We are a deliberately small, focused and long-term oriented investment partnership
Our strength: analytics, discipline, energy … with a healthy dose of humility
Felix T.M. Schauerte
Chief Investment Officer, Member of the Board
- CFP (now Acxit Capital)
- Lincoln International
- UBS Deutschland
- Delbrück & Co. Privatbankiers
- Morgan Stanley
- NatWest Asset Management
- ESCP-EAP, Paris, Oxford, Berlin
- Technische Universität, Berlin
- Freie Universität, Berlin
German, English, French, Spanish and Russian
Managing Director, Head of Research & Investor Services, Board Member
- Advantum Corporate Finance
- SEB Enskilda Banken
- Circadian Technologies
- Boston University, Boston
English, Estonian and Russian
Accounting, Reporting & Documentation
- Kennesaw State University, Atlanta
- Western Kentucky University. Bowling Green
English and Estonian
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Introduction to Core Team Members & the Evolution of our Core Investment Philosophy
The Managing Partners of Bernstein Trust, Dmitri Poleschuk and Felix Schauerte, have each been in the banking and investment industry for more than 20 years. Since they have been mainly involved on the advisory side, most of their net worth had been generated by compensation for their work, rather than investment returns. At the same time, a few selected investments as principals have contributed a good part of their net worth. Accordingly, since about 2000 they were looking for ways to invest their liquid funds. With that vintage and the ten next years to follow - they have made and lost lot, have hence paid - but also benefitted from that experience. The key findings from that period were actually to think independently, not to follow the herds and pursue a disciplined, consistent investment strategy.
Our personal SWOT of Private Banks
With that having said, before meeting at Bernstein coming from different directions in 2010, the success in their ad-hoc individual investments was actually rather mixed, to say the least. Putting some of it in the hands of traditional private banks has not helped much either. From that part of their track record, valuable insights were gained on the advantages and disadvantages, pitfalls and hidden costs of private banks when managing other people's money. The ongoing (partial) personal involvement with private banks as well as speaking to numerous other clients has led to the establishment of our Private Banking Advisory Practice.
Limitations of Other Strategies
Over the years both Felix and Dmitri saw (and experienced) the challenges and limitations of individual stock picking, trying to time the market, a simple long-and-hold strategy, too little diversification and too high costs, naked shorting, funds-of-funds cascades, mid-cap bonds or small-cap growth. None of it had neither the intellectual nor practical merits to generate attractive long-term returns.
Distilling our own philosophy
The breakthrough in our investment approach - and subsequently performance - can initially be attributed to the lecture (and understanding!) of one well-known and two rather unknown books on investing. That part was complemented by reading all the annual letters written by Warren Buffett to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway over the years.
Core intellectual foundations
The Essence of Benjamin Graham
A portfolio of properly analysed securities bought at a low price, i.e. at below-average valuation parameters, should generate healthy positive returns over the mid-term to long-term.
The Essence of William R. Gallacher
A passive strategy of writing options on a broad number of underlying securities, even if done blindly, generates positive returns in most years. The positive returns can be enhanced by excluding certain underlyings by way of a non-standard implied volatility analysis. The returns can be further enhanced by hedging or stop-limiting positions as soon as they move in the money.
The Essence of James Cordier
Investing with that gentleman has cost the partners dearly. To a significant part his investments were completely unhedged, i.e. naked option writing approach plus ursuary fees were to blame, the rest was due to the insolvency of PFG Best, his futures broker, where the clients's accounts were held. For his benefit it can be said that his book is still the most comprehensive tome on writing premium in various market situations. Due to his business model of charging outrageous fees on any trade he is however completely unable to put most of the strategies to any good use. Any black swan - and they occur far more often than he thinks - will totally wipe out most of his clients.
The Essence of Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett has said and written so many smart things during his long life, that reading his Annual Letters to the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, should educate a much larger part of the investment crowd to adopt healthier, more successful approaches. However, since they are for the most part not very exciting and require patience, guts and perseverance, they continue to be commonly ignored. Being anti-Wall Street and low cost, low fee does not help either to make that part of any broker's gospel.
Warren Buffett Quotes and the Ten Commandments
The key elements of the references described above, combined with hands-on investing experience of our own funds have been condensed into the foundation of our investment philosophy - termed rather frivolously (we would take that hit) - “The 21st Century Intelligent Investor Commandments”.
We have put together a separate page where we have listed the most memorable and notworthy quotes by Warren Buffett in the context of those Ten Commandments - allowing us to illustrate where we are fully in sync but also where we dare to differ.
To sum up our introduction, we are absolutely and thoroughly convinced of the validity of these principles. Applying them has yielded – despite frequent set-backs and lapses – double-digit returns of our investments ever since we started in 2008. All of the above can be distilled into the following summary statement:
The Essence of our strategy
Our strategy combines:
- time-tested principles of value investments
- with international diversification
- with income enhancements and hedging elements
- using derivatives
- within a disciplined, long-term oriented framework.
As friends of practical implementation other than mere theories we have put these principles to work. The Bernstein Value & Income Portfolio, our flagship fund, has been set up in January 2015 and managed 100% in line with those principles. The returns speak for themselves - see below for further references. More importantly we encourage you to read through our Ten Commandments, which are and will remain our investment principles for a very long time to come.
Other Team Members
Inessa acts as our liaison manager in the United States. She is based in New York and frequently visits our representative office in Chicago. Inessa has a business degree in Economics from the Tallinn Business School. In addition to her work for Bernstein Trust, she is very active in advising her clients on art collection and investments, having worked e.g. for Christie's and MacDougals in London.
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