October 22, 2015

Daringly Different

This week, the Mangalore-based financial advisory firm, Colaco & Aranha, completed 30 years in business.  It is a firm that I greatly admire and respect.  By all accounts, it is a firm that offers exceptional investment advice and services, and has charted a path that has led to it being very different from most other advisory firms in the country.  In fact, it is different in many more ways than one may imagine.  Consider, for example, its website.  Reflecting the straight talk of the people behind the firm, after a two-line introduction to the firm, it states:

No further details are being given because we have a sufficiently large clientele and we are not looking for new clients. The sole purpose of this website is to make certain statutory and non-statutory disclosures to our existing clients and thereby comply with various securities laws in force from time to time.

We realise that there may be some visitors to this site who are not our clients. If such visitors want some basic knowledge about personal investment and finance, we are prepared to email it to them free of cost if they ask for it.

Or consider these words of Gerard Colaco, partner at the firm, on the subject of client relationships:

We do not hesitate to terminate business relationships with clients who do not share our investment philosophy.  In fact, we go to great lengths to ensure that such individuals do not become clients in the first place.   We believe that our clients should reflect the core values of our firm, not just its management and its employees.

As part of introducing them to their philosophy, prospective clients have historically been given a reading list that incudes books authored by Benjamin Graham, Burton Malkiel, Charles Ellis, William Bernstein and John Bogle. 

It is rare to find an advisor in India who is even vaguely familiar with all of these names.  Mr. Colaco, on the other hand, is deeply conversant with nearly everything that these great minds have ever said.  Best of all, he has been extremely articulate and generous in sharing the wisdom that he has acquired.  A great example of that is a paper on equity investing, with particular reference to the Indian stock market, titled ‘A Guide to Equity Investment’.  Here is a link to the 2012 edition.

But it isn’t only investing: Mr. Colaco also has some clear insights to offer on what it means to be a professional.

  1. A professional must have an unswerving commitment to the highest level of ethics. Compared to this, everything else pales into insignificance.
  2. A professional must attempt to acquire the highest level of expertise in her field of endeavour. A high level of ethics would of course demand that a professional will be a seeker, gatherer and implementer of the best knowledge, insight and wisdom in her field of specialisation, in the interests of the individuals she serves.
  3. A professional must have a long-term commitment to quality practice.
  4. A professional must practise what she preaches.

Personally, I hope that Mr. Colaco and his firm continue to share their wisdom for many more years to come.

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