Today I wanted to share with you part of an interview I watched recently with a highly successful investment manager from Wall Street. The man's name is Paul Singer of Elliot Management. He was being interviewed by David Rubenstein on the Bloomberg News program "Peer to Peer Conversations."
Rubenstein was asking Singer about his approach to the various businesses he invests in. His approach over the course of his career has been to offer portfolios that provide a consistent return (as opposed to having his objective being high-risk investments that, while risky, bring the possibility of much higher yields). Over the years his approach has proven very successful with his investors, being pleased to almost-always seeming to be making money on their investments.
Not everyone approaches investing this way. It is neither right nor wrong. It is simply the method Singer has employed over the years. The economy needs some people to invest conservatively, the economy needs some people to invest aggressively, and the economy needs some people to invest in a steady and deliberate manner (which is different than investing "conservatively" but that is a topic for a different day...).
The part of the program that I found the most interesting, though, was not about his "investing" strategy as it pertained to his business; it was when Rubenstein inquired about his approach to philanthropy. Singer responded by saying that he applies the same principles to philanthropy and charitable giving as he does to investing - he looks at the charity's financials, their leadership, their goals, and tries to draw the best conclusions regarding which charities will have the most success in achieving the goals that he is passionate about.
Sometimes it is easy to think that people who apply stringent "business tactics" to philanthropy are "robbing it" of the humanity and compassion. It was clear that Singer had a much different take on that philosophy. Certainly in his mind it was much more humane and compassionate to align himself with the organizations that he could see, through the use of objective information, were achieving their declared goals.
Maybe Singer has something to teach us all about being good stewards.
Food for thought, my friends, food for thought.