Meet Chris: He’s about to enhance your Livewire experience
You may have noticed a new kid on the block in our talented and growing team. Given his regular appearances in media outlets and investing websites, I suspect he may be a familiar face for some of you.
I'm talking about Chris Conway, who has joined Livewire as our Managing Editor, and I couldn't be more excited to welcome him to our team.
As you will discover, Chris is a complete investing tragic, dedicated to helping people like you (and me) become better investors. He is intelligent, ambitious, diligent, and importantly he lives and breathes investing (non-negotiable!).
For those who don't know Chris, we thought a Meet the Investor update would be an excellent way to introduce him to Livewire readers. Chris has been kind enough to open up about his philosophy, his mentors, two essential rules for investing and the top five holdings in his portfolio.
Chris has a growth mindset which is evident in his investment approach, thirst for knowledge and career ambitions. This is good news because he joins Livewire as we prepare to launch on an exciting and ambitious pathway.
I've thoroughly enjoyed meeting Chris over the past few months, and I have no doubt he will bring tremendous value to the Livewire readership.
I hope you enjoy his story, and please welcome Chris to Livewire!
Livewire investor profile
- Name: Chris Conway
- Age: 41
- Employment status: Full-time Managing Editor at Livewire Markets
- Years investing: 23
- Investment goals: To provide for my family and to satisfy my thirst for knowledge
- Products used: Managed Funds and ETFs
- Biggest portfolio holding: Vanguard Australian Shares High Yield Fund
1. How old are you and how long have you been investing for?
I am 41 years old and I have been investing since I was 18. The Telstra 2 (T2) sale opened on September 21, 1999 - nine days before my 18th birthday. Dad bought me some Telstra (ASX: TLS) shares for my birthday and lit the fire for my interest in financial markets (thanks, Dad!)
2. What is your objective for investing?
To provide a comfortable life for myself and my wife, and to help support our two boys. Whilst that is the endgame, I also want to learn as much as I can along the way. I’m a naturally inquisitive person and I would still invest and learn about companies even if I won the lottery.
I am still working, obviously, although this doesn’t feel like work to me. I consider myself incredibly lucky that I get rewarded for talking to invested and intelligent people about markets.
As for my risk appetite, it is dialled all the way up to 11 in my super fund. I can’t touch it for another 26 years, so I’m going as hard as I can, whilst I can. I will dial things back once I get closer to retirement age.
3. What products do you use to execute your strategy? (shares / funds / ETFs / property)
I’ve used everything under the sun in the past – equities, CFDs, FX, options, warrants, managed funds, ETFs, property. These days it is much simpler. I use managed funds and ETFs. I love equities but I don’t trade them so much because of the compliance restrictions I have been under in previous roles, which made it incredibly difficult.
These days I enjoy finding funds that employ strategies that I would run myself, or strategies that depart significantly that add diversity and are strategies I know I could never implement as a retail investor.
ETFs provide exposure to big themes in the market, often themes that aren’t readily accessible in the Australian market.
4. How would you describe your strategy?
My strategy has multiple elements but they are all quite aggressive in terms of where they sit on the risk curve. They are all growth focused. I have my core holdings, which make up about 80% of my portfolio. I have theme investments, which try to capture new themes in the market that have a long runway, or dominant themes that are irresistible but shorter timeframe. And now that I can trade equities with a little more freedom (although still within the confines of Livewire best practice), I will be resurrecting my equities trading strategy. This is a medium-term, trend following strategy which was taught to me by well-known Australian trader Stuart McPhee, who is a mentor and friend of mine.
5. Could you please share your top 5 holdings in % terms and tell me a bit about why you hold each of these positions?
Vanguard Australian Shares High Yield Fund: 13.97%
All of the Vanguard funds are low cost and do exactly what they say on the tin. This is about exposure to high-quality Australian names, looking to reap the benefits of compounding.
Vanguard International Shares Index Fund: 11.55%
This is about low-cost exposure to the rest of the world – I have Australia covered with the first one. This tracks the return of the MSCI World ex-Australia Index.
