined investors. In times of uncertainty like these, character will prevail.

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July 12, 2018 | François Sicart

When we at Sicart engage with clients in planning for the management, use and disposition of their fortunes, we first try to spend ample time on defining the kind of life they want to live, the goals they hope to achieve, and what legacy they wish to leave behind. Whatever the age of the clients, their views on these subjects are usually vague – probably because decisions about them do not seem urgent and are expected to come into proper focus as they age. Yet procrastination is not an option for any of us.

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Infinite Horizon, Finite Assets
June 3, 2018 | Diandra Ramsammy

Investing in finite assets with an infinite investment horizon is one of the unstated challenges of our business. The task becomes even more difficult as the markets boost prices of assets that are not only intangible in nature, but also whose profit-generating ability is questionable or potentially short-lived.

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May 30, 2018 | François Sicart

My partner Bogumil Baranowski has discussed some of the psychological problems associated with family patrimonies in his series “Blessings & Curses of Inherited Wealth – The Guide for Inheritors.” Over my years of helping multi-generational families to preserve and grow their wealth, I too have noted the challenge of maintaining “normal” relationships with friends or relatives who have less money.

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The Great Investor In You – Our first TEDx Talk
May 25, 2018 | Diandra Ramsammy

There are three secret advantages we already have over professional investors. But how can we use them to become great investors ourselves?

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What is long-term anyway?
April 23, 2018 | Diandra Ramsammy

Recent market volatility has made many of us jumpy, and many investors agree that this might be a time to show increased caution. But one subject still prompts very diverse opinions: the investment horizon.

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How do you stay a millionaire?
April 17, 2018 | Diandra Ramsammy

“How do I keep what I have?” is the query we hear much more often than, “How much will the market rise this year?” Those who are familiar with our long-term value contrarian mindset know better than to pose the latter question seriously. The recent increase in volatility and a worldwide sell-off in major indices has broadened the discussion. Investors started to focus more on keeping what they’ve made in this market. Some wisely realize that they might not have the time to make their money back if they were to lose it. What can be done about that?

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March 2, 2018 | François Sicart

“We consider ourselves long-term, patient, contrarian value investors” are the first words in the “How We Invest” section of our website. But what do they mean in practice?

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December 31, 2017 | François Sicart

For many years, I have been collecting quotes, citations and other bons mots. Of course, Googles and the likes have made this modern variation of plagiarism much easier in recent years, sometimes even dispensing quote addicts like me from reading original books in the text. On the other hand, there are good reasons besides plagiarism … Continue reading YEAR-END PEARLS OF WISDOM

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Blockchain, Bitcoin, and the future of money
December 29, 2017 | Diandra Ramsammy

Blockchain has been on our minds for a while now, and here we propose a three-part discussion.

First, we will examine the potential benefits of blockchain technology. Second, we will explain why we believe that Bitcoin might turn out to be a misuse of a great technology. Finally, we’ll sketch out our idea of the future of money, finance, capitalism.

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August 7, 2017 | François Sicart

Last year, French journalist Christine Kerdellant wrote a book with an intriguing title (Ils se croyaient les meilleurs – Éditions Denoël 2016), which could be translated as: “They thought they were the best – a history of great management mistakes.” The point is that the most successful entrepreneurs are those who have first stumbled, but have learned from their mistakes. Interestingly, they often are more prone than professional managers to search out and hire collaborators who also have experienced failure and have survived. The book appealed to me because, in Sicart Associates’ business of wealth and investment management, mistakes are quite useful — on the condition that they don’t recur too often, and that lessons are learned from them.

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What it takes to build a great family
July 19, 2017 | Diandra Ramsammy

Introducing James E. Hughes, Jr., Esq. the author of Family Wealth: Keeping It in the Family, and of Family: The Compact Among Generations. Mr. Hughes reminds us: “As it takes 150 years for a copper beech tree [ metaphorically, a great family] to mature, plant today because there is no time to waste.” He points out that “The vision underlying a system of family governance must be the enhancement of the pursuit of happiness of each individual family member as part of the enhancement of the family as a whole for the purpose of achieving the long-term preservation of the family’s wealth: its human, intellectual, and financial capital.”

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July 18, 2017 | François Sicart

Participants in the investment markets tend to fall into one of two categories. A growing number engages in a relative performance contest where they essentially compete against each other or against “unmanaged” indexes over relatively short periods of time: one, five or, more rarely, ten years. These short periods are convenient for consultants and marketing staffs but, in our observation, sprinters seldom win marathons. We thus prefer to ignore short- or medium-term market fluctuations and to concentrate on our goal, which is to grow the patrimonies of our client families — along with our own — over multiple cycles and several generations.

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May 18, 2017 | François Sicart

Financial institutions like to claim that they always put their clients’ interests before their own — or at least on par with them. Real life shows us scant evidence of that claim. Truth be told, it is hard to sustain a money-management firm as a business (rather than as a professional practice, which used to be the model) without running into conflicts between your clients’ interests and your own.

I deeply believe that resolving those conflicts of interest with probity is key to building a successful practice over time, and I have at least one compelling example to help me remind young colleagues that probity pays.

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New Generation Of Successful Entrepreneurs, New Ways Of Giving Back And Monitoring
May 9, 2017 | Diandra Ramsammy

Introducing Alexandre Mars, a New York City based, French-born serial entrepreneur, and engaged philanthropist who, in 2015, was named one of New York City’s top 20 philanthropists under 40 by the New York Observer.

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The Inheritance Plan – The Right And The Wrong Way
March 1, 2017 | Diandra Ramsammy

In the third part of the Guide for Inheritors Series, we introduce Jeffrey Condon the Author of Beyond the Grave. We will learn about the importance of having an inheritance plan, and the author explains that there is the right, and the wrong way. We are reminded how crucial it is to treat beneficiaries equally. Among many other lessons, we also find an interesting discussion of one of the most frequent questions when it comes to inheritance – how much is too much?

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Breaking The Triple Taboo – The Inheritance
January 20, 2017 | Diandra Ramsammy

Here you’ll find the second part of the Guide for Inheritors Series. This time our guest is Ann Perry, the author of The Wise Inheritor: A Guide to Managing, Investing and Enjoying Your Inheritance. She tells us that money is the last taboo, and inheritance a triple taboo. She also reminds us that inherited money should be treated differently. We learn that with looming biggest ever wealth transfer of tens of trillions of dollars, more of us than ever will be facing the dilemmas of inheritance. What can we do to be better prepared?

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How We Give Matters More Than How Much We Give
January 2, 2017 | Diandra Ramsammy

In the first part of the series, we are introducing Barbara Blouin’s Publications of the Inheritance Project. Inheriting a fortune – or being lucky enough to leave one to your children – can be a mixed blessing. As the largest-ever inter-generational wealth transfer is upon us, it’s important to realize that how we give may matter more than how much.

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Cyclical Opinions – Secular Approaches
November 10, 2016 | François Sicart

Technological progress makes the world evolve and change. As it does, Sicart Associates believe that the secret to success is to occasionally adapt opinions to changed circumstances while staying true to our long-term contrarian value investment principles.

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The Entrepreneur and the Steward of Capital
September 2, 2016 | Diandra Ramsammy

As we work with more and more entrepreneurs around the world, we find a number of key differences between them and portfolio investors.

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The Jade Sculptor and the Serial Entrepreneur
September 1, 2016 | François Sicart

A few years ago, I was invited to visit a new jade museum that was about to open to the public in Beijing. Many of the pieces on display had been left behind by Chiang Kai-shek (former leader of the Kuomintang party) when he and his followers retreated to Taiwan in 1949.

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