There’s no such thing as the perfect fund, portfolio, strategy or plan. There were speakers and attendees at the conference from a wide range of backgrounds and firms and everyone does things their own way (the panel with fundamental short-seller Jim Chanos and quant investor Patrick O’Shaughnessy was a perfect example of this).
But the one theme that came up again and again in almost every speech or panel was that you have to get used to being uncomfortable with your investments. Over and over again we heard about investments, strategies or funds that have “worked” brilliantly historically but all have invariably run into trouble for long stretches of time. You have to think in terms of your overall portfolio, but even then there are going to be performance numbers that you’re not going to be happy with on occasion. Setting realistic expectations and having an understanding about what is a normal period of poor performance and what is a poor investment strategy is key. Even then, the bottom line is that successful investing is hard.