Steven Bavaria writes about finance, economics and politics, drawing on his forty-five years experience in international banking, credit, investment, human resources/training, journalism and public service. Now retired from his "day job" on Wall Street, Bavaria lives mostly off his investments. His focus is largely on income-oriented stocks, bonds and mutual funds, as well as closed-end funds, ETFs and other IRA-suitable investments. His book "Too Greedy for Adam Smith: CEO Pay and the Demise of Capitalism" was just published and is available on Amazon and at independent retailers. Bavaria began his career at the Bank of Boston, where he handled international credit workouts that included managing a fleet of ships, chasing a Vatican-owned bank in Switzerland, and leading the turnaround of troubled branches in Australia and Panama. He also ran the bank's human resources department, which is where he saw personally the beginnings of many of today's executive compensation excesses. More recently he worked at Standard & Poor's, where he introduced ratings to the leveraged loan market. In between Bank of Boston and S&P he was Assoc. Commissioner of the Massachusetts Dept. of Mental Health, worked briefly for Citibank, and was a reporter for IDD Magazine. He also did a short stint at a smaller rating agency where he had to leave in a hurry after writing an article called "From Banker to Bookmaker" that was deemed a bit too candid in describing the conflicted role of major commercial and investment banks.Bavaria graduated from Georgetown University and New England School of Law.
I am a JD/CPA with extensive experience working in the middle market loan industry and with middle market CLOs. I was an initial member of CIFC's (a public leveraged loan investment manager) executive team where I was responsible for the issuance of 7 CLOs and numerous warehouse facilities. Prior to that experience, I was a Director in S&P's CDO rating group, where I specialized in rating middle market CLOs.
50/50 Portfolio; Dec 2016 YOC 10.0% about 0? months before retirement, dividends at 72% of my gross employment income. I created a High Yield Investment dividend generator that contains a 50% weighting between agency mortgage REITs and BDCs.
**** Home of the POT (Portfolio Online Tracking) tool.
My current investment method started January 2014 to concentrate on high yield equities that put more importance on income and less on capital appreciation. Investment purchase is based on each individual stock generating a minimum dividend per year. As long as stocks are generating income to meet or exceed my minimum dividend they will not be added too or removed. Currently all dividends are reinvested back into stocks that require their dividends to be increased to meet my minimum yearly dividend. We will see how this works over the years.
1) The REIT sector consists of residential and commercial property investments. What better way to invest in hundreds of properties without actually owing the physical property.
2) The BDC are Business Development Companies that invest in hundreds of businesses that create products and employment opportunities. Here again the BDC does all the research to lend to businesses and the investor does not have to actually own the physical business.
3) The investment selection is based on this principle; BDCs outperform when markets are going up (positive correlation), and mREITs, outperform when markets are going down (negative correlation). This is based on a research study performed by Wells Fargo titled “The 50/50 Portfolio, Milton Friedman’s Only “Free” Lunch. And runs through an analysis in demonstrating how combining BDCs and Agency mREITs leads to sustainable long-term alpha throughout cycles.
4) Capital gain does not apply to my investment method since this implies the anticipation of buy and hope for price increase in order to sell at a profit. I have already stated the HYBRID method holds investments based on cost basis and dividends per share as the method of yearly appreciation.
5) A bird in the hand is worth 10 in a bush, applies to this investment style. The return I get on my investment is what counts toward the recapture of my initial investment cost. I can calculate how many years it will take before my initial cost will be repaid and that investment now becomes perpetual income. I’m not a trader, just a buy, hold and collector (dividends * shares). I can’t count on capital appreciation since all investments will increase and decrease in any market cycle. Dividends I can count on as payment for investment risk that accumulates over time.
