I had an interesting interview recently with Steve Kiel, which I posted on GuruFocus.com. I will post the beginning of the interview here, with a link to the rest of the interview on GuruFocus.com
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into the investment industry?
Sure. I’d say that I have a pretty eclectic background. I’m sure it’s much different than most money managers, and I think it causes me to look at companies and the risk associated with them in a different way than others. My first job out of college was as a fundraiser for The Heritage Foundation, which is probably the world’s leading think tank. I met a lot of business owners and wealthy individuals, and heard a lot of great stories about success. In a way, it was like an MBA program where each donor I met was a case study in entrepreneurialism and leadership. I was there for about five and a half years, with a year interrupted because of a deployment to Iraq with the Army. I’ve been an Army Reservist since 2000. During my time at Heritage, I was also going to law school at night and once I finished that and passed the bar, I became a Judge Advocate in the Army Reserves.
I’ve managed my own money since college, and in 2005 started managing a few accounts for family members and friends. It was really around that time that I seriously thought about making it a career. I enjoyed the research, finding hidden stocks and arbitrage opportunities, assessing risk, and making allocation decisions. I launched Arquitos Capital Management in 2009.
What made you decide to start your own firm instead of working for an existing firm?
The primary reason was that I wanted to manage portfolios and be the decision-maker. I wanted to do things my way. I have very specific ideas on what I think is the best way to allocate a portfolio, and I wouldn’t have been happy in a research or support role for someone else’s decisions. This certainly isn’t the best approach for everyone, but I had already, basically, had two careers, as a fundraiser and a soldier, and I wouldn’t have given those up unless I was calling the shots. It certainly would have been different if I got into finance immediately after college without experience. I’m sure I would have taken a different route, but at the same time, I wouldn’t have gotten the valuable experience that I got in those other careers.
With so much information that is so easy to find, investing is more of an emotional exercise than ever before. You can certainly do original research on smaller companies and arbitrage opportunities, and that’s very valuable, but for a stock like Bank of America (BAC), everything you need to know is easily found. We’re invested in Bank of America because my life experiences give me faith in America and our economy. This quarter’s tangible common equity level means very little, for example, and if I would have worked as an analyst first, I would have overestimated the importance of the trees, and underestimated the forest.
The rest of the article can be found here http://www.gurufocus.com/news.php?id=107697