Baillie Gifford Long Term Global Growth: 10.35%
This is moving up the risk spectrum. Totally unconstrained, focused simply on finding the best growth companies around the world. Returns are volatile but I’m in it for the long haul.
I’m very impressed with the team at L1. They are Melbourne based (where I’m from) and I’ve seen them talk about their strategy several times. Returns have been very good and this is not a strategy I could replicate as a retail investor.
More low-cost exposure to active global growth that is benchmark unaware – just chasing the sun.
6. Could you tell me about your worst investment?
My worst investment was buying private equity in a business that I used to work for – and just so we’re clear, it was not my employer prior to joining Livewire. Unfortunately, the business was bought and sold numerous times and the value of my shareholding decreased significantly as it was passed around. I don’t regret it though; I learnt a lot and I have since had success investing in private equity.
7. Which investors do you admire/follow and why?
I have been very lucky over my career to have some great mentors. The biggest influences on my career have been Stuart McPhee (author of Trading in a Nutshell), Nicolas Bryon (APSEC Fund Manager and creator of Halo (ASX:HAL)), Henry Jennings and Marcus Padley (both from my time at Marcus Today). I would happily read or consume just about anything those people have to say about markets.
I also like Steve Johnson from Forager for his measured approach, I like Julia Lee’s style and approach to markets, whilst I have always enjoyed working with Scott Phillips and David Lane from Ord Minnett.
8. Why did you choose to join Livewire?
Without turning this into too much of a love-in, I was attracted to Livewire by the energy, the entrepreneurship, and the simple fact that the entire premise is built on educating the end investor so that they can make better, more informed decisions.
Throughout my career, I have always tried to give as much to the readers as possible, whether it be sharing my investment strategies, being completely straight with my thoughts about a market/sector/stock, or sharing my knowledge and experience.
It also helps that I knew quite a few of the people in the Livewire team already and they are all fantastic human beings.
9. It is early days but what do you think you can bring to Livewire to make it a better resource for investors?
I think Livewire has a unique value proposition in terms of engagement from the industry. I can’t think of another place where so many people come together to share their ideas about markets. My hope is that I can continue to peel back the curtain and show the audience how things are done.
10. Do you have a particular area of investing expertise that you will be able to share with Livewire readers?
My absolute passion is equity research and portfolio construction, and I would love to share that with the Livewire audience and help others do the same. It’s a lofty goal. Having been a fund manager I can understand why some managers are quite guarded about the secret herbs and spices they use in their process, but I’m hoping I can bring more of that out into the open.
As mentioned above, there are plenty of fund managers out there who are employing strategies that no retail investor will be able to replicate, so hopefully I can bring those insights to life.
11. Is there a lesson you’ve learned as an investor that could potentially help others?
There are two guiding principles I have regarding my investing that I will happily share.
Firstly, you must have an objective. You must have a clearly defined goal of what you want to achieve in the market. And ‘making as much money as I can’ does not cut it – that’s a given.
It needs to be specific, measurable, relevant and time-bound.
For example, I will aim to beat the ASX 300 Accumulation Index by 2%, over a rolling 3-year period. Perfect for someone who has an Australian equities portfolio and is a long-term investor. Not suitable for someone who is index unaware, and likes turning over a lot of themed ETF’s with exposure to international markets. Pick an objective which suits your investing style.
And the second lesson is to have an investment plan. It still surprises me the number of people who don’t have a plan for how they engage with the market. I find it astonishing. Just as you wouldn’t start a new business without a business plan, I don’t think you should engage with the market without an investment plan.
A plan sounds boring and like a lot of work, but in doing so you will put yourself ahead of at least half of the retail investors in the market that don’t have one.
12. Can you share a personal passion or ambition you have for your future?
Right now my focus, outside of Livewire and markets, is raising my two boys; Declan (7) and Raphael (2). They are a handful but I love spending as much time with them as I can. We love to travel as much as possible; camping, fishing, beach, activities… you name it, they are into it.
Once they are a little bit older, I plan to go back to studying. I have always had a passion for formal learning, having done Law and Economics as an undergrad and having done my MBA as well.
The next chapter will be purely for my own joy and understanding, and that will be studying physics.
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