There’s always something new in the investment world. That’s why I spent three days in Chicago last week at the annual Morningstar Investment Conference, called one of the industry’s “biggest teach-ins” by Investor’s Business Daily.
Keynote speakers included behavioral psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, who talked about how people think about money and investments, and how emotions can often lead them astray; and GMO co-founder Jeremy Grantham, presenting his (very scary) research on climate change.
Other highlights included Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments explaining how a boutique value shop like Ariel stays relevant in a world of passive investing giants; a global equity panel featuring outstanding value managers David Herro from Harris Associates (Oakmark) and Diana Strandberg from Dodge & Cox; and sessions on how investors can incorporate the principles of impact investing and sustainability in their portfolios.
Last but not least, Morningstar’s Jim Sinegal talked about how new technologies like blockchain may revolutionize industries ranging from financial services to consumer goods. Sinegal tossed out one the most noteworthy quotes of the conference: “Ignoring blockchain today is like ignoring the Internet 30 years ago.”
Unfortunately, he noted, in the first innings of a disruptive technology, it’s hard for investors to identify the companies that will survive and become profitable investments. We’re not yet at the point where even a knowledgable investor can pick the winners from the losers.
All in all, a great conference with valuable insights that we can bring back and use with clients to fine-tune their portfolios for what promises to be a new, and ultimately very disruptive, investment era.