The people behind the process
Continuing my ongoing series of interviews with Montgomery investment staff, where I lift the lid and see what makes the people behind the process, the blog posts and the impressive numbers tick. I catch up to George Hadjia, Analyst for the Montgomery Global Fund and the Montaka Global Fund.
Hadjia sounds like an interesting surname, where does it originate?
My grandfather was a Greek-Cypriot who emigrated to Australia in the 1960s. Upon arrival, he soon found that his full name, Hadjivasili, was a mouthful for the locals to pronounce. He subsequently chose to adopt a nickname his friends had given him: Hadjia. It’s essentially an abbreviated surname and throws people off whenever they try to guess the origin of the name.
What initially drew you into funds management?
I’m a rather inquisitive guy and I’ve always been interested in learning about different business models and trying to understand why some businesses are successful and other not. When I was at university I studied a few finance subjects and felt I had a natural affinity with value investing and the process around valuing businesses. I read widely while at university and Warren Buffet’s biography further inspired me to pursue a career in finance and specifically investment management.
What makes a successful investor?
In investing you need to take a contrarian view…. but you need to be right. The funny thing is that a lot of people take a contrarian view to be different, but are not right. I think to give yourself the best chance of being right then you need to have a well-honed approach and be methodical, rigorous and disciplined which usually takes a huge amount of effort and many people are just not prepared to do this.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
It most likely comes from Andrew Macken from when I first started at the firm. He said, “Trust but verify”. He said this was particularly important for the short side of investing. You will hear a lot of things from management, brokers, the press and other sources, and our job is to try and triangulate the information, thus verifying what is truth and distinguishing it from speculation, rumor and opinion.
What has been one of the most interesting aspects of the job to date?
For me it has been building my skill set on the short side. Prior to joining Montgomery Global Investment team I had very little idea as to what was involved in successfully short selling. I have learnt that a healthy dose of cynicism is required when you approach any short investment candidate and it almost forces you as an investor to undertake the role as a detective as you try and seek the true picture of what is happening. I must say, it is particularly rewarding when you see a short thesis play out.
What is one of the biggest mistakes that most investors make?
When investors act deterministically instead of understanding that there is usually a range of potential outcomes. It comes from the fact that too often people in the industry are trying to forecast things that simply can’t be forecasted with any accuracy. This can be quite dangerous as it can give investors a false sense of confidence. One of my favorite quotes is from an economist called John Kenneth Galbraith who once said “there are two kinds of forecasters: those that don’t know, and those who don’t know they don’t know”.
If you weren’t working in investment management what do you think you would be doing?
I would probably be lecturing at University. When I was at University I did a lot of tutoring and found that to be a very rewarding job. Teaching is a very passionate profession and bringing ideas and knowledge to people in a fresh and interesting way is very satisfying.
What do you do in your spare time?
I have always been into music and over the years I have spent a lot of time playing the guitar, in fact on a daily basis. In particular, I play jazz and blues guitar. Another hobby of mine is cars. If I am not racing cars I can usually be found down at some sort of car show.
Scott Phillips is the Head of Distribution of Montgomery Investment Management. To invest with Montgomery domestically and globally, click here to find out more.