Graduated Waikato University 1979 with a Bachelor of Management Studies. Employed for four years as a research economist at Tasman Pulp and Paper with responsibility for investment analysis and financial modelling. Attended numerous finance and financial modelling programmes. Left in 1984 with Neil Craig to form the partnership of Craig & Co.
Responsibility for group investment strategy and research until 1991 when he formed Craig & Co Private Asset Management – providing high quality investment advice to individuals. 1985 – passed exams to become a Member of the NZ Society of Investment Professionals. Since 1996 Brent has also written a regular column for the Personal Finance section of the NZ Herald.
Below is a brief summary of my education and experience:
- I have a four year management studies degree from Waikato University covering accounting, economics, law etc etc.
- I worked as an Economist doing investment analysis for Tasman Pulp and Paper from 1980 – 84 primarily writing discounted cash flow models which required analysis of the capital markets to determine appropriate discount rates.
- I was awarded a certificate in investment analysis after doing a one year course organised by the University of Otago to gain admission into the NZ Society of Investment Analysts in 1986.
- I was an original 50% shareholder, joint founder and research manager of Craig & Co from 1984 – 2000.
- I was a Member of the NZ Stock Exchange from 1987 – 2000 and only resigned my membership in 2000 as a result of selling my 25% shareholding in Craig & Co to ABN Amro.
- I am primarily a fee based adviser (99.5% of earnings) and don’t use commission based products except for new issues from the odd A rated corporate bond like the recent Auckland Airport issue. Usually these commissions are lower than the fee that we normally charge the client.
- I am a member of the NZ Institute of Financial Professionals of NZ which devolved from the NZ Society of Investment Analysts.
We manage just over $1 billion for retail investors with over $500,000 and I have worked in the industry for 35 years, have never had a formal complaint made about me, have never been sued by a client or threatened with legal action, have never bought finance company debentures and wrote about the dangers of finance company debentures and CDO’s in the Herald many times a number of years before they imploded.
I have been writing a two weekly column on personal finance related matters for the NZ Herald, more or less continually since 1996. As part of this job I regularly make contact with leading academics and practitioners who publish research on personal finance related matters such as Andrew Low of MIT, Robert Arnott, Clifford Asness, Philip Coggan of the Economist Magazine, Tim Bond from Barclays Capital in London, Andrew Smithers of Smithers & Co and David Swensen to name a few. I regularly report on the actions of the SEC and the FSA in the UK, particularly the Retail Distribution Review initiative.
As far as keeping up with current thinking and professional development I read the following: a hard copy of The London Financial Times six days a week, the US Financial Analysts Journal, the Economist Magazine, the US Journal of Finance, the Wharton Real Estate Review from the University of Pennsylvania, the CFA Institute magazine and the INFINZ Journal. I also get daily research from Craigs Investment Partners, UBS Warburg, Barclays Capital, Morgan Stanley etc etc. I also communicate regularly with the three London Business School Professors, Dimson Marsh and Staunton and they send me their annual Global Investment Returns Yearbook. I completed about 300 hours of study in 2011 to become an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA) and must say that the study was a total waste of time but you have to do what you have to do. In fact I spent a lot of the time correcting mistakes in the actual examination papers. Unfortunately in NZ the financial advisory sector seems self regulated as regards education with the result that any education which is a threat to the standard, high cost business model (ie almost any sensible advice) will not get bought by financial advisory firms and is thus not offered by the organisations that sell education to the finance industry. For this reason I suspect that most of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) that is offered is a waste of time, in fact, two lots of CPD that I did were so bad that if I had altered my business practices having regard to the teaching in the CPD my service to clients would have been made worse rather than better. In fact you could also argue that the more training a product needs the less likely it is going to be attractive to any potential retail investor! Think of how much training was required to sell complex products like CDOs and compare that with the level of complexity inherent in a low cost exchange traded fund. It goes without saying that the products we use are generally low cost and uncomplicated. Along the same lines the longer and more detailed an advisors disclosure statement is the more wary should be a potential client.