6) Update 20140612, Portfolio Plan; Build a portfolio that generates income 150% of minimum required. Example I need 10K from 30 stocks made up of REITs and BDCs. Diversification is already built into each stock because each one contains hundreds of properties and business, so 30 stocks is plenty. Now to generate 10K minimum income I will establish a 50% margin of error (or income default). So to get 10K minimum I will need 15K of income (10K * 1.5). This means each stock is required to generate at least $500/yr each. I can withstand a 33% hit in the dividends and still meet my 10K minimum requirement. That is 10 stocks can go to zero and the remaining 20 will create my minimum 10K.
7) Update 20140729, I do not invest in individual companies, too risky. The following is the logic behind this statement compared to BDC investments. If I invest in 30 dividend companies, anyone of them may have financial problems and drag down the portfolio very quickly. The Due-Diligence (DD) would take all my time to analyze past performance and make judgments for the future, and current events can tank a stock fast. Every company needs money to run operations and for capital improvements and this is where BDCs come into play. The individual company has to borrow funds and BDCs are there to provide the capital. So the BDC is like a bank to lend money. Each BDC may contain hundreds of separate loans going to hundreds of different companies making the BDC less risky than owning individual companies. If one of the companies that the BDC has a loan with goes bankrupt, the BDC will recover some if not all of the loan monies lent to the failed company, and the BDC will continue with a very small disruption to its bottom line. So in effect owing BDCs that contain hundreds of investments (loans to companies) earning a consistent repayment to principal and interest is safer than just owning an individual low yielding company. When you invest in a BDC or REIT you are investing in the managers that perform the DD by analyzing the companies first before loaning them money to run their business.
Owing 10 or more BDCs is like having investments in thousands of companies with a very low risk of any one individual company causing portfolio damage, while your portfolio grows faster with the high yields from BDCs and REITs.
8) I have developed FREE Excel applications for planning retirement during the accumulation and distribution phase, the links are in my articles, (Dividend Growth Calculator... and Predicting Retirement...) As I develop additional Excel 2010 applications I'll make them available to all SA members. We are all in the same boat trying to achieve a better life in retirement.
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Convergence Investment Management is a Registered Investment Advisory firm that focuses on unique opportunities within the Closed-End Fund and Exchange Traded Fund marketplaces. We believe that the markets, while very efficient, are not perfectly efficient and that opportunities for superior risk adjusted returns exist for those willing to put in the work to identify short-term price dislocations. Charles “Chad” Gray is Convergence Investment Management’s Portfolio Manager. Prior to launching Convergence, Mr. Gray spent much of professional his career in Silicon Valley developing better data analytics platforms and data management techniques, many of which have been applied to the Convergence approach. Mr. Gray earned both an M.B.A. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in Engineering from Northwestern University. He has also earned the CFA designation and is an active member with the CFA Society of San Francisco.
The author works at a long horizon multi asset class investment management organization; and has been in the markets professionally for two decades. Avocation is unusual situations, as well as instruments with embedded options. Has a bias toward misunderstood, illiquid, potentially "yieldy" types of securities that have lost their narrative, and thusly, their holder constituency. Likes securities which have a "hard" net asset value that can potentially be used as a safety net if circumstances do not cooperate with the intial analysis. In most cases, prefer to find investments where time is in the holders favor - whether it means value is being recognized by a slow moving liquidation, or a legal process that is being ground out, or even the demise of control shareholders / management. These "thin file" investment ideas mean that most of the leg work has to be done by the investor themselves, rather than relying on sell side analysts, or external third party firms. Primary sources of research include corporate filings as well as competitor and peers filings, and an understanding of management's incentives/motivations for certain outcomes.
Current focus areas include most of the unusual wrapper yieldy vehicles that would not go into conventional capitalization weighted indices such as FI CEFs, BDCs, MLPs, REITs, mREITs, Royalty Trusts and so forth.
I provide economic analysis, market commentary and company-specific research. My general view is to operate a diversified basket of long-term investments in both equities and fixed income. I have a bachelor's degree in economics from San Diego State University (2007), eight years of publishing experience and over a decade of cumulative investment experience. I have been published in several newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal and Barron's.
