Interview With Ben Reynolds At Sure Dividend by DividendDiplomats

At the end of 2015, we began conducting interviews with others in this wonderful community.  One of the best part about it all is how willing everyone is to share their knowledge and encourage each other to become the best investor they can be and reach financial freedom as soon as possible.  Our first two interviews were Dividend Hustler and Tawcan.  Both their stories were fascinating and it was great learning about them!   So now, here comes interview number three.  Let’s all take some time and get to know Ben, the founder of SureDividend.com!

This interview is from Ben Reynolds at Sure Dividend.  Sure Dividend simplifies the process of building a high quality dividend growth portfolio using The 8 Rules of Dividend Investing.

Ben has put together an impressive website and is one of the loudest advocates for investing in dividend growth stocks out there.  He performs regular deep dive into Divided Aristocrats, which is right up our alley based on recent developments in the market (See our lessons learned from KMI and Bert’s 2016 goals).   So if you are looking for a place to learn about some of the best dividend paying stocks out there, Ben’s website is a great place to start.   We enjoyed getting to know Ben in the interview process and may have a friendly wager for him at the end of this article based.  Check out our interview below!

Q&A with Ben Reynolds

Based on your LinkedIn profile, you have quite the finance background.  When did you know you were ready to leave your full-time job and work exclusively on the website?  

Ben Reynolds: There was a point in my life where I felt my ‘normal’ job was holding me back and I could grow more as a person and provide more value to society by going out on my own.  I think the point when it really ‘clicked’ was when I read the Self-Reliance essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

At the same time, I was really questioning how/why so many people pay exorbitant fees to mutual funds AND investment advisers.  Some people pay 2% a year or more.  I wanted to do what I could to provide a high quality and easy to follow investment methodology that minimizes investor fees so money is left to compound in the investor’s account, where it belongs.

We love the concept of the Dividend Aristocrat series. Based on the results of your series, which is your favorite Dividend Aristocrat?   Which Aristocrat is the best hidden gem in your opinion?  

Ben Reynolds: My favorite right now is Wal-Mart (WMT).  I don’t try to predict what will happen in the broad market, but I think its safe to say that the outlook for the global economy is less-than-rosy right now.

At the same time, Wal-Mart stock has gone through a massive sell off and is trading near its highest dividend yield ever.  Wal-Mart (the business AND the stock) performed well through the Great Recession.  When times get tough, people look to save on everyday purchases.  Wal-Mart has a reputation for ‘every day low prices’ – which is why I believe it tends to do well during recessions.

The best hidden gem amongst the Dividend Aristocrats in my opinion is W.W. Grainger (GWW).  W.W. Grainger sells maintenance, repair, and operations (abbreviated as MRO) goods and supplies through its network of stores and through its rapidly growing online business.  The company has excellent growth potential through consolidating the highly fragmented MRO industry through bolt-on acquisitions.  It is expanding very intelligently and diligently with e-commerce operations in the United Kingdom and Japan.

On top of all this, management is very shareholder friendly and is engaged in huge share repurchases right now.  The stock has gone through a sell off over a temporary growth slow down brought about by low oil prices (oil companies are slowing purchases at W.W. Grainger).  There are also fears (which I believe are overblown) about how Amazon’s new business focus will impact W.W. Grainger’s business.

What is one piece of advice (besides invest as much as possible) do you have for young and new dividend growth investors?

Ben Reynolds: Investing is a marathon not a sprint.  Don’t look to make 30% a year or become a millionaire in 3 years.  It won’t happen, and you will become disillusioned and think investing is like the lottery or a scam of some sort – it isn’t either of those things.

Another good piece of advice is to remember there’s no ‘perfect’ investing system.  You are going to have great investments and ones that don’t turn out as well.  Even Warren Buffett doesn’t get it right 100% of the time.  What’s important is to learn from your mistakes and continue saving.

Outside of investing and finance, what are some of your interests?

Ben Reynolds: I love NBA Basketball (especially the Spurs and Rockets).  I also enjoy jogging and just being outside in general.

I’m avid reader of non-fiction books over a wide variety of subjects.  Outside of that, I like relaxing and watching TV shows and movies.  Some of my favorite series that are still running are House of Cards, Game of Thrones, and Narcos.

One of the unique aspects of your website is that we can’t publish comments on your articles.  What led you to this decision?  Or are we completely missing something here?

Ben Reynolds: No, you aren’t missing anything.  The main reason I don’t have comments on Sure Dividend is I don’t think I could keep up with them effectively.

I do keep in touch with Sure Dividend readers via email, which I check regularly, to answer any questions or comments people have.

What was the first dividend stock you purchased?  Do you still own shares in this company?

Ben Reynolds: I started investing (very small amounts) when I was 19 or 20.  I can’t recall the first stocks I purchased, but I know I don’t own any of them anymore.

I’ve gone through an evolution as an investor.  When I started, I remember I invested in 3 mutual funds (not sure which ones).  I then became interested in value investing and ETF based momentum strategies.  The concepts of value investing are really important to successful investing, in my opinion.  Value combined with a strong competitive advantage and a shareholder friendly management makes for an excellent long-term holding.

I actually came to dividend growth investing by looking for low turnover strategies that focused on value, quality, and shareholder friendly managements.  Dividend growth investing puts the focus on the underlying business – which most other investing strategies don’t do.  If a business can’t pay sustainable dividends, a dividend growth investor will pass.  It forces you to only consider businesses with predictable, growing (hopefully) cash flows.

Who is your favorite Dividend Diplomat?

Ben Reynolds: This is one of the age-old questions that are impossible to answer…  Ben or Jerry?  Calvin or Hobbes?  Peanut Butter or Jelly?  Chocolate or Vanilla?

You can’t have the Dividend Diplomats without Bert AND Lanny, Lanny AND Bert!

Thanks for taking the time to complete the interview Ben! You gave us a great laugh with your last response.  We are going to get someone to pick a favorite one of these days.  Come on someone..take the bate! As I mentioned before, we have a friendly wager for you Ben!  Since you are a Spurs/Rockets fan and the two of us our DIEHARD Cavs fans.  We bet you one guest post after the NBA season.  So if the Cavs advance further in the playoffs than the Spurs/Rockets, you have to write a guest post on our website.  And if the Cavs finish worse, we will write a guest post for your website.  And yes…we are putting you on the spot!   Hopefully you all enjoyed the interview and we definitely suggest stopping by Ben’s website and checking Sure Dividend out.

-Lanny and Bert, The Dividend Diplomats

Sure Dividend Ben Reynolds