Who I Am: I'm a retired individual investor. I retired at the end of 2013 after a 35 year career as a professor and research scientist at a major research university. So -- a career as a researcher and an educator, which is what I hope to continue here. Virtually every good teacher I've ever known says some version of "I learn more from teaching than my students do." There's a lot of truth in that, enough that there's an underlying selfish motivation for my writing here as I continue to learn about investing.
My professional life involved multiple international projects and collaborations, so I traveled extensively over those 35 years. I plan to continue doing so in my retirement. One consequence is that I'm liable to disappear from the site for extended periods. How can you miss me if I don't go away?
My investing priorities are building and refining portfolios designed to provide income and capital growth: Income for my retirement needs, and capital growth for my estate. My investing interests are tax-advantaged income from a range of sources, portfolio strategies, information- and bio-technology, and momentum-based strategic allocation.
Why I Write for Seeking Alpha: I learned long ago that "writing is nature's way of letting you know how sloppy your thinking is." The line comes from a Guindon comic strip of many years ago, and could not be more true in my case. When I did research professionally, I learned that writing it up forces me to think about details I might otherwise overlook. It's how I spent my working career, so it comes more or less naturally to me. I consider it an essential part of doing any research. So, the writing I do here is as much for myself as for the reader. As I started to contribute articles here, they grew out of research for my personal investment portfolios. They're based on things I've uncovered that are of interest to me and may be of interest to others of like mind. My primary purposes in writing them are to help clarify my thinking and to get feedback from others who may have very different opinions. It's those thoughtful comments that make Seeking Alpha such an important resource.
I try to actively engage myself in the comment streams in my articles, contributing what I can and learning from others. As a research scientist I spent a career spanning four decades devoted to free exchange of information vetted by rigorous peer review. It's a concept I firmly believe in. I hope to bring that approach to my interactions and contributions on Seeking Alpha and welcome critical commentary on anything I may contribute here. I especially encourage and appreciate thoughtful comments from those who disagree with me (although I will ignore obvious trolls and encourage others to do so as well). So, go ahead, start a conversation in the comment threads. It's one of the best things about Seeking Alpha.
My Investment Philosophies and Strategies: I maintain two portfolios. My income portfolio is a taxable account. I try to keep it separate from the growth portfolio which is housed in a series of IRAs, traditional and Roth. My income focus is on tax-advantaged income. In 2016 I face minimum required withdrawals from my tax-deferred accounts, so tax efficiency is an important consideration. The IRAs I see as my estate and are focused on generational wealth building. That means the growth portfolios have a long-term horizon, well beyond what an investor of my age might be expected to maintain.
Who Is Left Banker? Ah yes, the name. When I first joined Seeking Alpha I had no intention of being anything but an occasional reader. I saw it as another research site. So, I just ported a name I've used on other sites. I spent some of the best times of my life living on the left bank of the Seine and am always thrilled to be back in La Belle Paris. Add that I also like it because I find several subtle word plays there; I'll leave it to you to decipher that comment.
Finally, I've chosen to remain anonymous, which I feel obligated to justify. First, I have no professional role in finance and nothing to sell, so there is no advantage to be gained by "making a name for myself' here. Second, I value my privacy and have kept my internet presence as low-key as my professional life allowed. I certainly want to avoid any possibility of some internet connection trying to track me down. Odds against that happening are, of course, outrageously long, but why take them on at all?
Disclosures: I have no ties to the financial or security industries in any form. My interests are strictly personal. The banker part of the nym has absolutely no relationship to the profession of the same name. Readers should be aware that I am an investing novice, some might say dilettante. I do not give advice; what I publish is much more in line with a research notebook. Anyone who finds anything of interest will necessarily want to do his or her complete research and due diligence. It would be foolish to rely on my conclusions without having done so.